Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

Merridale House

124 Compton Road

Listing:  An application for planning permission was received on 6 May 2005 involving the demolition of 124 Compton Road and the redevelopment of the site with 16 flats. Representations received and research undertaken during the processing of the application revealed that the building is of special interest and the application was refused on 4 August 2005 on various grounds, including one relating to the architectural, historic and townscape value of the building. That proposal is now subject of an appeal although alternative proposals have also been submitted involving demolition and replacement of the rear wing and retention and conversion of the remainder.

The building is prominently located on the A454, being one of the principal approaches to the City Centre from the west. It was constructed in c1850 and is of rendered elevations (marked out in imitation of stone) under hipped, slate roofs. It has a mixture of sash and casement windows, some with leaded light, stained glass. There is a series of single storey and two storey, flat roofed, parapeted bays (a mix of square, splayed and round) and other extensions. It conveys the impression of progressive extension over time although early map evidence seems to suggest that it is largely in its original form. The only significant exception to this appears to be the round bays on the east facade, which are apparent on the map of 1889 but not on the map of 1871. It was one of the earliest houses to have been built in this area and is a relatively rare survivor of a building from this period.

The building is also of historic interest, being at one time the home of Sir Rupert Kettle. He was a lawyer and was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Grammar School and one of the Trustees involved in the foundation of the Art Gallery. Most notably he was the first President of the Midland Iron Trade Wages Board and was knighted in 1880 for his work in the development of a system of arbitration between employers and employed. The National Portrait Gallery holds a portrait of Sir Rupert in its collection.

Comment:  The local listing perhaps contains more than usual about the recent planning history of the site because of the current (late 2005, early 2006) unresolved planning issues.  And this is probably also the reason why the owner would not allow us in to photograph the front of the building (which is not visible from the road because of the herbiage). 

This is a case where an application to demolish drew attention to a building which had been accepted as part of the local scene but not much researched.  The research then done was mainly by Duncan Nimmo and Frank Sharman and an extensive account of Sir Rupert Kettle and his association with this house, appears here on this web site.

The house is also a fine example of the gentlemen's residence which, in the 19th century, started to appear on the roads leading from the town centre to the villages around.  When built this house (with its then extensive grounds) would have been in fields just beyond the built up area.  How much this house has been altered it is hard to say, though it is understood that not many original internal features remain.  Sir Rupert Kettle thought himself a bit if an architect and designed his holiday home at Towyn himself and also made many changes to the original architect's plans for the Grammar School which is just opposite this house.  So it is likely that he planned, even if he did not always execute, amny "improvements" to Merridale House.

Note that this house was always known as Merridale or Merridale House.  Merridale Farm (also a listed building) is a different building which later became known as Old Merridale Farm when New Merridale Farm was created (and that building is now known as Bantock House).