The London School Of Hygiene And Tropical Medicine

I love buildings where the design of the building indicates the activities carried out within the building. These buildings show a pride in the purpose for which the building was constructed. They are not the all too frequent bland architecture we see so much of today where almost any interchangeable activity could be carried on within. These buildings proudly call out why they are there. This week’s post is about one such building. I walked past the building earlier this year and took some photos on a rather grey day. This is the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The origins of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine are in the London Docks, where a seamen’s hospital opened at the Royal Albert Dock in 1890. This would evolve into the London School of Tropical Medicine, also in the Royal Albert Dock, which opened in 1899.

In 1920 the school moved to Endsleigh Gardens, to the south of the Euston Road, and a couple of years later, a government report recommended the formal establishment of a school for tropical medicine by the University of London. This was confirmed by the grant of a Royal Charter in 1924 for the school as the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

A site was found for the new school in Keppel Street, opposite the Senate House of the University of London and the foundation stone was laid in 1926 with the school being officially opened in 1929.

At first glance, the building looks like any other stone office block, but look closely and the building has some remarkable details.

The overall building is a steel frame with Portland Stone cladding. The main entrance to the building is in Keppel Street.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The door is raised above street level and reached by a a short flight of steps. Above the door is a carving of the school logo, Apollo and Artemis riding a chariot.

If you look above the door to the first floor, each of the windows has a small, ornamental balcony with a small metal frame. On either edge of the frame are gilded representations of the insects and animals that act as carriers of the diseases that the school was set-up to study, treat and eliminate.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

A walk around the building provides a handy guide to the insects and animals you would not want to be bitten by:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The above is just a sample of the balconies. On reaching the corner of the building there is, in my opinion, one of the best street name signs in London:

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

As with the best design, these signs are very simple. but highly effective and lovely to look at. The signs look even better on a sunny day when the gold lettering glints in the sunlight.

The foundation stone was laid by Neville Chamberlain on the 7th July 1926.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Neville Chamberlain is probably better known for his attempts when Prime Minister to make peace agreements with Germany prior to the start of the last war, the Munich agreement with Hitler and the “peace in our time” words used after his return. Chamberlain had a long political career before becoming Prime Minister and for a time in the 1920s he was Minister of Health.

A newspaper report on the day after the foundation stone was laid provides background as to how the new building was funded. The report is titled “London School of Hygiene. Rockefeller Foundation’s Generosity”

“The Minister of Health (Mr Neville Chamberlain) yesterday laid the foundation stone of the new London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at Malet Street, WC.

The guests were welcomed by Sir Alfred Mond, M.P. (Chairman of the Board of Management) who said it was during his term of office as Minister of Health that the trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation made their magnificent offer, providing a sum of two million dollars for the building and equipment of the new school. The purpose of the institution was of the highest importance to the people of this country and the population of the Empire, and indeed of humanity.

The University Grants Committee was giving £5000 a year towards the cost of immediate development, and the Rockefeller Trustees had assisted with a grant of £4000 a year towards the cost of maintenance until the new school was ready. About a year ago the Rockefeller Foundation substituted for their original undertaking a promise to pay a sum of £460,000, that being the value in sterling at the time of their entering into agreement to provide the original sum. By this action they cancelled the loss due to the rise in the cost of sterling, which would otherwise have meant a diminution in the value of the gift of some £50,000.

Before laying the foundation stone, Mr. Neville Chamberlain said that ceremony marked the commencement of a building which was the result of a combination of the two great English speaking nations, and which, in all human probability, was destined to be famous thereafter as the greatest centre in the world of research and of instruction in one of the most beneficent of all the activities of the human race. The school would have the latest types of apparatus and equipment, and it would contain a notable feature in the shape of a great teaching museum, which would show in a graphic form the subjects which were being taught, and the symptoms of the diseases.

The following cablegram was sent to the Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation:- On the day of the laying of the foundation stone of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the American and British flags fly side by side at the dawn of a new era of preventative medicine. The Minister of Health, Mr Neville Chamberlain, sends cordial greeting, and renewed acknowledgements to the Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation.”

The London School Of Hygiene And Tropical Medicine was opened on the 18th July 1929 by the Prince of Wales. Reports of the opening were carried in the majority of the following day’s newspapers. There were hardly any reports of the actual opening ceremony, the reports focused on the Prince meeting the workers who had constructed the building:

“The Prince and Workmen – Pledges Their Good Health In Beer.

When the Prince of Wales opened the new building of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Gower Street, he pledged good health in beer to two hundred workmen who have been engaged on the building.

The workmen were entertained to lunch by Lord Melchett in a marquee in a courtyard of the school, and the Prince, after the opening ceremony, walked down to the marquee to see them. As he entered  they stood and cheered him for several minutes.

Then the foreman said ‘ We will drink the Prince’s health’ and the two hundred workmen held up their glasses of beer and shouted ‘good luck’ and good health’.

The Prince himself then raised a glass of beer high above his shoulder, and shouted ‘Here is the very best to you too. Thank you, thank you,’ and drank the beer.

The workmen afterwards sang ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow, and then the Prince asked they go on with their lunch. ‘Give us a speech, prince’ cried one of the men as he turned to go. He halted, turned round, and said ‘Good-bye, men, I am very glad to have seen you all. Good -bye.”

Above the upper floor windows, are the names of men (this is the 1920s and the names were chosen by committee, probably also all men), who had been influential in the development of public hygiene and tropical medicine.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

In the photo above are:

Edmund Parkes, a 19th century physician who as a result of the dreadful medical conditions of the Crimean War, developed Army Medical Services and in 1863 published the Manual of Practical Hygiene.

William Leishman, an army physician who died in 1926, not long before the opening of the school. He worked on a typhoid vaccine whilst at the Army Medical School at Netley, alongside Southampton Water.

Timothy Lewis, a 19th century Welsh surgeon who worked in India on several tropical diseases.

Further along are Lister and Pasteur:London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Joseph Lister was a 19th century surgeon whose work in the prevention of infections during surgery, the use of sterile techniques, carbolic acid to dress wounds, aimed to reduce the significant post operative dangers from infection in the 19th century.

Louis Pasteur was a 19th century French chemist who worked in the fields of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurisation, the technique which carries Pasteur’s name in which food stuffs are treated with mild amounts of heat to kill pathogens.

Further along are the pathologist and surgeon John Simon, and Patrick Manson who was the founder of the field of tropical medicine.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Lemuel Shattuck from Boston in the United States was responsible for the introduction of the registration of births, marriages and deaths. Perhaps not an immediate name to associate with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, however when this type of information is correctly and fully recorded across a population, its use in the development of public health strategies is invaluable.

Edwin Chadwick was a 19th century social reformer. His work reforming the poor Laws and in improvement of public sanitation and public health were initially resisted, however in 1847 he was on a committee of inquiry into sanitary conditions in London and a later outbreak of cholera supported the recommendations he had made whilst serving on the committee.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Above the side entrance in Malet Street are three further names. Johann Frank was a German physician, Max von Pettenkoffer, also German, worked to further public hygiene, clean water and hygienic disposal of sewage. Hermann Biggs was an American who worked in the field of infection control.

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

I have only covered 12 of the names around the building. There are 23 in total. The website of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine provides detail on 22 of the names, and strangely does not include Louis Pasteur.

Who would have known that a walk around Gower, Keppel and Malet Streets would provide a history lesson in the development of public hygiene and health, and the fight against tropical diseases.

The exterior of the building is much the same as when first built, however there has been development of the building internally and extensions over what were internal courtyards. The importance of the building is such that it is Grade II listed.

The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine continues to perform important work in teaching and research and their building proudly advertises these activities to anyone who looks up.

And I still think the building has one of the best street signs in London.

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Laystall Street, Giuseppe Mazzini And The School Board For London

Laystall Street is a turning off Clerkenwell Road, slightly to the west of Leather Lane. A short distance along Laystall Street there is an unusual plaque on the first floor of one of the terrace houses.

In 1986, the ground floor was occupied by a hairdresser:

Laystall Street

In 2018, the ground floor is now a model agency, but the same plaque can be seen on the first floor:

Laystall Street

The large and rather ornate plaque is to Giuseppe Mazzini:

Laystall Street

Giuseppe Mazzini was born in Genoa, Italy in 1805 at a time when Italy consisted of several independent republics and city states, rather than as a unified country.

He qualified as a lawyer, but his main interest was republicanism and the unification of Italy into a single nation state.

He was involved with, and organised a number riots and attempted insurrections to try and bring about unification. He also formed a secret political organisation called Young Italy (as mentioned in the plaque) dedicated to the unification of the country.

His activities resulted in periods of imprisonment, exile from Italy and, in his absense, a sentance of death.

In the 1840s, 1850s and 1860s, periods in exile included London from where he continued to work in the cause of unification. The plaque in Laystall Street might be interpreted as indicating that he lived in the house whilst in London, however there is a Blue Plaque on the house at 155 North Gower Street which was his London residence, and he also spent some time close by in Hatton Garden.

The Laystall Street plaque is a record of “La Società per il Progresso degli Operai Italiani in Londra” (the Society for the Progress of Italian Workers in London).

Laystall Street and surrounding streets were once a centre for Italian immigrants and the area had a large Italian population.  The Society for the Progress of Italian Workers in London was founded in May 1864 under the joint presidency of Mazzini and Guiseppe Garibaldi (who also shared the same views on republicanism and the unification of Italy)

The aim of the society was to engage the Italian population of London in the unification cause. The club originally met in Mazzini’s house in Hatton Garden, before moving to Farringdon Road, before occupying 10 Laystall Street where the club would stay until 1930 when the society moved to Red Lion Street.

The plaque in Laystall Street is dated 1922, when the society had already been based in the building for many years. I cannot find any information as to why it is only to Mazzini, one of the founders of the society and does not mention Garibaldi.

