The 1960s canopy around Clapham Junction’s Arding & Hobbs building is coming down

Works are really gathering pace on Clapham Junction’s Arding & Hobbs redevelopment – with the pavement canopy being removed right around the building. It’s a feature many people assume was an original part of the building – but it was actually added in the 1970s as part of a modernisation that tried to make the ground floor look more like the fashions of the time. Our photo below shows a sliced-off section, and in the background, a section still in place above the entrance to T.K. Maxx, propped up by scaffolding.

Here’s a photo comparing with a few weeks earlier, before the work started to remove the canopy.

The most striking feature of these works is just how much the canopy reduced the height of the windows on the ground floor. As sections are chopped off the building, we can see that it had rather an unusual construction: a series of large horizontal girders running along inside the old windows, propping up more large girders angled over the pavement. And above the girders, at least another foot of what had originally been window was also blocked off, as can be seen in the photo below. The windows would originally have gone right up to the top of the stonework, but after the canopy was built they only ran up to the very bottom of the photo. Also visible is an asbestos warning sign – ‘DANGER ASBESTOS CANOPY’ – which must have been another headache for the builders.

This diagram, from the planning docu,ents for W.RE’s refurbishment works, shows the design of the canopy, and what is envisaged as the replacement.

When the works are complete, the facade will end up looking much more like the original design, shown below (photo courtesy the London Picture Archive) –

It makes quite a difference to the look of the building – which becomes a lot more visible from the pavement compared to the previous view below. The canopy had originally had fully-lit sections above all the main entrances, and also lights right around the outer edge that hadn’t worked for a good few years (other than a brief attempt to resuscitate them in the late 2000s). It’s fair to say that while canopies like this were very much the style for mid century department stores, and this one has certainly given several decades of service as a shelter from the rain, fashions have moved on.

The plan is for awning blinds to be reinstated above the windows, echoing those that are visible on historic photographs of the building (and which still work on a scattering of Clapham Junction’s most well preserved shopfronts).

Meanwhile in T.K. Maxx (which is not affected by the building works around it and will continue to trade once the new development is finished), a series of what look like minor leaks has led to several ceiling tiles being removed – and if you look closely, you can see the original high ceilings and the decorative plaster coving is still in place and in surprisingly good condition:

Here’s a closer view. It’s similar to what is still on display in the homewares section on the upper floor, which doesn’t have a suspended ceiling. We’re not sure why the fit-out didn’t take the same approach in the rest of the store as the ceiling looks like all it really needs is a coat of paint.

Two final photos: one of the building increasingly covered in scaffolding, showing works underway on the cupola –

And one at the back, showing restoration work getting underway on the brickwork and windows.

A large crane also made an appearance on the 11th June, to help with the construction of the new roof levels.

It’s good to see this ongoing work to restore the building. For more on the ongoing works at Arding & Hobbs, see our recent article on the first confirmed tenants after the works, another on the building work that is going on at the roof level, and our previous detailed article on the overall plans to redevelop the building – adding two floors to the roof and convert the upper levels to office space.

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