When I was in London recently, I got to wondering if the building that housed the London Office of H. H. Warner was still standing. The London Office was one of the most successful of the foreign offices and existed from 1882-83 until well into the 1930’s. However, unlike the iconic Warner’s Remedies Building in Rochester, the London Office did not grace the company’s advertising. Indeed, I have only one almanac that depicts the London Office.
The back cover of the 1888-1889 British Safe Cure almanac featured sketches of all of the foreign office buildings, including the London Office located at 86 Clerkenwell Road, EC1. Unfortunately, the sketches are not great quality, but they gave me an idea of the type of building I was looking for. The question was whether the building had survived the last 115 years. London is a remarkable city that has existed since at least 43 A.D. Since that time, it has grown and expanded, endured invasions, plagues and great fires.
We know that the London Office moved several times during its existence. It was originally located at 81 Southampton Row, WC, which would have placed it near Russell Square and the British Museum. It apparently remained at that address until 1889 when it moved to 86 Clerkenwell Road, EC in the Borough of Finsbury. A few wooden shipping crates bearing that address have surfaced over the years.
Using the GPS on my phone, I was able to locate the site of the Clerkenwell Road office, but still was not sure if the building that had housed Warner’s London operation until about 1902 was still standing. After all, it might have fallen victim to the Nazi blitz during World War II or even to urban renewal. I wasn’t quite sure what I might find. However, as I rounded the corner of St. John Street and headed down the hill on Clerkenwell Road, I recognized it instantly. The drawing on the almanac was spot on. The rounded front corner of the building was unmistakable.
Not only was the building still there, it was in remarkable condition. There is no telling through how many hands this building has passed since 1902. It is currently the home of Club Zetter Wine Room & Kitchen, which looked to be a very upscale establishment. Indeed, the only significant change that I see when comparing the current building to the 1888 sketch is the fact that the front door has been moved to the side.
I was delighted to see that, much like the Safe Remedies Building in Rochester, this building has been restored and preserved. Bravo! As I was packing up my camera to head back to my hotel, I noticed on my London map that within a few blocks of the old Warner building was Warner Street and Warner House. Perhaps this is coincidence, perhaps not.
After 1902, the H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd moved to 18 Laystall Street, EC1. The location is less than a half mile from 86 Clerkenwell Road. There it remained until the mid-1930’s. My schedule did not permit a visit to the Laystall Street address, nor would I have known if the building there was the one occupied by the Safe Remedies company. It was, however, nice to know that Warner’s footprint in London remains.