The Ghost Shops Of The Barbican Estate

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 60 months ago
The Ghost Shops Of The Barbican Estate
The new Barbican shop in the ground floor of Lauderdale Tower. Previous tenants in this unit include Crispin's and Ambal's Food & Wine, the sign for is still in place.
The new Barbican shop in the ground floor of Lauderdale Tower. Previous tenants in this unit include Crispin's and Ambal's Food & Wine, the sign for is still in place.
The ground floor unit in Shakespeare Tower. It originally opened as Butlers, a wine bar (the logo is still etched onto the glass). Later it became PInxtos, a tapas bar. It is now an architect's office.
The ground floor unit in Shakespeare Tower. It originally opened as Butlers, a wine bar (the logo is still etched onto the glass). Later it became PInxtos, a tapas bar. It is now an architect's office.
Wood Street restaurant. It originally opened as a pub, the Crowders Well (here's a photo)
Wood Street restaurant. It originally opened as a pub, the Crowders Well (here's a photo)
Frobisher Crescent. The architects envisioned it as a small shopping mall. But the shops never came, and it is now offices for the Arts Centre.
Frobisher Crescent. The architects envisioned it as a small shopping mall. But the shops never came, and it is now offices for the Arts Centre.
A sign on the estate. Crispin's Supermarket is no longer in business, nor is Pinxtos, whose name can just be made out in the top slot.
A sign on the estate. Crispin's Supermarket is no longer in business, nor is Pinxtos, whose name can just be made out in the top slot.
The Podium, a former pub on St Alphage Highwalk. Here's what it looked like when open.
The Podium, a former pub on St Alphage Highwalk. Here's what it looked like when open.
The Plough, on St Alphage Highwalk.
The Plough, on St Alphage Highwalk.
The former site of Young Bin, or Young Bean, a Korean restaurant on St Alphage Highwalk. Here's the restaurant in happier times, and here's the interior. Behind it is St Alphage House
The former site of Young Bin, or Young Bean, a Korean restaurant on St Alphage Highwalk. Here's the restaurant in happier times, and here's the interior. Behind it is St Alphage House
Another clothing store on St Alphage Highwalk. The sign still lists the telephone number with the old '01' code.
Another clothing store on St Alphage Highwalk. The sign still lists the telephone number with the old '01' code.
Former Midland bank and (presumably) ATM, St Alphage Highwalk
Former Midland bank and (presumably) ATM, St Alphage Highwalk
A former stockbroker on the St Alphage Highwalk
A former stockbroker on the St Alphage Highwalk
Showroom for the Moorhouse building, St Alphage Highwalk
Showroom for the Moorhouse building, St Alphage Highwalk

A couple of months ago a new shop opened in the ground floor unit of Lauderdale Tower, one of the skyscrapers on the Barbican Estate. An unremarkable news item, perhaps, were it not for the fact that businesses on the Barbican aren't usually very successful.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. In his book Barbican: Penthouse Over The City, David Heathcote notes that one early plan called for a number of shops on the estate, but this was rejected as it was felt they would be "alien to the quiet and sense of seclusion which should be characteristic of a residential neighbourhood". The Barbican's architects, Chamberlain Bon and Powell, envisioned shops, pubs and restaurants all across the estate, serving the needs of more than 5,000 residents. They also designed Frobisher Crescent, to the north of the Arts Centre, as a miniature shopping mall; this vision was never realised and the units are now offices. According to the website Barbican Living, the firm also predicted that the complex would "need up to 5 public houses”; it now has none, save for City Boot near Moorgate station.

The malaise extends to the St Alphage Highwalk to the southeast of the Barbican estate itself. Two former pubs — the Podium and the Plough — stand here, boarded up and unloved, and the remains of a clothing shop, banks and a Korean restaurant are also extant. Much of it was closed a few years ago to make way for a development that stalled in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. The area is dominated by a skyscraper (unfairly dubbed one of the area's ugliest) which is also due for demolition.

A new development is set to be built here, one that will retain the highwalk but not much else, but many of the old buildings will be demolished. Take a walk around before it's gone.

See also:

London's Lost Department Stores

Last Updated 16 May 2013

Marco Barbieri

Wow, I did an entire project about this: St. Alphage http://ow.ly/l5pza
Have a look!

Iain

"predicted that the complex would “need up to 5 public houses”; it now has none"

There's the Woodstreet Bar
https://plus.google.com/116164...

and the Barbican Centre has the Camera Bar
http://www.barbican.org.uk/res...

clearvision

Gosh - before you know it we'll have video footage of a Barbican ghost town, with tumbleweed rolling across a barren post-apocalyptic landscape.

Except the truth is somewhat different.

It's perhaps not surprising that a residential estate surrounded by offices well served by cafes, bars and restaurants has evolved relatively few additional venues of its own. After all, with 3 restos in the arts centre, a pub by the lake, and many more within 5 minutes' walk, how many more do we need ?

Visit the French archetype on which the estate is largely modeled and you'll find a bookshop, a small grocery store and one resto / hotel in the city in the sky, the rest empty.

The St Alphage end of our estate has suffered from the blight of London Wall - replace true street level with a dual carriage way and it's not surprising people find no need to rise up a level to a podium that's on the way to nowhere else.

So - marks out of 10 for the CBP vision of the future ? I think most residents would score it in the 8s and 9s and the recent heat around the protracted repair works on the North Podium just illustrates how strongly people feel about returning it to something like its original state.

John

Having grown up in the Barbican and not been back in about ten years this is frankly depressing as hell.

kdrc74

Great post - just discovered. I work nearby and loved the highwalk for relaxing, HG Ballard-esque lunch breaks. Always fascinated by whoever Lawrence Highman was, love the Midland Bank marble facade and dearly miss both Noto Japanese restaurant and the £7 all you can eat Korean lunch buffet that briefly succeeded it.

kdrc74

And that guy who hates on St Alphage modernist tower sucks!