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Belsize Park

The Washington PH, 50 England’s Lane has a floor mosaic reading ‘Washington Hotel Billiards’ and an unusual, delicately painted tiled wall panel showing George Washington in a pseudo-classical surround, with the name W. Holman (probably the then-proprietor) in a prominent position above. This late Victorian panel is signed ‘Carter, Johnson & Co London & Worcester’. There is an abundance of interesting and varied late Victorian porch tiling in Belsize Park, with good architectural detailing, including the use of tiles and terracotta on facades, continuing north into Hampstead.[1]


The offices of the publishing company Thames & Hudson formerly occupied 30-34 Bloomsbury Street, and could be identified by the three sets of tiled steps sporting the firm’s logos; one set has been removed, but the tiles at 32 and 34 are extant (Fig 146). The tiles were designed by William Gordon and probably produced by Carter’s.

Hathernware terracotta was used in the late 1990s in the restoration and conversion of Alfred Waterhouse’s massive red brick and terracotta University College Hospital (1894-1903), Gower Street, to a research and teaching centre known as the Cruciform Building from its cross-shaped plan. The Hospital was one of only two buildings where Waterhouse specified painted tile panels for the interior, in this case for the children’s ward, where twenty-four Doulton nursery rhyme and fairy tale panels were installed, some signed by Margaret Thompson.[2] Many of these were covered or removed during earlier alterations, and one is in the collection of the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood (Tower Hamlets).[3]

Waterstone’s bookshop, on Torrington Place (between Gower Street and Malet Street) is a frilly, pale buff terracotta confection built in 1907 and designed by the architect Charles Fitzroy Doll (1851-1929); its detailing includes figurative gargoyles and diminutive turrets. The terracotta may have been supplied by Doulton; Doll certainly used the firm for his nearby but earlier Russell Hotel (1896-1900), Russell Square, a chateau-like pile with excellent terracotta detailing including portrait busts, cherubs and sculptures by Henry Charles Fehr (1867-1940).[4]

The former J. Evans dairy (now Fitzroy Tiles), on the corner of Conway Street and Warren Street, dates from the early twentieth century. The exterior is faced with blue and white glazed brick and tiles, and inside the walls are white tiled with some blue-framed blank panels; the marble-topped counter (is this original?) is fronted by three pictorial tile panels of rural scenes.


The former Congregational Church (1883-4, architect Alfred Waterhouse), Lyndhurst Road, was converted to house a concert hall and recording studios in 1991-2, and is now known as Lyndhurst Hall. The dark red terracotta of its exterior came from J. C. Edwards of Ruabon.[5]


The spectacular interior of the Princess Louise PH, 208-9 High Holborn, dates from its refurbishment in 1891 by the architect Arthur Chitty. The lavish - although non-pictorial - tilework, including full-height tiling in the gents’ toilets, was supplied by W. B. Simpson & Sons and is most probably by Maw & Co (Fig 147).

The massively red Prudential Assurance building, on the north side of Holborn, was erected in four stages over 1876-1905 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse; it was the first of twenty-seven commissions received by Waterhouse from the Prudential. The vast scale of the building can best be seen from the semi-public Waterhouse Square - a reminder of the great court of Furnival’s Inn, previous occupier of the site - reached through an imposing archway from Holborn. The company’s new head office of 1876-9 was the first section to be built, and was faced in red brick and buff terracotta, the latter from Gibbs & Canning who also supplied the red terracotta used in the later phases of construction. The colour red, a contrast to stone and London stock brick, was the choice of the Prudential rather than Waterhouse.[6] The present appearance of the building results from demolition of the 1876-9 block in 1930; its replacement, complete by 1932, used red terracotta from the Hathern Station Brick and Terra Cotta Company.

