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Plymouth NAFFI (Hoe Centre) - [Visited 2012] - Jan 2014

Robert Dupon

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The building now known as The Hoe Centre lies at the southern end of the area which formed the focus for Patrick Abercrombie's 'Plan for Plymouth', an ambitious scheme for creating a grand Beaux-Arts city centre in place of the devastation caused by World War II bombing. The Hoe Centre lies within the space zoned for hotel use, and was one of the first buildings constructed in the Plan's implementation. Plymouth's importance as a naval base is also, of course, very considerable.

The Hoe Centre was originally constructed as a Naval, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) social club to the designs of Ernest Martin Joseph (d. 1960); begun in 1949, the building was completed in 1952 and opened by HRH Princess Margaret in July of that year. The building was an ambitious undertaking designed to play a prominent part in the bold city centre plan; the design followed a tradition created by such seminal buildings as Ragnar Östberg's Stockholm City Hall (1923), and WM Dudok's Town Hall at Hilversum (1928-31), which served as a reference for many British buildings of the 1930s, including the 1938 Norwich City Hall by CH James and SR Pierce (listed at Grade II*).

Ernest Joseph came from a family of architects. The firm Messrs Joseph was founded by his father, Nathan Solomon Joseph, a prominent designer of synagogues, and known for philanthropic projects; his brother and cousin were also architects. Ernest Joseph's own work included synagogues and philanthropic ventures, private houses, residential blocks, and commercial premises. Joseph had a long-lasting connection with the Ministry of Defence and the NAAFI. During the First World War he was appointed in an architectural capacity to the Army Canteen Board, later to become the NAAFI, and in World War II he became Director of Works, overseeing the construction of temporary clubs for troops. After the war, the NAAFI began a programme of erecting permanent club buildings to a high standard, often with residential accommodation for members of the forces and their families. Besides the scheme at Plymouth, Joseph designed such clubs for locations including Portsmouth (1946), Catterick, Chatham, Salisbury (1952), Lincoln, Aldershot and Colchester.

The club at Plymouth, which replaced a temporary hutted club opened in March 1945, incorporated a restaurant, tavern and cocktail bar, dance hall, reading and writing room, lounge, games room, and conference room, in addition to hostel accommodation. Flats were also provided on the site for the Club Manager and Manageress. Joseph had to work within several constraints in designing the building, making allowances for unstable cellars and rubble from blitzed buildings, as well as a considerable ground fall from west to east and from south to north. The requirement that the building be particularly maintenance-efficient influenced Joseph's choice of materials: aluminium Plymax was used on doors and light switches, hardwood veneers were employed, and Macula wood floors laid in many of the rooms, with Rexine used in areas of particularly heavy use. The building remained in use as a forces club - known latterly as the Plymouth Hoe Services Club - until 1969. From 1980 to 2007 it was the Plymouth School of Architecture.

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Stussy

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Nice bit of history, might have got a couple better pics using a tripod, but good efforts all the same (y)

:comp

 

Lara

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Nice report there, I do enjoy your write ups, thanks for sharing :)

 

Robert Dupon

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thanks bud yeah i did this when i had my old point and click digital cam but now got a tripod and another camera

 

skeleton key

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You should see some of my early stuff Rob you would laugh your self silly and not much has changed.

Thanks for the shares bud (y)

 
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