FOWKES' BLDGS' - More hidden Brutalism in London




We discovered this intriguing derelict building just a stone's throw from the Tower of London...

To clear our hangovers Dylan and I decided to take a walk around The City. For those of you not in London, "The City" refers to a major financial district within London that is very central. "The City" area actually holds its own city status within the city of London and Greater London.

Anyway. At weekends The City is empty because the office workers aren't there, so it's great for walking around and the area boasts a colossal wealth of no-expenses-spared architecture.

Walking along Eastcheap towards the Tower of London from Monument we passed this alleyway called "Fowkes' Bldg's" (Fowkes' Buildings). By chance I glanced down and was surprised to catch a glimpse of what I think is a Brutalist stairwell...


Taking a few steps down the alley I saw that the staircase was bigger than I thought...


Continuing along, we found ourselves in a tiny courtyard. On the left we could see into nicely furnished offices and living quarters. On the right there was a derelict office space. Yep, that's me caught in the reflection, and a snatch of Dylan walking around...



The staircase that had first attracted our interest was really quite impressive, especially considering it runs up the entire height of a tiny secluded courtyard that nobody seems to use.

I love how the horizontal and vertical lines of the tiles continue regardless of the stairs' diagonal design, as if it's been cut from a sheet of graph paper. And look how the darker spaces between each flight correspond with the darker windows of the adjacent office block...


I wondered up a bit, and suddenly a woman started banging loudly and furiously on a window in the presumably unconnected red brick building on the left. Out of courtesy to her rudeness I therefore only managed to walk halfway up before turning back. Seriously though lady, chill out. It's a quiet Saturday, and I'm in my mid-twenties, with an SLR, walking up an open staircase. Meanwhile, you're spending your one life being an irate bitch.

I took these snaps of the second floor of the derelict office block. The metal-looking building...



The stairs themselves were littered with fag butts and arranged cardboard sleepers, so I guess some homeless people take shelter on them. It's a pity they can't live in one of the few hundred unattended churches in the city. But I guess the church have more important things to do than help those immediately in need. "Helping the homeless, where is there money to be made in that?" I'm pretty sure Jesus would have said.

So walking around, we tried to figure which building these stairs belonged to. We'd by this point assumed they were a fire escape.

Down Great Tower Street, behind the courtyard, there were several other courtyards, including this one...


The metal building matched the metal of the derelict offices, and that tiny Ladbrokes back door correlated with a Ladbrokes that we'd seen back on Eastcheap...


Therefore, walking a little further, we found what we were looking for...


It matches the staircase in the hidden "Fowkes Buildings" courtyard. And the tiles are the same. It's called 28 Great Tower Street. In fact, it seems the derelict metallic office block and the stairwell are both part of the same building, despite looking so different.



I'd love to know what the official name for those vertical white tiles are. They feature in some parts of the London underground too.

I also love the combination of 70s tiles, metal and blacked-out windows. I want terms for all this. Is it all just brutalism? Or futurism maybe?

We couldn't work out if it was residential, an office space, or both. Google isn't very forthcoming either, what with Great Tower Street being such generic words, and the internet being packed with old lettings info with very little meat on the bone. But it's in this court called Bakers Hall Court...


The quad also features this building Bakers Hall that we thought might be a niche church...



However, there was no CCTV, so we concluded it wasn't menacing enough to be a house of God. And our suspicions were confirmed by Google. It's actually a Guild building for the baking industry!

The Worshipful Company of Bakers: http://www.bakers.co.uk/A-Brief-History.aspx

Wonder if Mary Berry's been there?

So back on Eastcheap we decided this must be the front door of the derelict offices...


22-23 Eastchheap. And pushing the camera against the dirty black glass on a very slow shutter speed we found our evidence...


You can even see Bakers Hall Court through the other side.

If you're reading this post, thanks for putting up with my amateur architectural ramblings. But I'd love to know who designed the staircase, and if by any chance it might have been Neave Brown who designed the Alexandra Road council estate?

Also nearby in this area, is the shell of St. Dunstan in the East church...


You can walk around inside it, there's a commemorative pond and a handful of hot builders eating their lunch. If if you're into that sort of thing, well worth a little visit. But go on a weekend when nobody's around.

Oh, and one more thing. If you scroll up to the top picture there's a metal plaque that says "Laing Interiors". I can't find anything online about this either, although there was an interior designer in the late 1800s called Laing. Could it be a sign from his old business?


@jackcullenuk

2 comments:

  1. Enjoyed reading this actually as I visited London recently and Fowkes' Bldgs caught my eye as my surname was Folkes. I wonder who the Fowkes was that it was named after?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I too liked reading this. You have an eye, particularly for brutalist tile-clad staircases. I do like that external use of tiles.

    ReplyDelete