Burtons Elephants

We’ll get onto Cafe Sol that currently occupies this place another day with a proper review but for today I would like to take a peek at the building itself. It would be pretty easy to just walk past this fantastic art deco corner and not even notice its beautiful lines. It’s a case of looking down – then looking up…

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this building was built by the mid-range gentleman’s outfitters Burtons. There are two entrances, both of which still retain their fabulous mosaic ‘doormats’ – see above. The date I have is 1932 – though whether that is the date of the building or the decoration is unclear from the books I’ve been reading. I’m in the process of trying to find out…

The beautiful curved glass of the main window is still there – thank heavens. They just don’t do curved glass any more (well – not within most people’s budgets, anyway) – hence people with original 1930s curved windows in their houses being forced to replace them with a series of flat panes and spoiling the whole look. Tut. If you look carefully there is still a the top stained-glass leadwork running around above it.

But the best bit is definitely found by looking up. A crenellation of elephants (sounds like some kind of weird collective noun, doesn’t it) carved in that distinctive deco style tops the lot. I have no idea why the architect chose elephants (I have images of that French cartoon character Babar – he wore a suit, didn’t he?)but it’s certainly spectacular.

I’m not sure when Burtons moved out, but apparently before this incarnation, it was the venue for a bar called Brandies. Cafe Sol occupies the ground floor – but can anyone enlighten me as to what goes on on the first floor? There looks as though there are chairs and a large TV. Any clues for a nosy Phantom?

Ham at www.LondonDailyPhoto.blogspot.com (who, when I finally get around to creating myself a links section will definitely top it – his is the best London Blog I know) has an occasional series on London Elephants. I can’t find whether he has ever included the elephants at the top of Burtons but they are very splendid indeed. Ham – if you’re out there – come and take a better photo than I can, eh!


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