Historic ambulance station in Harborough is being put up for sale

The Grade II-listed station is set to go under the hammer at auction in April

By Red Williams
Friday, 18th February 2022, 12:59 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 1:00 pm
The historic ambulance station in Market Harborough is being put up for sale.
The historic ambulance station in Market Harborough is being put up for sale.

The historic ambulance station in Market Harborough is being put up for sale.

The iconic 98-year-old building on Abbey Street in the town centre is being sold by St John Ambulance.

The Grade II-listed station is set to go under the hammer at auction in April because St John Ambulance, the UK’s leading first aid charity, has been seriously hit by the Covid pandemic.

Mark Squires, the organisation’s operational support director, said: “I’d like to assure everyone that we are acutely aware of this beautiful building’s listed status and will continue to take great care of it as our volunteers move out ahead of the property’s sale.

“It’s always sad to say goodbye to properties – especially one with such a proud history as our base in Market Harborough.

“But the financial impact of the pandemic has made us take some difficult decisions to reduce our charity’s running costs,” said Mark.

"Despite these premises’ closure, St John Ambulance remains active in the local area.

“We will continue supporting the community through first aid, training, and other work that helps improve people’s health and saves lives.”

The much-loved building could now be sold off at auction as early as Tuesday April 5.

St John Ambulance volunteers will continue to meet every month at St Hugh’s Church Hall on Granville Street, Market Harborough.

Rosalind Willatts, of Market Harborough Historical Society, said: “It is crucial that everything is done to protect and preserve the town’s ambulance station – its frontage and exterior particularly.

“It was designed by local architect Herbert George Coales, who also built the Grade II-listed and equally historic fire station on Abbey Street in the early 1900s.”

The emblematic ambulance station dates back to 1924 – when it was purpose built for St John Ambulance Association.

There was no national ambulance provision as responsibility for taking ill or injured people to hospital fell to local authorities until the National Health Service Act of 1946.

Ambulance stations were often convenient places to store equipment.

They ranged from sheds attached to police stations to the more ambitious designs of the St John Ambulance Association, which was set up in 1877.

Market Harborough’s ambulance station, built in the town centre almost a century ago as the headquarters for the local St John Ambulance division, is a rare surviving example.

In response to the introduction of motorised ambulances, which had begun around 1912, it was designed with direct access to the road by top local architect Herbert Coales.

Constructed in Queen Anne Revival style – a look influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement - it features high quality brickwork and glazed tiles.

The exceptionally-precious station even retains its original folding garage doors – and that is very rare.

Coales, with his partner Henry Winter Johnson, designed several buildings as Market Harborough quickly expanded after the First World War.

The ambulance station, together with the Grade II-listed fire station on Abbey Street and firefighters’ houses, also masterminded by Coales and Johnson, are an “important group of municipal buildings that illustrate historic provision of emergency services in the town”.