Mad about Models: Building Blog 4 From Hoover to Tesco

Mad about Models: Building Blog 4 From Hoover to Tesco

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.

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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?

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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.

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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
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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.

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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

EU Brexit: What’s the new future?

uk eu crystal ballWhat now?  A baker’s dozen of immediate questions/observations

The state of the UK

  1. Will Scotland head for a second referendum and aim to stay in the EU?– which would almost certainly mean a switch to the Euro and be more like Ireland is today.
  2. Northern Ireland recorded a majority to remain in the EU: does this presage a move to a more united Ireland?
  3. Given the clear difference of opinion between London and the industrial north, will this trigger a new resolve to alter the economic imbalances of Britain or just reinforce the sense of us and them?

British politics

  1. Will Labour have a leadership change at the same time as the Tories? – given Corbyn’s lukewarm support for the Remain cause. Or does he gain strength from having had one foot in the winning camp? The possible vote of no confidence in Corbyn may be the first indicator.

EU and UK

  1. We now have a new category of European country: former EU member, just as we have accession members and others classified according to their status with respect to joining. I hear as I write the Germans are calling this “associative status”. The UK already had started a trend towards a class of partial membership i.e. those with opt-outs.  Pressure surely on Denmark and Sweden who like the UK still have their own currency.  And Brexit’s reality means the East European countries, none of which are in the euro, may be wondering if they should/will join or if the whole EU project is on the ropes. Just as the UK pioneered the category of non-euro, non-Schengen member, will the UK negotiate a new category of partnership with the EU.
  2. What if the EU gets its act together? Will the UK come to regret being outside a rejuvenated faster growing EU?
  3. Britain has been a member of the EU for 43 years, about the same time as the East Europeans were members (rather involuntarily) of the Soviet Comecon Bloc. Interestingly when West Germany faced the prospect of reunification there was a debate about how and when to complete the deal and at what exchange rate, and it took strong leadership for Helmut Kohl to seize the moment and say just do it, at a 1 to 1 exchange rate (generous to East Germany) and not let negotiations drag on.  There will be some who want to see it Brexit happen quickly too, rather than endless negotiations.
  4. What now for the Calais camps: how long will the UK Border agency stay operating in Calais not in Dover/Folkestone?
  5. Can the UK seriously hold the EU Presidency in 2017? Just as Cameron says he can’t be in charge during Brexit, can the UK be in the chair whilst negotiating exit?

Future of the EU

  1. How will the EU react? Its priority is likely to shift towards stabilising the EU and avoid further fragmentation.  The UK exit negotiations will be seen as a future model for others who may wish to exit.  Could the EU become a more coherent bloc led by a Franco-German core? – albeit historically a rather uneasy alliance to say the least. Or is sustaining Franco-German peace the real point?
  2. If the EU’s future is thrown into serious doubt, will there be any new members in the future e.g. Ukraine, Turkey?
  3. How far will Brexit damage the EU’s status as a world power bloc?
  4. Could Brexit trigger a new effort to close the EU’s democratic deficit?

And finally, What’s the next shock that many don’t want to happen?  Far right wing parties in power in Europe?  The rapid death of liberal democrat Europe?  Trump as President?

What do you think?