Thursday, 4 October 2012
10 Trinity Square EC3
It was the headquarters of the mighty Port of London Authority, which we now look back on as somehow eternal but was established as late as 1909 to bring order to the cut-throat competition between the privately-owned dock and wharf companies.
Like County Hall, where Cooper had been runner-up in the competition for the design, the First World War delayed construction and when completed it was an Edwardian building in the Art Deco age.
Cooper had commissioned his favourite sculptor, Albert Hodge, to create massive symbolic figures for the PLA building. He had created sketch models of three groups including this monumental figure of Father Thames when he suddenly died in 1917, at the age of just 42. His assistant Charles Doman executed Hodge's designs and added two of his own.
Father Thames has a truly memorable flowing beard and is something of a body-builder ('muscles like penny rolls' as R.L. Stevenson put it). He stands on an anchor and holds a trident, his free hand pointing downriver towards the sea.