Civic Trust Awards in Wolverhampton

by Frank Sharman

The Civic Trust first started giving its awards in 1959.  From the start the top level award has been called an Award and there has also been a lower level called a Commendation.  In 1996 there were also what seem like third level awards, called Special Commendations.

It has always been the case that schemes to be considered for any level of award must be submitted by the designer (usually an architect) or the property's owner.  In the early days the works submitted were simply considered by an architect from outside the area, on whose say so awards and commendations were issued.  Later, Assessors (usually architects), from outside the area, were appointed to visit each site.   They were accompanied by a Lay Advisor (appointed by the Trust from those nominated by local Civic Societies), whose function was to try to place the site in its local context and to report on such matters as the site's acceptability, usability and contribution to the area.  The Assessor reports to a meeting of Assessors and that meeting decides on the awards.  One result of this has been (as no doubt intended) that awards and commendations became rarer and a higher standard was needed to get one.  Indeed it might be said that once you would get something for a decent piece of work but now you only get something for work which is outstanding judged by national standards.

For many years now the Civic Trust has run this award scheme in the shire counties one year and in the metropolitan areas the next year.

Wolverhampton has not been outstandingly successful in getting awards and commendations, though it may maintain a good enough average for towns of its size.  Although the local authority has been enthusiastic in submitting schemes, others have not been (and that feature of Wolverhampton has been noted since the earliest reports).  In the lists below, if there is no entry for a relevant year that means that there were no awards or commendations in Wolverhampton. (It may be noted that the number of awards seems to coincide with the economic state of the town).

Below are listed all the successes in Wolverhampton which I have been able to extract from the Civic Trust's records.  I am grateful to the Trust and their Librarian for the facilities given me for this work - but I should add that I alone am responsible for the accuracy of the lists.  The Civic Trust is currently computerising their records of these awards and that may correct any errors there may be in my list.  To state a personal interest I should mention that I was the Lay Advisor in Wolverhampton from 1983 to 1994 and I should add that Rudi Herbert has filled that office from 1996 to the present.

Wolverhampton awards and commendations

1959 Award Private House, The Viewlands, Tettenhall.
1960 Award New Retail Market, Wolverhampton
Lavatory, shelter and sub-station, Chapel Ash
1962 Award Flat Development, Wightwick Court, Wightwick
1963 Award Vauxhalls Housing Scheme
Award Telford Gardens, Merry Hill
1966 Commendation Clarkson's Store, Snow Hill
Commendation Housing at Chetton Green, Harrowby Rd and Boscobel Estate
Commendation Flats at Bantock Gardens, Finchfield Road
Commendation Hockey Club House, Pendeford Lane, Fordhouses
Award Ring Road roundabout at Penn Road
1969 Commendation Office Buildings, St. John's Square
Award Mander Centre
Commendation Slade Hill Flats, Tettenhall Road
Commendation Housing at the Old Manor site, Tettenhall
Commendation Swimming Baths, Bushbury
1974 Award Rock House, Old Hill, Tettenhall
1979 Award Civic Centre, St. Peter's Square
Commendation Road junction landscaping, Henwood Road
1983 Commendation Restoration of St. John's Church
1991 Commendation Combined Courts Building
1994 Commendation Conversion and extension of Chubb Building, Fryer Street
1996 Special Mention Restoration of Holy Trinity Almshouses
Special Mention Bilston Town Centre Pedestrianisation Scheme
Special Mention Refurbishment of Halifax Building Society branch, Queen Square.
2004 Award Refurbishment of Civic Halls


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