Practical- “something that is likely to succeed or be effective in real circumstances”
I live in a block of practical flats – as described in the 1935 brochure advertising Northwood Hall. With their own private toilets, gas supply and close to London , this block was noteworthy for the time.
Designed by Architect George Edward Bright, Northwood Hall stands at 300 feet above sea level, one of the highest points in London, on a clear day you can see across the city as far as Crystal Palace.
Surprisingly untouched by bombs of the Second World War, the unique cruciform shape is believed to have been used as an aerial navigational aid. For such a significant building, there is oddly little known about George Edward Bright .
The block featured a restaurant for residents, guest rooms and outdoor amenities including a tennis court. Indoors, there were uniformed porters available 24/7 and an optional maids' service charged at hourly rates. Additional services included rubbish collection, shoe cleaning and delivery of papers, food and even cooked meals – all provided through a hatch which went from each flat to the corridor.
We find ourselves presently living in unreal circumstances and I ask myself how practical are these flats now ? Attempting to keep to social distancing controls in a block of 194 flats, 7 floors, 2 small lifts and some 400-500 people is not easy – or so you would think.
The early hours peace and quiet allows for exploration of this wonderful art deco building. Balustrade staircases, reminiscent of M C Escher graphics, lift shafts and corridors not unlike a Hitchcock film and surprising silence. The kind of silence which speaks volumes about the lives lived and of this incredible faded grandeur of a building.
Northwood Hall is one of many architecturally significant buildings in the Highgate and Hampstead area.