The Central Lodge is a difficult building to interpret simply and effectively, owing on one side to its original intention as a multi-use building and on the other side to its richly varied history. When we took on the task of producing historical interpretation for this building, we knew it was important to give as broad an overview of the building’s history as possible in order to do it justice.
Our new internal and external panels have now been installed and we feel that they have gone some way to providing this. We are hoping that our colleagues and students alike – who will see these boards every day – along with anyone who comes to visit the building in future, will find them interesting and informative.
Central Lodge Courtyard
The external panel shows a plan of the building which was found in Teesside Archives. The plan represents two eras of the building, as although it features annotations made by the military during the First World War, they are clearly drawn upon an older plan. It is from this plan that we have been able to work out the original names and uses for many of the rooms.
The plan has helped us to create internal boards which focus on key rooms. There are twelve of these boards in total.
The room which is now a sleek and modern laboratory was once the cow byre, where the cows would be housed and milked. We now understand that a “byre” is a distinctly northern term for such a place. It was a particularly difficult room to address as so little survived in the room by way of original fittings.
A great deal more has survived within the dairy itself, which has now been preserved as a heritage feature. As a result this room has been addressed in greater detail. The pictures show the stark difference in the condition of the patterned floor tiles from the start of the project to now.
We wanted to show the original scale of the coach house, which is now the college’s animal room. In the council era this space was divided into three sections; it has now again been divided into two halves and had its ceiling lowered. We ponder here the undoubted grandeur of the room during the Bolckow era, which we were only ever given a glimpse of through the ornate plaster ceiling corbels, painted in gold leaf, which were found early on during the works.
The heritage value of the room has been taken into consideration during the works, with the square windows seen in the photograph having now been returned to their original arched form.
World War One and Two
We have also addressed other key eras in the buildings history. As well as the two World War One battalions that were raised here, we know that many others were based here at various stages of the war, mostly training and militia battalions. It is sometimes difficult to even imagine what those men, especially those who were eventually deployed in the various theatres of that war, actually went through. Often the individual identities of many of those brave men are lost amongst the numbers and statistics or our conceptions are derived simply from a mass of names on a cenotaph. We felt it was important to include some examples of the graffiti found in the building which were drawn by the troops who were billeted here, which provide just a little snapshot of some of those personalities.
We did not forget the role that the building played on the home front during World War Two, as a furniture depository and as a base for the auxiliary fire brigade. The plates from the furniture depository are still in place on the wooden screen in the upper level of the building, and our new panel is positioned nearby.
The panels are simple and not overstated, and fit in both with the modern college and the overall feel of the Grade 2 listed building. They certainly seem to merge effectively with the careful, yet somehow comfortable, balance between old and new which is now very much the essence of the Central Lodge.