Boris Johnson is reported to have once commented that the redesigned London Bridge station would be improved with gargoyles.

As Mayor, Boris Johnson held meetings to discuss the rebuilding of London Bridge railway station on a number of occasions. The meetings were a courtesy though, as planning permission had already been granted.

Nonetheless, there was still potential for “non-material” changes to be proposed.

In a tweet sent by the railway rebuild architects, Grimshaw partner Mark Middleton, reminiscing about the former Mayor of London, wrote that “Whilst Mayor of London he criticised the proposed elevations of London Bridge Station as too boring.”

“We presented as he sat slumped in a seat with his feet on the table & suggested we embellish them with a row of gargoyles.”

The suggestion wasn’t taken up, and the railway station rebuild later went on to win a national design award from RIBA, despite the lack of gargoyles.

There is a technical debate to be had though — if the embellishments had been gutters to divert rainwater — and as anyone who has stood near one, they’re pretty good at drenching people, then they would have indeed been gargoyles.

However, it’s highly unlikely that such a function would have been desirable, so the decorative additions wouldn’t have been gargoyles, but more correctly called a grotesque.

And grotesque is probably what most people would have thought when seeing the modern railway station adorned with medieval carvings.


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  1. Jo W says:

    Did Mr.Johnson offer to be the model?

  2. Maurice Reed says:

    I think the heads of all the current MPs would be good!

  3. RichardB says:

    I think he had a point. Grotesques and or gargoyles may or may not have been appropriate but what is missing from a lot of new buildings is a sense of fun. Architects seem only to think of functional designs some of which are beautiful but many of them have no senses of theatre or indeed humour. Neo gothic architecture can be very effective in railway station architecture and perhaps we need more of it as indeed we could do with baroque embellishments. To conclude I am not a promoter of Boris merely that he may have had a point that gets overlooked.

  4. JP says:

    Not just our esteemed members of Parliament surely. If there are any still taking up space, what a perfect place to put suitably weatherproofed old Spitting Image puppets.

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