Wolverhampton's Locally Listed Buildings

The Wolverhampton and Midland Counties Eye Infirmary (Outpatients and Accidents and Emergencies Extension)

Compton Road

Local Listing

The Outpatients'/Accident and Emergency Extension was built in 1937, just ten years after the Nurses' Home, but it belongs to an entirely different architectural world. The architect was Richard Twentyman (1903-79) of Lavender and Twentyman, which was probably the most important architectural practice working in Wolverhampton in the middle of the 20th century. Other important buildings by Twentyman include St. Martin's Church, Dixon Street which, despite its recent date (1938‑9), is Statutorily Listed (Grade II) and St. Andrew's Church, St. Andrew's Close and Bushbury Crematorium, Bushbury Lane both of which are included in the Council's Local List.

His building followed the principles of the International Modern Movement which rejected historic precedent as a source of architectural inspiration and considered function as the prime generator of form, using materials and technology in an entirely honest way. It is made up of a series of one‑ and two‑storey red brick boxes surmounted by flat roofs with projecting concrete parapets. The north and south elevations are parallel with the Compton and Merridale Roads respectively and these are connected at their east ends by a two-storey, concave brick wall facing towards Chapel Ash. Windows are square or rectangular and set into deep concrete reveals, some with concrete mullions. Internally, an intervening mezzanine level provides impressive, light and airy double height spaces for the waiting hall and consulting room.

Comment:  There are three principal buildings on this site: the original Infirmary of 1888; the Nurses' Home of 1927; and the Outpatients'/Accident and Emergency Extension of 1937. These buildings are quite different in style but all are of definite architectural and historic interest and all were designed by significant local architects.

All three buildings are locally listed and all are in the Oaks (Merridale Road) Conservation Area.  The notes under Local Listing” above are taken from the Conservation Area Appraisal and are therefore somewhat more comprehensive than the usual local listing notes.  A full history of the Infirmary can be found on this site if you follow this link.  It will be apparent that the Eye Infirmary has been very important in the social and health history of the city.  It has been a greatly appreciated facility in which there was a good deal of local pride. 

The local health care trust decided, in 2004, to close the Eye Infirmary, sooner rather than later, and move its services to somewhere else, unspecified and apparently unknown.  These buildings are, therefore, at risk and sympathetic new uses need to be found for them.  As the grounds in which they stand are now crowded and suffering from poor landscaping and neglect, any re-development should be treated as an opportunity to greatly improve the setting of these buildings.