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

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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

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: http://www.flickr.com/photos/townerassociates/sets/

© Christopher Seddon 2008