The Red Lion Street premises were seized during the 2nd World War, but returned to the society after the war, who then changed their name to the Mazzini-Garibaldi Club.

Given the siezure of the premises of the society and the internment of many Italians as enemy aliens during the last war, it would be interesting to know if the Laystall Street plaque survived on the building during the war, or whether it was removed and reinstalled after the end of the war.

Giuseppe Mazzini photographed during one of his visits to London:

Laystall Street

Giuseppe Mazzini was involved in a notorious act of letter opening by the British Government. In 1843 Mazzini’s cause attracted the support of two officers in the Austrian Navy, who landed in the Kingdom of Naples to support some riots that Mazzini was organising. The two were immediately captured and executed. The Illustrated London News on the 12th May 1849 in an article about Mazzini reported that:

“He is well known to the English public, through the notoriety acquired by Sir James Graham in opening his letters in the English Post-office, and communicating their contents to the Austrian Government, which led to the death of the noble-hearted brothers, Bandiera,”

In describing them as “noble hearted”, the Illustrated London News appears to have had some sympathy for their cause.

The view along Laystall Street from Clerkenwell Road:

Laystall Street

The source of the name Laystall Street is interesting. The word Laystall can refer to a place where rubbish or dung is deposited. It can also refer to a place where cattle are kept. This would imply an old source of the name, so I checked John Roque’s 1746 map of London.

The area around Laystall Street has changed singnificantly since 1746. Clerkenwell Road was not there, and the majority of streets have since changed their names.

Laystall Street is just to the west of Leather Lane, it has a slight turn into Clerkenwell Road, and then runs back at an angle of about 45 degrees to Clerkenwell Road.

In 1746, in the right place, with the right alignment was a street named Leicester Street (see the map extract below). Leather Lane is running from the middle of the map to the lower edge. Leicester Street is to the left of the map, running to the left edge from the junction of Leather Lane, Ayre Street and Windmill Hill).

Laystall Street

The words Laystall and Leicester sound similar, so perhaps Laystall was just a corruption of the street name in 1746, however the Encyclopedia of London attributes the name to the traditional meaning of a rubbish dump which was probably towards the Mount Pleasant end of the street as this was originally a lane that ran down to the River Fleet and the area was known as a rubbish dumping ground. Perhaps Roque has just recorded the incorrect name?

Laystall Street was cut in half in the early 1890s when Rosebery Avenue was built, and the area north of Laystall Street underwent considerable development with the demolition of the old Coldbath Fields prison and the construction of the Mount Pleasant Post Office.

The extract below from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shows Rosebery Avenue newly completed, cutting through Laystall Street:

Laystall Street

I walked further down Laystall Street. On one of the buildings there is the rather nice sign of the Newgate Press preserved:

Laystall Street

The view looking up Laystall Street from the junction with Rosebery Avenue:

Laystall Street

In the 1895 Ordnance Survey Map, there is a large school occupying the northern side of Laystall Street after it crosses Rosebery Avenue. The school buildings are still to be found:

Laystall Street

The school retains a very nice London County Council coat of arms with the name of the school below:

Laystall Street

The school also includes the following sign for the School Board for London:

Laystall Street

The above two photos show two of the key organisations responsible for the expansion of a structured education system across London.

The School Board for London was created by the 1870 Elementary Education Act to provide elementary school places for all poor children. It became the largest provider of school places across London.

The School Board for London was in operation between 1870 and 1903, when the London County Council took over responsibility for education across London.

Another sign on the school building gives 1876 as the date of the school, six years after the Elementary Education Act, but also names the school as the Laystall Street School:

Laystall Street

The Illustrated London News on the 5th August 1876 provides a glimpse into the challenges of providing schools in central London:

“A board-school was opened, on Monday night, in Laystall-street, Gray’s Inn Road, by Sir Charles Reed. in the ‘block’ where the school is situated Sir Charles stated that places were required for 2075 children. The difficulty of getting a site in the metropolis was very great, and it was sometimes costly; but, cost what it might, the board must have a school placed in the particular locality in which it was required. He thought if his colleagues were to be blamed for anything it should be because of their tardiness in providing school accommodation in that district, which would have the additional provision given to it without injury to the other schools there. He saw a letter in a newspaper the other day in which the writer, speaking of the school board, said ‘Their present school in Laystall-street, which will open unblessed by us on Monday next, is within sixty yards of a church school.’ He (Sir Charles) believed the parents of that district would bless that school, and that would be quite enough. Sir Edward Currie also spoke, and stated that the site of the new school was the smallest and the most costly that the board had purchased in London. The school was intended to accommodate 502 children, at a cost of about £10 per head.” 

The original name was Laystall School, as Rosebery Avenue did not exist. It was built 14 years after the school was constructed.

The two signs also probably tell us how and when the name changed. The school was built in 1876 as the Laystall Street School by the School Board for London. In 1903 the London County Council takes over the school and it is probably then that the name also changes after the construction of Rosebery Avenue – a much larger street than Laystall Street (sorry, but I love these little connected details you can find across London’s streets).

The school today is the Christopher Hatton Primary School, named after the Elizabethan politician who also gave his name to Hatton Garden.

Laystall Street

I always feel I never do justice to the history of the areas I cover in my posts, however it is fascinating what you can find in London’s streets and in Laystall Street there is an Italian nationalist, possible long lost rubbish dump that gave the name to the street, and a glimpse into the development of schools at the end of the 19th century – not bad for a short walk.

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A Bombsite On Baldwin’s Gardens

Baldwin’s Gardens is a street that runs between Leather Lane and Gray’s Inn Road. If you take a walk along the street, you may be disappointed that the street does not live up to its name. Rather than finding any gardens, the walker will find flats, a church, school and other buildings lining Baldwin’s Gardens.

My father took the following photo of Baldwin’s Gardens in 1949. The view is looking down towards Gray’s Inn Road. In the early years of the war, the area suffered from the impact of several high explosive bombs and the effects of these can be seen to the right of the street.

Baldwin's Gardens

The same view today:

Baldwin's Gardens

The only identifiable feature in the above two photos is the building in Gray’s Inn Road visible at the far end of Baldwin’s Gardens (although it is slightly obscured by trees in the 2018 photo). This building is part of Gray’s Inn, and one of the entrances to Gray’s Inn Square.

I took the photo below at the end of Baldwin’s Gardens to show the building today with the central block and entrance to the gardens behind being the feature visible in my father’s photo.

Baldwin's Gardens

Detail from the 1949 photo shows the Gray’s Inn building:

Baldwin's Gardens

My father took a second photo looking slightly to the right of the first photo to show more of the bomb damaged area.

Baldwin's Gardens

Difficult to be precise regarding the exact location due to the level of change, however looking over to the right of Baldwin’s Gardens today, and the 1949 bomb site is now occupied by a Primary School.

Baldwin's Gardens

A clue as to what occupied the bomb site can be found in the extract from the 1895 Ordnance Survey map shown below from the National Library of Scotland. Baldwin’s Gardens run across the centre of the map. The upper left part of Baldwin’s Gardens is the bombed area in my father’s photo.

Baldwin's Gardens

Just above the letter B in Baldwin’s Garden, there is an Infant School. This is in the same location as the Primary School today. Below the word Baldwin’s is St. Alban’s Church and to the upper right of the church is a school for boys and girls.

The church of St. Alban is still alongside Baldwin’s Gardens as shown in the photo below. A large brick church, completed in the early 1860s.

Baldwin's Gardens

The Holborn Journal reported on the 28th June 1862 that the church was almost complete, apart from some internal decoration. The Holborn Journal appears to have appreciated the church as the article concludes with “Mr. Myers was the builder, and he appears to have done his work well.”

The second school on the map, marked for boys and girls has been lost although a plaque from the school can be found in the small yard between the church and Baldwin’s Gardens:

Baldwin's Gardens

Remarkably, I found a photo of this plaque when it was on the original school. The following photo is from the London Metropolitan Archive Collage site. It is titled “St Alban’s School, Baldwin Gardens: St Alban’s Hall.” The photo is dated 1956, confirming that the northern side of Baldwin’s Gardens appears to have suffered the worst bomb damage.

Baldwin's Gardens

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_144_56_3265

If you look to the lower left of the building there are two plaques on the wall. The one on the right is the St. Alban’s Hall, whilst the one on the left is the one that can been today as shown in my photo. The following is an enlargement of the plaque from the above photo to show it is the same:

Baldwin's Gardens

This is what I find so fascinating about walking London’s street – being able to find the traces of long lost buildings and activities and being able to trace them to their original place.

Baldwin’s Gardens schools seemed to have played a part in early teacher training. A newspaper article from 1875 comparing school education in the United States with that in the United Kingdom, and the approach to teacher training, writes: “But as early as 1811, the National Society in our own country had begun, in a rudimentary fashion, to train teachers at Baldwin’s-gardens school in London, and in 1817 the British and Foreign School Society followed with an organisation of their own for the same purpose.”

So perhaps this rather plain London side street was once a pioneer in the work of teacher training.

According to A Dictionary of London, published in 1918, the name comes from a Richard Baldwin who was a gardener to Queen Elizabeth the 1st and erected the street in 1589.

In “The London Encyclopedia” by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert, they confirm that the street was built in 1589, and add that it was on the site of Brook House, the mansion of Lord Brooke. Apparently it held the privilege of sanctuary and criminals fled to Baldwin’s Gardens to live without fear of the law. This privilege ended in 1697. The London Encyclopedia also states that “the area continued as a notorious slum, much frequented by criminals, and part of the locality known as the Thieves’ Kitchen, a training ground for young criminals.”

London by George H. Cunningham (1927) confirms the reputation of the area and adds that it was one of the most dangerous and disreputable of slums. This notoriety was removed in the building of St. Alban’s Church, and that “alterations and improvements have completely changed the appearance of Baldwins Gardens”

Baldwin’s Gardens featured in the 1746 map by John Rocque:

Baldwin's Gardens

A further insight into the area can be found in my post on the nearby Hole in the Wall Passage.

