Buildings, both their physical fabric and technical and social context, provide an important window on the past. Crossrail’s archaeology programme recognised the importance that buildings play in local cultural history.
Buildings due to be demolished were recorded and the results will be presented in a special publication celebrating the places that made way for the new railway.
11-12 Blomfield Street
This purpose-built late Victorian office building was opened in 1887. By 1895 it housed over 30 businesses. The decoration was elaborate, and the quality of fixtures and fittings high.
Extensive use was made of brightly-coloured ceramic tiles, decorated stone and dark hardwoods like mahogany. The building had two staircases one with a geometric design and an innovative hydraulic lift powered by pressurised water.
The Bath House, 96 Dean Street
A pub existed on the site of 96 Dean Street since at least 1738. The building was rebuilt in the 19th century.
A clue to the date of these improvements was discovered during demolition when window sash pulleys dated to 1890 were revealed. There was a function room on the first floor and accommodation provided on the upper floors. The building possessed the flamboyant facades, typical of late Victorian pubs, representing the golden age of the public house.
The Astoria Theatre, Charing Cross Road
This building started life in 1893 as a warehouse for the Crosse and Blackwell food factory. In 1927 it was converted into a deluxe cinema and dance hall by A Segal, an independent exhibitor.
It was designed by Edward A Stone who was the architect for other Astoria’s at Brixton, Old Kent Road, Finsbury Park and Streatham. The cinema closed in 1976 and operated fitfully as a theatre until 1985, when it was relaunched as a popular independent music venue.
West Smithfield, Edmund Martin Ltd, 3 Lindsey Street
Smithfield remains London’s foremost meat market, and this quirky little structure was used by a tripe processors. Its frontage was clad with the ceramic tiles traditionally used on butchers’ shops.
A decorative fluted stone pilaster and a moulded architrave to one side of the building’s roller doors were surviving parts of a wall that had separated the premises from a Great Western Railway office. Until the 1960s meat was brought to market in railway wagons which docked in a cavernous basement beneath the market.