Following the sinking of the Titanic the White Star Line's offices on Cockspur Street became a centre of attention in London for people seeking news of the disasters. One of the most iconic photographs taken in the aftermath of the disaster shows a young newsboy with a bundle of newspapers and a Evening News poster announcing 'Titanic Disaster Great Loss of Life'. The photograph shows a small crowd standing on the pavement outside Oceanic House with bemused onlookers and 15 year-old newsboy Ned Parfett who died aged 22 in the First World War.
Oceanic House was built between 1903 and 1906 to a design by Henry Tanner Junior. The building uses a steel-frame construction clad in Portland stone. It extends over three storeys main storeys, and originally three attic storeys. The building stands on Cockspur Street on the west side of Trafalgar Square, and forms part of an imposing block that also houses the Canadian High Commission (built between 1926 and 1928).
The western Cockspur Street facade (facing Pall Mall East) is five bays wide and is dominated by an impressive neo-classical portico with four columns with Ionic capitals. The columns support an entablature, with the name Oceanic House marked out in gold lettering, beneath a balustrade. Above, the attic floors of the building have arched windows, with a large arched window spanning the three central bays, which is set back from the outer bays. Above are three circular windows surmounted by another balustrade. The building's southern elevation along Cockspur Street is three bays wide and features simpler architectural detailing.
For Coronation Day in 1911 (of King George V and Queen Mary) the City of London spent £100,000 on decorations to mark the occasion. Oceanic House was one such building decorated on "its three sides...outlined at night by no fewer than 45,000 electric lights. A huge star, 50ft in diameter containing 2,000 lamps will surmount the scheme, which will further include a 50ft model on the new liner Olympic, also lighted with electricity". The Daily Telegraph and Courier in London described Oceanic House as probably "the most ornately decorated building along the whole line of the Royal route".
Following the merger of the Cunard Line and the White Star Line in 1934 the newly-formed company consolidated its office space in London and disposed of Oceanic House. Subsequently, the building went through a number if different uses. In April 1936 Oceanic House became home to a Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) branch, through the Second World War and beyond the 1960s. In the 1970s the upper storeys were home to the South African Embassy and later an American diner, the Texas Embassy. Oceanic House was awarded Grade-II listed status on 1 December 1987. Unfortunately, during the conversion the original fittings and architectural features of the ground floor were destroyed. The restaurant closed in 2012.
In 2015 work began to convert the upper floors into six luxury apartments and a duplex penthouse. A new mansard roof extension, forming the upper storey of the penthouse, replaced an earlier additional attic storey. The fitting out of the apartments was designed to recall "the spirit of abundant luxury which was synonymous with transatlantic ocean liners". The refurbishment was completed in 2017; the smallest apartment was placed on the market at £4.35 million and the penthouse for £19.5 million.
The marketing of apartments in Oceanic House made use of the building's historic connections to the White Star Line, and publicity material shows a cased model of the Titanic in the restored ground floor foyer.
- Beauchamp Estates (2018) Penthouse, Oceanic House London: Beauchamp Estates, https://www.beauchamp.com/buy-property/london/penthouse-sale-penthouse-oceanic-house-lob0235
- BLDA architects (2013) Oceanic House - Design & Access Statement London: BLDA architects, http://idoxpa.westminster.gov.uk/online-applications/files/CDFE1671C95B389202F2048CBBB56C36/pdf/13_02044_FULL-DESIGN___ACCESS_STATEMENT-3213364.pdf
- Daily Telegraph & Courier, The (1911) Coronation Day - City Illuminations London: Daily Telegraph & Courier, https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0001112/19110527/155/0011
- English Heritage (2018) Oceanic House London: English Heritage, https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1219835
- Find A Grave (2002) Edward John "Ned" Parfett Lehi, UT: Find a Grave Inc, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/6364763/edward-john-parfett
- Rightmove (2018) 2 bedroom property for sale London: Rightmove, http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-71560091.html
- Scotsman, The (1937) Company Meeting Barclays Bank (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas) Edinburgh: The Scotsman, https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000540/19371210/268/0004
- Barclays (2018) Photograph of the London, Oceanic House branch London: Barclays Group, https://www.archive.barclays.com/items/show/4220?sort_dir=a