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Tyne and Wear HER(7419): Gateshead, Church Street, Kent House - Details

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Gateshead, Church Street, Kent House







Extant Building

DESCRIPTION / STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE This smart building is of great significance in its evocation of the vast impact created by the construction of the Tyne Bridge. In warm brick with artificial stone string courses, simple cornice and contrasting pale pointing, its sinuous form follows the pattern Church Street, at the time newly redirected to accommodate the approach to the bridge. As it ascends the street, the height rises from 2 to 3 storeys finished with fluted panels, through a feature tower displaying a flagpole on a hexagonal plaque. It takes full advantage of the prominence of its location with a striking curved terminus echoing the tighter curve of the Central pub opposite. It was designed as a showroom space for Snowball’s, who had a large store at the bottom of the street, hence the shallow, extremely long, highly glazed frontage that would enable great visibility to traffic travelling south over the bridge. It was a very modern building in its time, with what must have been an impressive glazed single storey arcade running the length of the rear, entered by the 2 doorways to Church St. Upstairs there were fitting rooms so it is likely that the clothing was on this level. The whole is detailed with elegant simplicity, with some Deco hints, including leaded toplights to the ground floor (now painted over) and simple but refined metal casements above (with secondary glazing behind) in a harmonious design. The slim section timber shopfronts appear predominantly original (although there are some unfortunate alterations to several bays) and in the past have cheerfully displayed canopies on still extant brackets, which could be brought back into operation. A single storey felt-roofed lean-to nestles at the rear. Overall, the building illuminates the forward-looking atmosphere at the time of its construction, when much of the old centre of Gateshead was being demolished around it. It creates a fine punctuation mark to the end of the elegant and world-famous bridge, and therefore has a strong relationship with it, forming an important part of its context. MATERIALS Brick, artificial stone, metal ARCHITECT James W Corking (16 West Street, Gateshead) DATES 1932 ADDITIONAL INFORMATION The store later became Shephards. The canopies were made by Hardy & Stewart of Newcastle. LOCAL LIST




Gateshead Council Local List Fact Sheet X20/LL/037; Tyne and Wear Archives CB.GA/BC/PLAN/1932/162 and 226

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