The building as a whole offers little in the way of external terracotta decoration apart from an allegorical figure of Prudence (1898) by the Scottish sculptor William Birnie Rhind (1853-1933) above the entrance arch. Ward-Jackson suggests that this was made by Edwards of Ruabon, apparently because the rather different Prudentia at Liverpool’s Prudential Assurance building (1885-8, terracotta by Edwards of Ruabon) predates the London statue.[7] It seems far more likely that Gibbs & Canning supplied all the terracotta for the pre-1930 Holborn building, including the figure. Internally, the 1895-1905 range, fronting on to Holborn, has much Burmantofts faience decoration including arcades, cream and ochre facing on columns and a lavish multi-coloured stairway. Ibstock Hathernware made over 500 terracotta blocks for the building’s 1990 restoration and redevelopment.

On the exterior of Sir John Soane’s Museum, 12-14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, are Coade stone caryatids of 1812. Set into the fire surround of the second floor front room are 42 early eighteenth century Chinese blue and white decorative porcelain tiles, with another 32 in the fireplace of an adjoining room; over 200 more such tiles are held in storage by the museum. The tiles may have been added to the fire surrounds in 1891 by the then-curator, James William Wild, who had a strong interest in oriental art.[8]

The architect Percy Westwood was a personal friend of the tailor Austin Reed, commuting daily with him to London. Reed naturally turned to Westwood and his partner Joseph Emberton for a new headquarters office building, and the result was Summit House (1925), Red Lion Square.[9] The steel-framed block is faced in smooth Gibbs & Canning amber-coloured faience, with minimal decoration in the form of repeated oblongs.[10] The architects were much influenced by Berlage’s strange faience-clad Holland House (1914-16, see City of London), indeed Summit House may be its sole British progeny; it was certainly a sophisticated contract for Gibbs & Canning.

Sicilian Avenue (1906-10, architect Robert J. Worley), off Southampton Row, was a purpose-built classical-style pedestrianised shopping street; the facades and terminating screens are clad in Doulton’s Carraraware.[11] Even the central lamp-posts have blue faience pedestals.

Kentish Town

The Egyptian-style black and cream faience of the former Forum Cinema (1934, architect John Stanley Beard, interior by W. R. Bennett), Highgate Road, was probably supplied by Shaws of Darwen; Beard used the firm for his very similar Forum Ealing, also 1934.

St Luke’s Church (1867-9, architect Basil Champneys, now in the care of the Churches Conservation Trust), Oseney Crescent, has a rich encaustic pavement in its sanctuary including distinctive sixteen-tile groups designed for Maw & Co by the architect George Goldie. The same group can also be found in Chester Cathedral, where they were installed in the 1860s, and at St Asaph Cathedral, where they date from 1867-75.

St Pancras

The entrance hall of St Pancras Chambers (1868-76, architect George Gilbert Scott, formerly the Midland Grand Hotel), Euston Road, was complete in time for the opening of the hotel on 5th May 1873; its floor is of Minton geometric tiling with mosaic insets.

In St George’s Gardens, Heathcote Street, stands the Doulton buff terracotta figure of Euterpe (sculptor John Broad) which was originally part of the decoration of the Apollo and the Muses PH on Tottenham Court Road (1898, C. Fitzroy Doll); the pub was demolished in 1961 and the figure presented to the Mayor of St Pancras (Fig 148).

In the entrance of Thameslink Station, Pentonville Road, is a full-height modern tile mural installed by W. B. Simpson & Sons showing hurrying passengers; the mural is under threat as the station is due to be moved by 2007 as part of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link works (Fig 149).

St Pancras New Church (1819-22), Upper Woburn Place, was designed in Greek Revival style by the London architect William Inwood and his son Henry William Inwood (1794-1843). During 1818-19 Henry Inwood travelled in Italy and Greece, later publishing what became the standard work on the Erechtheion, an Ionic temple on the Acropolis in Athens. The north and south porticos of St Pancras are based on the Porch of the Caryatids at the Erechtheion; Henry took complete casts of the Greek caryatids, which John Rossi then copied in terracotta. The colossal grey terracotta caryatids are load-bearing and have cast iron cores (Fig 150).

