Gwent House is the home of the District Council Offices for Torfaen and the Public Library. Used by HM Courts Service and HCMS – South East Wales, the building is a seven story structure with retail space on the ground floor and open plan office space above. Built during the 1970s as a local government building, it is constructed with a steel and concrete frame with wall to wall double glazed windows and a flat roof.
Gwent House sits on the east side of Gwent Square at the heart of Cwmbran New Town’s centre. The ‘Central Building’ as it was known during development was conceived by the Cwmbran Development Corporation, as a mixed development of leisure (including a club, dance hall and hotel) and office accommodation with retail to the ground floor. this was to expand the function of the town centre beyond purely a shopping centre, and to address the perceived lack of ‘professional’ office jobs. In the event, the offices proved difficult to let and were occupied by the CDC and Cwmbran Urban District Council.
The building was designed by Sheppard, Robson & Partners and opened on the 18th January 1973. The eight-storey, concrete framed block included a job centre, the library, a conference and exhibition hall, and three restaurants catering for different tastes and age ranges, including the ‘Sign of the Steer’.
On the west side of the building are a series of three moulded concrete relief panels designed by Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins for the MEPC, the Cwmbran Development Corporation and the Cwmbran Arts Trust in 1974. The panels depict scenes representing different phases of the history of Gwent: Iron Age and Roman, Medieval and Industrial.
The work of Joyce and Henry is well known here at the modern mooch having visited Newcastle, Bexhill and of course Stockport. There are also examples in their hometown Colchester, Gloucester and Southampton.
Joyce Pallot 1912-2004 and Henry Collins 1910-1994 – two artist/designers, who along with John Nash, established the Colchester Art Society, during the 1930s.
The square it seems is due to be revamped as part of the broader regeneration plans.
Literature displayed at the public consultation said improvements in Monmouth Square aim to -introduce colour into what is a lacklustre space.
South Wales Argus 2017
One hopes that these important public arts work survive the transformation.
September 2022 the bandstand was demolished.
Lia Jones said:
The bandstand was a well-known centre point for the area. I really wish it had been kept in the design for the area, they should have relocated it instead of getting rid of it all together.
2 thoughts on “Joyce Pallot and Henry Collins – Gwent House Cwmbran”
I’ve seen the work of Joyce Pallot amd Henry Collins in Southway Underpasses in Colchester. Very similar to the historical images in Cwmbran. I suspect done close in time to each other. Our Colchester ones were restored in 2018 – in fact I took some photographs, having noticed that. Now lost, so I’ll photograph again and pop onto the modern mooch Facebook article. Could be a week or two, but might be of interest to some.
I love reading your missives – you inspire me to travel to places I wouldn’t have thought of. Thanks.
Those murals are marvellous and the style reminds me of the ones in Old Kent Road: https://c20society.org.uk/news/c20-society-gains-grade-ii-listing-for-old-kent-road-mural
Shame to see the bandstand was demolished – If, perhaps, it was a shelter for undesirables, where will they go now?!