Heritage watchdogs list Prospect House sculpture, ahead of decision over homes, offices and shops blueprint
A decision over the future of the site of the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News’s Prospect House is due to be made by city councillors next week.
But, whatever the future holds, the Bernard Meadows sculpture at the entrance to the offices will be protected – after it was listed by Historic England.
Archant, publisher of this newspaper, is looking to move out of its headquarters in Rouen Road, Norwich.
Norwich City Council has worked up a development brief for what the future could hold for the 2.5 acre city centre site.
City councillors will be asked next Thursday to agree that brief, which could see Prospect House demolished to make way for new flats, shops and offices.
As part of the process, Archant asked Historic England to assess the architectural and historical merits of Prospect House, which was built between 1968 and 1970 and designed in the Brutalist style by London-based architects Yates, Cook and Derbyshire.
Historic England said Prospect House was “relatively modest in its architectural quality and design” and did not merit national listing. It was granted a certificate of immunity from listing.
But the sculpture, by Norwich artist Meadows, at the front of the building, has been listed at Grade II. ‘Publlc Sculpture’ is described as “intended to depict post-war anxieties and fears”.
Historic England said the “key work” by Meadows “clearly possesses special architectural and historic interest”.
The listing means the sculpture will be given protection.
Archant finance director Brian McCarthy said: “We are pleased the city council will review the planning brief for the Prospect House site later this month.
“This is an important historical site in the city and Archant recognises its responsibility to ensure heritage issues are considered carefully in any plans. As part of this process we asked Historic England to consider the architectural and historical interest in the site.
“We support their conclusions that the Bernard Meadows sculpture at the entrance to our building carries special architectural and historical merit.
“It is reassuring that whatever the future holds for this prestigious city centre site, the listing of this popular public artwork will ensure it is protected and enjoyed for those living and working on the site.”
Why is the sculpture important?
‘Public Sculpture’ was designed by Bernard Meadows for the Eastern Counties Newspapers offices and print works in 1968.
It was unveiled by Princess Alexandra when the offices opened in 1970.
Meadows (1915-2005) was born in Norwich and attended Norwich School of Art. He became Henry Moore’s first assistant in 1936 and studied at the Royal College of Art and the Courtald Institute.
‘Public Sculpture’ features polished golden-coloured bronze balls squashed between concrete blocks, and a large golden ball at the north end apparently liberated from the weight of the rest.
The Woolpack Inn was constructed around the corner on Golden Ball Street in the 1930s, and its distinctive street sign is a tightly-bound and bulging golden woolpack.
Meadows appears to reference this sculptural street sign in the stacked golden balls of his abstract sculpture.