Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Britannia House, OId Bailey EC4

Britannia House was built in 1912 as the offices of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, whose terminus at Holborn Viaduct is right behind. It was designed by an obscure architect called Arthur Usher.
In those days, railway companies were also shipping companies, mainly operating ferries that worked to the railway timetable. The trend was started by Brunel who designed the Great Britain as a transatlantic extension of the GWR. So over the front door of Britannia house, Usher placed personifications of Rail and Sea Travel. The name of the sculptor is lost, unfortunately.
On the left, a girl in a winged helmet holds a steam loco. A wheel pokes out behind.

On the right, a man holds an anchor with one hand and the rather ornately carved stem of a boat with the other.

5 comments:

Hels said...

Very grand for 1912 :) Nothing like a bit of Victorian (sic) self aggrandisement for the London, Chatham and Dover Railway.

Capability Bowes said...

"Stem"??? Its called a prow!

The Duke of Waltham said...

Actually, he presumably meant to write "stern", although I cannot claim to be sufficiently familiar with the sculptural conventions of ships to know which end is actually depicted here.

ChrisP said...

I did mean 'stem', which is technically the bit of wood forming the pointy bit of the bow. The item under discussion could be the stern, though that is unlikely I feel.

The Duke of Waltham said...

I had never heard the word "stem" associated with ships before; one learns something new every day!