In the second of the 1949 photos, a large building can be seen on the right of the photo. This is part of the Bourne Estate, a housing development by the London County Council in the first decade of the 20th century. Part of the estate can be seen from Baldwin’s Gardens:

Baldwin's Gardens

To take a look at the estate, I walked out of Baldwin’s Gardens, a short distance north along Leather Lane to Pontpool Lane where one of the main entrances to the estate can be found:

Baldwin's Gardens

There was some damage to the estate during the war, however the majority appears to have survived. A rather impressive entrance archway leading through into the estate:

Baldwin's Gardens

Ever on the lookout for plaques on buildings, the building on the corner of Pontpool Lane and Leather Lane has a plaque with the date 1895, presumably the date the building was constructed (seen above the Greggs sign).

There is a second plaque to the lower left:

Baldwin's Gardens

The plaque states that the wall is the property of the London County Council.

Baldwin's Gardens

Leather Lane has a fascinating history which I hope to write about in the future, however to finish today’s post I did find a rather traditional hairdresser in Leather Lane. I always take a photo of these when I find them in London’s streets to continue the series of photos of London hairdressers started in the 1980s.

Baldwin's Gardens

Baldwin’s Gardens is an ordinary London side street, but one that was built by the gardener to Queen Elizabeth the 1st. It was the haunt of thieves and a dangerous place until the building of the church, and the street has been host to a junior school since the 19th century – rebuilt since the wartime destruction of the previous school. There is history to be found in every street.

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LLoyd’s Dairy And The Lloyd Baker Estate

The fascination of walking in London is that you can turn off a busy street and discover a completely different place, somewhere with a very unique character and history. For this week’s post, I went to find if an old shop front had survived from the 1980s and found the unique Lloyd Baker Estate.

The following photo is one of my father’s photos from 1986. It shows the dairy shop of Lloyd and Son on the corner of River Street and Amwell Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Whilst Lloyd and Son ceased trading a number of years ago, their shop front has been retained and this is the view today:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Amwell Street runs from Rosebery Avenue in Clerkenwell to a short distance from Pentonville Road. Development of Amwell Street took place during the first couple of decades of the 19th century, partly on land owned by the New River Company.

The New River Company was the 17th century company formed to build an artificial river to bring in water from the north of London to feed the ever growing need for water of London’s rising population. The New River Head where the company’s reservoirs were located is a short distance from the location of the shop.

River Street was named after the New River and Amwell Street after Amwell in Hertfordshire through which the New River ran, and where some of the springs that fed the river were located.  The history of the New River Company, traces of the company around Clerkenwell and where the river can still be found are hopefully subjects for future posts.

The Lloyd’s Dairy business opened on the corner of Amwell Street and River Street in 1905. I cannot find the year when the business closed, but I believe it was in the late 1990s.

A side view of the shop in 1986:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The same view in 2017. The shop is now occupied by the saloon of BHC Hair.

Lloyd Baker Estate

A close up of the shop window in 1986. Piles of cereal boxes and the milk bottles used to advertise the business. On the far side of the shop are rows of tinned fruit and above are a couple of posters with a boy and girl advertising milk.Lloyd Baker Estate

The shop is located in the end building of a terrace of early 19th century houses. There were once so many corner shops across London. The majority do not retain their shop front, but it is still possible to see traces of the original shop on the corners of 19th century streets.

Lloyd Baker Estate

At the top of the brick walls on the corner of the building there is a layer of light coloured brick.

I found the following photo in the London Metropolitan Archives Collage archive showing the building in 1973. The reason for the lighter coloured brick layer is now clear, as it was once covered by a large advertising sign for the dairy.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_080_73_10889

I had walked to find Lloyd’s Dairy from King’s Cross Road. The map extract below shows the location of the dairy marked by the orange circle in the top right. River Street runs from the location of the dairy to the top right. the old New River Company reservoirs were just below River Street.

King’s Cross Road is the orange road from lower centre to top left of the map. Much of the area between the location of the dairy and King’s Cross Road is occupied by the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Lloyd Baker Estate

If you follow King’s Cross Road from the lower centre of the map, pass Margery Street on the right, the next turning on the right is Lloyd Baker Street. On the corner of Lloyd Baker Street and King’s Cross Road is the Union Tavern:

Lloyd Baker Estate

A pub / tavern has been on the site since the early 18th century. In the book “The History of Clerkenwell” (1865), William Pinks writes:

“At the north-west corner is a respectable tavern known as the Union, which, a few years ago, had pleasant tea gardens in the rear of it. Formerly on the site was a public-house of low repute, distinguished as the Bull in the Pound, a resort of thieves and other vicious characters.”

Thankfully there were no thieves or other vicious characters when I stopped at the Union. There is a rather nice boundary marker on the King’s Cross Road side of the building to add to the collection:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The Fleet River ran along and slightly to the west of King’s Cross Road and the above ground evidence that a river once ran here in a valley can be seen looking up past the the Union, up Lloyd Baker Street where the land rises rather steeply (for central London) away from King’s Cross Road.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Lloyd Baker Street is lined with some rather uniquely designed villas.

The original ownership of the land between King;s Cross Road and Amwell Street was through a series of individual owners and the New River Company. In the late 17th century, a Dr William Lloyd became owner of part of the land. Ownership continued through a couple of generations of the Lloyd family to Mary Lloyd, a daughter of John Lloyd.

Mary married a Reverend William Baker who added the name Lloyd to his surname to form the hyphenated name Lloyd-Baker in the late 18th century.

William Lloyd-Baker started some development in the area, but it was not until around 1820 when major development of the area commenced with the next generation of the Lloyd-Baker’s.

Work started with the redevlopment of the Union around 1819 and then continued across the area between King’s Cross Road and Amwell Street, with work being mainly complete by the early 1840s. The Lloyd-Baker family continued to own the estate after construction had completed and the area was known as the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Architectural styles vary between reasonably traditional terrace housing and the villas which can be found in Lloyd Baker Street and Wharton Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

The above photo shows the unique style of the villa and also the stepped layout of the buildings to accommodate the rising height as the villas ascend the street.

The development included a couple of squares. Granville Square between Wharton Street and Lloyd Baker Street, and at the top of the two streets, Lloyd Square. This is the view looking across the square from the top of Wharton Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Bordering Lloyd Square are more villas, but here the land is flat after ascending roughly 42 feet from King’s Cross Road (which I know is a trivial rise in height, but these are central London streets).

Lloyd Baker Estate

Ian Nairn in Nairn’s London described the area: “Lloyd Square has the tightness of the terraces loosened by being made up of linked pairs, each with a pediment, The sight of them dutifully climbing Lloyd Baker Street, two by two, is like a parody of the Greek Revival. But what you remember is half a doorway, someone’s curtains, the flicker of leaves in sunlight or wet bare branches. The underlying pattern is there all right, but it is never intrusive.”

Nairn provides a perfect description of the Lloyd Baker Estate. After the noise and traffic on King’s Cross Road, it is the quiet along with the flicker of leaves in the sunlight, and the doorways at different heights within a pediment that attempts to retain an impression of the same height for the two doorways.

Lloyd Baker Estate

William Pinks  wrote of Lloyd Square “This square, which is situated between Baker Street and Wharton Street and has a well kept enclosure in the centre, was erected about 1828.”

The well kept enclosure is now a very well maintained garden in the centre of the square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The view along Wharton Street from Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The eastern edge of Lloyd Square has a very different building to those lining the other three sides.

This is the House of Retreat built by the Sisters of Bethany in the first half of the 1880s. This side of the square was lined by the original villas, however the Lloyd-Baker family allowed these villas to be demolished for the House of Retreat.

Lloyd Baker Estate

This is the terrace of houses along one side of Lloyd Baker Street that leads from the square to Amwell Street, opposite the original Lloyd’s Dairy shop.

Lloyd Baker Estate

The southern side of Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Corner building with the original, painted street name just visible on the first floor:

Lloyd Baker Estate

One of the problems I have when taking photos of buildings in London is that there are often cars lining the length of a street and obscuring the ground floor of a building. There are cars parked on the streets of the Lloyd Baker estate, but there are considerable lengths of the streets with no cars, and some lengths are protected by double yellow lines. It makes for a very pleasant set of streets to walk, and to admire the buildings along the streets.

King’s Cross Road and Amwell Street border the Lloyd Baker Estate. Both these streets run north to south, so there is no real reason for traffic to cut through the estate. This lack of traffic and nose to tail parked cars also contributes to the unique feeling of the estate.

As well as the streets leading of from Lloyd Square, a short distance down Wharton Street from the square, an alley leads into Cumberland Gardens. also part of the Lloyd Baker estate with the same distinctive buildings.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Tree lined Wharton Street:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Not all the Lloyd Baker Estate is original. I have already mentioned the House of Retreat on the eastern edge of Lloyd Square, there are other examples of later buildings. The map below is an extract of the 1895 Ordnance Survey map from the National Library of Scotland. In the centre of the map there is a church alongside Cumberland Terrace and facing onto Wharton Street and Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

This was built on one of the parcels of land not owned by the Lloyd-Baker family. I have not found any photos of the church, apart from the following photo (dated 1910) looking up Wharton Street towards Lloyd Square, where the tower of a large church can be seen on the left:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_090_81_35_2380_37

The church closed in 1936 and Olive Lloyd-Baker purchased the land and built Archery Fields House on the site to maintain the appearance of the estate. This is Archery Fields House today:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The name of the house is a reference to the archery target ground that occupied part of Wharton Street in the early years of the 19th century, before the start of the main construction period of the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Another project that involved significant demolition of part of the estate was the construction of the original Metropolitan Railway, built between 1859 and 1862, which ran from Paddington to Farringdon. This involved demolition of houses at the King’s Cross Road end of Wharton and Lloyd Baker Streets. If you look back at the 1910 photo above, you can see houses on the right and left of the photo, closest to the photographer. These are houses built to replace those demolished during the construction of the railway.

