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Shane OToole
Participant

As with all unlisted buildings, planning permission is not required for the demolition of the Wiggins Teape building.

Dublin Corporation decided to grant planning permission on April 19, 2000 to Collen Group Ltd to redevelop this site, including demolition of the building, with the exception of part of the central entrance/portico. [Reg Ref 0266/00]

The artist James Hanley, who is a local resident, appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanala on May 17 and on June 15 DOCOMOMO made an observation to the Board in support of his appeal. [PL 29N.119524]

The architect of this building was John Stevenson (1890-1950) of Samuel Stevenson & Sons, Belfast. The firm, which was established in 1886, is still in practice. Stevenson, who was president of the RSUA from 1939 until 1943, was a regular visitor to Dublin, where he also designed the wonderful functionalist building that was Boland’s Bakery – stripped back to its structure and reclad some years ago, to become the Treasury Building on Lower Grand Canal Street. Stevenson’s obituary in the RIAI Yearbook records that he led an AAI site visit to Bolands, then under construction, just months before his death.

The Wiggins Teape building was built in 1931 for the Gallaher tobacco group. The EIS that accompanies the planning application states that “a number of similar buildings were built in Dublin at this time, due to the operation of protective tariffs on tobacco [John Player & Son in Glasnevin, H D Wills on the South Circular Road]… It was originally named Virginia House, but the changing economic conditions of the 1930s meant a transfer of ownership to Fry Cadbury, who renamed it Alexanda House… The building was acquired by Wiggins Teape in 1965 and renamed Gateway House.”

The facade to East Wall Road includes one of the earliest known uses here of reconstituted stone, and for that reason alone would be of importance. But Stevenson was also steeped in classical architecture and this is evident in the skillful massing, composition and detail of the facade – the design of which, it appears, may even have been ordered by the use of regulating lines or proportioning systems.

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