1936 - Charles Holden (1875-1960)

Arnos Grove London Underground Station, Enfield, London, 1932

Designer: Holden, Charles Henry (1875-1960)
Copyright: RIBA Library Photographs Collection (2000)

After studying at Manchester Institute of Technology, Charles Holden was articled in Manchester and became an assistant to C R Ashbee, before studying at the Royal Academy Architecture School in London. In 1899, Holden joined the practice of H Percy Adams, which became Adams, Holden and Person in 1913. Holden’s contribution to the practice was well-crafted buildings that were distinguished by their integrity of spirit and the sophistication of their massing.


Frank Pick was Holden’s greatest patron and it was with Pick and London Underground Railway that Holden produced some of his finest work, ranging from little baskets and bus shelters to Underground stations and 55 Broadway, the headquarters of the Underground Group.  


Holden's first commission were the redesign of the façades of four stations of the City and South London Railway, and a new façade at Westminster stations (1924). For the seven stations from Clapham South to the terminus at Morden, Holden developed a façade that could be used at a variety of sites: free-standing, one laced over existing buildings, or built-over at a later stage.
Won the Royal Gold Medal 'For his work as architect of the headquarters of the London Passenger Transport Board'.


London Transport Headquarters

Designer: Adams Holden & Pearson
Copyright: Janet Hall/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1999)

It was the success of these stations, that led Adams, Holden and Person to win the commission to design 55 Broadway. The awkwardness of the site led to the triumphal cruciform solution, allowing the arcade and entrance hall to intersect. When built, 55 Broadway with its exterior sculptures, was quite controversial.


Amongst Holden’s other roles, he was appointed one of the five assessors in the competition to design the new RIBA headquarters in Portland Place. He believed that architecture should be a collaborative effort which is why he declined a knighthood twice.