In this fourth of my blogs about iconic London buildings exquisitely modelled by Timothy Richards, I look at the Hoover Building on the Western Avenue, to the west of London. Like last week’s building, the Floral Hall in Covent Garden, the Hoover Building has had to adapt to survive, in this case changing from a manufacturing to retail and residential space. I suspect it will have to keep adapting in the future too.

1280px-hoover_building
Hoover Building photo by Nick Weall

Hoover to Tesco

The arterial roads running out from London attracted many art deco and other “proud to be seen” factory buildings. The biggest concentration was on the so-called Golden Mile on the A4 Great West Road.  The Hoover Building however is slightly further north on the A40 Western Avenue – one of Time Out’s Seven Wonders of London. In this model Tim focuses on the wonderful central window and door to capture the art deco splendour, topped off by a hint of the building’s bold lettering.

Our country has become more a retailing country than a manufacturing country so perhaps it is fitting that a Hoover factory has morphed into a Tesco store – as our retail has moved from the high streets to the highways.  Mind you, we were called a nation of shopkeepers , as a form of insult, long before our industrial revolution took off.  Full circle perhaps?

hb_rrob_040_1
The grand entry

The Golden Mile

The Golden Mile stretch on the new Great West Road (a new bypass) was opened by King George V more than ninety years ago.  Whilst several of the industrial buildings of the Golden Mile have survived, a glaring exception is the Firestone Factory, demolished over the August Bank Holiday in 1980, reportedly in anticipation of a preservation order coming into force the next day – and triggering off a campaign for more effective regulation to avoid such destruction.  This is what Tim could have modelled there as a twin for Hoover.

orig_firestone_entrance
Gone if not forgotten

Survivors: Gillette: from razors to residential?

One Golden Mile survivor has been the Gillette Building, less colourful than Hoover or Firestone, and reminiscent of the much larger and surviving Bankside Power Station that successfully houses the Tate Modern art gallery.  Plans for the future use of the Gillette Building are still under discussion.

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Survivor No1: the Gillette Building
tate-modern
Bankside Modernity

Survivors: Coty: from Beauty care to Healthcare

Also on the Golden Mile, the Coty building, once the home of the beauty care cosmetics company is now a private hospital – still staying in the world of health with an upmarket twist.

1280px-coty_cosmetics_factory_great_west_road_brentford_20050123
The Coty Building

And there’s music in it too

The Hoover Building however has also inspired music: Elvis Costello wrote this song, I believe back in 1979, and this was when the old factory was in a state of dereliction. Perhaps he was influential in ensuring it lives on.  I pass the responsibility to Elvis to finish this blog for me…..

                                                              and here’s the song

Five miles out of London on the Western Avenue
Must have been a wonder when it was brand new
Talkin’ ’bout the splendor of the Hoover factory
I know that you’d agree if you had seen it too
It’s not a matter of life or death
But what is, what is ?
It doesn’t matter if I take another breath
Who cares ? Who cares ?

Green for go, green for action
From Park Royal to North Acton
Past scrolls and inscriptions like those of the Egyptian age
And one of these days the Hoover factory
Is gonna be all the rage in those fashionable pages

Five miles out of London on the Western Avenue
Must have been a wonder when it was brand new
Talkin’ ’bout the splendor of the Hoover factory
I know that you’d agree if you had seen it too
It’s not a matter of life or death
But what is, what is ?
It doesn’t matter if I take another breath
Who cares ? Who cares ?

Written by Elvis Costello • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

Next, we’re off Wembley

Next week we’re off to Wembley, to visit the not-long-departed Twin Towers.

Previous Building Blogs

  1. Temple Bar and the end of geography
  2. Euston Arch, a hub of controversy
  3. Floral Hall, Orchids to Oysters to Opera
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One thought on “Mad about Models: Building Blog 4 From Hoover to Tesco

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