Victoria Tube line walk 2: Pimlico walk to Warren Street

Victoria Tube walk 2

PIMLICO to WARREN STREET

2 hours

The Victoria line was built by Transport for London in the 1960s in order to alleviate congestion on existing underground lines in central London and proved very successful as it is considered to be congested as well by now. There are two good reasons for this: it is the line providing the most convenient interchange at many stations as changing to other lines is step free in a number of cases. And trains run very fast because distances between stations tend to be high.

The line was not meant to provide access to suburbs that might have been underserved until then and all stations are interchanges except for one that was added later. Looking at a map, you might argue that an opportunity was missed in several cases (New Covent Garden in Nine Elms, Clissold Park area, St Ann’s Road, Walthamstow Town Hall).

Apart from the interchange issue, the main peculiarity of the line are that it is the only longer line built fully underground (only the maintenance depot is over ground). The line is called “Victoria” because it passes Victoria train terminal. Other names had been proposed and some sound rather funny (“Viking line” or “Walvic line”).

Routing note: This route connects in Pimlico with Victoria tube walk 1. It connects in Victoria with Victoria train network walks 1 and 7 and with District line walk 9. It connects in Green Park with Jubilee line walk 5 and with Piccadilly line walk 5. It connects in Oxford Circus with Bakerloo line walk 1 and with Central line walks 1 and 6. Finally, it connects in Warren Street with Victoria Underground line walk 3 and with Northern line walk 9.

My estimate for the walk does not include time spent in the different museums the route passes. You might also want to do some shopping.

PIMLICO

Pimlico station

The station opened in 1972 and is the only station without an interchange on the Victoria line. It was considered sensible because of nearby tourist attractions. The platforms have a themed decoration with a carpet of yellow dots, supposedly a reference to contemporary art exhibited at nearby Tate Britain.

The main entrance is a corner hall beneath an office building from the 1970s and is of no architectural interest.

Exit the station on Bessborough Street following the signs for Tate Britain

L along Bessborough Street, soon called Drummond Gate

R Vauxhall Bridge Road

L before the bridge Millbank until you reach Tate Britain

Tate Britain

The museum opened in 1897 in this building built for the purpose. Both the original collection and the construction costs were a gift by philanthropist William Tate, hence the name. The architecture is the work of Tate’s usual architect, Sidney Smith, who got help from American architect John Russell Pope. Both were very fond of neo-classical architecture and the riverside façade looks like an oversize Greek temple. An additional wing was added in 1987; it is a work by James Stirling, a celebrity at the time. When asked to add to an existing building, he liked to create a very strong contrast in style while keeping to simple shapes and little decoration. The extension is considered interesting in architecture history but no one says it is impressive or beautiful.

Tate Britain entrance portico

The collection covers mainly English painting from the 18th and 19th century. There were very few English painters before 1700 because England was not a wealthy country; any important commission went to imported European artists like Holbein. Works from after 1900 are mainly at Tate Modern, the sister museum. Tourists usually visit Tate Britain for the large collection of works by William Turner while London residents usually visit rather on the occasion of the yearly Turner Prize. The prize is often highly controversial and seeing the shortlisted works provides socialites with enough gossip for a few weeks. You could argue that controversy is the essence of the prize as it is primarily a marketing ploy intended to launch artists in the international collector’s circuit.

Entrance to the museum is free except for the occasional special exhibition and for the Turner prize shows. I guess you will not need more than an hour unless you are passionate about paintings. Apart from Turner, the one section you cannot see elsewhere in London is that covering William Blake.

With the main entrance to your back, turn R and again R into Atterbury Street

Chelsea Art college

The very large building to your left is now called Chelsea Art College. As the name says, it offers university-level education in arts and media. The building was originally used as the Royal Army Medical College. This explains the unusually sizeable courtyard, needed to have army medical students exercise and parade. It was opened in 1907 and the colour scheme of the building is typically Edwardian.

