In another blow to London’s industrial heritage, yesterday’s Guardian reports the looming demolition of the Guinness brewery in Park Royal. Brent Council, in collusion with Diageo, the owners of Guinness, plan to clear the site for redevelopment. Whilst this is a valuable tactic to players of Sim City, in real life a full public consultation on the matter would seem in order. Skulking in an unspectacular Brent industrial estate, the buildings might not have a huge public profile. But their impact on the area, and the illustriousness of their architect surely justify salvation.
The brewery was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (son of George Gilbert Scott and Grandson of Sir George Gilbert Scott; the original clone army?). This isn’t some two-bit architect we’re talking about here. Scott’s other London ornaments include Bankside Power Station (now the Tate Modern), Waterloo Bridge and the iconic bits of Battersea Power Station. Not to mention (though I have now) that quintessentially British institution, the humble red phone kiosk. Oh, and did we point out Liverpool Cathedral? We could go on. And, in fact, we will. He was also responsible for reconstructing both the House of Commons chamber and the Guildhall roof after wartime damage. His design for the Guinness factory dates from the early 1930s, and the plant has been running since 1936.
Given the significance of the architect and the quality of the design, there have been cries for preservation of the brewery, which, incredibly, does not have listed status.
The Twentieth Century Society, an architectural interest group, have called for the developers to look again at the plans. Their Chair, Gavin Stamp, said “To sweep away such structures without serious discussion and good reason would be irresponsible and philistine.” The society claims that the government originally granted immunity from listing the buildings so it would be easier for Guinness to modernise the plant and, ironically, avoid closure. Perhaps it’s time to call in Griff-Rhys Jones and the Restoration crew. Londonist hopes they can sort this one out, perhaps over a pint.
Fans of drinks-industry architecture (we know you’re out there) have had a rough time of late. Last year saw the demolition of the Lucozade plant on the Great West Road. But the sign that made it a landmark for motorists, a neon Lucozade ad, has been saved (in the sense of put into boxes) and should soon go on display in nearby Gunnersbury Museum. Londonist eagerly awaits an ‘updated reconstruction’ of the sign on the nearby GSK building, promised for later this year.
The Lucozade ad — an eternal stream of orange, bubbly neon into a glass — was for a long time accompanied by the slogan "LUCOZADE AIDS RECOVERY". In the mid-1980s, this took on an unfortunate second meaning and it was changed to "REPLACES LOST ENERGY".