This week’s photographs are taken inside the showroom of ‘Heal & Son’ on London’s Tottenham Court Road, W.1. They show the extension of 1936-1938 by Sir Edward Maufe, R.A., F.R.I.B.A. (1882-1974), who is, perhaps, best remembered for his work at Guildford Cathedral.
Instructed by the Directors, led by Sir Ambrose Heal (1872-1959) himself, Maufe carefully extended the furniture store’s main Tottenham Court Road frontage, seamlessly matching the original of 1914-1917 by Arnold Dunbar Smith (1866-1933) and Cecil Brewer (1871-1918), whilst also adding the southern block on Alfred Mews.
Construction of the steel-framed building was carried out by Trollope & Colls with the works completed in 1937. The centrepiece of the extension was the four-storey window, which runs between the ground and fourth floors and provides light to the staircase behind.
The ribbed glass came from Lenscrete, Ltd. of 11 Buckingham Gate, S.W.1, specialists in glass and ferro-concrete, and bears a striking resemblance to that used by Maufe at Guildford Cathedral, where works started in the same year.
Given both it’s architectural and historical significance, The Heal’s Building, including the southern extension was first listed by Heritage England on 14th May, 1974, and is now a Grade II* building. Heal’s still occupy the ground, first and second floors of the building as showroom space.
In recent years, the building’s current owner, Columbia Threadneedle Investments, in conjunction with freeholder, The Bedford Estates, has redeveloped the site, principally in order to improve the office accommodation on the floors above and in turn the commercial viability and long-term future of the building.
Having instructed the architects, John McAslan + Partners, the first phase of works focused on ‘The Heal’s Building’, at 22-24, Torrington Place, where among other changes to the 1930’s brick building, the original Crittall windows were replaced with modern double glazed replicas and the entrance redesigned, all to great effect.
The second phase covered Maufe’s southern extension, which has also been sympathetically refurbished to a very pleasing standard. The lift housings and internal staircase including the windows, which are by far the best-preserved interior elements are now far closer to their original form than they were previously.
The housings have been painted in a neutral battleship grey colour, which works well with the rest of the space. Originally, the word ‘Lift’ was spelt out above the doors of each car in an ‘Art Deco’ typeface, reminiscent of the era – sadly, these have been lost through the years and were not reinstated by McAslan, with a single grey panel now covering the void.
Both the lift glazing, which utilises an obscured pattern, and the main cathedral like window have been cleaned and repaired where necessary, whilst the chromium plated metal work – principally the banisters – has been polished back to its original splendour.
With the office floors fully let and the Heal’s showroom seemingly managing to withstand the various pressures facing the British high street, the future of the site, including Maufe’s extension seems secure. Next time you find yourself on Tottenham Court Road, pop in and take a look.