Skip to main content

New shine for Pearl Assurance building

07 March 2023
Picture of building with scaffolding

One of the city centre’s most prominent buildings is next in line for a facelift.

The landlords of Pearl Assurance House on the corner of Armada Way and Royal Parade have been offered a grant of up to £49,900 towards the cost of cleaning the façade of this imposing 1950s building as well as carrying out repair work.

Scaffolding has already gone up and the cleaning work will start in the next few weeks. The upper floors are being cleaned across a total of 14 shop frontages. The grant offer relates to all floors of the building facing onto Armada Way, Royal Parade and Courtenay Street.

Decades of grime and dirt, together with algae will be cleaned off revealing the light Portland Stone that was widely used in the post-war rebuild of the city centre.

The spring clean is part of Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) for Plymouth. So far, it has funded work to facades across 16 frontages on Old Town Street / New George Street and £86,000 to repair The Athenaeum, where work is expected to start next week.

The Council’s role has been as the lead partner to Historic England, to negotiate with property owners, process grant applications, issue the grant offers and to monitor work on site.

Picture of building after it has been cleaned

Both the Pearl Assurance building and Dingles were built as cornerstones to Armada Way, and were designed to reflect the height and scale of the nearby Plymouth Guildhall. The Pearl Assurance building is more decorative than Dingles, with embellished columns and carved stonework.

Councillor Mark Shayer, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance said: “It's so good to see the brightness, clean lines, and stone shine out like it did 50 years ago when I first came to the city. A spring clean on a mammoth scale and hugely welcomed. 

"The difference these projects are making is huge. They are totally transforming the stunning buildings that make Plymouth’s City Centre unique. It’s been really popular with our residents and businesses.”

Simon Hickman, Principal Inspector of Historic Buildings at Historic England South West said “Pearl Assurance House is one of Plymouth City Centre’s key buildings, marking one edge of the Civic Square. The corner of the Pearl Assurance building matches the corner of Dingles (now House of Fraser) opposite, and Thomas Tait, one of the architects of Sydney Harbour Bridge, was involved in its design. Getting it cleaned and repaired will show that it’s a landmark to be proud of.”

Chief Executive of the Plymouth City Centre Company Steve Hughes said: "It is great to see these historic buildings get a facelift and combined with all the other improvements is good news for the city centre and our businesses."

The Plymouth City Centre High Street Heritage Action Zone programme – 'Reinvigorating the Abercrombie Estate' – is a four-year programme celebrating, enhancing and adapting the city centre's post-war heritage and making it a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and spend time.

The Heritage Action Zone project is managed by Plymouth City Council and Plymouth Culture, with support from The Box and Plymouth Octopus Project.  It's part of a £95 million government-funded programme which is being delivered by Historic England to unlock the potential of 60 different high streets across the country.