London's first skyscraper awarded rare Grade I listed status
55 Broadway, home of St James’ Park tube station in London, has had its listed status upgraded from Grade II to Grade I. The arresting 1929 building is faced with Portland stone and adorned with carvings by sculptural greats such as Eric Gill and Henry Moore, although it was originally designed by English architect Charles Holden.
First given a Grade II listed status in 1970, 55 Broadway still retains its original platform finishes alongside 1920s enamel signs and platform benches. Widely considered London’s first skyscraper at 174m in height, Holden’s masterpiece was not always so well received. When the architect invited multiple artists to embellish his work with their sculptures there was a public outcry at the explicit nature of artwork; one nude figure consequently lost almost two inches of his manhood.
Buildings awarded Grade I listed status are said to be of ‘exceptional interest’ in the field of heritage architecture, sometimes considered to be internationally important. Only 3.2% of listed buildings in the UK have been constructed after 1900 according to the English Heritage website, with only 2.5% of all listed structures achieving the coveted Grade I status. These include the National Portrait Gallery, London, the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and the Golden Hill Fort on the Isle of Wight.
Culture Minister John Penrose commented: "When this building opened, it would have represented the height of sophistication and a move towards the development of modernism. I wonder just how many of the thousands of commuters that pass through the station every day are aware of the fantastic features all around them."