Wansford Bauhaus and the Great North Road

This Bauhaus inspired building has been a notable feature for travellers on the Great North Road since it was constructed in the early 1930s. Wansford was amongst the first of this chain of modern “roadhouses”. Following its success plans for over 100 “Knights on the Road” were announced.

Wansford Knight on the Road

Grantham Journal Saturday 23 June 1934

A report in the Boston Guardian from August 1933 described the concept:

“They are extremely modern, extremely comfortable and very fresh. If you have seen the ship-like concrete and steel houses of Germany and Sweden, with their long horizontal windows and flat sun verandahs and roofs, you will know what these hotels look like. They are quite small. Four bedrooms, and private bathroom attached to each, an entrance hall, a breakfast room with adjacent lounge, a separate garage for each bedroom – this is all the accommodation there is, but it is enough.

It may be interesting to know that Queen Elizabeth slept in the room you cannot sleep in, or that Robin Hood quaffed ale in the pew where you sip bitter, but for many, less tradition makes for a lot more pleasure. Bright, light rooms rich in colour, chairs that fit you, not chairs you have to adapt yourself to fit. lamps which throw a shadowless light all round you—these things are worth a wealth of history and half-forgotten ghosts.”

About Wansford Bauhaus

Opening in 1932, “The Wansford Knight” roadhouse provided rooms and a restaurant for travellers.

wansford Knight Opening Dec 1932

In 1936 it became the New Mermaid Inn to replace the (Olde) Mermaid Inn which had been located at the Wansford village crossroads. The restaurant was popular with US airmen stationed at nearby bases.

Wansford New Mermaid

In the 1970s it became a Little Chef restaurant and the south end of the building was re-modelled.

Wansford Little Chef

In 2007 the restaurant closed and the building lay derelict for several years.

Wansford Derelict Mermaid

It has now been lovingly restored by architects, Harris McCormack, as their own office.

Wansford - Harris McCormack

The original “Mermaid” in Wansford village was removed in order to widen the junction of the Great North Road intersection with the A47 Leicester Road.

Olde Mermaid, Wansford

Harper refers to the steep hill on the north side of Wansford bridge going past the Mermaid:

Now that there is no longer a turnpike gate at this point to bring the traffic to a slow pace, this descent is fruitful in accidents, and at least one cyclist has been killed here in an attempt to negotiate this sharp curve on the descent into the cross-road. An inoffensive cottage standing at the corner opposite the “Mermaid” inn has received many a cyclist through its window, and the new masonry of its wall bears witness to the wreck caused by a heavy wagon hurtling down the hill, carrying away the side of the house.