Olive Lloyd-Baker was the last long term owner of the estate from the Lloyd-Baker family. She inherited the estate in 1924 and continued owning and managing the estate until her death in 1975. A life long spinster, Olive lived in the family home at Hardwicke Court, Gloucester. She was deeply involved in farming and agriculture and in 1966 was president of the Three Counties Agricultural Show. A local newspaper report describes Olive Lloyd-Baker as “A country woman with a practical experience in agriculture and with years of experience of managing property in Gloucestershire and London valued at about £1 Million, she is well equipped for the office.”

As well as the 10 acres of the London estate, Olive Lloyd-Baker owned 5,000 aces of country estate in Gloucestershire. The newspaper report also included a photo of Olive Lloyd-Baker in 1966:

Lloyd Baker Estate

After Olive’s death, the estate was broken up with Islington Council purchasing a large number of properties, others sold to private buyers, with the Lloyd Baker Estate retaining a much smaller number.

One of the buildings in Wharton Street with coloured doors, again showing the way the buildings manage the height change as the street descends towards King’s Cross Road.

Lloyd Baker Estate

One house of the pair has a blue plaque recording that Amelia Edwards, Egyptologist lived in the house.

Amelia Edwards was a 19th century novelist and author of travel books which she would also illustrate. After a visit to Egypt she became fascinated by the ancient history of the country and the threats to the archaeology and monuments that could be found across the country.

She wrote about her travels in Egypt and in 1882 also helped set-up the Egypt Exploration Fund to explore, research and preserve Egypt’s history. The fund is still going today as the Egypt Exploration Society, continuing to be based in London at Doughty Mews.

More descending doorways as the terrace runs along Wharton Street:

Lloyd Baker Estate

It was a fascinating walk around the Lloyd Baker Estate, and also finding Lloyd and Son’s Dairy shop front still in place in Amwell Street.

There is more to the estate than I have been able to cover in a single post. The now demolished church in Granville Square, the steps leading from Granville Square down to King’s Cross Road and their literary associations. The New River Company is also in the background to the areas history which I hope to explore in the future.

What I like about the Lloyd Baker Estate is that the buildings have been designed to work with the physical features of the land. Standing in these streets, it is easy to visualise the high ground where Lloyd Square now stands, with the land then descending down to where the River Fleet once ran just to the west of King’s Cross Road – all to be seen in the doorways as the terraces move up and down the street.

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A Forty Year Return Visit To A Secret Nuclear Bunker

A rather somber post this week, following a return to a location I was last at forty years ago. In the late 1970s, after leaving school, I started an apprenticeship with British Telecom (or Post Office Telecommunications as it was then). It was a brilliant three year scheme which involved both college and practical experience moving through many of BT’s divisions and locations. For a couple of months I was based at the telephone exchange at Brentwood, Essex. A typical day would involve maintenance and fault fixing on the telephone exchange equipment, however at the start of a day that would be rather different, the Technical Officer in charge was giving out jobs, and one job involved fixing a fault at a rather unique location – a secret nuclear bunker.

I had just left school, so at the time this was a genuinely exciting experience as I headed out in one of BT’s yellow vans with a couple of other engineers.

I have always wanted to revisit the site and was in the area recently so I took the opportunity to return to what is now a tourist attraction as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker.

The decades prior to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, and the very real threat of nuclear war now seem many years ago, however with recent international politics a visit to the secret nuclear bunker is a thought provoking and very real reminder of what the impact of such a war would be, and the futility of preparing for such an event.

The origins of the bunker are in the early 1950s when the Government realised there was an urgent need for an improved air defence system to provide an early warning system to detect incoming enemy aircraft. The scheme, code named Rotor consisted of a number of radar systems and bunkers built across the country. Small R1/2 bunkers were built at radar sites whilst a small number of much larger R4 bunkers were built, the bunker at Kelvedon Hatch being one.

The bunker was operational by 1953 and being used for coordinating air defence.

In the 1960s the role of the bunker changed from being an air defence operations centre, to an emergency regional seat of government for London. The assumption being that in the build up to a nuclear war, key members of government would leave London and head for the bunker, along with scientists and civil servants. Those safe in the bunker would monitor and attempt to coordinate what was happening on the surface, then weeks after the nuclear confrontation, would emerge from out of the ground and attempt to establish some form of government across what ever remained on the surface.

This was the role of the bunker during my visit to look at a fault on the telephone exchange deep underground.

By definition, a secret nuclear bunker is secret, so there is very little visible on the surface. The entrance to the bunker is through what was meant to look like a typical rural bungalow or farm building sitting on the side of the hill. This is the view on my recent visit – very similar to my first visit when we pulled up outside in the BT van.

secret nuclear bunker

To give an idea of the rural location of the bunker, it is marked with an orange circle in the following map. The M25 runs from lower centre to top left and the town in the lower right is Brentwood  (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker was constructed by excavating a very large hole, laying a gravel base to act as a shock absorber then building the bunker with 10 foot thick concrete reinforced walls designed to withstand the blast from a nuclear weapon, with the walls surrounded by a wire mesh acting as a Faraday Cage to absorb the effects of an electromagnetic pulse which would have damaged the electronic devices within the bunker.

The excavated materials were then used to cover up the bunker and create a hill on top to provide further protection. The bunker was equipped with its own means of generating power, purifying air, maintaining temperature and had suppliers of water, and in the lead up to a war, would have been stocked with food to keep the inhabitants sustained during their weeks underground.

A plan of the bunker is shown in the following photo:

When operational, the bungalow acted as a guard house and it was through here that we entered to be checked and signed in ready to visit the telephone exchange. Today, there are no armed guard at the entrance. All you have to do is pick up the audio tour device.

The bunker is then entered through a long entrance tunnel that leads from the bungalow down to the base of the bunker. The view looking down:

secret nuclear bunker

The view looking back up:

secret nuclear bunker

At the end of the entrance tunnel are blast doors leading into the bunker. The entrance to the body of the bunker is also an L shape to deflect any blast that breached the doors.

secret nuclear bunker

Looking up at the three levels of the bunker:

secret nuclear bunker

The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker was decommissioned in the early 1990s. It was removed from the secret list, and the Government removed the majority of the equipment within the bunker. It was then sold back to the farming family from whom the land had originally been purchased, and they reequipped the bunker and opened for visitors.

This is the room I had come to see. The telephone exchange for the bunker that would connect the internal telephones with the outside world (on the assumption that there would still have been someone in the outside world able to answer a phone and that the infrastructure had not been destroyed).

secret nuclear bunker

The telephone exchange equipment is not original. It was a Strowger electro-mechanical exchange, before being replaced with an electronic exchange. A Strowger electro-mechanical exchange has been reinstalled – the same type of equipment that was in the bunker when I was there as an apprentice. If my memory of 40 years is right, it does look much the same as when I was there in the late 1970s.

I recall a few people around and some calls going through the exchange, but it was very quiet compared to what it would have been during a real event when up to 600 people would have been working in the bunker. The exchange room was the only one we went to – it was not the sort of place you could have wandered round for a look. When we had completed our work, it was back up the tunnel and out into daylight.

Many of the other rooms have been equipped to show what they would have looked like at the time. Here, teleprinters ready for sending and receiving printed information with the outside world.

secret nuclear bunker

The secret nuclear bunker was equipped with a BBC studio. From here, broadcasts would have been made to the general population above ground.

secret nuclear bunker

A few years ago, the BBC released the transcript of the announcement that would have been broadcast in the event of a nuclear war. The transcript starts:

“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.

If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and
without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many
times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and
walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.”

The full transcript is a rather sobering read and can be found as a PDF on the BBC’s website here.

In the late 1970s there was also considerable discussion in Government about how much preparation there should be, and how much the public should be informed about preparing for an attack. Tensions were heightened in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

As part of the planning to prepare the general population for an attack, the Protect and Survive booklet was written. This would have been distributed to all households across the country in a period of heightened tensions when a nuclear attack was seen as a possible outcome.

The booklet included advice on how to prepare for an attack and how to survive in the days after an attack.

The front cover of the booklet:

secret nuclear bunker

The front cover is from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and the full booklet is available as a PDF download at the URL in the following citation for the source:

Document-110193,   Author = Great Britain. Central Office of Information and Great Britain. Home Office,  Title  = Protect and Survive, URL  =  http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110193

Institution = Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars publisher   = History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive

A film version of the booklet was also produced for broadcast on TV during the possible lead up to an attack. There is a copy on YouTube here.

The early 1980s also produced some landmark TV and films covering the impact of nuclear war. In September 1984, the BBC produced film Threads was shown on BBC2. A genuinely frightening portrayal of the impact of nuclear war on the city of Sheffield. A sample of the film can be found on YouTube here. I remember it as one of the most frightening programmes I have ever watched then or since on television.

Another example was the 1986 animated film of Raymond Briggs graphic novel, When the Wind Blows.

My just out of school, apprentice excitement at going to such a place as the secret nuclear bunker was most certainly taken back down to earth with the reality of what such a war would mean as depicted in the films mentioned above, as well as so many other books, films, and programmes of the time.

Continuing around the bunker, there is a re-creation of what the room may have looked like where plots would have been drawn on large maps showing where bomb blasts had taken place.

secret nuclear bunker

The position of the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker as the regional headquarters for the Greater London area is shown in the following photo:

Continuing further down in the bunker and the air filtration plant. This would have taken in air from the outside and filtered to remove dust and radioactive particles.

secret nuclear bunker

The machine room where equipment maintained the air conditioning of the bunker.

secret nuclear bunker

There are a couple of rooms within the bunker where senior Government officials would have had their own room. One of which was available for the Prime Minister should they have been able to get out of London and into Essex in time.

secret nuclear bunker

The main operations room where representatives of Government departments, the armed forces, transport, energy etc. would have been represented.

secret nuclear bunker

Apparently some of the few items not removed by the Government when they vacated the bunker are the signs around the operations room indicating the working space for each of the Government departments.

