Onyx House, Tower Hamlets, London

Piers Gough of CWZG
Date Built
circa 1985
401 Mile End Road
This building, on the Mile End Road, across from the Mile End Tube Station, has had a number of names during its relatively brief life.  It apparently started out as Kentish House, then Besso House and then Onxy House when it was home to the Onyx Environmental Group, an integrated waste management company.  Since then it has housed Eden College but, when I took these images in June of 2014, whilst it didn't look unoccupied, it had no identifying name plates to give a clue to its occupants.

This was once the site of the rather grand home of Charles Robert Ashbee, a leading light in the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Essex House faced on to the Mile End Road with a large garden behind.  Ashbee had workshops in Essex House producing the metalwork and jewellery for which he became famous.  There was also an Essex House Press that took over from William Morris's Kelmscott Press when it closed in 1897.  Ashbee moved to live and work in Chipping Campden in 1902.  Essex House survived another 35 years but was demolished in 1937 to make was for an art deco Odeon Cinema that opened on the 17th of October 1938.  The cinema survived the war and, although changing function later in its life, occupied the site until April/May 1984 when it too was demolished.

The present building, with its unusual facade, is attributed to Piers Gough, the architect responsible for the nearby Green Bridge.