Mr W.S. Wood came to the area from north west England to the area in 1912 to occupy a small shop selling mostly ladies clothing . During the next 20 years purchased the adjoining premises. Sidney Colwyn Foulkes was asked to design him a new building on the same site, in the Romanesque style and fronted by an arcade. The existing buildings were to be demolished. Concern was expressed by the two adjoining landowners about the impact of the demolition on their properties. However, thankfully, no problems occurred. The new store opened in 1933 and was the town’s premier shop. Above the shopfront are two art deco busts mounted on pedestals, a typical Colwyn Foulkes feature. The front of the building is clad in Portland stone.
Former W. S. Wood shop, Station Road
No 4, Station Road, Colwyn Bay, formerly Wood’s department store stands in a prominent location at the top of the road. This remarkable building is one of Colwyn Bay’s most notable, unusual and interesting buildings. It is not surprising that this building, designed by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes in the Romanesque style is Listed Grade II.
W.S.Woods department store was opened on October 15th 1935 (“Spirit of Colwyn Bay: 1 by Eunice Roberts and Helen Morley) The photograph in this book, page 105, shows the original shop front with display cabinets in front of the deeply recessed shop front. There was a large central display cabinet with others on the side and possibly more, closer to the entrance to the store. The original shop front and display cabinets have been replaced by a modern shop front with the entrance on the right hand side.
Of particular interest are the statues or figures, one at each end of the shop front on top of the pilaster. The Listing details refer to, these as “Ashlar pilasters to either side carry Neo-Egyptian terms.” Edward Hubbard in his book “Buildings of Wales – Clwyd (Denbighshire aand Flintshire)” also comments on these as follows- “Above the shop front are two Art Deco busts on pedestals”. Whatever the source of their inspiration, happily these unusual features survive, if somewhat eroded in places, perhaps adding to their mystery.
Immediately above the shopfront a row of, what appears to be lead troughs runs between the pilasters. Closer examination of these shows that the taller ones all have the letter “W”, the monogram of Mr Wood. There are 10 of these taller “W” units with lower troughs in between. Nos 2-9 of the taller troughs line up with the columns between the first floor windows.
Much of the upper part of the front elevation is taken up by the nine tall latticed windows, each in 17 panes, with semi-circular arches above. As with, for example, No 7 Abergele Road just round the corner it is well worth pausing to look closely at the design and detailing of these windows. Note, for instance, the decoration of the eight columns and the different capitals at the top:
- Columns 1 & 8 have a lattice or diamond shape decoration
- Columns 2 & 7 are decorated in double wavy lines.
- Columns 3 & 6 have a lattice or diamond shape decoration
- Columns 4 & 5 have a spiraling line going in opposite directions.
A study of the decoration in the tympanium above the nine windows reveals that there are differences in the designs. (A tympanium may be described as the space between a lintel and the arch above it)
- Tympana 1 & 9 are the same
- Tympana 2 & 8 are the same
- Tympana 3 & 7 are the same
- Tympana 4 & 5 are the same
Portland stone has been used in the other town centre buildings designed by Sidney Colwyn Foulkes – see No 7, Abergele Road and the former Williams Deacons Bank on Conway Road. Portland stone has been used too here and note how well it complements the design and detailing.
The upper part of the front elevation, above the windows up to the unleaded corbel table below the parapet and cornices, is of ashlar masonry without string courses or decoration. The courses of masonry are generally of equal depth, but with a deeper course at the level of the base of the pilasters to the sides of the first floor windows and the capitals of the columns, and shallower just below the scrolled corbels which support the arcade below the cornice. The next course up is the same depth as the corbels.
The upper part is described in the Listing details as “Arcaded corbel table” (An arcade may be described as a range of arches carried on piers or columns or, in this case, corbels.) Here there are 22 semi-circular arches in the arcade. As with No 7, Abergele Road a dentil course has been incorporated in the cornice.
Above this arcade of arches, lining up with the corbels there is a row of delightful 21small, carved circles possibly of a floral design, maybe with subtle differences in the detailing.
Edward Hubbard in this book referred to earlier makes these observations about the building;-“ On the opposite side at No 4, Sidney Colwyn Foulkes turned his eclectic hand to Romanesque with detail of great refinement.”
The concluding remarks in the Listing details state that “The shop is an excellent example of the work of S Colwyn Foulkes and a highly original design for a commercial building.”
Acknowledgement: David Birch
Read more about Sidney Colwyn Foulkes and his work here.