 

 

Main building of Chelsea Art College

The main block is the one to your left between the courtyard and the riverside. It included officer accommodation, a grand hall and a banqueting room. This explains the somewhat bombastic central section with neo-classical arcades, columns and domed turrets. The block facing you housed the teaching facilities and has little decoration as this was a practical building developed by army engineers. The block to your right was used as barracks and has several unusual details such as the flattish tower domes and the long galleries overlooking the courtyard. Note the many chimneys needed to heat such large stone buildings. One of the buildings houses an art gallery where you can see exhibitions by the students.

Former barracks of Royal Army Medical College

Millbank Gardens

At the end of the street, you reach a small park. Millbank Gardens is a well-tended park in the Art Deco tradition with small geometrical flower beds lined in stone, many convenient banks and pleasant trees.

L John Islip Street

R Cureton Square

R Causton Street

Where the road turns L, there is a passage ahead. I am not sure that it is a public footpath but I was able to walk through all the way to Vincent Street. If this is still possible, it is the better route. If the area is now gated off, you need to stay on Causton Street and to turn R at the next opportunity into Regency Street.

Crystal sculpture

The passage delivered two nice pictures, one of a well-kept green space with a small sculpture reminiscent of quartz crystals. The other one shows the access arcade to an estate that gives also on Regency Street. The neo-classical arcade is very Edwardian.

 

Edwardian portico

L Vincent Street

R Vincent Square

L continuing around Vincent Square

Vincent Square

The square is not a public garden, it is a sports ground for nearby schools. The mock-Tudor pavilion on the edge of the cricket ground is actually quite nice. It was customary to have very steep roofs going nearly to the ground for such pavilions but I don’t know why. Maybe to deflect errant balls ?

 

 

 

Lawrence Hall

Opposite the pavilion, there is a small street called Elverton Street. You can detour into the street for a few yards to the next crossroads if you wish to see the interesting Art Déco building called Lawrence Hall. It is usually used as a private venue, which is a pity because pictures show a remarkable exhibition hall. From the outside, you see clearly the Art Déco interplay of the cubic core building with a rounded protrusion. The lettering above the entrance is also unusual; the 1930s were a time when there was quite an interest in original, innovative lettering. Because of the use of computers, very few people experiment nowadays with unusual lettering.

Horticultural Society headquarters

Back in Vincent Street, you soon reach the headquarters of the Royal Horticultural Society, a quintessentially British charity founded in 1804. It is primarily known for the yearly Chelsea flower show. A member can become a “fellow”; this was decided by election until recently. In a nod to disgraceful capitalist mores, the title of “fellow” is now available for purchase (called a “suggested donation” for tax reasons). I have not been inside the building, but you can probably have a look as there is a public library in the basement. The building itself is Edwardian with mild neo-classical details.

 

 

Westminster Kingsway College

At the end of the road, you walk along Westminster Kingsway College, founded in 1910 by leading cooks who wanted to promote vocational education in their trade. It has a restaurant where the students cook for outside clients and learn proper serving. This is quite popular because it offers outstanding cooking for an affordable price. The building is a rather special construction in light brown bricks with unusual window patterns and a variety of pleasing decorative friezes. I am tempted to describe it as “Arts & Crafts”.

Westminster almshouses in Rochester Row

The building on Rochester Row opposite the college is a sizeable red brick building clearly inspired by Dutch Renaissance architecture, particularly the gables. It was built in 1880 to replace older almshouses financed originally by a Westminster cleric in 1656. Like many almshouses, it provides flats to elderly people of modest means who can live independently but appreciate a community feeling.

Ahead Emery Street

L Francis Street

You get a glimpse on the right side towards the catholic Westminster cathedral. I comment on the building in a District line walk but the view was worth a picture.

Side view of Westminster catholic cathedral

R Carlisle Place

Carlisle Mansions

The long row of houses on both sides is called Carlisle Mansions, as if residents lived in country palaces. Developers are always fond of grand names for places that don’t deserve it. I mention them because there is a significant excess of white plaster decoration. It looks like icing on a sickly sweet cake. The development goes back to 1886 and proved particularly attractive to writers such as T.S. Eliot, Ian Fleming and Somerset Maugham. To prove my point about the excess of icing, look at the more subdued building from the same period and in a similar colour combination at the end of the street.

