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Scotland’s Art Deco Heritage 40 (iii): Greenbank, Helensburgh

Greenbank is a classic Art Deco house in Helensburgh – once West Dunbartonshire but now – after the Tories gerrymandered Scottish council areas in 1976 in an attempt to bolster their representation, not that that’s how it turned out – in Argyll and Bute

Strong horizontals and verticals, rounded canopy and balcony, appears to be Critall windows still. They’ve not been “poked out” anyway. It looks more like cream than white rendering, though, but that’s okay:-

Greenbank, Helensburgh

The colour scheme reminds me of Wolverton in Silver End.

Greenbank, Helensburgh

A side view:-

Side View, Greenbank, Helensburgh

The Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938

The zenith of Art Deco (or of Moderne if you must) in Scotland came in 1938 with the Empire Exhibition, Scotland, held in Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, and which opened 75 years ago today on 3/5/1938.

Tait's Tower

Its signature building was the Tower of Empire (seen in the above photograph taken from the link) designed by Thomas Tait whose houses at Silver End I featured eighteen months ago. The tower was erected on the hill in Bellahouston Park and dominated the Exhibition.

Tait was in overall charge of the architecture for the Exhibition – some of whose buildings made extensive use of the new construction material, asbestos cement! – and designed many of the buildings himself.

My favourite is the Atlantic Restaurant, a ship-shaped building cresting the wave of the hill on which it was set, two postcards of which I reproduce below.

Atlantic Restaurant

Atlantic Restaurant in Colour

Sadly almost none of the buildings remain. (It was a condition of such events that their locations were restored to their original condition soon afterwards. Moreover shortly afterwards the country was involved in the Second World War and conserving architecture became a minor consideration. The Exhibition itself came to an end in the midst of the Munich Crisis.)

Only the Palace of Arts is still standing in Bellahouston Park itself. It was transformed into a sports pavilion. The Palace of Engineering was taken down and re-erected at Prestwick Airport and can still be found there. The South Africa building was in Dutch Barn style rather than deco or moderne and later became a staff canteen at ICI Ardeer. All the rest were demolished.

Think of what a tourist attraction Tait’s Tower, as it was known, could have been! Glasgow’s answer to Eiffel.

As it is, the main tourist draw in the Park today is the House for an Art Lover built to designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh whose buildings are a sort of bridge between the freer, flowing style of Art Nouveau and the more rigid Art Deco.

You may have noticed that I have added a new category to my list especially for this Exhibition. There is so much more I could, and will, post.

Coggeshall, Essex

Coggeshall is a village on the road between Braintree and Colchester. We used to pass through it a lot on the bus to Colchester (and back) when we went of a Saturday to the big metropolis from the wilds of Braintree. At least it was on the main A 120 road then; like Braintree it too has been bypassed now.

Coggeshall had a reputation in Braintree as being inhabited by yokels – they told tales of “Coggies” in the same way others would of the Irish (or the Irish do of Kerrymen.) It’s barely three miles away!

We went on there after Silver End to see how much it had changed. Answer: not a lot. Mind you the minor road from Silver End to Coggeshall Hamlet (just south of Coggeshall proper) is the windiest thing I’ve ever driven on – like a sideways roller coaster. The road is called Cut Hedge Lane and skirts the edges of a farmer’s fields and there are no fences – nor hedges come to that – the fields start where the road’s edge is.

Coggeshall is still quaint, with Tudor style wooden framed houses of which this was the example most lopsided in appearance.

Tudor Style Building,Coggeshall, Essex

It’s not without some modern references, though. Someone had obviously been watching The Two Ronnies.

Fork 'Andles

Wolverton, Silver End

On the way out of Silver End we passed another Art Deco house so of course I had to stop to photograph it.

This is Wolverton, also on Boar’s Tye Road.

Wolverton (close up)

It’s nice that the plants outside the door reflect the house’s symmetry – even if the climber doesn’t.

Wolverton, side view

The balcony, with its W motif, is a nice touch and the gatepost (see below) is exquisite.

Wolverton, left side view

The housing estate I mentioned in my last Art Deco post was built by Francis Henry Critall for the workers at his window factory in the village.

This more stylish house was for one of the factory managers to live in. I presume the other biggish Deco house in Boar’s Tye Road (see my last Art Deco post,) though not quite as elaborate as Wolverton, was also for a manager.

Silver End, Essex

The day after Braintree we took in the nearby village of Silver End. This was the first time we’d been there as for all the years we lived in Essex we didn’t have a car.

We were looking for the housing estate designed by the architect Thomas S Tait who I see from the link submitted an unsuccessful plan for Kirkcaldy Town Hall. Among other accomplishments he was the architect of St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh which I have featured here and here.

We knew we were on the right track when we came upon this in Boar’s Tye Road:-

 Silver End, Boar's Tye Road

It’s needing a bit of TLC I would say.

The next junction takes you into Silver Street. Every building is one of Tait’s.

Silver Street, Silver End, Essex. (part)

This was taken from the other end of the street after we had parked.

Silver Street, Silver End, Essex from west. 1

This is the junction of Silver Street and Broadway which also contains many Tait houses.

 Silver End, Broadway + Silver Street sign

There must have been around two hundred flat roofed houses in the deco style over the two streets.

A few had some extra deco flourishes like the triangular columns with windows in this photo where you can also see the connecting walls between them which house the gates to the rear gardens.

Triangular bits

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