YOUR readers have expressed concern at the cost of moving council customer services operations currently in Garrick House such a short distance to Franklin House, as featured in a photograph in your letters pages.

May I suggest there is real merit in finding a use for Franklin House, rather than demolishing it, as was intended under the grandiose plans of the Edgar Street Grid.

In the 1950s, it was Hereford’s largest retail development by a private Hereford family firm. Cyril Franklin had been mayor of Hereford, an alderman, and a founder of the Civic Society which, in the 1930s, first conceived the idea of uncovering the route of the old town walls and making them a feature of the city.

The building, which was largely his own design, belonged to the 1950s, just as the company’s shop in Bridge Street, 20 years earlier, belonged to the 30s. This had been the first building in the world to be clad with Vitrolite without visible means of fixing, and whose frontage has been preserved when the rest of the shop and warehouses behind were redeveloped into apartments.

Franklin House was designed to house a garden centre – an American concept so new that there was only one other in Britain at the time when Franklin Barnes was being planned in the early 50s.

Cyril Franklin wanted the building to be architecturally worthy of its position in the city, and it had many features that still mark it as not a purely commercial venture.

The sunflower sculpture on the corner splay is one instance; also the materials used, especially the fine brickwork. Its scale and the proportions harmonised with other buildings round the square.

Cyril Franklin died in 1962, when construction was just beginning, and his family saw the project completed. When the garden centre was opened in 1964 by Percy Thrower, it was widely recognised as the finest retail shop of its kind in Britain.

A recent effort was made to have the building listed, to help save it from demolition, and English Heritage acknowledged that it had many features redolent of the 50s.

But though there was nothing to match it in Hereford, it was not judge unique enough in national terms to meet the criteria for grade II listing – only a fraction of one per cent of modern buildings is granted that status.

But English Heritage thought that its location in the central conservation area should offer it sufficient protection.

Though it is a building that has aroused widely differing reactions, there are many, not just myself who should declare a personal interest in its existence, who would have deeply regretted its disappearance and replacement by some ‘Gateway’ project with the architectural merits likely to satisfy the ambitions and tastes of the scheme currently offered by the developers on the Cattle Market – that is, nil Mr Franklin’s widow died, the building was sold, to be eventually acquired by our council, and over a long period its fabric has suffered sad neglect.

But one hopes that now that it has a viable long-term future, the refurbishment will be done, outside as well as in, that will restore it to its worthy prominence for all who live in and visit Hereford.

PETER WILLIAMS, Ross Road, Hereford.