Black Gabbro from Marks &
Spencer's doorways.
++Find colour pic

Freeman, Hardy & Willis

Next to Marks & Spencer's is Freeman Hardy & Willis, with pillars made of another metamorphosed limestone called Blue Crystal Marble. This is completely recrystallized and very clean looking. The material has been dissolved by .heat and pressure and reformed into large crystals, apparently covered with scratches. At first sight the stone appears to have been cut with coarse glasspaper, but look closely. The crystals have scratches radiating from centres. The "scratches" are part of the structure of the crystals, cut open for us to examine.

At one point the pink Italian limestone and the Blue Crystal Marble stand side by side and can be compared. The first is a limestone with the fossils still in place: the second is completely recrystallized, looking like a handful of washing soda.

Blue Crystal Marble Freeman, Hardy a Willis, Edgware Road.



This is the end of the Building Materials Walk, but it is not a real end. We could continue down Edgware  Road towards Marble Arch to find  shop fronts faced with glittering Larvikites, which geology students used to call Pubites because so many London  pubs are faced with them; Marble in  half a dozen forms; Glass walling;  Man-made materials and building sys­ tems, so new that the advertising  agencies are still trying out new names;  and the renovated Bayswater stucco.

In  the opposite direction is Paddington  Police Station with its sculptured wall in pre-cast concrete, glittering in the  sun, recalling Michelangelo's sculptures of slaves struggling to free themselves from the block.

Concrete bol­lards covered with buttons of Flint, Chert and Quartz; and television cameras on the roof controlling the Westway traffic.

Paddington Police Station wall.

Find colour pic or take new

Further along is Parson's House. The name reaches back to the 1742 map on page 30 and its Parsonage Farm. The modern Parson's House is a tower block which wears a red girder hat worthy of a cardinal rather than a simple village parson. It was built originally in concrete, open to the wind and weather. Recently it has been cladded with insula­tion and grey panels to give warmth and protection. Red vertical mullions on all four sides, separate the grey panels and give the strength to the cladding, while at the top is the girder crown to carry the cleaning cradles. It is now a most attractive building.

The cladding of 1960s buildings has become a common practice today. There are three other notable ones at Mornington Crescent.


++Pic of Mornington Crescent

Alternatively the Walk could continue along Marylebone Road to the red brick Corinthian capitals of the Samari­tan Hospital;

++Colour pic of Samaritan Hosp

++Colour pic of ‘Woolworth’s’ building
The Portland Stone of the old Woolworth's building opposite;

Edgware Marylebone Station Hotel in Euston Road, built in cotta and brick, and on and on.. No Building Materials Walk ever ends. A further building is always older, or more beautiful, or more quirky, or more interesting,  than the last.


This building materials walk was written for North Westminster Community School and is used as part of the curriculum. It is included here in the hope that local residents may like to trace out the details for themselves by walking the route.

Schools in other areas may like to use it as a model, finding their own stones, telling their own stories, and using my diagrams and maps which are relevant.

It would be pleasant to find the word ‘Caesar' becoming used as a unit of me (Map 70) .


I should like to thank Eric Robinson, of the Geologists' Association for his help in compiling and enriching the Walks. The Geologists Association, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, exists to aid amateur geologists and is always willing to help with expert advice.

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Updated: October 25, 2011