A bland and unremarkable office block in Southwark has under a pile of grime a rather odd memorial.
A very grimy sign reads “This window pediment was taken in 1979 from the former building on this site. It is retained in commemoration of RICHARD COURTNEY BALDING under whose Chairmanship this building was commissioned”
The previous building was occupied by United Friendly Insurance Company – now part of Royal London. Although generally given as being at 42 Southwark Bridge Road, they seem to have expanded into 38 as well in the 1950s.
It’s difficult to be sure where the stone pediment came from, but there is a possibility that it actually came from above the entrance if we go by this drawing that was used on their letterheads in the 1950s.
That would certainly explain why this particular lump of stone was saved, as it was the one their employees walked under every day. You can also see that the Managing Director at the time was a Mr R.C. Balding – who presumably rose to Chairman when the old building was torn down.
The current building, presumably erected in 1980 is now host to a data centre provider, so behind the blank glass facade lies rows upon rows of computer servers, supported by what looks like a gigantic air conditioner unit on the roof.
It may not be there for much longer though – there are plans to demolish the entire block and rebuild it.
The stone pediment is frankly not that significant, and will probably end up either in the insurance firm’s basement and forgotten, or sold off to an architectural salvage firm to decorate someone’s garden.
But it’s curiosities like that delight when ambling around the streets – it’s not architecturally or historically important, the person it’s named for barely exists in history and it’s covered in rubbish and grime. In other words, it’s wonderful.