Estate in Carlisle Place

L Victoria Street

The road forks with the train terminal being on the left side. You don’t need to go to the terminal, but keep to the left arm of the road. The passage for the Underground station will be on your right.

VICTORIA

Victoria Underground station

The Victoria Underground station was built for the Circle line in 1868. This station has its own entrance hall away from the train terminal. The Victoria line platforms opened in 1969 underneath the train terminal. The two sets of platforms are linked by a long, inconvenient subway, while the Victoria line is linked with the train terminal by shorter corridors but with a very inconvenient set of stairs. This will be alleviated by building a new access but this will be much further away from the train station.

The picture I use for the underground station shows the Circle line entrance. It has a shopping arcade and the office building over the station hall is a formal Victorian affair with stone cladding and a device above the first floor windows that reminds me of the Prince of Wales’s standard.

R through the shopping arcade of the Circle line station hall

L and directly R Sir Simon Milton Square

This square might have temporarily no access to the other side due to construction work. It this is the case, walk on the parallel avenue (Buckingham Gate)

Ahead Warwick Row

Ahead Palace Place

L Palace Street

R Buckingham Gate

Royal Mews

The long wall crowned with urns on the north side of the road hides the park of Buckingham Palace from passers-by. The building with the large triangular pediment peeping over the wall and the small entrance door is a sort of museum, the Royal Mews. The building was originally built on a design by John Nash in 1825 and the taste for classical ornamentation is clearly in evidence with the triangular pediment, the scrolls above the arches and the cornice under the roof.

The museum exhibits horse-drawn carriages from the considerable collection Her Majesty’s ancestors have accumulated during the 19th century. Because of the very high entrance fee (11 £ in 2018, up from 9 £ in 2015), you should only consider entering if you are really interested.

Greek entrance to the Royal Gallery

At the end of the park wall, you reach a somewhat strange, little greek temple with fat columns used as the entrance to the Queen’s Gallery. The original building was a chapel, but this was destroyed by bombs during World War II and the replacement building opened in 1962 was erected in a restrained neo-Greek style (note for example the stone leaves marking the triangle at the end of the building). The building being quite small, it was decided to enlarge it substantially in 2002 and the somewhat overdone portico dates back to then.

Her Majesty the Queen is the owner of one of the largest and most magnificent collections of classical paintings in the world, but there is no large museum showing them together at any one time. You can see regularly changing selections at the Queen’s Gallery. Because the selection changes, you should check on the website what is on view at the time you plan a visit. This is also recommended considering the high entrance fee (11 £ in 2018).

L Spur Road walking along the palace fence

Main front of Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is well known for its official function. It was originally a country house that was extended into a royal palace in the 1820s. At the time, three wings formed a U around a courtyard, as is still the case in Versailles and in the Louvre in Paris. At the time of horse carriages, this was the most convenient layout. The courtyard was closed with a fourth wing in 1850 and the new wing is the only one you can see from the public streets. It was built in a rather austere neo-classical style, the problem being the sheer scale of the palace and the unflattering grey hue of the stones.

Buckingham Palace gates

Queen Victoria soon decided to spend most of the year in Windsor. This is not surprising as most royal families use a palace for official functions but prefer to live most of the year in a family palace they can more easily fit to changing family needs. Later British royals had differing opinions on which palace they found more convenient.

 

Mémorial, Palace and gates

Most of the palace was decorated in the 19th century in a very flashy manner with lots of gold, rare marbles, chandeliers etc. It is usually possible to visit a few rooms used for official functions in August and September. It is a very profitable operation for the Crown Estate as entrance costs 24 £ (in 2018), but the money is needed as the maintenance and renovation costs of the huge palace are staggering. I have never been inside but I imagine the sheer size of the rooms is impressive. To be honest, the entrance fee also allows you an opportunity to walk around the park.

