Among my favourite places for lunch is the ‘Ambrose Cafe’, located on the first floor of ‘The Heal’s Building’ on London’s Tottenham Court Road, W.1. Prior to the lockdown, my family and I were regular patrons, yet sadly the restaurant remains temporarily closed.
Whilst researching the building’s southern extension of 1936-1938, it transpired that the same architect, Sir Edward Maufe, R.A., F.R.I.B.A. (1882-1974), had also designed the earlier Lloyds Bank branch in Muswell Hill, N.10, where I used to live.
Completed in 1927 and opening as a full branch on 5th September that same year, the three-storey building occupies a prominent corner site, at the junction of Summerland Gardens. The branch’s original address was 14, The Broadway, however this was changed in 1961 to the current, 142, Muswell Hill Broadway.
Muswell Hill was one of several commissions awarded to Maufe by Lloyds Bank during the interwar period, with the Yorkshire-born architect also responsible for promo branches at Notting Hill Gate and Putney High Street in London, whilst outside of the capital, Maufe designed branches at Amesbury, Wiltshire and Dartford in Kent.
In keeping with the neighbouring red-brick Victorian and Edwardian buildings, Maufe made extensive use of traditional brick with the Muswell Hill branch, with his three-storey building designed in a classic ‘Neo-Georgian’ style. Soon after opening, the new branch was described by ‘The Architect & Building News’ as “a highly attractive example of modern urban building.”
Above the ground floor commercial premises, separated by a stone string course, are residential flats, which are accessed via a separate entrance on Summerland Gardens, and command unrivalled views across north London. When completed in 1927, these would have likely provided accommodation for the branch manager.
Despite the industry trend of closing bank branches in recent years, Maufe’s buildings for Lloyds have all fared relatively well, with each of the three London branches noted above still in use with the bank today.
Whilst Lloyds Bank claimed for damage sustained during the Second World War, the building stands almost entirely as built today, with the only obvious change being the familiar addition of a ‘through the wall’ cash machine in one of the four ground floor windows, which was installed by Lloyds in January, 1981.
Whilst the elegance and simplicity of the branch’s original period lettering has been lost, the inevitable modern signage with which it has been replaced is sympathetic to the building’s historic fabric, and so fails to spoil the appearance of the principal facade.
Closing in on its centenary, the interwar building is not statutorily listed but does sit within Haringey Council’s ‘Muswell Hill Conservation Area’, affording it a degree of protection from redevelopment. How long Lloyds will remain in situ, however, is unknown.