Somers Town

The anglo-catholic priest Basil Jellicoe founded the St Pancras Home Improvement Society (now St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association) in 1924, declaring a ‘war on slums’ in Somers Town; the intention was to provide high quality homes with facilities such as nursery schools for the poorest tenants. The Sidney Street Estate, now known as the Sidney Estate, lies west of Chalton Street and is bounded by Werrington, Bridgeway and Aldenham Streets (Fig 151). This compact area formed the final phase of the Society’s second major scheme in Somers Town, planned in 1929 and completed in 1939. Its flats, which are arranged around a central courtyard, were designed by the Society’s architect Ian B. Hamilton. The great delight of the development is the Doulton polychrome stoneware decoration by Gilbert Bayes (1872-1953), who - as a result of his concern with the role of colour in sculpture - had experimented with designs in Doultonware from the early 1920s.[12] Bayes worked with Hamilton during the 1930s on decorative features for all the Society’s Somers Town estates, but the Sidney Street scheme was the most complex and varied, originally including sculptured finials, many of their designs inspired by nursery rhymes, on the washing-line posts; these did not survive beyond the 1970s (Fig 152). Still extant, however, are the low relief lunettes showing fairy tale scenes and the Four Seasons clock overlooking the courtyard.[13] The housing association is currently (2004) undertaking a major programme to renovate the Somers Town estate courtyards and to install replica washing-line posts and finials.

Less than a quarter mile south of the Sidney Estate is Doric Way and the Drummond Estate, with the earliest flats put up by the St Pancras Home Improvement Society, three five-storey blocks erected between 1926 and 1936; the architect was Ian B. Hamilton. Decoration includes the cast stone Eagles and Fish balcony panel by Gilbert Bayes, and on St Mary’s (completed 1930) are hand-painted Dunsmore tiles showing assorted fish and crustaceans (Fig 153).

On Euston Road, in front of Euston Station, is the former London, Edinburgh & Glasgow Assurance building (1906-7, architect Beresford Pite) which retains its original decorative scheme in the currently disused entrance hall. The walls are clad with Doulton’s Parian ware in pale yellow and sage green, and the floor mosaic, by Rust’s Vitreous Mosaic Co of Battersea, incorporates the signs of the zodiac; Doulton’s Parian ware, developed by W. J. Neatby, was earthenware with a dull, eggshell-like finish. The brown and yellow dado tiling in adjoining corridors is also by Doulton’s.[14]

St Aloysius R. C. Church (1966-8, architect John Newton), Phoenix Road (between the Sidney and Drummond Estates) has an elliptical interior with striking abstract stained glass by Whitefriars Studios. The apsidal recess of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel is faced with a brightly coloured ceramic mural by Adam Kossowski (Fig 154).


1.^         Bryan Diamond, 'Architectural details on Hampstead houses', Camden History Review, 25 (2001), pp32-6.
2.^         Colin Cunningham and Prudence Waterhouse, Alfred Waterhouse, 1830-1905: Biography of a Practice (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1992), p98.
3.^         John Greene, Brightening the Long Days (Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society, 1987).
4.^         Paul Atterbury and Louise Irvine, The Doulton Story (Royal Doulton Tableware, Stoke on Trent, 1979).
5.^         J. C. Edwards, Ruabon: Catalogue, Ruabon (1903).
6.^         Cunningham, Alfred Waterhouse (1992), p116.
7.^         Philip Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London. Public Sculpture of Britain (Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, 2003).
8.^         Rose Kerr, 'Hidden treasure at Sir John Soane's Museum', Apollo, 156 (2002) November, pp23-9.
9.^         Rosemary Ind, Emberton (Scolar Press, London, 1983).
10.^       Information from Angella Streluk.
11.^       Tara Draper-Stumm and Derek Kendall, London's Shops: the world's emporium (English Heritage, London, 2002).
12.^       Philip Ward-Jackson, Gilbert Bayes - Essays in the Study of Sculpture (Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 1998).
13.^       Louise Irvine and Paul Atterbury, Gilbert Bayes, Sculptor, 1872-1953 (Richard Dennis, Shepton Beauchamp, 1998).
14.^       'The London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow Assurance Building, London', Architectural Review, 23 (1908) March, pp169-176.

The Tile Gazetteer is Copyright © 2005 Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society and Lynn Pearson, Richard Dennis.