Victoria Memorial

Part of the large roundabout in front of the palace was pedestrianised when a huge monument to Queen Victoria was installed in 1911. As usual at the time, it is a gigantic pile with many allegoric figures. There is an inscription at one spot commemorating a gift of New Zealand. This dominion did not contribute specifically the two statues involved, it paid money into the overall fund. The fundraising was so successful that there was enough money to build also the Admiralty Arch and to rebuild the whole façade of the palace. My pictures show the Agriculture and Industry statues with their attending lions.

Agriculture on Victoria Memorial

Industry on Victoria Mémorial

 

Flower bed in front of Buckingham Palace

I don’t really like the palace itself and I think most tourists pay attention primarily to the guards. The gilded gates are worth a short look, but you will see better ones soon. What is definitely worth a look is the magnificent flower bed spread in a half-round. I always felt jealous that Her Majesty could enjoy such a flower display through Her windows. The plants are not exceptional but the size of the flower bed makes it impressive. My larger picture was taken on occasion of the official visit of the President of Mexico, but the colours of the flowers are the colours of my own flag, Luxembourg (baby blue, white and red). Thank you for the honour. The smaller picture is taken in August instead of April; as Her Majesty is not in London in summer, the flower beds are more modest.

Flower bed in Luxembourg colours

Ahead across the gilded portal into Green Park

Green Park gates

This gate is possibly the most magnificent and most pretentious gilded gate in London. When the dominions contributed to the Victoria Memorial, Canada offered instead what is officially known as “Canada Gate”. The general style is neo-baroque with lanterns in the shape of urns and an assortment of scrolls. A closer look at the designs shows the coats of arms of several Canadian provinces, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and a design I can’t identify.

Canadian provinces on Canada Gate

View of Green Park

Ahead across the park, exit at the Northeast corner on Piccadilly

Green Park is a large, plain expanse of grass with rows of trees marking the alleys. There are a few minor monuments but there are neither flower beds nor playgrounds. It was a royal park as early as 1668 but was more a heath. Prudent travellers were advised to avoid the location, feared as the haunt of highwaymen. The park was landscaped in 1820 with the intention of making it a pleasant place to ride a horse, hence the alleys.

GREEN PARK

Green Park Underground station

The station was originally built for the Picadilly line in 1906 and was called originally Dover Street. The name was changed after extension works in 1933. The Victoria line platforms opened in 1969, the Jubilee line platforms in 1979. Interchange is convenient between the Jubilee and Victoria lines but is very cumbersome with the Picadilly line.

The Victoria line platforms have a themed decoration like some other stations on the line. In this case, leaves on a russet background referring to the nearby park. The historical access to the station is on the ground floor of an imposing office building from 1926.

 

Devonshire house office building

The office building is called Devonshire House after the town palace of the Duke of Devonshire, who had to sell the property in order to pay inheritance duties. The property became the headquarters and showroom for the owner of Hillman cars, a rather upmarket brand before World War II. The company disappeared because of production problems: the British government had forced it to open a factory in Scotland, but all suppliers remained in the Midlands and the transportation costs combined with very difficult relations with the local trade unions caused huge losses. Surprisingly, the building decoration makes no reference whatsoever to cars, it is just very well made neo-baroque imagery.

R Piccadilly

Posh club in St. James’s Street

Before turning left, you might have a look at 37 St. James’s Street. This is a beautiful neo-classical property but the façade is actually an excellent quality 1852 imitation of Georgian architecture – the columns are much flatter than in authentic buildings. The property belongs to an exclusive club for gentlemen founded in 1693. It had traditional associations with the Conservative party and with royalty and it does not admit women.

L Albemarle Street

Albemarle House

One of the first buildings in the street, Albemarle House, has an interesting recessed entrance. The geometric shapes of the door and of the wrought iron gate remind a lot of Scottish art nouveau; there is a variety of symbols (caduceus, owl, winged horses, lightning bolts) that make me think of a apothecary’s. The recessed entrances were popular because this gave more room to display goods, but they were abandoned in the mid 20th century both because it meant losing valuable selling space inside and because they were too tempting for people who need a shelter without being interested in the shop.

