Architecture Listed places Post-War Architecture

6 Historic Places That Celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

To commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee six historic sites have been protected.

Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne – 70 years ago – on the sudden death, in the early hours of 6 February 1952, of her father, King George VI.

Cabin in a tree top
Treetops Hotel, Kenya, Africa. Image in the Public Domain.

Elizabeth and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, were 6,000 miles away on a tour of the Commonwealth, having reached Kenya. They had just started their stay at a remote lodge, Treetops Hotel, as part of a five-day wildlife safari.

Front page of Daily Telegraph reporting the death of King George VI
The Daily Telegraph front page, 7 February 1952, announcing the death of George VI the day before. He was 56. Image courtesy of Nicky Hughes.
 

Knowing nothing about the King’s death, on 6 February, the young­­­­­­ couple travelled on to Sagana Lodge, given to them by the Kenyan people as a wedding present on their marriage five years before. 

It was at Sangana that Elizabeth received the sad and momentous news.

Princess Elizabeth at the top of stairs exiting an airplace, while a flight attendant salutes her.
Elizabeth flew back to Britain, arriving at London’s Heathrow Airport in the afternoon of 7 February 1952 (pictured), where she was met by the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Her coronation as Queen Elizabeth II would take place 16 months later – 2 June 1953. Image in the Public Domain.

Elizabeth had travelled to Kenya as a Princess but now returned to Britain as monarch. She was just 25.

To commemorate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – marking 70 years since her accession – we have protected six places connected with The Queen.

These listings help illuminate some of the significant social, technical, cultural and infrastructural developments that have taken place in Britain during The Queen’s reign.

1. Imperial Hotel, Stroud, Gloucestershire

With its striking columned arcade, this impressive hotel was built by Benjamin Bucknall (1833-1895), who worked extensively in the local area.

A large sandstone hotel on a corner, one side is covered by ivy.
Imperial Hotel, Stroud, Gloucestershire, opened on 12 October 1863 and occupies a prime corner location opposite Stroud station. It remained in business for 150 years until 2020, when it was mothballed. The building has new owners who are in the process of modernising it into a boutique hotel—listed Grade II. © Historic England Archive DP324927.

The hotel was designed to cater for travellers on the Great Western Railway – many from London and the Midlands – and was the first building encountered on leaving the station.

The Imperial’s proprietors took advantage of the advent of the railways in the mid-19th century – which opened up tourism in Britain – publicising the new hotel with newspaper adverts in a bid to attract visitors from a wide area.

Old photograph of school girls
Schoolgirls from Stroud Girls’ High School among the crowds waiting to welcome Princess Elizabeth, March 1950. Image in the Public Domain.

Princess Elizabeth (soon to be Queen Elizabeth II in 1953) made a brief royal visit to Stroud when she was 23.

A pink photo album with a photo of The Queen's face in the centre, detailing her visit to the school.
Cover of an album of news cuttings about Princess Elizabeth’s visit, created by Sue Harrison, a local schoolgirl at the time. Image courtesy of Sue Harrison.

Elizabeth visited the Imperial Hotel – which had just undergone refurbishment – receiving a civic welcome by local dignitaries there while local Red Cross junior cadets formed a guard of honour.

2. All Saints Church, Shard End, Birmingham

All Saints Church was the first church built in Birmingham after the Second World War.

Side view of a large brown church
All Saints Church, Shard End, Birmingham, built 1954-55. Listed Grade II. © Historic England Archive DP347295.

Many churches there had been damaged by air raids, and the War Damage Commission provided money to rebuild All Saints, but on a different site – a post-war housing estate on the outskirts of the city where many of the population had migrated from the inner city.

General view of nave with passage aisles and brick columns
The restrained and elegant interior of All Saints Church, whose columns feature a spiralling brick pattern. Image © Historic England Archive DP347303

With its subtle craftsmanship, the church was designed by local architect Frank J. Osborne (1886-1959), responsible for many civic and industrial buildings in Birmingham.

A statue of Christ on a plinth
Sculpture of Christ by Birmingham sculptor William Bloye (1890-1975). Image © Historic England Archive DP347296.

The church features sculptural works by William Bloye, such as the image of Christ pictured and an arched doorway with a carved stone frieze depicting a crown and two crossed palm leaves.

Detail of tablet to porch inscribed: This church was consecrated by Leonard Bishop of Birmingham on All Saints Day 1955 and was visited by Queen Elizabeth II two days later.
All Saints Church memorial plaque. Image © Historic England DP347308.

The church was consecrated in 1955 on All Saints Day (1 November). It is a mark of the church’s cultural importance that it was selected as one of the destinations for a royal visit to Birmingham, with The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visiting on 3 November.

3. M62 Motorway County Boundary Markers

The construction of the 7-mile cross-Pennine section of the M62 motorway – linking the Manchester area with Leeds/Bradford and Britain’s highest motorway – was a triumph of civil engineering. It was the first motorway to use embankments and cuttings to avoid the problem of drifting snow, influencing the construction of motorways in the future.

Two black cars, one with The Queen inside, going down the motorway.
The Queen en route to open the new stretch of the M62 on 14 October 1971. Image in the Public Domain.

The two markers used the heraldic insignia of the Red Rose of the House of Lancaster and the White Rose of the House of York, symbolising the historic rivalry between the two counties dating back to the War of the Roses (1455-85) – a series of civil wars fought over control of the English throne.

Placing the markers near each other is equally symbolic, signifying modern common purpose and friendship.

