Superdrug (formerly David Greig)

St George’s Street

Superdrug store (23 St George’s Street) stands on the corner of St George’s Street and Canterbury Lane (Image 1).  This area was destroyed in the Baedeker raid in 1942 and rebuilt as a new store for David Greig, the butchers and general provision stores, in 1954 (Image 2 and 3).  The building was designed by Robert Paine & Partners, who were also responsible for redevelopment of Nasons store (1960) and modern classrooms at Kings School (1967).  The design was prepared in 5 weeks and hailed or reviled as a revolutionary proposal.  Many at the time spoke against any contemporary modern design for the City centre – one described the David Greig proposal as more like a range of piggeries.  Against advice from the Planning Committee, the City council voted 11 to 9 in favour.  The resulting building was completed just 10 days after deadline, opened in July 1954, and won the RIBA bronze award in 1957.  When David Greig left the store, it was vacant before being used by Woolworths the neighbouring business, and then taken over by Superdrug.

What to see:

  • little has changed since 1954 – the large David Greig thistle in beaten aluminium has given way to the Superdrug star logo but the design elements remain
  • a memorial to David Greig and his son remains on the side wall in Canterbury Lane (Image 4)
  • comparison with former Woolworths next door emphasises the striking fresh approach of a serrated roof vaulting sat on a colonnade – so different from a heavy monolithic slab of brickwork
  • much of the appeal in the original design lay in its handling of light – during the day admitting sun light and at night illuminating this area of the City.

Access:  open to the public during opening hours – it’s a shop!

Sources:  The Architect and Building News (1954), Cantacuzino (1970), Pope (2005), RIBA journal (1957)