Friday, 24 July 2009

25 Cockspur Street SW1

Portrait busts abound on buildings of the mid-Victorian era, but their identity is frustratingly difficult to establish. Has anyone any idea who these two are?
They look out through portholes on 25 Cockspur Street, which was originally built for the Cunard Line in the late 19th century (all the buildings in the street were booking offices for steamships) but various other institutions rented space in the upper parts including the International Association for the Total Suppression of Vivisection under the formidable Anna Kingsford.
The man on the right has flowing hair and a rather artistic beard, and the woman on the right has a medieval style headdress.
Abelard and Heloise? Nah, Abelard was a priest and would have been clean-shaven. Ferdinand and Isabella? Ferdinand would have a crown. Kermit and Miss Piggy?
All suggestions gratefully received.


Capability Bowes said...

My guess is that they are the Mr. and Mrs. Cunard at the time the building was erected (although admittedly this wouldnt explain the vaguely Elizabethan get-up of the female figure - unless, of course, she was Elizabeth Cunard?)

I'm sure the Cunard Line have a Company Historian or Archivist. Why not write to them and ask?

Robert Doyle said...

I had thought that no 25 Cockspur Street was the former Albion Hotel, and over the years the Cunard line occupied various premises at nos 26-29.

ChrisP said...

I got thoroughly confused trying to research this one. Cunard expanded over several sites over the years, and apparently more or less the whole of the street was occupied by steamship companies at the end of the 19th cent. I haven't managed to find any specific reference to No 25. Pevsner misses it out.