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M&S Oxford Street
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A beautiful 1920s M&S on Oxford Street is being demolished and people are unhappy

This art deco landmark is facing the wrecking ball

Written by
Alice Saville

Right now it feels like some kind of ancient and terrible curse has fallen over the once-thriving retail paradise of Oxford Street. Debenhams and House of Fraser have closed their doors for good, the ‘big’ Topshop is set to be replaced by an IKEA, HMV’s flagship only sells sweets and now M&S is demolishing its headquarters to make room for new premises with less shopping space, more offices and zero character. 

And people aren’t happy about it. Particularly because the building that’s facingthe wrecking ball is a rather beautiful example of art deco London architecture. Built in 1929-30, M&S’s HQ Orchard House is a handsome six-storey building boasting an elegant stone-faced classical façade designed by architects Trehearne & Norman. Its replacement lacks any of the same charm, offering ten unlovely storeys that include offices and a gym. Plus, it won't be completed until 2027, making for long, ugly and inconvenient building works. It’s another piece of Oxford Street as we know it, lost. And people have taken to Twitter to express their sadness and anger at the move. 

Trehearne & Norman

Apparently, the new building will be more energy efficient: M&S bosses claim that it will be carbon positive, meaning that it will remove carbon from the environment rather than producing it. But environmental and heritage campaigners have been quick to point out these benefits will be massively overshadowed by the huge carbon production involved in demolishing Orchard House and creating a new building. 

What does the future even now hold for Oxford Street? Blank wall-to-wall modern office blocks and weird American candy stores? Hopefully, there’s still room for this much-loved London destination to turn a corner, but for now, things are looking more than a little gloomy.

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