Heaton Place is sandwiched between Ebberston Road West and Digby Road, in the “upper” part of Rhos on Sea. It is the property of the Eventide Homes Charitable Housing Trust. The Trust originated in 1946 from a meeting of the local Council of Churches where concerns were expressed about the lack of affordable accommodation for elderly people living on incomes seriously affected by inflation. The original proposal envisaged the acquisition of a large house which could be suitably adapted. However, due to serious objections, it was decided to embark on the more ambitious idea of building houses. These would then be made available at a modest rent by retired people within the area who, during their more active lives, had made some contribution to the betterment of others in the community.
The Trust obtained the services and personal interest of Mr Sidney Colwyn Foulkes who prepared a scheme in the form of a small estate which could be created in stages as funding became available. The project was greatly assisted by the support of Mrs Heaton who sold a piece of her land at a low cost and after whom the development is named.
The complex, now completed, comprises five residential blocks with a total of 34 units. The first block of six house was completed in 1953, the second in1956, the third in 1964, the fourth in 1968 and the final, block five, in 1976.
Heaton Place layout and building chronology
All units offer the same accommodation:-
- entrance hall, lounge, bedroom, fitted kitchen and bathroom along with storage cupboards.
- heating and double glazing.
- the accommodation has been designed for easy living at manageable cost.
There is also a communal facilities block with laundry facilities. A purpose built community centre, “The Pavilion”, designed by Sidney’s son Ralph, was added and opened in 2003 by HRH the Duke of Kent. This is open every day providing facilities where residents can meet socially. It has a furnished informal lounge with provision for different activities, and also accommodates the Estate Manager’s office.
The grounds are maintained by the estate and landscaped in a corporate manner and over the years have been awarded first place in the relevant category of the annual “Wales in Bloom” competition. The estate also has security lighting and a residents’ car park. Although there are no support services on the estate, the Estate Manager is on site for part of several days of the week.
The residents organise their own committee that arranges activities and outings.
Management of the charity is vested in trustees, who are committed to maintaining the estate in good order and to an ongoing programme of upgrading each time a property becomes vacant. Their paramount objective has always been to enable residents to live in their own homes and retain their independence and dignity.
Heaton Place comprises 34 residential units in five blocks and the whole is sited in a very attractive landscaped setting.
It can be approached from both Ebberston Road West and Norton Road. The approach from Ebberston Road West is through what is essentially a pedestrian entrance, marked by two tall slender brick pillars capped by “pineapples”. The pillars are flanked by railings. As with much of Sidney Colwyn Foulkes’ work there is great attention to detail, often subtle and understated, but nevertheless very effective. Note, for example, the pilasters on the side of these pillars, capped with shaped bricks. Then there is also a single course of tile creasing four courses below the capping.
Entrance to Heaton Place from Ebberston Road West
Whilst the tarmac in front of the gated entrance provides some limited parking, behind the pillars the surfacing narrows and the private path leads to through to Heaton Place itself. It is bordered on each side by lawn and stone walls with the local “cock and hen” coping. At the end of the footpath is a driveway leading from Norton Road., also bordered by lawns.
The vehicular approach to Heaton Place is the driveway from Norton Road which in turn runs off Digby Road. The entrance from this direction is also marked by very similar brick pillars, also capped by “pineapples” – but perhaps not as decorative or refined as those from the Ebberston Road approach. A stone wall on the side of the driveway is flanked by a narrow grass strip, with the two pillars.
The land slopes gently down from the left of the driveway (roughly eastwards). The earliest four residential blocks have been built at right angles to the drive, single storey nearest to the roadway, and two storeys lower down.
Each block is of a very pleasing design. The rear elevations face towards the north, with the front elevations facing south to catch the day’s sunshine.
Commemorative date stones, which are almost always of interest on buildings, can be found on each of the four blocks. (See below) From these we can see the period of 16 years between the first block (nearest to Norton Road) and the fourth one, nearest to Ebberston Road West. Despite this time gap there is a remarkable sense of unity and continuity achieved by the repetition of the design, using the same materials and the all-important attention to detailing. This continuity has been assisted by the use of the Colwyn Foulkes Partnership as the architects.
The low stone wall running along the back of the entrance footpath creates a sense of privacy for the residents by providing a physical marker between the service road and the residences.
The residences themselves, which are situated in beautifully maintained grounds, mainly lawns but with shrub planting and trees (weeping willows, silver birch and a walnut). Each block is built in a warm “welcoming” orange/red brick under a tiled roof with chimneys located at the gables. Note the tile creasing up the verge and the fine brickwork in the Flemish bond, often specified by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes and the tiles corbelling at the bottom of the verges at gutter level. (Corbelling is brickwork successively more in each course as a means of support to such as a chimney or gutter) Of particular note is the angled brickwork up the verges, every three courses forming triangles. In his book “The pattern of English Building” Alec Clifton-Taylor refers to this as “brick tumbling” and adds that on end walls and gables and sometimes at the base of chimney stacks the bricks would be laid diagonally forming a series of triangles. These are not only ornamental but also practical, as bricks laid at right angles to the roof slope of the roof provide a smooth base for the coping. This device, of which many examples can be seen in Holland, Belgium and Picardy, won considerable favour in the 17th – 19th centuries in eastern counties of England, from Kent to Lincolnshire.
Single and two storey properties with gardens and lawn
Looking at the front elevations of the blocks, note the very practical, deep recessed, entrances for both the single and two storey units, These give protection from the worst of the weather as well as offering somewhere pleasant to sit and relax on warm sunny days. Above the wide recessed entrances in the two storey blocks, the first floor residents have deep and wide, open covered balconies reminiscent perhaps of that to be seen at the 1930’s Colwyn Foulkes designed “Wrens Nest” on Lansdowne Road (now glazed).
On both the single and two storey parts, the fronts are symmetrical and simple with very pleasing canted bay windows on the ground floor.
The spaces around the blocks have been skilfully laid out, between Blocks 1 and 2 and between 3 and 4 are service roads ending in small planted roundabouts. A wide lawned open space lying between blocks 2 and 3 has been planted with some trees. At the entrance to this service road the stone walls have been finished in a curved form, left open in the centre for planting.
Later single storey units (Block 5), also designed in the same style by the Colwyn Foulkes Partnership, were subsequently constructed behind blocks 1, 2, 3 and 4 on lower ground. A facilities building containing a residents meeting room/lounge was constructed in 2003 and was designed by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes’ son, Ralph.
In many ways Heaton Place is an exceptionally pleasing and delightful development – not only in terms of its layout, its recognition of the gently sloping ground, its design and detailing, but also in terms of the quality of its workmanship, the relationship between the units and the spaces in, and the mix of single and two storey buildings. For this reason Heaton Place makes a very notable and important contribution to the architectural heritage of Colwyn Bay and Rhos on Sea.
The commemorative stones, all on the elevation of the single storey blocks are as follows:-
- Block 1 (nearest Norton Road) – this stone was laid by Alderman Miss Ethel M Hovey JP. and Freeman of this Borough, April 23, 1952.
- Block 2 – this stone was laid by William Hargrave Storrs Esq JP., April 12, 1956.
- Block 3 – this stone was laid by Owen A Evans Esq JP., April 1964. (It is interesting to note that April was the month chosen for the keying of all these commemorative stones).
- Block 4 – in tribute to Miss E G Elliott and Miss A M Briggs to whose generosity we owe these homes, 1968.
The Colwyn Foulkes family
Read more about Sidney Colwyn Foulkes and his work here.