Friday 14 May 2010

1 -10 Holborn Viaduct EC1

The restoration of the old Spiers and Pond's Hotel in Holborn Viaduct shows just how boring and mechanical architectural sculpture had become in late Victorian times.
When it was built in 1874 to the designs of Evans Cronk, the hotel was high tech inside (the first London hotel with electric light) and French Renaissance style outside. It was covered with carving, done by one of the many firms of architectural sculptors in London at the time.
The hotel closed by 1900 and became offices. It was nicely restored in the 1980s by Rolfe Judd Group Practice, who cleaned all the stonework. One of the keystones on a ground floor arch was evidently beyond repair and was replaced.
See the contrast with the original keystone on the other arch. The old one (below) is a face from history that the carver produced as that day's task. Competent but lifeless. The new one (top) is lovely - a portrait of a real woman, taken from life. Anyone got her phone number?

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