A blue plaque which reads: 'This plaque marks the boundary between the counties of Lancaster and York and was unveiled by the Queen on the occasion of her Majesty’s inaugural visit to the Lancashire Yorkshire motorway M62 on 14  October 1971.'
An identical commemorative plaque recording the inaugural visit of Queen Elizabeth, is fixed to the plinth of each boundary marker. The laque reads ‘This plaque marks the boundary between the counties of Lancaster and York and was unveiled by The Queen on the occasion of her Majesty’s inaugural visit to the Lancashire Yorkshire motorway M62 on 14  October 1971. Image ©Yorkshire Pics/Alamy Stock Photo.

4. Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire

In the 1980s, Hampshire County Council decided to construct a purpose-built archive and library, the collection having previously been housed in disparate buildings since the 18th century. 

South-west elevation, view of the three terraced stories from the south-west.
Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, Hampshire. Listed Grade II. Imag © Historic England Archive DP324895.

Hampshire County Council’s Architect’s Department was led by Sir Colin Stansfield Smith (1932-2013), and the Record Office was among the first of many of the Department’s noted big-budget public buildings.

Drone photography, aerial view from the south.
Drone photography, aerial view from the south.
Interior view of the record office with desks set up with computers and chairs
The Record Office provided naturally light-filled areas for staff and visitors. Image © Historic England Archive DP324904.

The building is an important example of late-20th century archive repository design, including environmental control of the archive’s strong rooms and increased energy consciousness.

5. Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

In 1571, a mineral spring – Tewit Well – was discovered in Harrogate. The town became known as the English’ spa’ – the first use of the term in Britain.

Exterior, drone shot from south east.
Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade, Valley Gardens, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, designed by the Borough Surveyor, Leonard Clarke. Newly listed Grade II. Image © Historic England Archive DP290460.

In the 19th century, the health benefits of the town’s many mineral springs made it a popular spa destination for wealthy Victorian visitors who flocked to ‘take the waters’ – drinking or bathing. Valle Gardens was laid out around 1880, creating a tranquil walk close to the springs.

Visitors relaxing under umbrellas in front of the Sun Pavilion.
Historic postcard – probably produced not long after the Sun Pavilion had opened in 1933 – showing visitors dining and relaxing under sun umbrellas. Image courtesy of Nicky Hughes.

The Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade, with its octagonal entertainment space top-lit by an Art Deco stained glass dome – were part of a major spa development scheme intended to make Harrogate one of the finest spas in Europe. The complex was designed as a place for rest and refreshment after exercising or taking the spa waters.

Sun colonnade
Part of the Sun Colonnade, or ‘Sun Walk’, which would originally have had a glazed roof. Image © Historic England Archive DP290461.

By the 1980s, the Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade had fallen into disrepair and were under threat, along with much of the Valley Gardens.

From 1986, the ‘Friends of Valley Gardens’ group – formed after public outrage at the local council’s proposal to create a car park on the site of the gardens – led a successful 12-year campaign to restore the Pavilion and the gardens, supported by high profile names such as environmental activist David Bellamy.

In December 1998, the Sun Pavilion and Sun Colonnade were officially re-opened by The Queen, who watched a tea dance in the newly restored building.

6. Queens Theatre, Hornchurch, Greater London

Local authorities around the country were significant players in terms of urban planning and design during the reconstruction of Britain after the Second World War.

Exterior view from the south-west of the Queen's Theatre
Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, Greater London, designed by RW Hallam and NWT Brooks of Havering Borough’s Architect’s Office. It was opened in April 1975 by Peter Hall, Director of the National Theatre. Newly listed Grade II. Image © Historic England Archive DP301520.

There was a drive to provide better municipal services for the public, with many urban centres building ‘cultural quarters’ that included libraries, concert halls, and theatres, enjoying a great revival. These civic buildings were often integrated with other services, such as police stations.

The Queen’s Theatre is illustrative of this new thinking. It was combined with a telephone exchange, library, fire station and municipal offices to create the nucleus of a civic centre located in a green setting.

Exterior view from the south looking along the west elevation of the Queen's Theatre, showing the entrance steps
Entrance to The Queen’s Theatre. Image © Historic England Archive DP301526.

With its severe horizontal and vertical geometry, dark brick and smoked glazing, the building is a stylistically strong example of 1970s theatre design.

Interior view showing the cafe area in the foyer of the Queen's Theatre
 
The theatre’s foyer. Image © Historic England Archive DP301527.

With its floor-to-ceiling windows, the foyer was always designed to be used as a social space.

Interior view of the Queen's Theatre, showing the stage from the auditorium
View of The Queen’s Theatre’s fan-shaped auditorium. Its stage does not have a proscenium arch and projects into the audience, providing a close link with the performers. It is a good surviving example of 1970s theatre design philosophy which pushed back against the 1960s rejection of conventional performance spaces. Image Historic England Archive DP301532.

The theatre has had few alterations over the decades, exterior or interior. The auditorium retains its original banks of 508 folding seats, upholstered in traditional red plush fabric. The dressing rooms still have their original fixtures, such as side-lit mirrors and costume storage. 

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh meeting Bob Carlton in 2003 at The Queen’s Theatre
The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh meeting Bob Carlton in 2003 at The Queen’s Theatre, where he was the current Director. Image courtesy of The Queen’s Theatre.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh visited The Queen’s Theatre in 2003 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of its predecessor, also called Queen’s (closed in 1970 and demolished).

This letter was the first professional theatre company in the country to be set up by a local authority and was established in 1953, the year The Queen was crowned.

By Nicky Hughes.

Further Reading

0 comments on “6 Historic Places That Celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: