In 1922 Howard Carter's Egyptian exhibition discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun. The discovery gripped the British public's imagination to such an extent that Egyptian design started to appear everywhere - including in the design of the Carreras Cigarette Factory.
The discovery was just a few short years before the birth of the Art Deco style at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925 and that's why Egyptian themes are found in early Art Deco buildings. The Carreras Cigarette Factory was built between 1926 and 1928 by the Carreras Tobacco Company, the architects were M. E. and O. H. Collins and A. G. Porri.
Egyptian features at the time of construction included two large statues of black cats either side of the entrance, colourful painted details and a solar disc to the Sun God Ra. Sadly these features were destroyed when the building was converted to offices in the early 60's but restored in the late 90's winning a Civic Trust Award in the process - the two cats either side of the entrance you see today are in fact replicas of the originals.
The opening of the factory would have been a must see experience at the time, with sand covering the payments outside the factory to replicate the desert, actors in ancient Egyptian costume and even a chariot race down Hampstead Road - imagine trying to get permission for all that today!
Other Art Deco Egyptian design features to look out for include the colour of the cement used on the face of the factory - coloured to look like sand, the twelve large columns inspired by the columns at the tombs Amarna. A symbol of the winged disk of the sun sits above the entrance and inside you'll find serpent handrails secured to the wall by bronze hands. The building's also notable for a couple of firsts - the first British building to made from pre-stressed concrete and the first British building to have air-conditioning and dust extraction.
The factory’s dead easy to get to, you’ll see it opposite as you exit Mornington Crescent Tube Station, just one stop north on the Northern Line from Euston Station.