I always make a habit of visiting some interesting buildings when Open House London comes around. This year I was lucky enough to visit 55 Broadway, the former headquarters of London Underground, near St James. The Underground Group was formed from a group including the Tube railways, London General Bus company, tram operators and electrical supply companies, and in 1927 when they decided they wanted their new headquarters to reflect its bold vision of the future, they hired architects Adams, Holden and Pearson for the job.
It was a challenging job from the start. With its irregular shape and depth (St James’s Park station sitting just 7.3 metres below the site) Adams, Holden and Pearson’s job was a difficult one. They managed to get around it, however, by incorporating the cruciform layout into their design.
Charles Holden, later known for his work on the Northern and Piccadilly Line extensions, used Portland stone and added bronze features to the building. Carvings by Eric Gill, Henry Moore and Jacob Epstein (who’s “Night and Day” caused controversy) adorn the outside of the building, which is now Grade 1 listed.
We started off outside, where we were introduced to the history of the building and got to see the original foundation stone.
The tour took us up several floors, including the seventh floor with its original management rooms, outside to see the roof gardens, and right up to the flagpole.