Saturday, 9 August 2014

Bath House Lofts, 19 Spa Road SE16

This extraordinary Greek Revival building looks as though it was built in the 1820s (think British Museum) but was in fact built in the 1920s. The architect, Henry Tansley, was also responsible for the Moderne/Art Deco Health Centre close by - clearly a man who could turn his hand to any style.
It was built as an annexe to the even grander Victorian Town Hall next door, sadly destroyed in the blitz. 
Inside, there is an amazingly opulent oval entrance hall and palatial staircase, featuring veined marbles of the highest quality. Tansley was able to achieve this on a council budget by buying the stonework from a nobleman's town house in Park Lane that had been demolished. 
There must have been a feeling that at last the working man was benefiting from the finer things in life that the upper classes were no longer able to afford. 
Now, however, the borough has been swamped by the London Borough of Southwark and the local politicians and their bureaucrats have moved out. And, with a superb irony, the building has been converted into loft apartments with price tags starting at just under a million. It's the rich, as the song says, what gets the pleasure.

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