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Faraday on the ICI building entrance doors Imperial Chemical House - 9 portrait keystones

Relief: Faraday on the ICI building entrance doors

These doors are in the centre of the river frontage of the building.

Mapping of sculpture alerted us to this memorial: "The ground floor entrance is Fagan's most visible contribution and comprises massive bronze doors (modeled on the {east doors of the} baptistery, Florence) surrounded by architectural carvings on a maritime theme cut in granite. There are six relief panels on each door depicting advances in technology. The panels are paired with stone age technologies represented on the left contrasted with modern, industrial scenes on the right. The latter culminates (bottom right) with a scene showing the chemist, Michael Faraday lecturing to the Royal Institution."

The reliefs bear some examination though the high ones are difficult to see. In the images on the right depicting technology, only one woman is shown (beside a printing press). The stone age images show lots of bare-breasted women, either being pushed around by the men or sitting around doing nothing. In the 1920s-30s neither of these points would have been worthy of note.

Site: Imperial Chemical House - 9 portrait keystones (10 memorials)

SW1, Millbank, 9, Imperial Chemical House

For an idea of what this area used to be like see this 1894ish map. It was all redeveloped following the 1928 flood. This block was designed by Sir Frank Baines and built in 1929-31 as HQ for Imperial Chemical Industries Ltd (ICI). Aka 'Nobel House' it is now, 2016, occupied by Ofgem, the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets. The frontage boasts 9 portrait keystones of chemists and ICI directors: Cavendish is on the Horseferry Road frontage, Mendeleeff on the junction corner, the other 7 are on the river side, left to right: Lavoisier, McGowan, Nobel, Alfred Mond (ICI), Ludwig Mond, Priestley, Liebig. Each 5th floor keystone decorates an integrated window arrangement with the identifying name on the 4th floor balcony. In his book on London statues Osbert Sitwell reports a journalist  writing that these "masks" are "four times life-size" but he also writes that they are "seven storeys above the ground" so we have to allow for some exaggeration.

On the 5th floor are four magnificent statues by Charles Sergeant Jagger. See A London Inheritance for photos. As well as these keystones Fagan did most of the other sculpture on the building, including the massive bronze entrance doors.

2017: We watched the 1947 film "Mine Own Executioner" which uses a few London locations. We recognised that of the last scene - a suicide at the top of a building - and thought it might be this one. But it's actually the MI5 building immediately to the south of Lambeth Bridge, Thames House, which was built by ICI at the same time as IC House and not used by MI5 until 1994.

There are two more portrait keystones on Nobel House, behind this building.

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This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Faraday on the ICI building entrance doors

Information Subjects commemorated

Royal Institution (of Great Britain)

A group of men started meeting at Gresham College and formed a society to pro...

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Michael Faraday

Experimental physicist, especially electro-magnetics (remember Faraday's Law?...

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This section lists the subjects who helped to create/erect the memorial on this page:
Faraday on the ICI building entrance doors

Information Created by

William Bateman Fagan

Born Bermondsey. Andrew Behan's researches have found that when he was baptis...

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This section lists the other memorials at the same location as the memorial on this page:
Faraday on the ICI building entrance doors

Information Also at this site

Show all 9