Earlier this week we lamented the ironic transformation of a former Jamie’s Italian into a branch of McDonald's, and today we’re reporting on the conversion of a historic Grade-II listed building on the Strand, once deemed ‘the most beautiful bank in London’ into a site of another proliferating chain – the Wetherspoon pub group.
However, in this case the transformation bares a more positive light with people welcoming the revival of such a beautiful building into a place that will be accessible for just about anyone to come and marvel at its maximalist interiors. Indeed Wetherspoon may be primarily known for its cheap pints and curry club deals, but it has also been praised over the years for its property restoration work, and many of its popular pubs are housed within sites of significant historic interest. Commenting on the matter, Nigel Browne from the Institute of Historic Building Conversions wrote “Although Wetherspoon does acquire existing pubs, it has gone out of its way to collect a large number of interesting properties in key locations which have been developed to optimise its businesses”
Furthermore the new occupancy is actually oddly fitting given the building’s history. When it originally opened in the nineteenth century the grand edifice at 222 The Strand was in fact a restaurant frequented by the capital’s legal elite who practiced in the nearby Royal Courts of Justice. When the venue closed in 1886 it remained empty for some time before ultimately being taken over by Lloyd’s who occupied the site for more than 100 years thereafter. The bank has been careful to preserve the building’s luxury features which comprise ornate tiled friezes, stained glass windows, ornamental pillars and even a fountain, and we can rest assured that Wetherspoon will follow suit.
Interested in sites with a bit of history? Check out our list of London’s best historic venues
Featured images : Photo © Mike Quinn (cc-by-sa/2.0)