Elegant modernism in sunny Doncaster

danum-house-doncasterOne of the many curious things about the relationship between the CWS and the (at one time) thousands of local co-operative societies relates to the CWS Architects’ Department. Local co-op societies could use it rather than the array of (normally) locally-based architects and the societies’ own building departments to provide plans for new stores and whatever else was required. But even though the CWS architects were available from the very late 19th century onward, by no means all local societies used them, much (one guesses from editorials in some of the CWS publications) to the annoyance of the central department. But look, for instance, at this photo of the Doncaster co-op emporium and offices, built 1938-40 right in the town centre and still in use (partly at least) as a shop today, although not as a co-op. The design, all curvy modernist streamlined lines, moderne even, was by the local architectural practice T H Johnson & Son. Why look further afield when you can get something this good locally? In addition, local architects, especially earlier in the 20th century, were often members of the local co-operative society themselves. The Derby central emporium, designed by Sidney Bailey in 1938 but only completed after the war, is another good modernist example produced locally. The CWS architects did some great stuff too, but it is easy to see why a specific local society would want to keep up its long-term relationship with its ‘own’ (as they were often referred to) architect.

3 responses to “Elegant modernism in sunny Doncaster

  1. Thank you for the mention of the one and only Sid Bailey!

    By way of a correction to the remark that the former Co-Operative Department Store in Derby was only completed after World War II it very much was completed and up and running in 1940 – some wooden panels at the East Street end of the curved brickwork being originally intended as a stop-gap as new construction was halted under wartime conditions, waiting for the cessation of hostilities to extend the curve further, but somehow that never actually came to pass! It’s probably one of the very few places where one can witness, in traces of our architectural environment left behind, the end of Pre-World War II peacetime.

    Have you heard anything about the fascinating ‘factoid’ that that Modernist icon, Diana Rigg’s father, very fittingly, actually worked in that building in Doncaster, BTW?

    • Many thanks for the info re Derby’s store. I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised the local society opened it as soon as possible, that was the norm. Stores often got opened bit by bit, must have been a nightmare for the sales staff having to put up with building works. As to the Diana Rigg connection, new to me, just adds to the charm!

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