If you should ever find yourself in London and strolling down the Kingsway towards Temple tube station, you’ll come face to face with a grand building situated between Aldwych and The Strand.
Boasting Doric pillars and a neo-classical portico, Bush House stands out from its surroundings in terms of sheer scale and grandeur. Indeed, you’d never suspect it’s a major broadcasting hub…
Or was, I should say. You see, Bush House was home to the BBC World Service for 70 years, but Auntie’s international arm made their last broadcast from the place this lunchtime, and from tomorrow operations will shift a little way up the road to Broadcasting House at Portland Place.
And so, as the BBC’s last remaining techies and journalists prepare to vacate the building for the final time, let’s wave them off with in a flurry of statistics and take a look at Bush House in numbers…
2…statues over the entrance. Designed by Malvina Hoffman, the two figures who stand atop the building’s entrance holding a torch symbolize Anglo-American friendship and, if hastily re-dressed by the building’s owner, could potentially pass as a vintage Olympic monument to all the tourists who’ll be in town over the summer.
3…different owners. As with a lot of buildings in Britain, Bush House has gone from being owned by the church, taken over by the state and eventually sold to international property magnates. Bush began life owned by the Church of Wales, was later owned by the Post Office and is now in the hands of the Japanese-owned company Kato Kagaku.
5…blocks. Astonishingly for a building so large and grand, Bush House is only made up of five seperate building blocks. A bit like the Rolling Stones, in fact, only slightly less eroded.
10…quid. Is the minimum you’ll be able to bid for any of the contents left in Bush House after the Beeb’s staff are gone and there’s only the building’s infamous ghost remaining there, rattling its chains at the (now heavily discounted) exercise bikes in the BBC gym.
12…noon. Was the time of the final broadcast made from Bush House. What’s that? You missed it? Never mind, there’s always iPlayer.
45…languages. At its peak, the World Service staff would be broadcasting in 45 different tongues from Bush House in any one day.
1925…was when the building first opened. Complete with a swimming pool, if you please.
1940…the year the BBC World Service (European Service) moved to Bush House after being bombed out of Broadcasting House during the war.
2,000,000…pounds. Is what Bush House cost when it was built, a price so ostentatious people called it “the most expensive building in the world.” That sum wouldn’t even get you a box room in Chelsea these days…
239,000,000…listeners around the world. While Britain as a country isn’t boasting much growth at the moment, the number of listeners to the World Service around the globe has recently rocketed thanks in part to the BBC’s coverage of the Arab Spring.