Tuesday, 19 June 2012

ARUNDEL HOUSE: THE HOME OF THE MARVEL UK

In the late 1980's and the first half of the 1990's, Marvel UK were based here: 13-15 Arundel Street: AKA Arundel House.  These were undoubtably the Annex-of-Idea's boom (followed by bust) years and the well-appointed accommodation was certainly a step-up from (the by all accounts) less salubrious environs of Jadwin House and Redan Place.  Marvel were clearly enjoying the good life.


These photos were taken on an unusually sunny Saturday (London's summer 2012 has, to date, been something of a wash-out), 16 June 2012.  The exterior of Arundel has undergone refurbishment over recent months but the scaffold and workmen have gone now.

Arundel House is opposite Temple Tube station and overlooks the Thames (and the South Bank beyond).  Arundel Street leads up from Temple station towards the Royal Courts of Justice and The Strand.

The Arundel years coincided with a higher media profile for the UK operation.  The interior and exterior can be seen in several contemporary documentaries including LWT's OPENING SHOT and Mythmakers' DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE 10th ANNIVERSARY documentary.  It can also be seen in these behind-the-scenes features, published at the time.

Marvel moved into Arundel House from Bayswater's Redan Place, in the shadow of the Whiteleys shopping centre.  Marvel were prompted to move after a crane, redeveloping the Whiteleys site from the eponymous department store to the current shopping centre, toppled over and came close to demolishing the UK Bullpen and Bullpenners. According to Wikipedia, the crane driver and a car driver were killed in the accident*.

Arundel housed the expanded UK operation producing M-UK's bloated US-format line.  Full details of the US expansion (and hasty contraction) can be found here and here.

During Marvel's hasty expansion of the early 1990's, the US parent purchased the Italian sticker publisher Panini.  The European operation was subsequently restructured and M-UK was placed under the auspices of the continental business.  The new management promptly streamlined the remaining UK business and moved Marvel out of Arundel, and London, to new offices in Tunbridge Wells (where they remain, albeit at a different address, to this day).

When Marvel USA's finances started to crumble and the business filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the European operation was sold.  As a parting gift, Panini were granted the license to continue reprinting Marvel material across Europe, including the UK.

The departure from Arundel House was apparently hasty with little regard for Marvel UK's accumulated history.  Company records, bound volumes of comics and original art were apparently all jettisoned over one weekend.

* UPDATE: I can't find anything else online to support the assertion that the accident lead to any loss of life so, like all things Wikipedia-related, take it with a pinch-of-salt.



The building to the left of Arundel House in this photo is currently vacant and, presumably, about to be redeveloped.


It's slightly hard to read, but the address under "HSS" is 13-15 Arundel Street.  This was Marvel's front door!




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