Bunhill: Oxo Tower

A SORDID question of money is preventing the Oxo Tower on the south side of Blackfriars Bridge from reappearing in all its glory. This splendid monument to commercial ingenuity represents a successful effort to dodge the ban on advertising on the banks of the Thames by arranging the windows in the tower to spell the three magic letters, with red lights to spread the name at night.

The tower surmounts an unusual building, initially designed at the turn of the century as an electricity generating station to provide power for the Post Office's system of pneumatic tubes. The tower was added in the 1920s, when barges laden with meat for the precious cubes would tie up at the wharf in front. It then went downhill and was used to make 'long eggs' for veal and ham pies.

In 1984, the tower was bought by Coin Street Community Builders, the group that beat off a scheme to redevelop the whole of the South Bank as offices. The warehouse is now being refurbished, in sensible if trendy fashion, as flats, restaurants, cafes and 'designer workshops'. Unfortunately, the Coin Streeters couldn't agree terms with Brooke Bond, the Unilever subsidiary that now owns Oxo, which seems a bit daft.

(Photograph omitted)

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