Esoteric London

No. 732: Old Bond Street, W1

Posted in Architectural, London Music, Shops by esotericlondon on December 18, 2012

Atkinson’s Building, Old Bond Street, London, W1. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

The Little World of London – Charles Manby Smith, 1857:

If, leaving Finsbury Square, we walk towards the Angel, we shall not proceed far without meeting with a specimen [of the tribe whose labours are never done, or are not subject to the laws which regulate the business world, and whose traffic thrives best when the streets are fullest]. Here is one already – a weather-worn man seated on a high stool in front of a slender and rickety framework supporting a whole gamut of little bells. Having a row of wooden keys under his feet, which act upon hammers that strike the bells, and a fiddle under his chin, he contrives to scrape and jingle out ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ or ‘Home, Sweet Home,’ with an effect not too nearly approaching to the harmonious.

[ If you stand on the corner of Old Bond Street and Burlington Gardens and glance up at the roof of the building known as Atkinson’s Building you will see a rather beautiful little spire. This spire houses London’s only carillon. The building was designed by E. Vincent Harris for J.& E. Atkinson Ltd in 1926 although Atkinsons, founded in 1799, had been selling their perfumes and beauty products from the site since 1832. In 1927 Gillett & Johnston cast and installed the 23 bell carillon. A plaque on the exterior wall of the building proclaims that the bells are ‘played by hand on special occasions of public and private rejoicing’. R.D.]

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