The Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange takes up an entire city block in Southwark – at the corner of Weston Street and Leathermarket Street. I think the brick building on the left was the office part of the site and deliveries went into a large courtyard through the large arch in the brown brick building. The entire complex has been renovated and is now small shops and offices for trendy designers and artists.
I just happened to discover the building – what a surprise when I started looking at the decoration. I love the roundels in the arches above the ground floor windows – they tell the story of the leather business.
Showing the hides to a buyer
On buildings put up today, you usually get no idea of what kind of business is going on inside. And you also don’t get this kind of muscle man holding up the balcony on the porche of the Leather, Hide and Wool Exchange. Wow! He is impressive!
The building is called Goldbeater’s House.In Victorian times, a goldbeater worker here, making long, very thin strips of gold that were used to decoratecoaches. In 1859 Charles Dickens describes a scene very much like this in A Tale of Two Cities. He placed the house of Dr. Manette here. The street was called Rose Street in 1849 so I guess it was renamed because people associated it with Dr. Manette.
The Worshipful Company of Cutlers was founded in the 1200s to regulate the trade in knife-making and repairing. They received a Royal Charter in 1416. The company’s livery hall, at 4 Warwick Lane in The City, was designed by T. Tayler Smith and was opened in 1888.
The building has a terracotta frieze that was designed by the sculptor Benjamin Creswick. It shows the processes of knife-making.The story of knife-making starts on the left, with the metal being forged – heated and then hammered into long, thin steel bars, blanks ready to be formed into blades.
The Ornamental Passions website describes in detail the processes taking place in the workshop – http://ornamentalpassions.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/cutlers-hall-warwick-lane-ec4.html
“The Worker’s Arms” – I took the photo of this sculpture in the City in 2012 and unfortunately didn’t make a note of the exact location. I do know it was in the area of Bishopsgate between the churches of St. Ethelburga and St. Helen’s Bishopsgate. Hope it’s still there.
All photos taken by Cathey Leitch @Cathey Leitch, 2015