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker also contained facilities to accommodate the staff who would have been based here during an attack.

secret nuclear bunker

Up to 600 people would have been based in the bunker in the event of a nuclear war. Whether they would have had any contact with the outside world during their time underground is questionable, and one can only imagine the scene that would have met them when they emerged onto the surface after weeks in the bunker.

It was interesting to return after 40 years. The world is now a very different place, but having places such as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker available to visit are essential to provide a reminder of the real horrors of nuclear war.

Full details are on the web site of the bunker. Thanks to the owners of the bunker for letting me use my photos of the interior.

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The Regents Canal from Blomfield Road

The Regents Canal stretches from the River Thames at Limehouse Basin to meet the Grand Union Canal just north of Paddington Station, at the area known as Little Venice. The stretch of the canal before it joins with the Grand Union runs alongside Blomfield Road, and it was from the Edgware Road end of Blomfield Road that my father took the following photo, looking along the Regents Canal in 1951.

Blomfield Road

The same view in July 2018:

Blomfield Road

The photos are 67 years apart, and the view, whilst basically the same, has some significant differences. Blomfield Road is to the right of the photo with Maida Avenue running along the opposite side of the canal.

In 1951 the Regents Canal was still a working waterway. My father’s photo shows a clear canal (apart from a single boat), along with an unobstructed tow path. In 1951 Blomfield Road was clear, however today, as with the majority of all London streets, Blomfield Road now has parked cars running the length of the street.

This length of the canal is now occupied by private moorings, so it is not possible to walk the tow path along the Blomfield Road stretch of the canal. Boats line the canal, with domestic paraphernalia alongside the boats with the stretch of the tow path immediately alongside Blomfield Road now occupied by a considerable amount of planting.

In the 1951 photo there are curved metal supports running from the railings down to concrete blocks. These are not immediately visible in my photo above, however walk alongside  the railings and peer over and the same metal supports and concrete blocks can still be seen in the undergrowth.

Blomfield Road

My father took the photo a short distance along Blomfield Road from the junction with Edgware Road. It was at the point where a walkway leads off to the tow path.

The orange circle at the top right of the following map shows the location. (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

Blomfield Road

The photo below shows from where the 1951 and 2018 photos were taken – as best as I can judge, the original photo was taken just to the left of the tree, looking along the canal.

Blomfield Road

The location is close to where the Regents Canal enters the Maida Hill Tunnel:

Blomfield Road

The Maida Hill Tunnel is 248 meters long, running to the east under Aberdeen Place. It is only wide enough for a single boat, so care is needed to check that the tunnel is clear before entering. Fortunately the tunnel is completely straight so checking to see if the tunnel is clear is down to whether you can see light at the far end (or hopefully another boat’s lights at night).

The tunnel does not have a tow path, so horses pulling barges along the Regents Canal would have been walked between tunnel entrances above ground, with those on the barge propelling it through the tunnel by lying on their backs and using their feet on the walls of the tunnel to “walk” the barge through the tunnel.

The cafe built above the tunnel entrance provides a rather spectacular view along the length of the canal, however whilst I was there most people seemed more interested in their phones than the view along the canal.

Construction of the Regents Canal started in 1812 from the Grand Union Canal junction, reaching Camden by 1815. The extension on to the River Thames was completed by 1820 at what was called the Regents Canal Dock, now Limehouse Basin.

In the 1951 photo there is a single boat moored to the side of the canal. A close up reveals a rather formal group on the boat. This may have been one of the early pleasure trips along the canal. Two boys can also be seen walking along the tow path.

Blomfield Road

When the canal was built, the development of London was spreading north. Building was initially along the Edgware Road, however the development of the Regents Canal was the catalyst for further expansion to the north with Blomfield Road being named by 1841.

Both Blomfield Road and Maida Avenue have some rather impressive villas lining the street. The large number of chimney pots are the same as can be seen to the right of my father’s photo.

Blomfield Road

An impressive corner plot:

Blomfield Road

A more traditional, large, three storey town house. The blue plaque informs that Arthur Lowe (Captain Mainwaring of Dad’s Army) lived in the house from 1969 to 1982, the year of his death.

Blomfield Road

The tow path is now part of the private mooring space with access only for those with a mooring along the canal. Boat owners have set up their own garden space on the tow path alongside their boats.

Blomfield Road

The boats are very individual, with their internal decoration:

Blomfield Road

And also their design and external decoration:

Blomfield Road

The following view is from the Warwick Avenue end of the canal, just before the Regents Canal enters the junction with the Grand Union Canal. The full length of the canal between Warwick Avenue and Edgware Road is occupied by barges and boats, many with two barges to a single berth alongside the tow path.

Blomfield Road

Where Blomfield Road meets Warwick Avenue there is a bridge that carries Warwick Avenue across the Regents Canal. Through the bridge is the larger expanse of water that makes up the junction with the Grand Union Canal and the branch down to the Paddington Basin.

Blomfield Road

The next photo is the view from the top of the bridge looking back along the canal with Blomfield Road on the left. The empty canal in my father’s photo now looks very different.

Blomfield Road

On the railings along the side of the bridge there is a rather nice plaque dating the current bridge to 1907 and constructed by the Borough of Paddington.

Blomfield Road

I always wonder why my father took the photos from the position that he did. I would have thought that the bridge provided a better viewpoint, however given that the majority of the canal as seen from the bridge was empty in 1951, his photo from the Edgware Road end of Blomfield Road included the boat with the group of people, possibly waiting for a trip along the canal, and the two boys walking along the tow path. It was probably these features that added to the overall composition of the photo.

It also makes me very aware of how photography has changed from when my father had the expense of film and developing of the negatives, so individual photos had to be more carefully considered. Compare this to digital photography today when having paid for the camera and memory cards the cost of photo is effectively zero.

The Regents Canal offers some fantastic walking. I have walked several sections, but never the entire length of the canal – another long walk added to the ever growing list.

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Fountain House And St Gabriel Fenchurch

A brief post this week as I have been short of time, however a post that covers two aspects of London that fascinate me. The first is about London’s buildings, the considerable range of different architectural styles over the centuries, how these change, how some buildings survive, the degree of rapid change – Fountain House in Fenchurch Street is a good example.

The second aspect are the traces of London’s history that can still be found in a rapidly changing City, and for this, St Gabriel, Fenchurch is an example.

Fountain House, Fenchurch Street

I came across Fountain House whilst walking along Fenchurch Street. There is nothing special about the building, however the design of Fountain House is from a specific period. It is the type of building that I expect will soon disappear and be replaced by a much taller glass and steel tower, making full use of the space not occupied by the relatively thin tower.

This is the view approaching Fountain House from the east, along Fenchurch Street:

Fountain House

Fountain House was constructed between 1954 and 1958 to a design by W.H.Rogers and Sir Howard Robertson (Consulting). It was the first London building constructed to the tower and podium formula where a large podium occupies the full area of the plot of land, with a much small central space occupied by a tower block.

The lower podium block is occupied by a central entrance foyer and around the street level of the podium there is space for a range of retail units.

The corners of the podium are almost triangular in shape to fit within the surrounding streets. As the central tower only occupies a small percentage of the overall plot of land, today’s developers would no doubt consider this to be wasted space and a modern replacement would see a glass and steel tower occupying the full width and depth of the land available.

This is the view of the corner of the podium, which faces to the east. The clock makes a good central feature to the corner of the building.

Fountain House

A walk down Mincing Lane provides a view of the width of the tower to the street, only three bays wide.

Fountain House

The Pevsner guide describes Fountain House as:

“The first office tower in London to repeat the motif of Gordon Bunshaft’s Lever House, New York (1952), that is a low horizontal block with a tall tower above, here set end-on to the street. With its podium curving to the street and lower return wing along Cullum Street, the composition is tentative compared with later versions of the formula.”

The Lever House in New York, referred to by Pevsner is shown in the photo below. The same concept of podium and tower that would be repeated a couple of years after Lever House was built in 1952 in the City of London with Fountain House.

Fountain House

Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the late 1950s, Fountain House must have appeared to be the latest architectural style transferring from New York – the City of London rising from the destruction of the war.

Fountain House in the final stages of completion in 1957:

Fountain House

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_010_57_3038

The central entrance to Fountain House:

Fountain House

The two pillars can be seen in the 1957 photo, however I suspect the canopy was a later addition.

A look into the entrance foyer reveals what looks to be a refurbished interior:

Fountain House

The corner of the podium on the western edge of Fountain House:

Fountain House

Always on the look out for plaques attached to buildings, I found the following fixed to Fountain House along the side of the building facing onto Fen Court. The plaque from December 1964 marks the boundary of the site with the implication that the land belongs to the Clothworkers Company (who have their Hall just to the south of Fountain House).

Fountain House

The Clothworkers Company do indeed still own the freehold to Fountain House.

So what is the future for Fountain House?

This first example of podium and tower architecture in the City of London may not be around for too much longer. A development agreement is in place between the Clothworkers Company and the tenant of the building for a major redevelopment of the site. Fountain House will be replaced by a new block which occupies the whole site and makes use of the empty space above the podium, not occupied by the tower. The new building looks to be very much like any other glass and steel tower to be found across the City.

The tenant can commence development from 2017, so I suspect this will happen when the financial case for a new office block makes sense to the tenant.

A shame as I rather like Fountain House.

St Gabriel Fenchurch

The following photo is the view looking east along Fenchurch Street. Fountain House is the building on the left.

Fountain House

Look to the right of the photo and there is a blue plaque.

This records that the church of St Gabriel Fenchurch stood in the roadway opposite, so would have been in the centre of the photo above.

Fountain House

St Gabriel Fenchurch was one of the many City churches destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and not rebuilt.

I have not been able to find too much about the church. There are no prints of the church in my books on London churches and history or online (that I could find).

