Today (28th April) is the first World Art Deco Day, a celebration of the iconic 1920’s and 30’s design that remains a harbinger of style and elegance for many people. Regular readers of this blog, and followers of my Instagram know that I love Art Deco with a passion, and often travel around with my camera trying to photograph as much deco design, and deco design features as possible.
Art Deco was a short lived movement in many ways, almost disappearing at the start of World War 2. It had a renaissance during the 1960’s, particularly in terms of fashion and opulence with the likes of Biba taking on the geometric lines and gold and black colouring in their designs and store. Unfortunately, this period also saw the destruction of many stunning Art Deco buildings, particularly cinemas, as a more brutalist modern styling came to the fore.
Although some Art Deco buildings were residential, many more were industrial factories, cinemas and places of entertainment, swimming pools and shops – with Burton, Woolworths and the Cooperative all having a strong Art Deco design ethos. Unfortunately, the very nature of the buildings were the reason many did not survive, although there are places that have many fine examples including Worcester, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Dudley, Leamington Spa and Wolverhampton. London is a treasure trove for Deco, and even many small towns like Wednesbury, have some fine examples.
In celebration of World Art Deco Day, this post contains some examples I have been able to photograph over the last year.
The Malthouse Pub, Willenhall
Formally The Dale cinema, this Art Deco beauty is now a Wetherspoons pub. I love that the pub chain has kept many of the period features of the cinema and that new features such as signage is kept in the style.
The Dale closed as a cinema in 1967. I love the stories that surround the fact that as the auditorium had quite a low cinema, films were often partially on the ceiling.
Former Coop Willenhall
The beautiful blue skies from last week and another fine Art Deco building, this is a former Coop building in Willenhall.
Waterstones building Birmingham
Birmingham has many examples of Art Deco which you can see here, the former Times Furnishings store, now Waterstones, is one of the best ‘skyscraper’ style buildings in the city.
The former Grosvenor Cinema, now The Bloxwich Showman
Another glorious former cinema is The Grosvenor in Bloxwich, Walsall. Once the jewel in the crown of the famous Pat Collins of fairground fame, it has been tastefully restored in recent years and is now another Wetherspoons pub.
Industrial Gates, Walsall
Have seen these gates for years and finally decided to photograph them as they have such an art deco look to them, although they need a little TLC now.
Former Woolworths Store Walsall
Walsall is another small town with lots of decent examples of deco. The former Woolworths is one of my favourites due to the almost Egyptian style features that include majestic lions.
The former Northwick Cinema, Worcester
Now a furniture store, I was gutted to visit this former cinema when I was in Worcester last Summer and find it closed, as the inside is beautifully preserved too.
Beacon House, Bournemouth
I visited Bournemouth last Summer and found it overflowing with stunning Art Deco buildings. This fantastic office block, Beacon House, was just one of them.
Former Beales Department Store Bournemouth
Now sadly closed and waiting to see what will become of it, this is a huge, imposing building in a moderne style.
Boscombe Art Deco
Another example of how Art Deco seems to flourish by the sea, Boscombe has some fine examples including this former gas showroom, and the beachside apartments. Boscombe Pier is another beautiful moderne structure. (See it on my Instagram here.)
Former Burton Store, Weston Super Mare
Burton stores feature some stunning architectural design, and his store in Weston Super Mare is a really beautiful building, although unfortunately it has not yet been listed, partially due to the modern, disruptive signage.