14 - 16 Cockspur Street, London

A. T. Bolton
Date Built
14 - 16 Cockspur Street
This building on Cockspur Street, near Trafalgar Square in London, was built in 1906 for the Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actiengesellschaft, or Hamburg America Line (HAPAG).  At the beginning of the 20 Century their ship the Deutschland won the Blue Riband for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic on three occasions.  During World War I much of their fleet was destroyed and those that survived were handed over to the Allies as reparation.  This building was also handed over for the same reason to P&O and clearly some alterations were made to the building at that time because the P&O logo appears on the building in several places.

Much of the decoration on the building is the work of William Bateman Fagan who was responsible for the stone carvings above the entrance for number 14.  The "Ornamental Passions" website gives an excellent insight into the meaning of these sculptures.  On either side of the broken pediment are two figures cradling ships.  The website speculates that the figure on the left is holding the "Deutschland" and the one on the right the "Amerika" (hence the eagle), another of HAPAG's famous ships.

Other nautical images include Neptune at the peak, the prow of a boat below a border of anchors, and mermaids.  After the hand-over of ownership though P&O had their logo inscribed below the HAPAG sculptures.  Below the circular window is a bronze plaque engraved with the Peninsula and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's (P&O) motto - "Quis nos separabit" which means "What will separate us".

In my mind the most spectacular decoration on the building is to be found above the door to the former booking hall. 

This magnificent bronze created by Ernest Gillick represents "Britain and the Orient" with the lady on the left, accompanied by a boy holding a lotus flower, representing the East and Britannia, with three lions on her chest and accompanied by a boy holding her trident, representing Britain.  The sun is rising above the ocean between them and below it is the company motto.

Apparently, after P&O left the building one of its occupants was a bank but when I took these images in December of 2011 it was empty.  However, in 2012 it became the Brazilian Embassy.

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