There is a brief description of the church in “London churches before the Great Fire” by Wilberforce Jenkinson published in 1917:

“The church of S. Gabriel, Fenchurch Street, formerly stood in the middle of the street, and was built not later than the fourteenth century. Before 1517 it was known as S. Mary’s and some time ‘All Saints’. Possibly there was a triple dedication. Corruptly it went by the name of Fen Church and gave a name to the street. The district may have been marshy, for the brook, the Langbourne, went through it, and Langbourne Ward is still in evidence. The first rector was John Payne. 1321. The church was a small one, but was enlarged in 1631. In the Return made in 1636 the income of the rectory, including the house, was stated to be £131.

This house, with the garden and graveyard, was the gift of H. Legges. R.Cook, who was rector during the Civil War, was ejected for his loyalty in 1642, but was reinstated at the Restoration.

The church figured in the City decorations on the day of King James I’s coronation entertainment. Ben Jonson described it in 1603:

At Fen-Church the scene presented itself in a square and flat upright, like to the side of a Citie; the top thereof, above the Vent and Crest adorned with houses, towres and steeples in prospective.”

Stowe in his Survey of London has but a single sentence for the church: “In the midst of this streete standeth a small parish Church called S. Gabriel Fenchurch, corruptly Fan church.”

Much the same description is given in the 1771 edition of Chamberlain’s Survey of London, so all the descriptions of St Gabriel’s provide a consistent view of the church.

The Collage archive at the London Metropolitan Archives has a map which shows the location of the church in the centre of Fenchurch Street. The strange thing about this map is that Collage dates the map as c1800 which is 134 years after the church was destroyed in the Great Fire.

Fountain House

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: k1264238

The map shows the position of the church, and also the burial ground of St Gabriel, part of which can still be found today.

Fen Court is shown on the map leading from Fenchurch Street to the burial ground. I mentioned Fen Court earlier in the post, and it still runs from Fenchurch Street along the eastern edge of Fountain House, to where the remains of the burial ground can be found.

Fountain House

Although St Gabriel Fenchurch was not rebuilt after the fire, the burial ground continued in use. A plaque records what happened:

Fountain House

The text is not that clear so is reproduced below:

“This churchyard was attached to the church of St Gabriel Fenchurch which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The parish was united with that of St Margaret Pattens in 1670 and was included in that of St Edmund Lombard Street in 1954.  The churchyard was paved and planted by some of the owners and occupiers of the adjoining buildings in 1960.”

The text illustrates how churchyards and burial grounds from churches not rebuilt would be taken up by other local churches. This contributed significantly to the long term survival of these patches of land in a City ever hungry for additional growth space.

The remaining graves appear to be from the 18th and 19th century. Nothing from the time of St Gabriel which is not a surprise, and I suspect burials ended in the 19th century as happened across the majority of City burial grounds and churchyards as after centuries of taking the dead of the City of London, they were over full and a serious health hazard to an expanding City.

Fountain House

A rather ornately carved grave remains:

Fountain House

Which appears to have been built in 1762 by Anne Cotesworth as a burying place for herself as she was born in the parish and her nearest relations were buried in the next vault.

Fountain House

The remains of the burial ground of St Gabriel Fenchurch are immediately behind Fountain House. Hopefully this reminder of a long lost church will not be impacted by any redevelopment.

Fountain House is a reminder of how architectural styles change so quickly across London. Once the first example of a new design imported from New York. Sixty years later, and it may well be disappearing in the next few years – and London continues to evolve.

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St Botolph Without Aldgate

The subject of this week’s blog was easy to find, however I found the specific location from where my father took the following photo through one single building remaining in an otherwise completely changed street scene. The church tower in the centre of the photo is that of St Botolph without Aldgate. The  church tower is distinctive and easy to recognise, although the very top of the spire is missing, probably through bomb damage.

There are no other obvious locations in the photo to identify from where my father took the photo. There looks to be a bomb site between the church and the road.

St Botolph without Aldgate

I walked all the surrounding streets trying to find the location of the photo. The search was not helped by the amount of new building obscuring the view to the church, however when I walked down Dukes Place towards the junction with Creechurch Lane and Bevis Marks I saw one building that looked familiar.

If you look to the left of the above photo, there is a tall building. Look to the left of the photo below and the same building is remarkably still there – a lone survivor from the pre-war buildings in these streets.

St Botolph without Aldgate

Although the ground floor is very different, the floors above have the same architectural features in both photos. The building today is NMB House, however if the building is the same as described in the Pevsner guide to the City of London, it was Creechurch House.

NMB House is at 17 Bevis Marks, and the Pevsner Guide states:

“Nos. 17-18, Creechurch House: smart warehouse facing Creechurch Lane, by Lewis Solomon & Son, 1935, with metal faced floors between stone mullions.”

Pevsner states that the building included number 18. It looks as if the building has been reduced in width, with the space where number 18 once stood, now being occupied by a new building with only number 17 remaining from the original.

The following photo shows the building with Creechurch Lane running to the right,

St Botolph without Aldgate

This is a wider view, and my father took the original photo from just in front of the bus stop. Compared to the original street, post war widening and straightening can be clearly seen in the view today.

St Botolph without Aldgate

Walking down Dukes Place towards St Botolphs without Aldgate, the church becomes visible and at the rear of the church are trees, much as in my father’s original photo.

St Botolph without Aldgate

A much better view of the church can be found by walking a short distance down Minories, the street directly opposite the church.

St Botolph without Aldgate

As with many old City churches, the first written records that mention St Botolph without Aldgate date back to the 12th century, although an earlier Saxon church was probably on the site as evidence of 10th or 11th century burials have been found in the crypt.

The church was originally attached to the Priory of the Holy Trinity. It was rebuilt just before the dissolution of the monasteries during Henry VIII’s reign and restored in 1621. St Botolph without Aldgate was declared unsafe and demolished in 1739, making way for construction of the church we see today.

The church before demolition was recorded in a number of prints, including the following  dated 1739:

St Botolph without Aldgate

The rebuilt St Botolph without Aldgate was designed by George Dance the Elder and built between 1741 and 1744. George Dance was the surveyor for the City of London and the designation ‘Elder’ is to separate this George Dance from his son, also George Dance who was also an architect for the City.

The new church was aligned so that the entrance to the church and the tower above faced directly to the Minories.

The following drawing by George Dance the Elder shows the church looking exactly the same as it does today:

St Botolph without Aldgate

“George Dance the Elder, StBotolph, Aldgate, London, c.1740s: (1-9) Plans, elevations, sections & detail of ceiling © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London”

The dedication of the church, St Botolph without Aldgate is firstly to St Botolph, who established a monastery somewhere in East Anglia in the 7th century. St Botolph died around the year 680. The addition of “without Aldgate” is to reference the location of the church as being outside the City walls.

There are a number of other St Botolph churches on the edges of the City, St Botolph without Bishopsgate, St Botolph without Aldersgate, and there was a St Botolph Billingsgate, destroyed in the Great Fire and not rebuilt.

I have found a couple of possible sources for the association of St Botolph with these churches on the edge of the City. The first is that in the 10th century, King Edgar had the remains of St Botolph divided and sent to locations through London. They passed through the City gates and the churches alongside the gates through which the remains passed were named after the saint.

The other reference associates the City gates with St Botolph being the patron saint of wayfarers, who would use the City gates as their entrance to and from the City.

Both of these sound plausible, and I find it fascinating that the names of churches on the edge of the City refer to both the original Roman wall and possible events from the 10th century.

A traveler arriving at the City gate near St Botolph without Aldgate would find a very different view today with the office towers of the City rising behind the church.

St Botolph without Aldgate

There is an open space on the City side of the church, however buildings run up close to the church to the north and east:

St Botolph without Aldgate

Another of the plans drawn by George Dance showing a section through the church:

St Botolph without Aldgate

“George Dance the Elder, StBotolph, Aldgate, London, c.1740s: (1-9) Plans, elevations, sections & detail of ceiling © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London”

On entering the church there is a record of all the parish priests of the church. The first line almost appears apologetic for the lack of records remaining from before the 12th century “The parish priests of Aldgate are known only from AD 1108”

St Botolph without Aldgate

Also in the entrance to the church is this splendid momument to Robert Dow, who died in May 1612 at the age of 90 – a rather good age for the 17th century.

St Botolph without Aldgate

Robert Dow was a Master of the Merchant Taylors and during his life gave away a substantial sum to various charitable establishments. The value of his donations and those receiving the money are listed on his monument.

I am not sure what the symbolism of the hands covering the skull means – it gives the impression that he had a hold over death (as his 90 years possibly demonstrated), or perhaps representing his own skull in death.

Another monument is to Thomas, Lord Darcy who was beheaded on Tower Hill for treason in 1537 during the reign of Henry VIII.

St Botolph without Aldgate

The view on entering the church:

St Botolph without Aldgate

The interior of St Botolph without Aldgate retains the original galleries and Tuscan columns, however much of the decoration is from a redecoration of the church carried out between 1888 and 1895 by J.F. Bentley who added some remarkable decorative plaster work to the ceiling of the church:

St Botolph without Aldgate

Close up of the ceiling decoration:

St Botolph without Aldgate

I find it fascinating to discover the stories behind the monuments in the City churches. In St Botolph without Aldgate there is a monument to Willian Symington, who died on the 22nd March 1831. The monument records that he constructed the Charlotte Dundas, the first steamboat fitted for practical use, also that he died “in want”.

St Botolph without Aldgate

William Symington was Scottish, having been born in the small village of Leadhills. He studied engineering at Edinburgh University and worked in Wanlockhead where his brother George was building steam engines to James Watt’s design.

William Symington was always interested in whether a steam engine could power a boat. The problem was not just the mechanism to propel the boat, but also how a steam engine could be installed in a wooden boat, without the boat catching fire.

He tried a number of experiments with limited success, problems such as the paddle wheel disintegrating preventing a fully successful trial.

