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Co-Operative Wholesale Society RC Warehouse
Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
associated engineer
Louis Gustave Mouchel
Francois Hennebique
date  1899 - 1900, 1908 - 1909
era  Victorian  |  category  Building  |  reference  NZ255640
ICE reference number  HEW 979
Louis Gustave Mouchel introduced 'ferro-concrete' — concrete reinforced with mild steel bars — to Britain in 1897 as a licensed agent of his fellow Frenchman François Hennebique, who had invented the technique he called béton armé in 1892. They collaborated previously on a mill in Swansea (1897) and developed the process further for framed buildings, and for this reinforced concrete warehouse, still standing on Quayside in Newcastle.
The main objective for the new reinforced concrete was to provide fire resistance and robust construction at a competitive price. Many industrial and public buildings had suffered loss of life and goods through fires. Timber was widely used as a building material and even iron and brick, though largely incombustible, can buckle and collapse in a fire.
The patented Hennebique system had plain round bars with fish-tail ends and vertical U-shaped strips as shear reinforcement. The depth of concrete cover to the bars was related directly to the length of time the structure could resist fire damage. Before 1900, there were fewer than ten buildings using Hennebique designs built in Britain. By 1909, there were around 700 in Britain and almost 20,000 structures worldwide, such was the growing popularity of the system, over which Hennebique held a virtual monopoly until 1910.
The Co-Operative Wholesale Society (CWS, established 1863) warehouse was one of several bonded warehouses built for the CWS and was used to store cotton and grain. The CWS used the then radical approach of profit sharing with members. Other CWS Newcastle warehouses were on Hanover Street and West Blandford Street.
The eight-storey building is constructed completely from reinforced concrete. It is situated on poor ground and to save the cost of a piled foundation, Mouchel devised a raft foundation of haunched slabs spanning between ground beams 178mm thick.
The warehouse has a plan area of 37.8m by 27.4m with columns at 4.4m centres. The columns narrow from 737mm square at basement level to 203mm square on the ninth floor, which was added in 1908-09 with the distinctive 9.1m span 76mm thick vaulted arch roof. The suspended floor slabs are also 178mm thick and were load tested successfully during construction to 50% above their design imposed load of 32.3kN per square metre.
A £300,000 refurbishment of the Grade II listed warehouse, then owned by Tyne & Wear Development Corporation, was completed in May 1994 by Newcastle Quayside Developments Ltd and Amec Building.
The warehouse is now a hotel, the Malmaison Newcastle. It is located right near the 'winking eye' MIllennium Bridge, opposite The Baltic centre.
Main contractor: Brims & Co
Research: ECPK
bibliography
“Agents of Change: Hennebique, Mouchel and Ferro-Concrete in Britain”
by Patricia Cusack, in: Early Reinforced Concrete: Studies in the History of Civil Engineering, Vol.11, ed. Frank Newby, Ashgate Publishing, Aldershot, 2001
“Historic Concrete: The Background to Appraisal”
ed. James Sutherland, Dawn Humm and Mike Chrimes, Thomas Telford Ltd, London, December 2001
“Time and Tide, the Tyne International Exhibition of Contemporary Art”
free exhibition guide, Newcastle upon Tyne, September 1993, available at http://www.rewind.ac.uk
www.cnplus.co.uk
www.co-operative.coop
www.mouchel.com
www.oxforddnb.com
reference sources   CEH North
Location

Co-Operative Wholesale Society RC Warehouse