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Main Arts Building
Street: College Road (SE side)
Listing: Grade: I
Name/Number: University College of North Wales
Date first listed: 27 May 1949
main building (original courtyard ranges only )

Other Resources
Original Sketch by Hare of the Main Arts Building 'completed'
Edward VII laying the foundation stone 1907
Illustrated London News 1907
Opening Ceremony 1911 - Souvenir / Ticket / Music / Guidnance / Programme
College Magazine (1911) including an article by Hare and 'statues of the tower' plate
Old aerial view of finished building
A 50 year review by M L Clarke (Top College 1911-1961)

Dominating the view of Upper Bangor. The University was founded in 1884 after the city of Bangor was chosen as the University's North Wales site. First established at the former Penrhyn Arms Hotel; the present Penrallt site was donated in 1902. Built 1907-11 by Henry T Hare, architect of London; chosen following a competition assessed by Sir Aston Webb and with other entrants including W D Caroe. The designs were modified by the University (Isambard Owen in particular) to take full advantage of the site. Contractors were Messrs Thornton & Sons of Liverpool; cost ca £175,000. Foundation stone laid by Edward VII on 9 July 1907; opened 14 June 1911. "Collegiate Tudor" style with arts and crafts influences; Hare also called it "generally of late Renaissance character". Designed around two courtyards, the larger of which was never completed (later enclosed with ranges by Sir Percy Thomas 1966-1970). The entire scheme is linked and focused upon the cathedral-like central tower. Buff-coloured Cefn stone in snecked courses with freestone dressings and flat buttresses; slate roofs with parapet and stone chimney stacks. Spandreled and transomed windows with leaded lights. Tudor style down-pipes etc dated 1909. Metalwork by William Bainbridge Reynolds of London. The building was described in his obituary as Hare's finest work.

Starting at the NW Hall range facing College Road. 2-storey, 6-window front with advanced end pavilions; altered to right by addition of modern entrance block closing the NW side of the SW courtyard. Steep roof, Crenellation parapet and bellcote with lantern and spirelet. Tall segmental headed hall windows, double-transomed and with panel tracery; projecting flat roof ground floor with entrances to either end, deeply recessed doors. Left hand end pavilion has central stepped buttress flanked to 2nd floor by 2 segmental headed windows with unusual tear-drop oculi; right hand pavilion is lower with dentil cornice over 3-light window. The original main entrance is on the SW gable end of this range. Broad gable with Tudor octagonal end turrets and Baroque niches containing statue of Lewis Morris to apex. Central segmental headed 4-light double-transomed and panel traceried window with flanking buttresses. Advanced below is a triple arched porch with panelled pilasters, coats of arms and Latin inscription dated 1911. Enriched spandrels over recessed entrances with double doors and lugged architraves to each. Shaped gables at right angles to either side, to the advanced end bays of the adjoining ranges; commemorative tablets with garlanded borders below each gable. At the top of the steps up to the entrance are cast-iron square, tapered lamp standards with bracketed octagonal lamps and openwork ornament.

  Tan yr Allt House

The spinal/administrative range, together with the Library, forms an L-plan group to the E side of the SW courtyard. The former has an 8-bay, 2-storey front, the advanced left hand bay as above, parapet is balustraded over cross frame windows with architraves to 1st floor and semicircular pediments to ground floor. Baroque entrance to centre with small-pane circular window over door. The 2-stage tower to right has crenellated parapet and taller stair turret to SE side; splayed corners. 2 segmental-headed double-transomed windows flanking ogee niche to each face; niches contain statues of Welsh historical characters over coats of arms.

The Library at right angles has a 9-window front with central royal coat of arms; 2 bays are advanced with tall 1st floor oriel windows. crenellated parapet and gabled and panelled buttress pilasters. Arched headed lights, square headed 1st floor windows and segmental headed ground floor windows and entrance which has open pedimented doorcase, lugged architrave and double doors. Plaque with Latin inscription. Gable end to Penrallt Road has full height buttresses, extruded corners and small attic windows. Central a-storey splayed bay with horseshoe shaped high arch above containing recessed 3-light window - no leaded glass to this elevation.

The 3-storey SE side of the Library overlooking the city has 1+9 bay front (stylistically foreshadowing Sir Edwin Lutyens at Castle Drogo). Attic to the advanced and gabled end bay with Baroque scrolls over stepped buttresses; 2nd floor has statue flanked by cross frame windows under overall label. Symmetrical to right with a repeat of the courtyard elevation as above with the addition of a slightly swept out ground floor with single light windows and entrances below the oriels; 1st floor windows set in splayed recesses. Forward to right beyond the tower is the SE range of the NE courtyard. This has a gabled SW end with slate hung attic to left and chimney breast to right, the latter with open pedimented tablet. 2-storey porch facing Penrallt Road entrance with part balustraded parapet, tapered buttreses on chamfered corners and round archedentry with multipane fanlight - swagged shield over.



The main 3-storey and attic SE elevation is symmetrical with an especially collegiate feel to it. Tapered cross range gable ends advanced at the end, of l0-bay range, the ground floor of which is Arcaded and the central 4 bays open, forming a loggia; stone chimney stacks and flat roof attics over parapet. 2nd floor cornice extends to edges of end pavilions over shield; splayed broad oriels to lower attic, narrow windows to upper attic. 1st floor pediments to buttresses. Lintels over 1st floor windows and broad ground floor windows, bowed to centre and with high parapets containing UCNW monogram, 1st floor double transomed windows between have lugged architraves and open pediments. Stilted arch arcade windows and part glazed doors to ends of loggia.