From 1800 Symington continued his work under the patronage of Thomas, Lord Dundas, who had an interest in the Forth and Clyde Canal.

A first trial of a steam boat on the River Carron ended in failure. The second trial was with a new boat named the Charlotte Dundas after Lord Dundas’ daughter. This successful trial included the Charlotte Dundas towing two barges over a distance of 18.5 miles.

Although the trial was a success, there were concerns with the damage that the wash from a steamboat would do to the banks of a river or canal. Symington had also received an order from the Duke of Bridgewater for steam boats on the Bridgewater Canal, however this was cancelled when the Duke died.

As opportunities for Symington’s steamboats collapsed, he moved to the management of a colliery, however this ended in a legal case following which Symington was a rather poor man.

So far, all his time had been spent in Scotland. The London connection starts in 1829, when Symington, in poor health and in debt, moved with his wife to London to live with his daughter and her husband. He would die just two years later and be buried in the churchyard of St Botolph without Aldgate.

William Symingtons steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas:

St Botolph without Aldgate

His reputation was somewhat restored during the later half of the 19th century, and the monument in the church was installed in 1903.

Symington was possibly the subject of some skulduggery. Reading newspaper reports and letters after his death reveal stories such as the following from a Robert Bowie who wrote to the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette on the 5th May 1838:

To the editor of the Shipping and Mercantile Gazette:

Sir, Having observed the paragraph in your journal and in others to the effect that the American Government had granted £24,000 to the heirs of Robert Fulton, the ‘original founder’ of steam navigation. I beg leave to say that, whatever may have been Mr Fulton’s merit in introducing steam navigation to America, he had no right to the title of being its original founder, as he was but a copyist, and obtained, as will be seen by the following documents, the knowledge which enabled him to effect his purpose from William Symington, the first who propelled vessels by the power of steam.

Mr. Symington forms another instance for the page of history, of national ingratitude and neglect; and it is assuredly no great proof of the superiority of this country to America, that instead of rewarding him who conferred an inestimable benefit, his very petition for an investigation of his claims in parliament, was not allowed to be presented.

Fulton’s heirs have not been the only parties who have reaped the rewards of Mr. Symington’s labours. Even at home rewards were bestowed on Henry Bell, who barefacedly used Mr. Symington’s plans, and carried, it is recorded, the model of the first steam boat to Fulton in America. Henry Bell was frequently on board of Mr. Symington’s boats, and was often seen investigating the Charlotte Dundas after she was laid up near Glasgow; and it is a strange and rather suspicious circumstance that the model of a steam boat left by the late Lord Dundas and Mr. Symington in the Royal Institution, disappeared unaccountably from that building; and thus the ‘Fulton Steam Frigate’ as described in the first volume of Blackwood’s Magazine, was, with the exception of her warlike apparatus, a facsimile of Mr. Symington’s Boat.”

No idea if there is any truth in Mr Bowie’s allegations, but an interesting story of possible 19th century industrial espionage.

William Symington’s monument was installed in 1903. There are much older memorials in the church including the following from 1577 recording that “Here lyeth the corps of Robert Tailor”.

St Botolph without Aldgate

The windows of the church have stained glass recording Lord Mayors of the City of London and their Livery Companies:

St Botolph without AldgateSt Botolph without Aldgate

St Botolph without Aldgate

The beautifully carved wooden panel in the following photo dates from the early 18th century (it was restored in 1971). The panel came from the church of St Mary Matfelon, Whitechapel when the church was destroyed by bombing on the 27th December 1940.

St Botolph without Aldgate

An 18th century sword rest:

St Botolph without Aldgate

St Botolph without Aldgate is a fascinating City church with a long history, which I have covered all too briefly in this post.

I was really pleased to find the location in Bevis Marks from where my father took his photo. The one remaining building in the area provided the key landmark to locate the viewpoint – amazing that this one building has survived the considerable redevelopment of the area over the last 60 years.

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Along The Thames From Chiswick To Hammersmith

If you drive west out of London, along the A4, Great West Road from the Hammersmith Flyover to Chiswick and the Hogarth Roundabout, you pass along a very busy highway with three lanes of traffic either side.

This probably is the last place you would expect to find one of the more historic walks along a very scenic part of the River Thames, with some of the views looking more like the depths of the countryside rather than a built up area of west London.

There are some superb walks along the River Thames, and for today’s post, here is a walk from Chiswick to Hammersmith on a very hot Saturday afternoon in June (it is also a lovely walk on a cold, dark winter’s evening). The walk is perfect for a hot day as there are plenty of suitable stopping places along the route for some quick refreshment.

In the following map extract, the A4 is the large road running from the Hammersmith Flyover at top right, down to the Hogarth Roundabout at bottom left.

Chiswick

(Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

A short distance below the A4 is the river and along the river is a series of streets starting with, on the left, Chiswick Mall.

I started by walking to the river down Church Street, between St. Nicholas’ Church and Fuller’s Griffin Brewery to reach Chiswick Mall.

Chiswick Mall runs along the river, with gardens separating the street from the river, and large houses lining the street opposite the river.

The views here to the river look as if they should be from the upper reaches of the river, rather than a short distance from the six lanes of the A4.

Chiswick

The river here does frequently flood across the road. This was not a particularly high tide, however the damp road shows how far the river had come across the road.

Chiswick

The majority of the houses on the opposite side of the street have flood defences in the form of walls and metal gates that can be closed across the entrances from the street to prevent water from flooding towards the house.

There are also signs warning of the potential impact if you leave your car along the Chiswick Mall.

Chiswick

This is Walpole House, a Grade II listed building dating from the 18th century, possibly with elements from the 17th century.

Chiswick

Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland, a former mistress of King Charles II was one of the earliest recorded residents, with Thomas Walpole a later owner, who gave his name to the house.

Another view from Chiswick Mall towards the River Thames:

Chiswick

Italy or Chiswick?

Chiswick

At a number of places, the route between Chiswick and Hammersmith turns slightly in land and there are houses between the street and the river. This is where Chiswick Mall ends and becomes Hammersmith Terrace.

Chiswick

There are a number of references to the age of the terrace, dating them from 1755 to 1770. The houses along the terrace are nearly identical, however there are some minor differences, and some which stand out such as very different entrance doorways.

As could be expected there are blue plaques to be found. This one to the typographer and antiquary Emery Walker Chiswick

Emery Walker was a friend of William Morris and it was Walker’s interest in early typefaces that inspired Morris to set up the Kelmscott Press.

A short distance along the terrace is another blue plaque, this time for Edward Johnston, a Master Calligrapher.

Chiswick

Edward Johnston has had a significant impact on 20th century London. It was Johnston who created the sans-serif alphabet (now called Johnston) in 1916 for use across London Underground.

At the end of Hammersmith Terrace, the route returns to run alongside the River Thames, and at this turning is a good stopping point – The Black Lion:

Chiswick

The view at the end of Hammersmith Terrace. Hammersmith Bridge is just starting to appear in the distance:

Chiswick

The view looking back upstream towards Chiswick with Chiswick Eyot in the middle of the river:

Chiswick

The River Thames between Hammersmith and Chiswick is a wide river. In many places the river is bounded by large concrete walls that keep the river within the channel, however in some places, such as where the river floods in Chiswick Mall, the river comes up to the road, with a poorly defined boundary between river and land.

This was the state for the river until recent times, and early prints show a wide, meandering river with marshy edges. The following print from 1750 shows the River Thames from Chiswick:

Chiswick

In 1834, the banks of the river are starting to be developed, but the edge of the river is still a natural boundary between buildings and river:

Chiswick

However much of the river now has a very clear boundary, and time for another stop at the Old Ship:

Chiswick

A short distance along from the Old Ship is the London Corinthian Sailing Club, with a lookout and small pier for launching boats onto the Thames:

Chiswick

Chiswick

The forerunner of the club was the London Sailing Club, who later moved further downstream towards Essex, and those who remained in Hammersmith started the Corinthian’s. They were original housed in a building where Furnivall Gardens are now located, however the area suffered badly in the war, and the council cleared the land to create the gardens.

The council provided Linden House for the club where it remains to this day. The building is a magnificent, 18th century, former Merchants house.

Chiswick

On the corner of Upper Mall and Weltje Road is this house with a blue plaque on the side:

Chiswick

The plaque records that the artist Eric Ravilious lived in the house between 1931 and 1935.

Chiswick

He lived in a flat in the house with his wife Tirzah Garwood. His work had a very distinctive style and his later work covered many wartime scenes. He took the opportunity for a posting to Iceland with the RAF in August 1942 to paint both the Icelandic scenery and the work of the RAF.

On the 2nd September 1942 he was on an air-sea rescue mission flying from Iceland, in search of a plane that had been lost the previous day. The plane with Ravilious on board also disappeared, and he was lost at the young age of 39.

The following is an example of his wartime work. Bombing the Channel Ports. with the description from the IWM image: “a deserted coastal road that leads past an ‘acoustic mirror’ early warning device. In the top right of the composition there are searchlights beaming up into the sky, and a large circular glow of light to one side.”

Chiswick

Bombing the Channel Ports (Art.IWM ART LD 1588) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/22468

On the river wall opposite is this survivor from 1960 warning that you could be fined forty shillings for driving or parking along Upper Mall:

Chiswick

On the wall of Eric Ravilious house, there is another survivor from the time when Hammersmith Borough Council was the authority for the area up to 1965.

Chiswick

A Jasmine covered lamp post:

Chiswick

Carved decoration on houses:

Chiswick

On Upper Mall is the small museum of the William Morris Society:

Chiswick

The displays are worth a visit, and above the entrance is an interesting plaque recording a unique event that took place here in Hammersmith.

Chiswick

The plaque is to record the construction and testing of the first electric telegraph here in Hammersmith in 1816.

