Saturday, 2 January 2021

313 Oxford Street

Making a rare visit to a near-empty Oxford Street, I had the opportunity to get a phtograph of this fantastic late-Victorian building unobscured by passers-by.

Photograph of a tall, narrow four-story red brick building with white stucco details. These include two second-floor niches, each holding a statue of a figure with one arm raised and outstretched.

 313 Oxford Street was built in the 1870s, and its stucco flourishes show some of the exuberance of the period. (The shopfront below is, of course, a much later alteration.) It is Grade II listed, and the listing text apprpriately describes it as 'eclectic'! 

Perhaps most striking are the statutes at second-floor level, and there is an intriguing suggestion in the listing text that they might originally have supported lanterns. A closer look confirms that both figures have an arm outstretched, perfectly poised for holding a light. In fact, their forearms are so elongated it's hard to think of another explanation!

Photograph showing the two figures in niches. Their outstretched arms can be more clearly seen: the forearms look disproportionately long.


Ralph Hancock said...

Thank you. I've often admired this wonderfully peculiar building, but have never been able to find whose shop it originally was.

105-9 Oxford Street, the building with terracotta beavers on top, is easier to research. It was the shop of Henry Heath the hatter, who prospered in a time when everyone, rich or poor, wore a hat. The beavers are, of course, a reference to the use of their fur in making hats. The skins were prepared with a solution of mercuric nitrate which attacked workers' nervous systems, hence the expression 'mad a a hatter'. Heath's factory building also survives at the back of the shop, in Hollen Street.

CarolineLD said...

I was surprised not to find more about this shop, given the prominent location! Maybe when I can return to libraries...

Chris Partridge said...

According to Bob Speel, the building was originally the Noah’s Ark Tavern of 1890. See
What a pleasure to see Caroline’s Miscellany back!

CarolineLD said...

Thank you - and thank you for that fantastic link!