It goes without saying that the OXO Tower is one of London’s most recognisable buildings with its illuminated vertically-aligned OXO windows, sitting proudly along the South Bank. In recent years the building has been transformed and now houses numerous design studios, specialist shops, gallery, trendy flats, and a fancy rooftop restaurant. However, this hasn’t always been the case.
The OXO Tower was originally built in the late 1890′s as a private power station for the Post Office. By the 1920′s the property was bought by Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes and was converted it into a huge warehouse and distribution centre for their meat imports from South America.
During the conversion of the huge sprawling property a tower was built, which was originally going to feature the company’s name spelt out in coloured lights at the top. However, skyline advertising was banned along the South Bank at this time and local planning councils refused permissions.
In order to outsmart the council, the architect for the project, Albert Moore came up with a creative solution. He modified the plans to incorporate four sets of three vertically-aligned windows, each of which ‘coincidentally’ happened to be in the shapes of a circle, a cross and a circle, and of course spelt out OXO. The planners were outsmarted… and we were given the iconic tower we can still see today.
After World War II, when much of the industry moved out of central London, the site ceased to be used by Oxo and by the 1970′s it had fallen into disrepair and was mainly derelict. In the 1980′s the site was bought by a non-profit development company called ‘Coin Street Community Builders’ who purchased the land from the local council at a bargain price, with the aim to regenerate the building and local area.
Some 30 years on and a £20 million renovation later, the OXO Tower Wharf is a thriving artist community that is often overlooked by Londoners (being located in tourist mecca). So next time your in the area drop in and explore the various shops and creative spaces that make up the OXO tower area, or shop the area from the Pocket High Street here.
Some of our favourite shops in the area include:
Studio Teresa Collins
If you’re looking to spend a pretty penny for THE perfect rug to spruce up your place and add a little character, you’re going to find it here. Home to beautiful rugs, combining fine materials and textures with the visual delight of the perfect shade and yarn blending. We’re talking quality textured rugs, hand made, customisable and locally sourced, Teresa Collins is the textiles master. Shop here
House of Eunice
House of Eunice was founded in 2006 by Rachel Eunice who has a background and love for all things textile, with her keen eye for detail and a serious case of wanderlust, it only made sense for her to have a fair trade store to call her own. Shop here
JeDeCo (Jewellery Designers Collective) is a working collective of independent jewellery designers creating beautiful jewellery that would make Britain proud, a fresh alternative to mass-market accessories. Shop here
Mikala Djørup opened in 2003 on London’s vibrant Southbank, creating modern jewellery using silver, 18 carat gold and platinum, mainly with diamonds, pearls and coloured gemstones. Beautiful, unusual rose cut diamonds and Tahitian pearls are often used in her timeless, unique and contemporary designs in which her Danish heritage and technical training shows. Shop here
Write On Productions
The selection of knitwear here is knitted, courtesy of Knit London and Teon’s Grandmother, now, if that’s not knitting with love I don’t know what is. Shop here
Alan Vallis at OXO’ was established in 1997 on London’s Southbank and my-oh-my. Decorative patterns, textures and colours of the Middle East have inspired Alan’s signature ‘stacking rings’ , with influences from his travels to Indonesia, Africa, Jordan and Egypt, particularly the mesmerising Red Sea. Shop here
Mark Bloomfield, the mastermind behind this magnificent operation designs and makes customisable jewellery ..With his 3-D printer, because what else would you even make jewellery with? Pop in and catch him working the printer if you’re lucky, it’s spectacular. Shop here