Bush House is one of a group of iconic buildings in London’s Aldwych, at the southern end of Kingsway.
The building was planned in 1919 by American businessman Irving T Bush as a trade centre where buyers could purchase goods in one place. In the course of construction its use was changed to offices. It was built by Irving’s ‘Bush Terminal Company’ of New York, and opened between 1923 and 1935.
The main entrance is very grand, with four tall columns topped by two huge statues carrying a flaming torch, The statues represent America ( right, with a shield bearing an eagle) and UK ( left, with a shield bearing a lion). Inscribed below the statues is the legend ‘To the friendship of English Speaking Peoples’.
Some pictures here by the building’s refurbishment architects, John Roberston.
Irving T Bush was a wealthy businessman of New York [though no direct relation of US Presidential ‘Bush’ family]. He built the huge Bush Shipping and Warehouse Terminal in New York – see on map here. He also built the 32 storey ‘Bush Tower‘ on 42nd Street, New York – you can see it on ‘Street View’ here.
The BBC World Service broadcast from Bush House for 70 years (Winter 1941 – Summer 2012). The building is now owned by Japanese company ‘Kato Kagaku‘, world wide manufacturers of corn starch and owners of commercial property and hotels. In 2015 Kings College London took a 50 year lease of Bush House and the adjacent buildings, collectively known as The Aldwych Quarter, as highlighted 1, 2, 3, 4 below.
There are good pictures of each of the now refurbished buildings within the Aldwych quarter here.
So UK and USA are united – by Bush House, Aldwych !
The rear facade of the building, which faces South and towards the Thames, is also decorated, even if without the splendour of the front.
At the rear of the building is a symbolic carving of the two continents connected by ships. There are names of the great and the good in US and UK history , about whom there is some information below.
|LEFT SIDE: US|
|George WASHINGTON||1732-1799||1st President of US|
|Abraham LINCOLN||1767-1845||7th President of US|
|Ulysses GRANT||1822-1885||18th President of US|
|Alexander HAMILTON||1755-1804||A Founding Father of US|
|Benjamin FRANKLIN||1706-1790||A Founding Father of US|
|RIGHT SIDE: UK|
|1st Earl of CHATHAM||1766-1768||Prime Minister of UK|
|Edmund BURKE||1729-1797||Minister – US Supporter|
|George CANNING||1770-1827||Prime Minister of UK|
|John BRIGHT||1811-1889||Minister- Kept UK out of US Civil War|
|[ ? ] BRYCE||?||?|
And finally two more noble nautical motifs:
Leiv Eriksson, 970 – 1020, Icelandic explorer, known as the first Norse explorer to reach America in c. 1000 [ Note ‘DCCCC’ = 900 ].
2016 update note – A replica of Leiv Eriksson’s ship retraced the voyage in 2016 – as explained here.
Columbus with his ship, Santa Maria, arriving in the Americas in 1492 – MCDXCII