Tyne and Wear HER(12902): Newcastle, Erick Street, Dex Garage and car park - Details
Newcastle, Erick Street, Dex Garage and car park
Multi Storey Car Park
Garage built in the Arts in Art Deco style. Three bay, three-storey face with projecting end towers and central bay, over garage door. The remainder of the structure is concrete. The car park has been extended over Erick Street and now faces Carliol Street above a one-storey nightclub building. McCombie (2009) - concrete 1930s, by L.J. Couves & Partners, and early example of ramped access. The building was considered for listing by English Heritage in November 2009 but was not listed because although it was an early example of a multi-storey car park, other earlier ones survive, because the principal elevation lacks distinction and because the building has undergone changes which undermine its integrity (rooftop extension, extension to rear and changes to the front). The first multi-storey car park to be built in Britain was in Wardour Street, London in 1903. This used a lift to raise the motor cars to the upper decks. Ramped car parks (or parking garages) emerged in the 1920s. The earliest was at Mount Pleasant, in Islington, London in 1922-3. By 1939 there were several ramped car parks in London but they were rare elsewhere. Buildings plans for the multi-storey car park in Newcastle were approved in 1930. The car park was open by 12 May 1931. The name Dex was in homage to the Lex Garage in Brewer Street, London of 1929 (listed grade 2), and was a pun on its parking decks. L.J. Couves & Partners had already designed the 1928 Carliol House with architects Tait, Burnet and Lorne. The construction of the car park demonstrates the growing importance of the motor car and the need for car parking in the city. The concrete structure was built by Trussed Concrete Steel Co. Ltd of London. The car park is contemporary with the adjacent Paramount (Odeon) Cinema of September 1931. The building was more than just a car park. It had a forecourt for petrol sales, car showrooms, administrative offices, a workshop and a chauffeurs' waiting room and wash rooms. In 1934 plans for a roof top showroom, car wash and offices were approved. A steel box was added to the original flat roofed uppermost deck in the early 1940s. The garage became the official retailers for Rolls Royce, Bentley and auto agents for Daimler and Lanchester. From 1963 until 1980 the garage was serving and selling Singer, Bentley, Jaguar and Rolls Royce. In 1970 a south eastern extension was built, designed by Fitzroy Robinson Partnership of London. The car showroom was converted to a clothes retail unit. Petrol sales ceased by 1980 and the forecourt canopy was removed. The turntables on each floor were removed in October 2007. Dex Garage is trapezoidal in plan. It has a steel framed structure with suspended reinforced concrete floors, ramps, roof and staircases. The external walls are white painted rendered brick. The main elevation is symmetrical, five bays in width, with projecting tower-like four-storey sides. The left-hand side bears the inscription DEX GARAGE. A projecting central bay runs the height of the building from first floor level above the venicle entrance. There are three-light steel top hung casement windows. The cast-iron hoppers and down pipes are original. The sides and rear of the building are plain. Inside there are 11 staggered parking floors, providing parking for 376 cars. The ramps have original iron railings. The tower in the north-west corner contains a lift shaft with encircling stairs with a moulded wooden hand rail. Original lift doors with copper glazing. Original timber doors survive elsewhere. Numerous ancillary rooms such as the chaffeur's lounge and wash room, remain. The garage offices and show rooms lie either side of the main entrance. One of the offices retains a terrazzo floor with the word DEX cast within it. Some original signage is retained. The second floor contains the partial remains of a vehicle lift shaft and some original plant.
Archaeological Services University of Durham, August 2006, East Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne - archaeological desk-based assessment and photographic record, part 2: gazeteer, pages 80-85; Grace McCombie, 2009, Newcastle and Gateshead, page 186; English Heritage (Listing) Advice Report, 9 November 2009; Spence and Dower, 2009, Dex Garage, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne - An appraisal of its history and development