Demolition of the Guinness Brewery, Acton

The demolition of the Guinness Brewery at Acton in 2006 left me with mixed feelings. The loss of any building designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was certainly a matter for regret; on the other hand the brewery’s product was distinctly inferior to that brewed in Dublin. Hitherto, “Irish” Guinness was rarity in pubs, but it is now the only type available.

As they say, every cloud has a silver lining.

© Christopher Seddon 2008


Hoover Building, Perivale

Constructed between 1932 and 1938, the Hoover Building and its accompanying canteen block are among the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Britain or indeed anywhere in the world. The site remained in use until the 1980s, whenn Hoover began to gradually relocate their operations to Cambuslang, near Glasgow. The building fell gradually into disrepair but happily avoided the fate of the nearby Firestone Building and was granted Grade II* Listed status. In 1989 the site was aquired by Tesco and was converted to a supermarket, which opened in 1992. The often-maligned high street giant worked closely with English Heritage during the project, to very good effect.

© Christopher Seddon 2008

Mersey Tunnel Ventilation Stations, Birkenhead

Standing 150 foot tall, this imposing structure is the Woodside Ventilation Station in Birkenhead, one of six such installations serving the Queensway Mersey Tunnel. These buildings are the work of Herbert James Rowse. This building and the similar structures in nearby Taylor Street and Sidney Street do show some similarities to the work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, most notably Bankside Power Station, London (now the Tate Modern). However, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott was not involved with the Mersey Tunnel project.

Another view, from the end of Morpeth Street.

Recalling sunrise over the Heel Stone at Stonhenge, or the Monolith from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a view of the tower and the sun.

The view across the Mersey. Note the Anglican Cathedral – which was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.

The fine brickwork lends the tower a monumental presence that transcends its utilitarian purpose.

The towers at Sidney Street and Taylor Street, though similar, are not identical. Sidney Street has two squat towers rather than a single large one, though they are connected to a single ventilation shaft.

Taylor Street more closely resembles Woodside, but it is somewhat smaller.

Presumably these differences arose from site constraints.

I am most grateful to architect Reg Towner RIBA of Towner Associates for his recent input. Mr Towner has posted some very fine pictures of the Mersey Tunnel and its attendant infrastructure on Flickr:

© Christopher Seddon 2008

66 Frognal

Although not one of London’s better-known Modernist buildings, 66 Frognal in Hampstead is nevertheless an outstanding example of the style.

It was built in 1938 and designed by British architect Colin Lucas (1906-1988), who was a partner in the practice of Connell, Ward and Lucas. New Zealanders Connell and Ward had earlier collaborated on the acclaimed High and Over complex in Amersham before Lucas joined them in 1933.

The practice went out of existence when the war broke out the following year. After the war Colin Lucas joined the London County Council, working in the architecture division until 1977, when he retired.

© Christopher Seddon 2008