Paddington Bearings

20 Feb

I was born next door to Paddington station, so perhaps it’s no surprise that I’ve ended up arsing around its environs, stroking my chin and taking crap photographs. This post is basically a pun (which, I must say, I’m rather pleased with) in search of a point, but hopefully the buildings look nice enough to justify its existence.

Great Western Hotel, Praed Street: '...one of the earliest buildings in England with the marked influence of the French Renaissance and Baroque... a crushingly Victorian programme, in stucco (although stone was intended)' Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 3: North West

Great Western Hotel, Praed Street: ‘…one of the earliest buildings in England with the marked influence of the French Renaissance and Baroque… a crushingly Victorian programme, in stucco (although stone was intended)’ Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 3: North West

Paddington Station, I.K. Brunel & Matthew Digby Wyatt, 1850- '... this is no ordinary station... It is subtle, unexpectedly allusive, where St Pancras and King's Cross are grand and straightforward. The plan belongs to a cathedral, not a railway station... it has the same kind of lyric poetry as the best rooms in the Soane Museum; so the result has to be taken all at once and not broken into constituents. It makes the other lines look uncultured and obvious, and by all accounts this was the effect of the pre-War GWR. Buy this Keats sonnet for the price of a platform ticket or see it from the high-level footbridge up at the far end, which takes you almost up to the roof' Ian Nairn, Nairn's London

Paddington Station, I.K. Brunel & Matthew Digby Wyatt, 1850- ‘… this is no ordinary station… It is subtle, unexpectedly allusive, where St Pancras and King’s Cross are grand and straightforward. The plan belongs to a cathedral, not a railway station… it has the same kind of lyric poetry as the best rooms in the Soane Museum; so the result has to be taken all at once and not broken into constituents. It makes the other lines look uncultured and obvious, and by all accounts this was the effect of the pre-War GWR. Buy this Keats sonnet for the price of a platform ticket or see it from the high-level footbridge up at the far end, which takes you almost up to the roof’ Ian Nairn, Nairn’s London

The station, from the Bishop's Bridge Road

The station, from the Bishop’s Bridge Road

The Hallfield Estate, Tecton, then Drake & Lasdun, 1947-1955:I've always thought this estate looked like a massive pile of Jenga blocks. '...(it was) deliberately at odds with the stuccoed streetscape of the neighbourhood. The estate was intended as a radical model for the borough of Paddington's post-war rehousing programme... it was one of the first post-war estates to include comprehensive communal amenities such as primary schools, shops, laundry etc... Hallfield also made a determined effort to break with the convention in other ways and show that working-class housing should not be merely utilitarian in appearance... the aesthetics of the ten and six-storey slabs are those of abstract art, one of the most confident and rigorous applications of such principles in Britain at the time'. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 3: North West

The Hallfield Estate, Tecton, then Drake & Lasdun, 1947-1955:
I’ve always thought this estate looked like a massive pile of Jenga blocks. ‘…(it was) deliberately at odds with the stuccoed streetscape of the neighbourhood. The estate was intended as a radical model for the borough of Paddington’s post-war rehousing programme… it was one of the first post-war estates to include comprehensive communal amenities such as primary schools, shops, laundry etc… Hallfield also made a determined effort to break with the convention in other ways and show that working-class housing should not be merely utilitarian in appearance… the aesthetics of the ten and six-storey slabs are those of abstract art, one of the most confident and rigorous applications of such principles in Britain at the time’. Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 3: North West

Paddington Fire Station

Paddington Fire Station

The Battleship Building, Harrow Road. Built in 1969 as a railway maintenance depot, I will always remember it as the HQ of high street clothes chain Monsoon. Driving North out of London with my Mother, it was a first landmark that signified the end of the City as I then knew it. Built astride the Westway, it has become a topotrope of London-set film and TV, livening up countless in-car scenes in everything from Chris Petit's Radio On to BBC1's recent drama Sherlock.

The Battleship Building, Harrow Road. Built in 1969 as a railway maintenance depot, I will always remember it as the HQ of high street clothes chain Monsoon. Driving into London with my Mother, it was a first landmark that signified the beginning of the city as I then knew it. Built astride the Westway, it has become a topotrope of London-set film and TV, livening up countless in-car scenes in everything from Chris Petit’s Radio On to BBC1’s recent drama Sherlock.

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