176 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1

From the Historic England entry:

“The Order of the Sons of Temperance (SOT) was established in New York in 1842 as a teetotalist friendly society, with the dual aim of sustaining its members in a teetotal way of life, and of providing them with a modicum of financial security in case of ill-health, and their families with an insurance payment in the event of their death. The organisation, conceived on Masonic principles with lodges, insignia and rituals, overseen by a Supreme Patriarch, soon spread to other US states and to several Canadian provinces, and had amassed 100,000 members by 1847. The first UK lodges were established in Liverpool and other northern cities in the late 1840s, and in 1853 a National Division of Great Britain was formed. Within this were numerous Grand Divisions, the largest of which, based in London but with branches as far afield as Ipswich and Reading, commissioned the present 176, Blackfriars Road as its headquarters in 1909-10, replacing a pair of terraced houses occupied by the SOT since 1904. The architect of the new building was Arthur Charles Russell, an honorary member of the Order, and the work was undertaken by J Marsland and Sons at a cost of £5,400. The building remained in SOT hands until 2011; it is now (2013) the offices of an architect’s practice.

MATERIALS: stucco, red brick and granite to front elevation; plain stock brick to rear.

PLAN: the building, once in mid-terrace but now free-standing, comprises a four-storey front range facing Blackfriars Road and a single-storey hall behind.

EXTERIOR: architectural display is restricted to the tall Blackfriars Road elevation, which – like many buildings associated with the temperance movement – deliberately recalls a public house. The style is Edwardian ‘Free Classical’, with the tripartite division of the facade emphasised on the first and second floors by a giant Corinthian order. A shallow bow window with a scrolled cartouche marks the middle bay, while the window architraves to right and left have broken pediments with big triple keystones. The frieze above is inscribed ‘SONS OF TEMPERANCE FRIENDLY SOCIETY’. The low attic storey is of red brick striped with stucco, the middle bay having diminutive Ionic half-columns and a frieze inscribed ‘LONDON GRAND DIVISION’. The parapet, which sweeps up to a balustrade over the middle bay, is topped with four spiked balls. At ground level the central window and the round-arched doorways on either side have moulded keystone surrounds of polished red granite, the twin panelled doors and window joinery being of hardwood. In the window are stained-glass spandrel panels, designed to be seen from without, showing the star-in-triangle-in-circle insignia and ‘LOVE – PURITY – FIDELITY’ motto of the Sons of Temperance. The middle pane has painted lettering which reads ‘ORDER OF THE / SONS OF TEMPERANCE / REGISTERED FRIENDLY SOCIETY / LONDON GRAND DIVISION’. A clock, of later (probably mid-C20) date but also bearing the name of the organisation, projects from a bracket above.

INTERIORS: both doorways lead to small entrance lobbies whose green mosaic floors again display the Sons of Temperance insignia. The left-hand lobby, which gives access to the ground floor, contains plaques recording the establishment of the London Grand Division in 1867, the commencement of the present building in December 1909 and its grand opening twelve months later. The right-hand door leads to the stair, which has a green tiled dado, decorative iron balusters and elaborate hardwood newels with ball finials. The first floor was originally the committee room and forms a single large space with a herringbone block floor and a deeply-moulded ceiling; a board recording past Grand Worthy Patriarchs of the Order originally hung here, and still survives within the building. The topmost floor is a small flat, presumably intended for a resident caretaker, and retains two small fireplaces with decorative surrounds.

The single-storey rear block, separated from the front range by a narrow light-well, is a rectangular hall with a hipped clerestory roof supported on open timber trusses, which spring from moulded corbels set in pilasters on the side and end walls. The wood-block floor here has been replaced.”

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