Euston to Sloane Square

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Detail of brick decoration of thirties block on Tottenham Court Road

I wanted to look at the Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square so, as it was such a beautiful afternoon, I walked. (Can one be a flâneur if one has a destination?) As usual, I zig-zagged at random between Euston and Oxford Circus, stopping to admire the proportions of buildings.

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From a previous walk: Heals furniture store, Cecil Brewer, 1917

From Georgian windows to blocks built in the 1930s, 50s and 60s, these understated buildings were a pleasure to contemplate. They made the occasional Victorian buildings, with their over-emphatic keystones and alternate stripes of brick and stone, look inelegant and over-dressed.

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Tottenham Court Road – 1930s?

I got to the point where – for all my pleasure in Victorian neo-Gothic and Italianate-wannabes – I could understand why people had wanted to demolish St Pancras in the 1960s.

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Tottenham Court Road again. Is that a little bit of upward-thrusting stile floreale in the building on the right?

The modernist curve of the Peter Jones department store is sublime. It’s incredible that the curtain wall was originally built in the mid 1930s and not the 1960s. (But then one could say something similar about the Dessau Bauhaus – built 1926.) The interior (last revamped in 2004) is equally stunning, and I was very pleased to be shown to a table by the curved window when I went in for a coffee.

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Peter Jones department store, redesigned by William Crabtree, 1932-36

The shop assistant I spoke to as I admired a spiral staircase told me that behind the lowered ceilings were wonderful Art Deco motifs and lighting.

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I caught the tube back from Sloane Square. I haven’t used it for a couple of years and I was struck by how unnatural and unnerving a way to travel it is. I don’t like emulating moles any more than birds when it comes to getting around.

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