Is this the most architecturally elaborate substation ever built?

posted in: Observations | 3

To make adding buildings to OSM slightly more interesting, I’ve been targeting listed buildings (for non-UK readers these are legally protected buildings and structures that have historic or architectural significance, with strict rules on alteration and preservation). Obviously the graffiti painters are excepted from these rules!

This gives me some motivation for surveying and provides some welcome relief from what can be a tedious process. Further web and library-based research can also be rewarding.

So imagine my surprise to see a humble electricity substation appearing on the list. Intrigued, I set off for the Selly Oak area of Birmingham and found this gem just off the Bristol Road, behind the library.  Either energy prices were even more of a rip-off when this was built, or architects and engineers were given more scope to exhibit civic pride in their work. I like to think it was the latter.

Has anyone else anything better in the way of ornate electricity substations?

3 Responses

    • Mappa Mercia

      I use listed_status=Grade II, Grade I or Grade II* and in the source tag where I got the info from- usually a local authority list but sometimes from English Heritage. If it’s also designated as a heritage building ( e.g UNESCO or a Civic Society or Local Authority Tourist Trail I also use heritage= x following the wiki tagging guidelines. I should probably write a wiki page!

  1. Unknown

    It makes more sense when you know that it was actually built as a water pumping station. These could be very elaborate indeed, both externally and internally – water supply was a source of great municipal pride as well as being a major contribution to public health. If you think this is elaborate, the same architects, Martin and Chamberlain, built a vast example in Venetian Gothic at Whitacre, near Shustoke, Warwickshire (still in use by Severn Trent), which has been compared to one of their board schools.

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