Thursday 2 December 2010

Former Catesby's Store, 64-67 Tottenham Court Road W1

The top end of Tottenham Court Road was the place where the super-rich of Edwardian London furnished their houses, trooping round Heals, Maples and Catesby's, the latter being where they bought carpets for upstairs and linoleum for downstairs. The area was so expensive that the plutocratic Baron de Rothschild could quite seriously justify his passion for buying antique French furniture by saying "it's cheaper than going to Maples."
In 1904 Edward Catesby rebuilt his store in a flamboyant Free Renaissance with Arts and Crafts touches. The architect was Henry A. Whitburn, whose initials appear like very polite grafitti behind the dragon in the tippy-top gable at the centre of his facade.
Catesby's initial appears much more ornately carved and prominently positioned, but as he was paying for it I suppose that was fair dos.
My absolute favourite sculptures are the storks under the bow windows on the fourth floor. They have the ungainliness of Martin pottery birds, with those faintly ridiculous beaks and spindly legs.


Anonymous said...

The Casenby's store was presumably the one where the wooden highlander statue 'Phineas Maclino' once stood, up until about 1930. It was later donated to the college, where it still stands in the students bar, presumably because the business became fed up with students borrowing it.

Sharon Eyres said...

Hello, Mr Edward Catesby is my GGGGrandfather, his daughter Sophia Catesby-Anstice is one of the Noteable Women in our Nelson New Zealand History. Grandmother Sophia would often return to Tottenham Court to purchase fabric for her store in New Zealand, she was a Dress Maker and Drapery with several stores. This has been such a treasure to come across. Thank you sincerely

Unknown said...

Phineas Maclino the wooden highlander stands in the hallway of a man I used to work for. He was working in the flooring department of catesbys when it shut down and it was given to him. shortly after he opened his own shop as catesby flooring in south Norwood London.

Unknown said...

Catesby's presented UCL's Students' Union with a replica of the original statue (largely to prevent the students form continuing to steal it). We do indeed still have it in our bar, but would be interested in relieving the owner of the original should he ever with to part with it!