This was the work of Sir Francis Ronalds who lived here and used his garden for experimentation. He was awarded a knighthood in 1870 and the following Illustrated London News report provides a good insight into an interesting character:

“The Queen has lately conferred the honour of knighthood upon a gentleman in the eighty-second year of his age, who showed the use of the electric telegraph so long ago as 1816. Sir Francis Ronalds, F.R.S. formerly director of the Kew Observatory, has devoted his life to the advancement of electrical science and its practical applications. in 1814, having made the acquaintance of M. de Lue, then engaged in a series of interesting experiments, Mr. Ronalds was induced to turn his attention to this subject.

The researches he then began, with a view to ascertain the degrees of quantity and intensity in the electric pile, and his invention of a clock to be kept in motion by electro-galvanic power, were described in the Philosophical Magazine.

In the summer of 1816 he undertook to prove the practicability of telegraphic communication at great distances, by transmitting a certain number of electric shocks, for an arranged signal, through insulated wires of a considerable length. He laid his wire in glass tubes surrounded by wooden troughs lined with pitch, which were placed in a covered ditch, 525 feet long and 4 feet deep in his garden at Hammersmith. He also suspended eight miles of wire, by silk cords, from two wooden frames erected on the lawn, so that the wire passed to and from many hundred times, well insulated at each point of attachment, and forming one continuous line, kept separate from contact with other parts.

Both these kinds of apparatus served equally to show the instantaneous transmission of the electric shock. in order to provide the means of conveying intelligence along the underground line, he placed at each end of it a clock, with a dial bearing twenty letters inscribed. It is only needful to explain that the two clocks were made to go isochronously, the one always presenting the same letter as the other at any particular second of time; and the moment chosen was indicated at the other end by the sudden collapse of a pair of pith ball electrometers, suspended at each station close to the clock dial and connected with the telegraph wire.”

The following illustration shows the apparatus used by Francis Ronalds in his Hammersmith garden:

Chiswick

I wonder what he would have thought of the people walking by his house using mobile phones with instant communication anywhere in the world?

The route now turns slightly in land as there are a row of houses between the Mall and the river, and here we find the next stop:

Chiswick

The Dove is an old pub, originally an early 18th century coffee house, not that big, but with some brilliant views over the river and the perfect place for a stop on a hot summer’s afternoon.

A short distance further along, the route returns to the river’s edge, alongside Furnivall Gardens, named after Dr. Frederick Furnivall who was one of the original creators of the Oxford English Dictionary. The relevance to the location alongside the river is his enthusiasm for rowing and his own Furnivall Sculling Club.

Alongside Furnivall Gardens we can get a view of the full length of Hammersmith Bridge:

Chiswick

Unfortunately, as the tide comes in, the river washes up the rubbish that has probably been up and down the Thames many times with the tides.

Chiswick

My next stop was at the Rutland Arms, probably the busiest pub along the river between Chiswick and Hammersmith.

Chiswick

Almost next door to the Rutland Arms is an older pub (the white building with the awning projecting from the front), the Blue Anchor which was first licensed in 1722. Another good stop on a hot summer afternoon:

Chiswick

A final blue plaque for George Devine, the Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre, who lived in this house overlooking the river and Hammersmith Bridge.

Chiswick

I then reached the end of the walk from Chiswick to Hammersmith, at Hammersmith Bridge, which deserves a dedicated post, however I took a quick walk across as this is always a fascinating bridge to pick out design and construction details.

Chiswick

The year of construction, 1887, replacing a previous bridge across the river:

Chiswick

Detail of the decoration on the rods leading up from the deck of the bridge to the main suspension cable:

Chiswick

Lights, which all appeared to be on during a bright summer afternoon:

Chiswick

The view from the bridge to the north bank at Hammersmith:

Chiswick

Wooden seating between the walkway across the bridge and the road.

Chiswick

As traffic passes over the bridge it makes a very distinctive rumbling noise. The cause of which is easily seen, as it the reason why Hammersmith Bridge is London’s weakest bridge.

The deck of the bridge appears to consist of wooden decking, overlaid with metal plates, then a layer of tarmac, which in many places has disintegrated. The rumbling noise as traffic passes over the bridge is caused by tyres passing over the many exposed bolt heads, which presumably are holding the metal plates and wooden decking together.

Chiswick

Chiswick to Hammersmith along the river is a fascinating walk, not just for the architecture and scenery, but also to discover early experiments with the electric telegraphic and the creator of the typeface that is still used across the London Underground.

There are also plenty of refreshing stops along the way, which on a very hot June day were very welcome.

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A Bomb Site In Ampton Street, Gray’s Inn Road

I was intending to write about Ampton Street a couple of weeks ago, It is the location of one of my father’s photos, taken in 1947, of a street with a cleared bomb site along one side of the street.

This was one of the photos my father had printed, and on the reverse was written Ampton Street, Gray’s Inn Road. I had assumed the photo was taken from Gray’s Inn Road (I will explain why later), but when I got home and checked the photos side by side on the computer, it was obvious that I had taken the photo at the wrong end of the street. I had a day off from work last week, so on a rather lengthy walk, I included Ampton Street on the route and finally photographed the scene from the correct end of the street.

Ampton Street is shown in the following map extract. In the very centre of the map, a relatively short street running right from Gray’s Inn Road towards Cubitt Street.  (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

Ampton Street

This is my father’s photo taken in 1947. The  view is looking from Cubitt Street, along Ampton Street, in the direction of Gray’s Inn Road. A length of Ampton Street has been cleared of houses following considerable bomb damage.

Ampton Street

The first house still standing on the right hand side of the street is on the junction with Ampton Place, so the entire terrace of houses from Ampton Place to Cubitt Street has been destroyed.

This area on both sides of Gray’s Inn Road suffered considerable bomb damage during the war.

The LCC Bomb Damage Maps showing the houses on the cleared space as “total destruction”.  The houses on the left of the street are colour coded purple “damaged beyond repair” and red “seriously damaged”. This also applied to many of the buildings in the street directly opposite Ampton Street on Gray’s Inn Road and there are new buildings now covering these areas.

A V1 flying bomb also landed just south of Ampton Street on the area just behind what is now  the Eastman Dental Hospital (the old Royal Free Hospital).

I love the detail in these photos, in this one there are a couple of children playing in the street:

Ampton Street

This is the same view today:

Ampton Street

I took the photo a bit to the left of where my father was standing in order to get a slight view up Amton Street.

The bomb site is now covered by the brick buildings on the right of the photo and the open space on the left is also covered by new buildings.

Ampton Street is now closed off to through traffic with only a pedestrian walkway and cycle lane running through into Cubitt Street. Looking through the gap between trees and buildings it is just possible to see the porticos on the houses on the left, far more clearly shown in my father’s photo as in 1947 there was a clear view along the street.

These are the buildings on the cleared bomb site:

Ampton Street

In my father’s photo, a couple of the buildings have a portico over the entrance. These are still visible today and a couple of buildings have also had porticos added since 1947.

Ampton Street

The LMA Collage archive includes a 1972 photo of the same terrace of houses as shown in my photo above.  A number of the houses look to be in a rather derelict state, with broken windows and boarded up ground floor windows. Rather amazing considering the prices these houses would sell for today.

Ampton Street

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_333_72_716

This is the view leading into Ampton Place. The house on the left is the one seen at the end of the cleared bomb site in the 1947 photo.

Ampton Street

This is the view looking down Ampton Street towards Cubitt Street. The housing on the left occupies the 1947 bomb site:

Ampton Street

This is the photo I took a couple of weeks ago, looking across Gray’s Inn Road towards Ampton Street, thinking at the time it was the right place.

Ampton Street

In my defence it was a hot day, I had already walked for miles, and I was looking at the original photo as a small printout. I had assumed that the park area on the right of Ampton Street was the old bomb site, however it should have been very obvious that the houses on the left are different to the original photo and the house just visible on the right is too close to Gray’s Inn Road to be the house in the original photo.

Ampton Street was built between 1821 and 1827 by Thomas Cubitt. The land between Gray’s Inn Road and the Fleet River was owned by Lord Calthorpe and in 1814 he applied for an Act of Parliament to approve the paving of streets on his land.

Some of this land was leased to Thomas Cubitt who built Ampton Street, Frederick Street, and the street now named after the builder, Cubitt Street (however at the time it was called Arthur Street.)

The houses that remain in Ampton Street are perfect examples of Cubitt’s early 19th century designs. This is the terrace running from the Gray’s Inn Road to Ampton Place along the northern side of Ampton Street. On the far right of the photo can be seen the new builds on the old bomb site. This original terrace probably shows what the destroyed terrace looked like.

Ampton Street

A rather nice street name plaque:

Ampton Street

It is unusual to walk these early 19th century streets and not find a street without a plaque recording a previous resident and Ampton Street continues this rule with an LCC plaque recording that Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish writer, historian, and key founder of the London Library lived here from 1831 to 1834. It was his first London residence after moving from Craigenputtock, a very rural location in south west Scotland where Carlyle lived with his wife.

Ampton Street

Carlyle wrote about his stay in Ampton Street that they spent “an interesting, cheery, and in spite of poor arrangements, really pleasant winter. We lodged in Ampton Street, Gray’s Inn Lane, clean and decent pair of rooms, and quiet decent people. Visitors in plenty, John Mill one of the most frequent, Jeffrey, Lord Advocate, often came on an afternoon.”

Thomas Carlyle’s house in the centre of the photo:

Ampton Street

The area around Ampton Street, covering Lord Calthorpe’s original land still has many of the original early 19th century buildings and shows the development of the city as formal streets and housing spread north. There is a Calthorpe Street, named after the original owner of the estate, running from Gray’s Inn Road to King’s Cross Road to the south of Ampton Street.

It was a pleasure to make a return visit, however also a lesson that I need to more carefully check the original scene.

When my father’s photos include children, I always wonder if they are still alive. The two playing in the middle of the street in 1947 would I suspect now be in their late 70s – and if they came back to Ampton Street, I suspect they would be very surprised by how good the street looks today.

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