An illustration of Carreras Cigarette Factory, an Art Deco building, located near Camden in north London Click the image to enlarge

Carreras' abominable factory...with a showy Egyptian centre and utilitarian side ranges

— Nikolaus Pevsner (London, except the Cities of London & Westminster; Penguin 1952)

Learn more about Carreras Cigarette Factory below...

History

Originally based on City Road, The Carreras Factory Company relocated to Hampstead Road as their business quickly expanded and settled into Carreras Cigarette Factory or Arcadia Works as its known today. It was built between 1926 and 1928, and designed by architects Marcus Evelyn Collins and Owen Hyman Collins with Arthur George Porri as their consultant.

In 1958, the Company was acquired by the Rembrandt Tobacco Company and were relocated to Basildon, then once again to Darlington. The factory building was taken over by the Greater London Council when they were converted into offices and have remained so until now. A large amount of restoration work was done to the building in 1996 to recreate the majority of the original Egyptian details of the factory which had been destroyed at the beginning of the 1960s.

Did you know?

The Carreras Factory would have been called Bast House after the Egyptian God (also known as Bastet or Bubastis), however due to the word being similar to the English word bastard, it was dropped.

The architecture

At nearly 168m long, the building faced in Atlas White cement, was at the time the first to implement air conditioning and dust extraction in Britain, something which featured heavily in the advertising of their cigarettes: Carreras Hygienic Wonder Factory — a pure product from a clean factory.

The factory has a central block of 13 bays with two slightly lower wings of eight bays, with a colonnade on the façade. The columns are Egyptian style, possibly inspired by those in the tomb of Panehesy and painted in blue, green, and red at the top and bottom. Above the columns are roundels which each feature the face of a black cat — both the representation of the Egyptian goddess Bastet and the animal used throughout Carreras' branding for their cigarettes. The Egyptian theme runs throughout the decor of the building as the style became very popular after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, with hieroglyphs on the railings and the name Carrera in Egyptian-style lettering.

Originally, two 3m-high bronze cats stood outside the entrance of the building, but when the company was bought out by Rembrandt and relocated, the cats were also moved — one to Basildon and the other to their company factory in Jamaica. Today, two large black cats stand in their place, replicas recreated by architects Munkenbeck and Marshall, together with Finch Forman.

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