Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

Former Health Clinic

Prouds Lane, Bilston

Listing:  Purpose built health clinic. 1937-8.  Architects: Lyons and Israel. Locally Listed, approved March 2000.

Comment:  By the time this clinic was built the firm of Lyons and Israel had been joined by C. H. Elsom and the designs are in the names of all three. But Thomas Ellis had also joined the firm and Pevsner declares the building to be by Lyons, Israel and Ellis.

Originally built as a health centre, this building is now used as the Bilston Community Centre.  It stands between two major roads on a vee shaped site.  At the base of the vee (shown in the photo above) is the entrance and a double height hall; the arms of the vee are single storied, with rooms originally used as offices, consultation rooms and other clinic uses.  At the end of the arm which fronts Prouds Lane is a caretaker's house.

Duncan Nimmo writes:

Although on a modest scale the building is architecturally of national, as well as of particular local, importance.  The designs (for the then Bilston Borough Council) went to open competition, in which there were 51 entries.

The winners, the London firm of Lyons and Israel, were significant to Wolverhampton as the architects of the much more substantial Civic Halls, which had also gone out to open competition. 

Thus, in general, it is symmetrical, quite plain, with an emphasis on the horizontal, for example in the use of flat roofs.  At the same time it avoids monotony by building up the basic rectangular shapes to different levels.  (photo left: the caretaker's house).

It is also noteworthy that the facade is slightly curved, not straight.

Features which seem to be typical of Lyons and Israel are the use of circles ("portholes") as a motif, for example in the lights in the hall, the window of the caretakers house and the glass panels in the internal doors.

The use of ceramic tiles, with horizontal emphasis, (seen in the photo, right, of the front entrance)  is also typical of Lyons and Israel.  The door and the window furniture throughout appear to be mainly original.

Pevsner says the clinic is "the moment of Dudok inspiration in England".   Willem Dudok was the Director of Public Works at Hilversum where, in the 1920s, he had produced many modernist buildings but in brick.  These buildings proved influential and seem to have influenced Lyons and Israel here.

"The Builder", 4th June 1937, contains an extensive report of the competition with an appreciation of the winning design.  It shows the designs of the first and second place entries, the latter being a neo-Georgian design (with a very similar ground plan and also with a curved front facade) by Wesley Dougill.

The building is also of social significance: a purpose-built health clinic was an important part of a progressive social policy.