Imperial Chemical House - 9 portrait keystones
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.