39 Albermarle Street

Albemarle Street is popular with art galleries, but nr. 39-40 at the corner with Stafford Street is an office building. I mention it because it has an unusual colour scheme (baby blue panels). The many windows point to construction in the 1930s, but the lack of decoration points to a commercial office building rather than to retail.

R Royal Arcade (if it is closed, take a parallel street shorly before the arcade)

 

Royal Arcade

This is the oldest shopping arcade in central London, built in 1879. Until the mid-19th century, people would go to a specific shop they needed and the concept of shopping as a leisure activity did not exist. Streets were busy and dirty due to the horse carriages and walking was no pleasure. This led speculators to the idea of shopping arcades while merchants developed a similar concept with the department stores. Arcades soon became extremely popular with Milan and Brussels having among the most impressive ones.

Inside Royal Arcade

In London, despite real estate costs, arcades were not built beneath buildings and had low glass roofs. In Paris, low arcades were created in the cheaper parts of the city while those in expensive sectors were beneath buildings, the arcade roof being used as the courtyard for the offices above.

This particular arcade is called “royal” because Queen Victoria patronised a merchant located here. The shops in the arcade are still very upmarket as this is one of the most expensive retail areas in London anyway. In terms of architecture, the somewhat frilly decoration is typically Victorian. You may notice that the roof has small glass panels and many intermediary beams. It was not impossible to build larger panels in the 1870s but it was still a risky novelty.

Roofscape of Royal Arcade

L Old Bond Street

Luxury in Old Bond Street

Most buildings in the street are of no particular interest; the main point is that they are all different as opposed to the rows of identical façades seen in some other areas of London. There are more millionaires per square foot in this street than anywhere else in London because all the shops in the street belong to luxury brands. As you will be well aware, their wares are status symbols, particularly for newly rich people in Asia and the Middle East. The quality is flawless but the same quality will cost much less is you know an appropriate craftsman, showing the power of brands. There is no convincing reason why this particular Mayfair street attracted luxury brands in the first place rather than a parallel street; obviously, it is a self-perpetuating reputation by now.

R Burlington Gardens

Neo-gothic mixed with Arts & Crafts

The large building at the corner of Old Bond Street with Burlington Gardens is a listed property with a very grand front. It has friezes with gilt details, which is really unusual. The façade towards Old Bond Street is an Arts & Crafts reminder of gothic architecture, expressed for example in the balcony stonework and in the steep turret. The property was built in 1926 for a luxury perfumer’s.

Détails on Old Bond Street

American-style Art Déco in New Bond Street

The property on the other side of the crossroads (nr. 1 New Bond Street) is an interesting contrast as it is strictly Art Déco with rounded domes and stepped decoration at the corners.

Very soon after entering Burlington Gardens, you reach the entrance to Burlington Arcade. It was originally built in 1819, at a time when this was a very eccentric concept. The owner of the neighbouring property decided to develop an arcade on part of his garden partly because passers-by were dropping refuse over the property wall into the garden ! He also thought correctly that there would a market for jewelry shops because it had become very fashionable for affluent Mayfair residents to promenade in this area. The façade on Burlington Gardens is rather plain while that on Piccadilly is a rather pretentious neo-classical arcade from 1827.

Burlington Arcade

Back entrance of the Royal Academy of Art

Nr 6 Burlington Gardens is a very imposing official building used now by the Royal Academy of Arts. It was originally the headquarters of London University when it was built in 1870. The architecture is a very heavy-handed form of neo-Renaissance with porticos, columns, statues and a rustico ground floor. The Royal Academy bought the property in 2005 and it is mainly used for educational activities. On occasion, it provides an additional entrance for exhibitions.

Gates to Burlington House

The Royal Academy complex also has a front on Piccadilly which is actually the main entrance. You can easily detour through Burlington Arcade to see it and it is definitely a recommended excursion. The entrance portico and the front wing are 1873 additions imitating Italian Renaissance decoration with impressively showy wrought iron gates. They are used by learned societies.

