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Report - Prudential Insurance building, Oldham, july 2017.

Lancashire lad

chief taster for costa coffee
28DL Full Member
#1
History

The building dates to 1908 and was built at the offices of the Prudential Assurance Company to designs by Paul Waterhouse.

Paul Waterhouse (1861-1924) was the son of the prominent Victorian architect, Alfred Waterhouse. He entered into practice with his father in 1891 and completed several of the firm’s major commissions including University College Hospital, London (listed Grade II) and the headquarters of the Prudential Assurance Company on Holborn, London (Grade II). He was the lead designer of, amongst other buildings, the hospital’s new Medical School and Nurses Home in 1905 (Grade II), Lloyds Bank in Birmingham in 1905 (Grade II), the Dyson Perris Chemistry Laboratory in Oxford in 1913 (Grade II) and Prudential Assurance Company offices in Aberdeen and Lewisham in 1908 and Grimsby in 1913 (the latter Grade II). An elevational drawing of the Lewisham offices was published in The Builder in May 1908. Waterhouse was a member of the Art Workers’ Guild and President of the RIBA from 1921-3.

By employing the same architectural practice to design its offices across the United Kingdom, the Prudential Assurance Company developed a recognisable ‘house style’ of architecture in the C19. Alfred Waterhouse established the template in the 1880s and offices in a red brick and terracotta Gothic style followed at Liverpool, Bolton, Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oldham, Portsmouth and Sheffield and elsewhere followed in the 1880s and 1890s, all in a similar idiom (all these buildings are now listed). In all these buildings great attention was paid, in addition to practical and structural matters, to the picturesque massing and the skyline. Waterhouse's eclectic approach to style allowed him to create degrees of richness that could accurately reflect status or meet a variety of cost constraints. His general preference for Gothic forms was combined with a structural logic that matched richly articulated façades with straightforward steel skeletons. Although he used a variety of stones, particularly early in his career, he was concerned at the problems of supplying large quantities of evenly coloured stone, and also at the problems of pollution. He was an early member of the Smoke Abatement Society, and this was a major factor in his adoption of the supposedly self-washing terracotta for which he is so famous. This moulded material also had the advantage of allowing rich ornament at an economical price. From the 1880s his terracotta exteriors were matched by similar material inside in the form of moulded and glazed faience. His work therefore had a consistency in its use of high-quality materials, attention to practical details, and its general solidity. By the Edwardian period, Gothic had given way to Baroque in architectural taste, and the buildings for Prudential built by Paul Waterhouse followed the new trend; the palate of materials established by Waterhouse Senior was continued, however, and the new offices were built in the mixture of pink granite or stone, red brick and terracotta that was by now strongly identified with the Prudential firm.

Explore
So having spent most of this year concentrating on mainly photography I let urban exploration take a back seat, only done three explores up to date. I saw this place posted on the facebook page and got some info on it, got the band back together and set out on a day trip. Entry was good no sudden surprises just a relaxed mooch through three floors of office spaces and the banking area, the upper floors are stripped and nothing of interest left to see just some corridor shots for photographing and some decent looking decay, the ground floor tho is a different story. old oak panelling fills the alcoves while glazed ceramic tile adorns nearly every wall and fireplace. the roof is plaster with decorative moulding and theres mosaics on the floors. The basement level is where they had the night club apart from a dodgy paint scheme theres not a lot to see. Over all a decent explore worth a look if your in the area.

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