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On Broadway

Going through my photo collection the other day, I came across a visit I made a couple of years ago to 55 Broadway.

The building was designed by Charles Holden, construction started in 1927 and finished two years later. It became new headquarters for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL), the precursor of London Underground. Upon completion, it was the tallest office block in the city. It was fully occupied up until 2015 by Transport for London (TFL), and by the time I managed to get onto one of the last guided tours, there were only a small amount of occupied offices. At the time my visit there was a strong rumour that TFL were going to sell the building to be developed into a luxury hotel and so to see the interior intact was a bit of a “must see” for me. As it turned out the rumour was correct and in May 2020, it was announced that Blue Orchid Hotels would convert the structure into a luxury hotel.

The building sits on top of St James’s Park underground station and in the foyer are several mechanical devices for measuring the train interval and service regularity.

As you move upwards through the building there are many evocative Art Deco finishes, which I hope will be kept by the new hotel.

And as you descend down the back stairs there’s a more utilitarian feel about the place.

The crowning glory, literally, is the roof terrace with view out over central London.

As I’ll probably never be able to afford to stay in the hotel once completed I feel somewhat privileged to have trod the corridors of power within the London Transport organisation, and I’ll certainly be keeping up with developments as the project progresses.

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