St Mary and St Joseph RC Church, Poplar E14

Constructed between 1951 and 1954, the St Mary and St Joseph Roman Catholic Church was part of the postwar Lansbury Estate development in Poplar. The original church was bombed during the war, and the site compulsorarily purchased by the LCC for the first phase of the Lansbury project. In return, the LCC provided a site for a new church. The building was designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott. Though less well known than his brother Giles, Adrian was a notable architect in his own right who specialised in work for the Catholic Church.



© Christopher Seddon 2008

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William Booth Memorial Training College, Camberwell

Towering over the local landscape, the Salvation Army’s William Booth Memorial Training College in Camberwell, London SE5 can be seen for miles around. Completed in 1932, it was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott in his trademark monumental style, although it suffered from budget cuts during its construction and is considerably pared back from its original proposed Gothic grandieur.

© Christopher Seddon 2008

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

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

Vlad and Joe’s local

The Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell, formerly the Crown and Anchor, is popular with after-work drinkers for its wide range of beers and is generally very busy in the evening. The pub’s popularity goes back a long way, and it rumoured that Lenin met Stalin for a few beers there while the two future Communist leaders were in London, shortly before the abortive 1905 revolution in Russia.

While working on the socialist periodical Iskra (“the Spark”), which was for a time published in Clerkenwell, Lenin stayed at 16 Percy Square, about a mile away.

The original building has since been demolished, but an English Heritage blue plaque marks the spot. Shouldn’t it have been a red plaque in this instance?

© Christopher Seddon 2008