I have been following with interest the debates round the plans to demolish the Marks and Spencer building on Oxford Street and replace it by a very standardised and totally undistinguished building by Pilbrow and Partners (who ?), instead of refurbishing it. The case is well put by Nicholas Boys Smith in the article below. The current building is not especially important, but representative of thoughtful, somewhat classical design of the 1920s, which has not been much studied or esteemed, but is not without historical interest; and isn’t it better and more interesting than the planned replacement ? I don’t think it’s Euston Arch, but Westminster should be doing more to promote refurbishment than needless and environmentally damaging demolition. And so too should Marks and Spencer.
2 thoughts on “The Marks and Spencer debate (1)”
In the 1990s I spent a year as a postdoc working on the history of the Leeds clothing industry. A large chunk of that time was spent in the archives of the Montague Burton business. Whenever I go to a British town or city I look out for the distinctive architecture of a Burton’s store (their business model involved putting snooker halls above many of their branches and they are easy to spot). I also remember kids at school whose mums worked for M&S – it was such a prestige job for working class women with good terms and conditions (haircuts and pedicures among them). It would be a shame to see Orchard House disappear.
Yes, they are part of the fabric of the High Street and hugely at risk all over the country. Charles