The NE end of this range is a repeat of the SW gable end. Advanced to its right is a 3-window bay with boldly tapered end, pilasters; double transomed 1st floor windows. 9-bay tall roofed range beyond set into the hillside; largely 2-storey and attic with higher attic to south-eastern 3 bays, also with double transomed ground floor windows. Dividing pilasters to remaining bays. Segmental headed entrance to NW end bay and a smaller one lower down. Octagonal bellcote. The gabled NW return elevation is partly screened by the broader gable end of the hall range. This has a stronger arts and crafts feel to it - 4-light gable window, crenellated broad end pilasters with narrow lights (3 stair projection) and grilles to lower windows.

The enclosed NE courtyard is terraced with similar detail to that on the .exterior of each range. The Hall range is at the top and has an ivy clad ground floor projection. The inner side of the SE range is symmetrical; lower gabled projection with polygonal corner turrets, lateral chimney breasts and frontispiece with 3-light transomed window over scrolled inscription and round arched entrance. Six 2nd floor and three 1st floor segmental headed windows to either side; projecting ground floor. To SW the range is dominated by the tower’s 6-storey NE face; including splayed oriel with crenellated parapet and recessed plain Venetian window; lowest stage splayed out. Twin gabled 3-storey block projects to right of the tower matching similar projection opposite (NE range).

The 4-tier terrace has rubble walls, freestone copings and ball finials. Main doors open onto a part groin vaulted entrance hall with original 3-lamp light fittings and brass War Memorial tablets by F Osborne Co Ltd of London. Straight ahead is the 150 ft long Prichard Jones Hall. 9-bay arched coffered ceiling with panelled ribs and strapwork ornamented ceiling panels, apsidal dais end; coats of arms over windows, panelled dado and other fine woodwork detail etc. Gallery raked over the entrance hall with panelled screen front and segmental open-pediments to the 3 doorways. Original brass light fittings (octagonal). Main staircase lies to SE in groin vaulted stairwell - marble topped 'closed' stone balustrade; stained glass window. Open pedimented and carved doorcase at top leads to hall gallery. To SE run 2 tiers of groin vaulted corridors with panelled ribs (not glazed until after 2nd World War). 1st floor has various bronze oval plaques, panelled doors and cornices and similar pedimented doorcase at SE end leading to back stairs; plainer ground floor corridor. Stained glass windows at SE end by Dudley Forsyth of London 1910, the ground floor one is the Venetian window with a further window beside it with classical subject and signed "Architectus Dedit" with the monogram of a hare.

Short arms of the passages lead off to the Library, that to the 1st floor contains a porcelain museum. The finest single room is the Council Chamber on 1st floor - segmental vaulted ceiling with panelled Jacobean plasterwork and coats of arms of the Welsh Princes full height wainscoating, segmental pedimented doorcases and ashlar fireplaces and overmantels with panelled and enriched pilasters; moulded dog-irons, hoods and firebacks. Welsh mottoes over fireplaces; also contains 2 busts by W Goscombe John, one of William Cadwallader Davies and another of Sir Isambard Owen. NE range has smaller hall with coved ceiling ridges. SE range has metal staircase with barley twist uprights to courtyard side. Library range contains the ground floor Lloyd Reading Room which Hare had intended to be a museum and the 1st floor Shankland Library with segmental vaulted roof with square panelling and 36 heraldic shields in oak frames. Two bays are screened off (corresponding to those with external oriels) and have broken Baroque pedimented openings - 1 bay also has wooden gates. Splayed oriel over entrance with similar doorcase.

Architecturally, one of the most significant public buildings of the period in Britain and historically, the foremost institution in Wales to pioneer the academic development of the Welsh language.

References: University College of North Wales Centenary Publication (1984).
Official Guide to Bangor Town Council (1930) pp 23 and 30.
J Gwynn Williams, "The University College of North Wales Foundation 1884-1927" (1985)• pp 266.
The Builder, vol 92 (1907), pp 38-39, 162-3, 194-5 and 299. Building News, May 14 1909.
Architect’s plans in University Archives. RIBA Library Biography file.


The Main Arts Building (Other Sources)

1. 360° Quicktime Panorama (in the corridor outside the PJ Hall) showing the plaques of members of college who fell in the Great War.
2. War memorials inventory listing.
3. Image of the Shankland Reading Room part of the Main Arts Library.
4. Image taken during the construction of the building

Sir John Pritchard Jones (1845-1917)

Sir John Pritchard Jones contributed in total £17,000 to the construction of the great hall. Photograph of Sir Pritchard Jones

Henry T Hare, Architect (1861-1921)

Henry Hare who became president of the Architectural Society in 1902 and President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1917 - 1919) also designed - The 1907 extension to the Normal College, Bangor including (Athrolys, Huw Owen, Fon, Eryri, Alun, Dyfrdwy). Outside of Bangor notable builds included The Municipal Buildings - 1905 (offices of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council), Wolverhampton Central Library - 1902, Oxford Town Hall - 1897 (virtual tour ), County Buildings Stafford - 1895, Bailey Hill Water Tower (Luton), Hoxton Library - 1898, Fulham Central Library, Hammersmith Library (1905), Westminster College, Cambridge - 1899.

Hare: "Every building should be a worthy landmark to the district where it is built, and should impress itself on the passer-by as a dignified expression of the public spirit which has promoted its erection".

Henry Thomas Hare Portrait (by William Llewellyn)

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