Saturday, 20 November 2010

Minerva House, North Crescent WC1

The Minerva Motor Company was a Belgian luxury marque that once had a reputation as high as Rolls Royce or Mercedes.
This ad appeared in 1905 ad in the Ashburton Guardian - note the car's top speed of 'up to 25 miles per hour and the added inducement 'Purchasers taught to drive free of charge'. I bet you got what you paid for.
The price of £176 equates roughly to £15,000 now, which seems cheap for a top quality car but you didn't get many of the features we take for granted today. Such as a roof, for example.
The Minerva Motor Company built a swanky headquarters and repair shop just off the Tottenham Court Road in 1912 which was rather bad timing. Minerva survived the First World War by building armoured cars, as Rolls Royce did.
Their London HQ was designed by George Vernon and decorated with a statue of Minerva. Regretably, there does not seem to be any record of the sculptor. Even more regretably, the architect placed Minerva in front of a window which now looks extremely tawdry. As a final indignity, the landscaped park she used to look out on was destroyed in 1941 when the lifts were installed for government bomb shelters. The unsightly structures are still there.

3 comments:

Mo said...

I'm trying to work out how you manage to clamber up to some of these places.

ChrisP said...

Hi Mo,
I was strongly tempted to be mysterious and make gnomic comments about long legs and ladders, but the secret is very simple - see http://ornamentalpassions.blogspot.com/2010/07/victoria-palace-theatre-victoria-street.html.

Philip Wilkinson said...

I must admit I've never really looked at this building. I resolve to do so now - thank you for pointing it out.