Thursday, 21 November 2013

Steamship in stone


Denmark House on Tooley Street, by London Bridge station, is a flamboyant Edwardian building, built by architect S D Adshead in 1908. At first glance, the putti ornamentation at roof level is just more flamboyance.


A closer look shows that the plump little figures are supporting a steamship - for this is the former premises of the Bennett Steamship Company. The company sailed between Goole, London and Boulogne. It was at its height when these premises were built; after the First World War its heyday was over and it declined rapidly after the Second World War. Today, Denmark House is part of London Bridge Hospital. However, the jaunty ship is a reminder of when this area was all about shipping.



8 comments:

Ralph Hancock said...

There would be some mileage in a study of incongruous objects in London statuary. The Albert Memorial springs to mind, with its stone steam engine and Winchester carbine, not to mention its life-size buffalo, elephant and camel. The pediment of the former Great Western Hotel in Praed Street has a wonderful assortment including a cogwheel, a screw press, a goat, another camel, another elephant, a beehive and an anchor.

CarolineLD said...

That would be a lovely project!

HughB said...

What a jaunty looking little steamboat - shame it's stuck up on top of a building, you can't really appreciate it up there!

Anonymous said...

Caroline

The steamship is great fun, as HughB says a pity it is up on the roofline.

Do you know what the Bennett Steamship company carried, Goole, London and Boulogne is an interesting group of destinations.

Alan Burkitt-Gray said...

I was born in Goole, into a merchant navy/railway family, and I must have gone past that building in Tooley Street thousands of times without knowing of its connection with my birthplace. Wonderful to know -- thank you!

Hels said...

The putti are far too big in relation to the steam ship which should have been the key feature of the ornamentation. Especially as Hugh says... that a pedestrian on the street below cannot fully appreciate the work.

CarolineLD said...

Alan, what a nice connection!

The ship is rather inconspicuous - I managed to walk past it many, many times without realising it was there. I wonder whether it was the company, the architect or the artist who decided that this acknowledgement of the building's business should be so discreet?

CarolineLD said...

Anon, I'm not entirely sure what the ships carried but they offered connections from Boulogne to Italy. They seem to have started with the Goole - Boulogne route, and added London later.

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