An illustration of St Olaf House, an Art Deco building, now part of London Bridge Hospital Click the image to enlarge

On the ground occupied by this building stood formerly the church of St Olave. This church was founded in the 11th Century in memory of St Olaf or Olave King of Norway who in the year 1014 helped King Ethelred defend the city of London against the Danes.

— Inscription on the Toooley Street façade of Hay's Wharf and St Olaf House

Learn more about Hay’s Wharf and St Olaf House below...

History

St Olaf House was originally the headquarters for Hay’s Wharf, a series of warehouses owned by Alexander Hay. The house was built between 1928 and 1932 on the site of the old parish church of St Olave, and was designed by Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel.

In 1969, the wharf had to close as new docks were built elsewhere that could house larger container ships. It remained pretty much unused until 1980s when St Martin’s Property Corporation initiated a redevelopment of the south side of the river between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, and St Olaf House was taken over by London Bridge Hospital where it remains their Consulting rooms and Cardiology Department today.

Did you know?

The origin of the nursery rhyme London Bridge is falling down may have been inspired by the attack on Cnut the Great by King Olave of Norway, who supposedly destroyed the bridge during the battle — although historians still dispute whether this is true or not.

The architecture

The building is in the shape of a T, with the longer end facing the Thames and the shorter facing onto Tooley Street. The façade facing the river is much more elaborate with a black granite plinth as the background for a series of gilded Doulton-tile relief panels designed by Frank Dobson, which show scenes of dockside life. The windows all have gilded metal rails with the ones on the top floor being at a slanted angle below the words Hay’s Wharf.

The Tooley Street front is six-storied with a wide entrance and St Olaf House in gilt letters. On the right corner of the building is an inscription explaining the history of the building, and on the left side is a figure of St Olave in black and gold mosaic. The entrance hall with terrazzo floor is original including the staircase with metal balustrading, landing, and light fittings.

See images of Hay’s Wharf and St Olaf House