3 July 2019

Goodby to Niclar House – an art deco delight

Shocking news.
On Sunday last I was leading my Art Deco Spitalfields tour and we were heading northwards up Bishopsgate. The next stop was to be Niclar house with its 1930s castellated faience tiled façade. I had already pre-warned my group that this end of the street was in the process of being renovated and that the building we were about to see and talk about had been behind nets and scaffold for the past few months – but never mind, I had pictures to show them and plenty to talk about.

Nicholls & Clarke's Niclar House in 2018 (Google streetview)
But when we got there, oh the disappointment and shock (and tongue-biting frustration):
Pic taken from the top of a bus (Sunday 30 June 2019)
Where is façadism when you really need it?
Norton Folgate sits at the upper end of Bishopsgate and has for years been cause of dispute about the conservation of its last remaining historic buildings. However, the buildings that abut Norton Folgate were not included as they did not form part of the same street – they appear[ed] to be a continuation but they actually form[ed] the first section of Shoreditch High Street, which had become separated from the rest of that road when the railway arrived.
Niclar House at No3-8 Shoreditch High Street was built as the swanky public/street-facing offices and showrooms of Nicholls and Clarke, plumbers' and builders' supplies who, since 1875, had made very good use of the adjacent railway to ship their products all over the country from their huge warehouses in Blossom Street at the rear (often used as a film location). This tiled building had repaced the company's Victorian Gothic, telling everyone that althjough they were an old company, the products inside were modern.
In June the demolition crew arrived. The bulk of the building had been reduced to rubble and The Art Deco façade was covered with scaffolding, netting and opaque sheeting and I rather hoped that it was going to be protected and saved.
But no. The powers-that-be and the greedy developers obviously don't think that unique Art Deco buildings are significant. Nor do they appear to have any regard for what's left of the Victorian streetscape. This would also further explain the loss of The Water Poet public house which formed part of the Norton Folgate Conservation Area. As mentioned above, Niclar House, being in Shoreditch High Street, was outside that half-arsedly-protected zone and hence the demolition without discussion. It will be replaced with a huge multi-storey office block* and the Norton Folgate block will be partly façaded, but only the four red brick fronted buildings. A big shame to lose an evocative patchwork of architectural history.
I wonder what happened to all those lovely 1930's tiles and the clock parts? Were they saved and sold on? I hope so.
Also see The art deco clock.
Nicholls & Clarke still trade today
*I feature this building on my Demolished Art Deco – Gone But Not Forgotten online talk via Zoom – see Jane's London Walks for more info. 

1 comment:

Please note that comments are vetted by me personally to check for relevant content before they are published, so don't panic when your feedback isn't immediately visible.
If you write anything perceived to be an ad, spam or self promotion, your comment will be deleted and/or marked as spam/blocked.
Thanks, Jane