Wells Coates, 1895-1958, is considered to be a leading pioneer of modern industrial design. However he is credited with only two private residences in his distinguished career. One of them is “Shipwrights”, 241 Benfleet Road, Benfleet. The design is very much influenced by Le Corbusier and features, the principal rooms on the first floor and the obligatory flat roof. One critic has expressed the view that Shipwrights was built as a weekend cottage rather than as a permanent residence… well 74 years later it looks remarkably intact.
The English Heritage Description
The English Heritage description: Walls rendered and painted, flat roof with curved superstructure. Roof shelter over. Central chimney stack. 2 storeys / Angled staircase to left leading to first floor full width balcony with metal rails, central light metal doors and light window to right. Stairs to right turn lead to roof. Ground floor light windows, light door to right. Rear (south) face, recessed ground floor, reinforced concrete piloti supports to first floor, both floors fully glazed. Piloti supports to left (east) return.
The house was built in 1937 for John Wyborne a director of Ekco based in Southend. Wells Coates designed one of Ekco’s most popular products of the 1930s…the AD65 radio. It is considered a classic.
The AD-65 Radio
The AD-65 was a radical design for a radio. Although the working parts of radios were fairly standard, their wooden cabinets had been built by hand, often to look like pieces of furniture. Using plastic the round shape of the AD-65 was startlingly modern and easy to mass produce.
Coates designed textiles, interior fittings, yachts, aircraft interiors, clocks and radios, as well as buildings. He designed the modern interiors at Broadcasting House, but his key building is the Lawn Road Flats, Hampstead…where he applied the ideas of crisp, uncluttered looks to the design of living space.