The Building

Front entrance of the Edward Davies BuildingThe impressive 'Wrenaissance'-style building, of a dark local stone with light wrought Grinshill stone cornices, architrave and parapet, is set into the hillside on elevated ground overlooking the centre of town. It is now a Grade II listed building of special architectural interest but it was for many years a state-of-the-art laboratory, one of the earliest purpose-built chemical laboratories in the country and the first in Wales.

The building is in two distinct portions connected by a central staircase; a two-storied main building at the front with a basement under the left half, a large lecture theatre and a museum at the rear. The imposing facade is dominated by a central cupola and a semi-circular pediment with shields around the French windows (with a traceried fanlight) that lead onto an iron-railed veranda on the first floor. It is supported by four square piers that dominate an oval entrance porch. The entrance hall has a checker-board marble floor and a impressive oak perron staircase with barley twist balusters. Daylight illuminates the hall, through an oval balustraded well in the first floor, from a top lantern in the ceiling. Laboratories and workshops occupy three floors reached by groin-vaulted passages on the ground floor.

Two spacious laboratories (50½ x 40 ft.) with oval windows and glazed lantern lights set in the high ceilings occupy most of the first floor. A museum and reference library was presented by Henry Tate. A large acoustically-designed lecture theatre with raked seating and a glazed lantern in the tunnel-vaulted ceiling adjoins the rear of the building.

To this day, the interior has remained unspoilt and retains many of its original fixtures including workbenches, Doulton sinks and maple woodblock floors throughout. A new extension (now Brynderw Hall of Residence) was opened by the third Lord Davies on 26th January 1963 — his first public address, a tape recording of which was played to his great aunt Margaret Sidney Davies shortly before she died.

Photos of the building and its interior are available in our photo gallery.