Urban landscape — 03 February 2017
Site Unseen: Gwynne House

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouse.

With the imminent closure of London’s oldest manufacturing company the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in existence since 1570, this month we look at two of its neighbours near Fieldgate Street.

Designed in 1934 by the architect Hume Victor Kerr who was also responsible for Comfort House which stands on the corner of Turner Street and Nelson Street, this Art Deco modern movement 5-storey apartment block in Turner Street was originally used by the London Hospital as staff accommodation.

The building makes a feature of its curved staircase tower, which in Scotland would be called a close.

The building was sold to private developers in 2012 and turned into 2-bed apartments.

Comfort House, also designed by Hume Victor Kerr, by contrast, is evidence that nothing much has changed in the area, just the people in the rag trade come from a different quarter.

Comfort-House

Comfort House works entrance

Completed in 1932 as a factory and showroom for gown manufacturer M. Levy, the building retains its links with the rag trade today with commercial units on the ground floor and residential properties above. The original windows have gone which is a shame but Comfort House still has a striking presence with its white rendering; tall square cut towers, sharp angled corner and slightly projecting bands of windows with curved ends. There is a recessed ’works entrance’ in Turner Street, labelled with stylised lettering.

I am indebted to Rachel Kolsky and Louis Berk who pointed me in the direction of Gwynne House in their beautifully illustrated book Whitechapel in 50 Buildings.

Featured image: Gwynne House, Turner Street, E1 by Mike Quinn (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Comfort House and East End Modernism by Adrian Yekkes

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