St Olaf House

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I was down in London on business again last week. While I was waiting outside London Bridge Station I noticed this Art Deco style building directly opposite the entrance on the north side of the station on Tooley Street.  I had a little while to wait until my colleague’s tube arrived so I had a little time to take a look and take some photos – of rather dubious quality I’m afraid – on my phone.

A little research on the Internet and I discovered that 

St Olaf House was built between 1928 and 1932 for the Hay’s Wharf Company. The Hay’s Wharf Company was founded in 1867 and operated warehouses and wharves on the Thames in London. St Olaf House was built on the site of the former Church of St Olave. The company commissioned the architect Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel to design a London headquarters for the company.

It’s a steel-framed building, clad in white Portland stone. Like many buildings from the period it’s facade is relatively plain but it’s decorated by features such as the large oriel windows, two octagonal windows on the top floor and  two small towers and the railings on the roof.

The windows on the right hand side of the facade are staggered, so a probably lighting a staircase inside.

The name of the building is spelled out in large gold letters in a Deco type font above the central and right hand entrances

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And there’s a drawing of St Olaf by by British artist and sculptor Frank Dobson on the left hand side of the facade

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The building stands on the side of the river and this was the view from London Bridge. It’s not possible to get in close(unless you’re on a boat on the river) so I’ve had to zoom in with my phone. Its quite different from the Tooley Street facade. Much more decorated

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The Modernist Britain website tells us

The river frontage in seven bays wide. At ground level the building is supported by six evenly spaced columns. The central three bays from the first to third floors are pierced by three tall, narrow windows surrounded by thirty-nine gilded and terracota panels edged in black granite. The panels were designed by British artist and sculptor Frank Dobson (1888-1963) and depicted scenes from the dockside, entitled ‘Capital, Labour and Commerce’. The remaining windows on the lower three storeys and the two ‘bands’ on the fourth and fifth storeys are black-metal framed. The top storey features gilded lettering spelling out ‘Hay’s Wharf’.

There’s some better photographs of the wharf side here and this website also includes some photographs and some additional information.

It’s a listed building and today forms part of the private London Bridge Hospital.

I thought it was an attractive building. Amazing what you notice in London when you’ve a little time to spare and keep your eyes open!

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