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London Timewarp #2

By M@ Last edited 126 months ago
London Timewarp #2

This week, we're in Holborn Circus. That masterclass in spatial economy, which packs the junction of six major roads into an area the size of a portacabin. We like to think of it as the neutron star of road infrastructure. And you can quote us on that.

The shots here are from around 1920 and 2003. Certain similarities remain, like the fairytale pinnacles of the Prudential Insurance building in the distance, the location of the streetlamps in the centre. And equestrian Prince Albert still raises his hat to salute nearby Victorian engineering marvel Holborn Viaduct. But look at all those cocksure Edwardians, jaywalking round the junction like they haven't a care in the world. They didn't have dedicated crossings back then.

The earlier photo also shows two important and now defunct London retailers. Gamages (on the right, where the awnings are) was one of the great department stores of London, before going out of business in the 1970s. Today, the site is occupied by a newly refurbished (and strangely likeable if you see it in the flesh) Richard Seifert block. On the other side of the road, the impressively glassy Sainsburys HQ has taken the place of Thomas Wallis the drapers, on which the curtains came literally down during a WWII bombing raid. Between the war and the new Millennium, this corner was taken by an absolutely shocking office block, home to the Daily Mirror.

Last Updated 29 November 2006

Nik Shah

Strangely likeable? Only this morning I noticed it properly for the first time as I cycled a new route into work, and thought how much it looked like those horribly tasteless erections they love in places like Abu Dhabi. It mings, you fools!


Ha, I knew that would be contentious. I used to walk past it every day, and have grown rather fond of it. I think it's in the proportions rather than the cladding.