 

Burlington House

The formal building at the end of the courtyard is the actual Burlington House, a former aristocratic palace rebuilt in 1717. Both the architect and the owner had just come back from Italy where they had been fascinated by Renaissance architecture, particularly by Palladio’s works in the Veneto region. The palace was to astonish people in London and neo-palladian architecture became the dominant style in England for at least a century. Two typical details are the stonework on the ground floor and the alternating window lintels, rounded and pointed.

The original building had only one upper floor (the “piano nobile” of Italian villas) and the upper floor was added in Victorian times. This explains the cornice between the two levels while such cornices normally indicate the roofline. Also, the idea of having a gallery of statues on a façade is typically 19th century; in earlier times, you would have only one statue and possibly bas-reliefs.

Main entrance to Burlington House

Burlington House is mainly used for exhibitions organised by the Royal Academy. Most major exhibitions of painting and sculpture are organised here except for contemporary art (usually shown at Tate Modern). You will obviously need to reckon with long queues for blockbuster exhibitions and the courtyard is quite convenient in such circumstances. As the Academy does not get public funding but plays a leading role in the cultural life of London, it must plan blockbuster exhibitions that bring visitors and money. I suggest you have a close look at the catalogues before purchasing an entry ticket as the exhibitions go from exciting eye-openers to boringly commercial blockbusters.

 

Former ballroom of Burlington House

The Royal Academy also has its own collection of paintings because academy members are required to present a sort of “admission work”. A few highlights are exhibited in a part of Burlington House called the Madejski Fine Rooms after the gentleman who financed the renovation. Opening times are restricted but you definitely should time your walk in order to visit them as entrance is free.

The rooms are considered the finest example in London of interiors by major architect William Kent and were decorated in 1719. The ceilings with cartouches separated by very conspicuous, gilt scrollwork are typical of his style. You will also recognise easily the influence of antique sites visited by Kent in Italy considering the columns in the boardroom.

Work from the Royal Academy collection

The works of art from the Academy collection are of varying quality as explanation panels will point out to you. The one work of international reputation is a tondo by Michelangelo, shown in an adjacent corridor.

L Savile Row

View to Regent Street from Savile Row

The street is mainly known for a number of tailoring shops. The first tailors were attracted to this area by the fact that a number of officers and politicians lived here after the street was developed in the 1730s. Most of the original neo-Palladians houses have been replaced by completely uninteresting designs. Don’t be fooled by the aura of “bespoke tailoring”, this can also include clothes made to your measurements but by a machine.

Ahead Mill Street

L Maddox Street

R St. George Street

Hanover Square

The parish church of St George’s is one of the churches built under Queen Anne in 1724. It has a typically neo-classical portico with huge columns. The church is normally closed as there is nothing exceptional inside. Being the parish church for Mayfair, it features occasionally in reports on celebrities.

Cross Hanover Square Gardens aiming for the Northeast corner

Fountain in Hanover Square

Hanover Square is a small, busy square. It tends to be overrun at lunchtime because of the employees from the many office buildings in the vicinity. But it does have pleasant flower beds with modest palm trees. The square is special because it was the first public square planned specifically for the purpose in a real estate development back in 1717. There is a statue of William Pitt in a corner of the square and a pretty bronze fountain with reeds and ducks.

Take Princes Street

L Swallow Place

R Oxford Street

OXFORD CIRCUS

Oxford Circus Underground station

The station is the busiest underground station of all. It opened first on the Central line in 1900 and the Bakerloo line platforms opened in 1906. The Victoria line platforms opened in 1969 with a particularly convenient interchange with the Bakerloo line.

