30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
30 Coptic Street, London, WC1A 1NS and 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
30 Coptic Street, London, WC1A 1NS and 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH
Greater London Authority
Camden (London Borough)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


Former dairy by R P Wellcock. Erected in 1888.

Reasons for Designation

30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street, by R P Wellcock and erected in 1888, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* for its ornate, decorative elevations designed to create an architectural display advertising the Dairy Supply Company Limited;

* for its coherent internal design and decoration surviving throughout both buildings, and reflecting its use as a dairy;

* for its historic signage in Portland stone and architectural detail in rubbed brick, illustrating the key products of the Dairy Supply Company Limited.

Historic interest:

* as part of the Express Dairy Company complex, and as the headquarters of the precursors to Britain’s two largest industrial dairies;

* as the headquarters of the first major manufacturer of dairy equipment, and the main place of manufacture of the iconic milk churn;

* for its association with the dairy pioneer and politician Sir George Barham.

Group value:

* 30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street have group value with the Plough and 27-34 Museum Street.


Milk production in the first half of C19 in London was largely provided by individual cows kept in generally poor conditions within the city. The milk produced was of poor quality, and was regularly adulterated with water, flour, starch, chalk, animal brains and lead carbonate. While the Adulteration of Food and Drink Act, which made the selling of watered down milk an offence, was passed in 1860, it was not enforced. It was not until an outbreak of rinderpest killed half of London’s cattle in 1865 that importing milk from outside the city became commonplace. The Express Country Milk Supply Company was established in 28 Museum Street in 1864 by George Barham (1836-1913), importing milk from a network of farms in Derbyshire to Kings Cross station, and so he was well placed to exploit the disruption in the supply of city milk the following year. Barham changed the name of the company to the Express Dairy Company in 1882, and by 1885 was importing 15000 gallons of milk per night into London (50% of the market).

30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street, by R P Wellcock were constructed in 1888 for the Dairy Supply Company – a subsidiary of the Express Dairy Company Ltd started to make dairy equipment including conical milk churns. Churns were 17 gallon galvanised iron containers designed for transporting milk by rail, invented by George Barham.

Shortly after the construction of 30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street, George Barham retired, leaving the Express Dairy Company to Titus Barham and the Dairy Supply Company to Arthur Barham (two of his sons). The Dairy Supply Company merged with Great Western Dairy and the Metropolitan Dairy to form United Dairies in 1917, while the Express Dairy Company Ltd went on to become Express Dairies. George Barham went on to become chair of the British Dairy Farmers Association, Mayor of Hampstead and High Sheriff of Middlesex and was knighted in 1904.

30 Coptic Street was used as a dairy until after the Second World War. It was sold to Pizza Express in 1965, and became their second restaurant (although the flats above continued to be owned by Unigate Dairies until 1972). 35 Little Russell Street operated as a warehouse and laboratory until after the Second World War, when it was converted into offices. It is now the Cartoon Museum, with the basement used as a fitness studio, and the upper floors used as offices.


Former dairy. Erected in 1888 by R P Wellcock.

MATERIALS: Constructed in polychromatic brick with stone dressings.


PLAN: 30 Coptic Street and 35 Little Russell Street comprise two buildings surrounding a small service yard on the corner of Coptic Street and Little Russell Street. 30 Coptic Street occupies the corner plot, with façades on both streets and an entrance to the service yard at ground floor level from Little Russell Street. 35 Little Russell Street occupies the east side of the service yard, and has ancillary buildings to the rear forming the north side of the service yard, as well as to the north east.

30 Coptic Street ground floor comprises a single room forming a “U” shape around the stairs to the upper floors. The single room has been subdivided north of the stairs to form a separate kitchen and toilets for the restaurant. The upper floors have been subdivided into four flats per floor, two on either side of the stairwell. Only one flat was accessed, which comprised a small, one bedroom flat, with bedroom and kitchen opening off a central living room.

35 Little Russell Street has a separate stairwell to the upper floors to the west. The rest of the main building comprises one large room, with a smaller room formed by a modern stud partition in the northwest corner. To the rear, an entrance from the service yard opens into a hallway, with a small kitchen, the counting house and the stairs opening off of it. The hallway opens into a large, two storey exhibition space (also accessible from the front of number 35). North of the kitchen and counting house, a two storey range extends to the west, with a further single storey range beyond, completing the north wall of the service yard. The upper storeys of number 35 comprise single room, open plan offices. The upper storeys of the rear ranges are similar to the ground floor, except that the main exhibition space has a light well to allow natural light to the ground floor, and a large built in safe to the west.

