The three-storey ‘Cocozza Wood’ building at 31-35 Goadsby Street adjoining the back of Band on the Wall and the Burton Arms Hotel is described as a highly ornamental ‘tour de force of High Victorian Gothic’29and as the earliest surviving local example of commercial chambers, with shops on the ground floor, built in the 1860s, in place of the late 18th century building on the site. The building overlooked the Smithfield Market and, indeed, was integrated with and, as is now perhaps evident, dependent on the Market. Occupants in the latter part of the 19th century and into the 20th were provision dealers, fish curers, fruit, vegetable and potato sellers and glass and china dealers. The name Cocozza Wood refers to the fruit and vegetable dealers who were the last occupants of the building, prior to its closure following the demolition of the Market in 1973. Their sign remained on the building until the early 21st century.
This 1880 drawing, looking northwards from Oak Street, shows the busy Smithfield Market, with the ‘Cocozza Wood’ building on the right hand side, and the rear façade of the adjacent Burton Arms just beyond.
It is possible that the building was built by the McKennas; certainly by the end of the 19th century they owned it. By 190330part of it was listed as McKennas restaurant while a few years later the listing for this section of the building was the George & Dragon, public house. These entries may refer to the access passageway through the building to the ground floor of No 29 Swan Street.
The trade directories for the latter decades of the 19th century appear not to provide evidence of the use of this building as commercial chambers, as cited by English Heritage. Both the 1861 and 1871 censuses show that market dealers and sales people and their families were living at this address. Over a century later, in the 1980s, when access to the upper floors of this decaying building remained possible, building specialists on behalf of Inner City Music visited the site. The structural engineer reported that the building evidently had been built for heavy loads. Big metal hooks aligned the walls of one of the large upper rooms and were thought to be for the storage of bananas. In the cellar was a rusty contraption, identified as an onion-curing machine.
A reference to onions in the street that abuts this building, is made by a writer in 1881:
‘we come to Oak Street, which seems to have got itself somehow or other absorbed into the market. Up to the very corner of Swan Street, it is devoted to baskets of vegetables, which fringe the pavement invitingly. We found ourselves unaccountably moved to tears, and it was only on minute examination of the contents of these baskets that we discovered the cause – they contained onions’.31
The publication includes a sketch of the writer and the sketch artist:
The building is now derelict, unoccupied and deteriorating since the closure of the Market in 1972, and is currently (2012) supported by retaining scaffolding since 2005; roofless and unloved, its future is most uncertain.