Like with a number of stations in Central London, the entrance is clad in conspicuous dark red tiles. This was a scheme developed in the early 1900s by architect Leslie Green. It normally includes wide ground floor bays with the one or other shop and semi-circular lighting bays on the first floor. They were built in such a manner as to be included easily into a commercial or office building. About 50 stations were built with this scheme. In terms of architectural style, I find it difficult to associate it with a specific type, which means Green really developed his own style. Unfortunately, the architect died very young, probably due to burnout caused by an excessive work burden.

continue on Oxford Street

L Great Portland Street

93 Mortimer Street

While crossing Mortimer Street, you may notice 93 Mortimer Street, an interesting listed building with a neo-Greek front. The particularly Greek elements are the Ionic columns while there is a rustico ground floor like in neo-Palladian architecture. This eclectic mix is from 1910, a period when Greek decoration was a bit unusual. Inside, there is a large room used for commercial events.

R Little Titchfield Street

University building from 1929

You will probably notice the imposing front marked “The Polytechnic Great Portland Street Extension”. This is a 1929 building opened by what is now the University of Westminster when it decided to offer courses to young ladies. Women were not supposed to be interested in male subjects and many parents would have considered the idea of students of both sexes in the same building outrageously immoral. The building is now mainly used as a library. It has a peculiar inscription (“the Lord is our Strength”). I know it is a quote from the Psalms but it is strange on a university building. The architecture is nicely Art Déco but is marred by a seriously oversize and rather obscure design above the main door.

L Great Titchfield Street

R Riding House Street

Bourlet Close

The road got its name from the exercise place for a cavalry regiment. It passes on the right a minor cul-de-sac, Bourlet Close, a former mews. It has been converted into flats and someone got the peculiar idea of putting five statues on the edge of the roof. The sculptures are clearly modern and they seem to belong to a producer of advertising films headquartered in this close.

Former Boulting building in Riding House Street

At the corner with Candover Street, you pass a conspicuous Arts & Crafts building. As a large sign says, it belonged to “Boulting & Sons Hot Water Engineers” who had a “stove manufactory” (an unusual word…). I mentioned above once an instance of unusual lettering as being quite typical of Art Déco. This inscription is rather Art Nouveau but also has interesting lettering. It uses cleverly pale green as a background, contrasting with the more usual brick and plaster colour scheme. The overall impression of this building is rather unusual for London and reminds me more of Brussels.

L Cleveland Street

Broadcasting tower

The road passes a tower that is a bit difficult to see from the street as it is in the middle of a block of offices. It was built in 1964 for the Post Office and was used to broadcast BBC signals that were otherwise disturbed by tall buildings. It was built in a manner very similar to comparable technical towers throughout Europe such as the Alex tower in Berlin. The tower had a top floor restaurant popular for the extended view, but this was closed in 1981 for security reasons as anarchists had planted a bomb in the lavatories in 1970. Although the tower is now quite old for a concrete building, it seems in good shape. When it was built, it was the tallest structure in the UK at 177 meters.

R Grafton Way

Cross Fitzroy Square Garden towards the Northeast corner

Fitzroy Square Garden

The square is a delightful oasis of quiet and peace in a busy part of central London and this fits with the original intention of Mr Fitzroy who was a speculator trying to sell the houses to aristocratic families. The architects were the brother Adam and are clad in expensive Portland stone, confirming the upmarket target. The scheme was finished in 1794, actually a bad time as the economy suffered under the war from France, but the location was well chose close to Regent’s Park that had not been developed yet at the time.

Fitzroy Square development by Adam

Celebrities in Fitzroy Square

Many of the properties have blue plaques because it was an attractive location for artists and scientists in the 19th century. Number 29 was the domicile of George Bernard Shaw until he married. The house deserved a second plaque because it was later the domicile of Virginia Woolf. It is exceedingly rare to find two blue plaques on the same building.

Take Fitzroy Street

R Warren Street

 

 

WARREN STREET

Warren Street Underground station

The station opened on the Northern Line in 1907 and was originally called “Euston Road”, a highly confusing name as there are also stations called “Euston” and “Euston Square”. The name was therefore changed directly in 1908. The Victoria line platforms opened in 1969 and were given a themed decoration in form of a labyrinth (from “warren”).

The access is the ground floor of an imposing rotunda built at the end of a large office building from 1934. The shape is typically Art Déco but no effort was made in terms of decoration or a particular window scheme. A bit cheap for this period.

 

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