Faraday House, London, UK

A. R. Myers
Date Built
Completed 1933
136-144 Queen Victoria Street, London
The Faraday Building is in fact two buildings.  The lower block, closest to the camera, is a former Post Office Sorting Office built in 1890.  In 1905, it was converted into a telephone exchange.  In the early 1930s the adjoining taller block was added to house the world's first International Telephone Exchange.  It had 6,000 lines and for a period of time virtually all of the World's international telephone traffic was routed through the Faraday Building.  Despite the fact that the name Faraday Building is emblazoned above the entrance, this 1930s section of the site is also referred to as Faraday House.

Apart from the rather discrete BT sign beside the entrance there are a number of clues to the building's function.  To begin with, incorporated into the name over the door is the caduceus (staff with wings above two coiled snakes) of Mercury, the messenger of the Gods.  Mercury himself is carved into the keystone above the fanlight.

Then, above the second floor windows you will find keystones carved with items related to telecommunications including a telephone, switching equipment and cables.

When it was built, Faraday House was a very controversial building because its height meant that it obscured the view of St. Paul's from the river. 

It resulted in the introduction of by-laws that restricted the height of new buildings so as to protect sight-lines around the iconic cathedral.  As a result it was nearly 40 years before a building was erected in The City that was higher than St. Paul's.

According to the sign beside the entrance door, the Faraday Building occupies a site that was once home to the "Doctors Commons". 

The doctors in question were not medical doctors but "doctors" of law.  The Doctors Commons was a society of lawyers that was founded in the 16th Century.  The society occupied a building here that apparently housed Admiralty, Probate and Ecclesiastical Courts.  By the time the 19th Century rolled around, the Doctors Commons was generally regarded as old fashioned and the target of ridicule handed out by writers including Charles Dickens.  The society held its last meeting in 1865 and that same year their building was sold.  It was demolished in 1867.

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