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Mayor must save one of famous Bristol architect’s last remaining works from demolition

The Victorian Society is calling on the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, to step in to save the former Avon Ambulance Service headquarters in the Old Market Bristol was designed by the eminent Bristol architect, E W Godwin.

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Just days before its expected demolition at the end of this week, campaigners have highlighted that the former Avon Ambulance Service headquarters in the Old Market Bristol was designed by the eminent Bristol architect, E W Godwin. The Victorian Society is calling on the Mayor of Bristol, George Ferguson, to step in to save the building, designed by the same architect as the more famous grade II*-listed Carriage Works building, which could be incorporated into the Homes and Community Agency’s (HCA) plans for the site.

Victorian Society Conservation Adviser, Sarah Caradec, said: ‘Bristol should take this last minute opportunity to save this early example of Godwin’s work in the area he was born and brought up in. Far too many examples of Godwin’s work have already been lost. Although English Heritage rejected an application to spot list the building, it recognised its strong local interest as an early Godwin building, as well as its group value with the associated Grade II*-listed Church of St Philip and St Jacob, which were restored by Godwin in the 1860s. We urge the Mayor of Bristol to recognise the building’s value and act now to ensure that the HCA build around it’.

Godwin designed the building for Saint Phillip and Saint Jacob’s schools in the 1860s.  Aileen Reid, an architectural historian specialising in Godwin, said ‘Ss Philip and Jacob was the Godwin family church where he was christened and which he attended… [Godwin] did get the job… and he was paid for the work’. Bristol’s directly elected mayor, George Ferguson, has also expressed his concern at the loss of the building on Twitter saying ‘I didn't know it's an EW Godwin building… Has anyone tried to spot list?’.

Edward William Godwin, who was born in born at 12 Old Market Street Bristol in 1833, was one of the most important figures in late-19th-century architecture and design. His national reputation arises mainly from his role in the Aesthetic Movement, but his time in Bristol was crucially important. Godwin formed his first architectural partnerships in the city, designed his first buildings there and lived two-thirds of his life in Bristol. Godwin worked on over two-dozen architectural projects in and around the city, together with about a dozen outside Bristol, including his famous Ruskinian-Gothic-style Northampton Town Hall.

Perhaps Godwin’s most famous Bristol building is Perry’s Carriage Works on Stokes Croft (1858-9). One of the earliest examples of ‘Bristol Byzantine’ this Grade II* -listed has stood empty since 1979, suffering arson and vandalism attacks.

Bristol seems not to take its famous son seriously. In 1949 Godwin’s daughter, gave Bristol Museum 14 pieces of Godwin-designed furniture from his home. In 1976 the Museum exhibited this furniture for the first time, since when only one has been on public view.

Wednesday 18 March, 2015

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