diamond geezer

 Saturday, May 28, 2011

"The towpath passes beneath the Great West Road - the interesting stretch with all the Art Deco offices, but we're not going there."

Oh go on then, if you insist.

Gillette Cornerthe Pyrene Building
West Cross House, and the Firestone Gates
  • The Gillette factory (top left): Driving into London along the A4 Great West Road, this is the first big factory after the residential belt through Osterley. It was built for the Gillette company in 1936 by the wonderfully-named architect Sir Banister Flight Fletcher, serving as as both factory and European HQ. Atop the high brick tower is a four-faced neon-illuminated clock, visible for miles. Razor-blade production transferred to Poland five years ago, and the building is now a Grade II-listed shell awaiting transformation, maybe, into a hotel.
  • Coty Cosmetics: The big white building at 941 Great West Road, designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, opened in 1932, and now a "state-of-the-art private outpatient clinic".
  • Pyrene Building (top right): UK home of the Pyrene Manufacturing Company of Delaware, who specialised in the manufacture of carbon tetrachloride fire extinguishers. Again designed by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, it opened in the early 1930s. Currently vacant, if you fancy renting 59,371 sq ft of "landmark Art Deco office building".
  • Curry's Building: Back in 1936, when this electrical retailer was fast expanding, they built this grand white building at 991 Great West Road to act as both headquarters and factory. Rather more recently, Foster & Partners restored the vacant front office building for French outdoor advertising company JCDecaux.
  • Firestone tyre factory (bottom): Another Wallis, Gilbert and Partners design, built 1928, for the Firestone company of America. Tyre production ceased in February 1980, making 1500 locals redundant, and the Art Deco building was sold to the Trafalgar Group. In one of London's most shameful architectural desecrations, the new bosses promptly demolished the building over the August bank holiday weekend, shortly before a preservation order was due to be served. In its place today is a long low office block with glass fa├žade, with the only remaining fragments of the old factory being the front gates and a few railings. Shame.
(for more about these buildings, and several others along Brentford's Great West Road, see this Wikipedia page, or this set of photos)

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