EXTERIOR: 30 Coptic Street comprises a handsome corner building faced in yellow stock brick with banded red brick and stone dressings and carved and rubbed red brick cartouches. The ground floor has large semi-circular arched windows to each frontage with a corner entrance to the dairy, all of which retain their original joinery. The Coptic Street elevation is also enriched with commemorative panels. On the Little Russell Street frontage is a recessed service yard set behind elaborate iron gates enriched with the company's monogram. Above the first floor level is a continuous Portland stone frieze inscribed Dairy Supply Company Limited in elaborate sinuous script. The rear façades face in to the service yard and are of stock brick. Above the service yard entrance, the façade is blind, while to the west, the wall is fenestrated and unadorned except for a three storey oriel. The flues are concealed by a projecting bay resting on a dentilled moulding.

No 35 Little Russell Street is treated differently as a three-bay wide frontage faced in yellow stock brick with segmental red brick arches and polychromatic tiled aprons beneath the windows. The central bay has warehouse loopholes and an original iron hoist. A dentilled stone cornice terminates the building at parapet level. At ground floor fascia level is a continuous stone frieze inscribed Dairy Supply Company Limited carried on four black granite pilasters with foliated capitals. The courtyard elevations are unadorned brick with uneven fenestration, reducing in height from the four storey Little Russell Street frontage. The rear of the service yard reduces in height further from two storeys to one, and contains elements of another external hoist.

INTERIORS: The ground floor of 30 Coptic Street building retains its original tiled walls in white tiles with simple green chevron banding at frieze level and art nouveau details with the original square panelled ceiling above and black and white chequerwork marble floor. A stained glass window of a milkmaid, cottage and windmill is fixed over a window. The stairwell is tiled in cream and light brown glazed tiles, separated by a band of dark brown and green tiles. The tiles are laid in Flemish bond, and extend to the second floor. Original features such as joinery and glazing survive in the upper storeys, but as most flats were not accessed, the extent of survival throughout the whole building is not clear.

The ground floor of 35 Little Russell Street retains original tiled walls, although most of the tiles have now been painted over. Others are concealed behind wooden display surfaces. A number of original doors survive, complete with original door furniture. Particular examples include the door to the counting house, which has an etched glass panel identifying the room, and a door with a stained glass panel depicting two yachts (in a similar style to the panel in number 30). The rear exhibition space has a square panelled ceiling similar to that in number 30. The upper floors of number 35 comprise modern offices, with modern finishes and modern windows to the Little Russell Street elevation (although Victorian sashes survive to the rear). The timber roof structure is exposed on the attic floor of the building, and comprises two timber Howe trusses. The upper floor of the rear exhibition space contains a number of original features, such as tiling and a large built in safe. The exhibition space has iron Pratt trusses supporting a hipped roof with a large central glass lantern.

The basements of both buildings were accessed, but not fully assessed. Both basements are brick walled, with upper floors supported on beams resting on cast iron columns. The basement ceilings are formed from white tiles held in place with wrought iron straps.


Books and journals
Cherry, B, Pevsner, N, The Buildings of England. London 4: North, (2002), 323
Timbs, J, Curiosities of London, (1855)
Colloms, M, Weindling, D, 'The Cow with the Iron Tail: the Great Westminster Dairy Company and the Express Dairy' in Camden History Review, , Vol. 36, (2012), 2-8
Camden Council, Bloomsbury Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy (2011) p55, accessed 10 April 2018 from http://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/download/asset?asset_id=2694014
History of the Dairy Supply Company Limited, accessed 10 April 2018 from https://baldwinhamey.wordpress.com/2013/08/05/dairy-supply-company/
Internal photographs and layout of Flat 1, 30 Coptic Street, accessed 10 April 2018 from https://www.portico.com/covent-garden/rent/flats/2-bedrooms/2QNKrI3BY.html
Internal photographs of Flat 8, 30 Coptic Street, accessed 10 April 2018 from https://www.zoopla.co.uk/property-history/flat-8/30-coptic-street/london/wc1a-1ns/32507259
Summary of 30 Coptic Street on the English Buildings blog, accessed 10 April 2018 from http://englishbuildings.blogspot.co.uk/2010/08/coptic-street-london.html


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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