Bush House, Strand, London

Harvey Wiley Corbett
Date Built
Bush House occupies a large site between the Strand and Aldwick in central London.  The classic view of the building's central block (shown above) is seen from Kingsway.  The BBC website explains that, "... The building was designed with multi-occupancy in mind. The American architect Harvey Corbett undertook the commission in the early 1920s, creating a luxurious trade centre where companies could show off their products and services to potential clients. Finance came from an Anglo-American trading organisation headed by Irving T. Bush, hence the name. Later that decade Bush House was declared the 'most expensive building in the world', having cost around $10 million....

The central block of Bush House was completed in 1925.  In the 10 years that followed two more buildings were added, one containing the North & South/East Wings and the other the North and South/West Wings.

The Central Block features a portico with two male figures standing above two impressive columns. 

The figures that represent, "Great Britain and America hold a flaming  torch  and  a  shield  decorated  with  the  British  lion  and  the American  eagle. The  statues  are  made  of  Indiana  stone,  as  it  was difficult  to  find  large  enough  pieces  of  Portland  stone. ....

A Celtic altar stand between the two figures and below it is the inscription 'TO THE FRIENDSHIP OF ENGLISH-SPEAKING PEOPLES"

The reason why the BBC website has information on Bush House is that it was once home to the BBC World Service.  "Following an international trade slump, and the retreat of companies from London because of World War Two, Bush House needed tenants. When the Empire Service (as BBC World Service was formerly known) was bombed out of its original home at 200 Oxford Street, Bush House, with its large offices and expansive landings was the obvious candidate. European services were re-located there in 1940. (The rest of the BBC Overseas Service arrived in the late 1950s).  But Bush House wasn't immune from the bombers, suffering a hit to the front of the building. The  statue representing America lost its left arm. It was only in 1970 that there was a plan for restoration, when an American, visiting his daughter at the London School of Economics, saw the damaged statue.  He worked for the Indiana Limestone Company and persuaded the company to send a new arm and a stonemason to attach it, in time for the Silver Jubilee celebrations of Elizabeth II in 1977.  ... Over the years all the BBC's foreign language services gradually invaded Bush House, penetrating each wing in turn."

2012 marked the end of broadcasting from Bush House in The Strand. "Over the spring and summer the building will gradually be cleared, as all BBC staff begin to take up take up new offices in Broadcasting House, working alongside colleagues from the rest of the Corporation."

In 2016, when I took these images, work was underway to convert part of the building into an extension of King's College London's Strand Campus.

Close Window