Skip to content

Main Content

Cunard Building

1913-1916 
Grade II*
 

Cunard Building
This substantial building was built as the offices of the Cunard Shipping company to the designs of Willink and Thicknesse, with Arthur Davis (of Mewes and Davis) as consultant. 

Its proportions, unadorned silhouette, rusticated and battered plinth, bold projecting cornice and solid parapet give it the form of an Italian palazzo. 

However, its multi-storey form, and its elevations, decorated with French classical details are derived from American beaux-arts buildings such as those of McKim Mead and White in New York. 

It is also remarkable for its symbolism expressed in trophies of conflict and peace, for the building was erected during the First World War, and the portraits of races from around the world, symbolising the global operations of the company. 

The Cunard Building has six storeys plus a basement, nine bays to the two principal elevations and seventeen bays to the marginally secondary elevations.   

The centre bays of the ground floor project to form monumental entrances, each one enhanced by massive panelled oak doors, engaged fluted columns, stone panelled reveals and stone coffered ceilings. 

The east frontage onto the Strand is further pronounced by its dramatic approach up a flight of stone stairs, flanked by a pair of bronze lamps with fluted columns, claw feet, acanthus leaf shields on huge stone plinths.   

Inside, there is an ornate principal corridor linking Brunswick Street and Water Street. It has a black and white marble floor, a coffered ceiling and a twin flight staircase. 

The former first class passenger waiting room on the river side of the building has appropriately high quality fittings and the board room has a commanding position in the centre of the fifth floor river elevation and also has fittings of the highest quality. 

The building was much admired on completion, and provided a foretaste of life aboard ship for those sailing across the oceans with Cunard.