A run-down but prominent set of railway arches at London Bridge station, nicknamed Findlater’s Corner after the wine merchant that used to occupy them are to be restored.
Now managed by The Arch Company, the restoration will be part of their wider plans to bring around 1,000 railway arches back into commercial use.
Findlater’s Corner has long been an oddity in the area, being both placed right at the junction with London Bridge and the Borough High Street, it has a commanding location with a grand tiled frontage, but is also run down and very shabby.
The planned redevelopment will restore the Baroque revival frontage including a full refurbishment of the interior of the arches. When completed next Autumn it will create four new units for retail and restaurant businesses.
The site is said to have long had the nickname of Findlater’s Corner as it was occupied by the wine merchants, Findlater’s Mackie & Todd who occupied the site for decades, and the name was used by the wine firm as their head office address. Although they did exactly the same thing to their Dublin and Bournemouth offices – which raises the question of whether the nickname is something adopted by the general public as a whimsy or an official name given to it by the wine merchants.
The clock with its ceramic stag’s head, referencing Findlater’s Scottish roots and whisky business, is one of the most visible in the city, and soon will be restored to keep time. In 1897, the original Victorian wine shop architecture was replaced with a Beaux Arts style faience (in a similar material to that was used at the Savoy Hotel). Today, this frontage remains one of the finest examples of a glazed faience façade in the capital.
Eagle eyed passers-by will spot the faded sign of Findlater’s Corner on the unloved brickwork today.
The wine merchants was founded in 1823 in Dublin by Alexander Findlater and prospered to the degree that he expanded into London and in 1855 as Findlater Mackie Todd opened a branch on the corner of Tooley Street, and in 1863 moved into the corner building today known as Findlater’s Corner.
The firm continued growing and by the 1960s had nearly 50 stores in the southeast of England. It was eventually sold to Bulmers in 1967, who closed most of the stores and in turn sold the remaining wine wholesale business to the Beecham Group in 1970.
In 1993 it changed hands again – and is now owned by Waitrose.
If a branch of Little Waitrose was to open in the renovated Findlater’s Corner, it would be the circle completed.