The Art Nouveau Factory in Southfields
In Southfields, SW18, you can find a surprising and visually striking building.
Today it’s private flats but it used to be a factory. The surprising thing is that it looks nothing like a stereotypical factory.
It was built in 1903-4 for Frame Food, a baby food company. Their slogan “Nourish and Flourish!” is emblazoned along the side in bold tiled type.
I managed to find this image of an advert for Frame Food, dating from 1903.
When it was first built the name Frame Food appeared in huge capitals along the top (as seen in this 1914 image here) but that has since been removed.
You can spot one reminder though, two Fs for Frame Food on the drain pipes!
There was another amazing image taken from Standen Road (view it here).
Which is a marked contrast with the current view below
The factory was designed by Charles E. Dawson and W. T. Walker. It’s in an Art Nouveau style with exceptional details in the tiled roundels and ironwork.
In the Victoria and Albert Museum Collection, they have a selection of prints by Charles E. Dawson which seem to mirror the style of the architecture.
So what happened to the factory?
While I’m not sure what happened to Frame Food, I’ve seen some instances where the owners of the factory are named as Benham and Sons.
The National Archives holds Benham and Sons records from 1905-1960, describing them as commercial catering equipment manufacturers.
Established in Portman Square in 1917, by the early 20th century (annoyingly it doesn’t give an exact date!) they had expanded into multiple premises including 59 Standen Road. During the Second World War they pivoted into making munitions and then in 1960 the family business merged with various other companies throughout the rest of the 20th century.
It gets more complicated because an OS Map dating between 1940s-1960s shows the site as being occupied by a ‘Confectionary works’.
It also wasn’t the only factory in this small area.
At 265 Merton Road is the former factory office of George Mason & Co. Ltd who made Ok Sauce. It was built in 1928 and since the sauce production ended in 1968 the building has been abandoned and unused.
Today the flats are known as Tiffany Heights. You can see inside various of the converted flats on sale or sold online. I found some interesting pictures (for those who are nosy like me!) here.
I assume the name Tiffany is a nod to the Art Nouveau stained glass, popularised by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
You can see an example of Tiffany Studios glass work below, this piece attributed to head designer at the time, Clara Driscoll.
It’s very in keeping with the style of the details of the tiled roundels.
However I did read in one source online that the onion-esque domes turrets were delightfully called “Tiffany Twiddles”! I’ve never heard that term before but I’m a fan.
The building is Grade II listed and Historic England calls it a “rare example of factory in Arts and Crafts manner.”
Latest Blog Posts
Along Consort Road in Peckham you can admire the quaint-looking Beeston’s almshouses. As well as their charming appearance and characteristic almshouse layout, the aspect that really piqued my interest was the shield of the Girdlers’ Company. You can spot more of these in Farringdon (featured......
In early May 2023 a new basement on the eastern edge of the City opened to the public. Having previously written about the developments, I was keen to visit the Vine Street Roman Wall for a closer look. The free museum is inside Emperor House......
In Southfields, SW18, you can find a surprising and visually striking building. Today it’s private flats but it used to be a factory. The surprising thing is that it looks nothing like a stereotypical factory. It was built in 1903-4 for Frame Food, a baby......
There are some amazing hidden details on Southwark Cathedral that are worth a look up. On the exterior of the north east wall you can see a mixture of Victorian and contemporary corbels and the new ones each have a story to tell! I’ve previously......
It’s no surprise that people fail to appreciate Palladium House. Standing opposite the glorious facade of Liberty’s, the majority of people take photos of that wonderful black and white entrance. Now, this isn’t to say that Liberty doesn’t have its own historic credentials (you can......
The Young V&A (formerly the Museum of Childhood) in Bethnal Green isn’t just a fabulous museum, its building also has a fascinating history to tell. Travelling back 350 years or so, Bethnal Green was a popular suburb for London’s upper classes. There were some large......