Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Help save a London workhouse

The following information was forwarded by a BIFHSGO member.
There is a campaign in Fitzrovia to save a 230 year old Georgian former workhouse which is the last of its kind in central London.
As Charles Dickens lived just nine doors away for some years as a child, it is thought to be the model for the workhouse depicted in Oliver Twist. It has been re-discovered that this house is still standing and it will be commemorated for the Dickens bicentennial celebrations next year.
Many of you in your researches find ancestral connections to workhouses. This particular example is typical of the late eighteenth century but is now very rare. We very much hope that you will support this effort.
Please forward this petition to your contacts and mailing lists.
There is space to contribute a comment.
#1092,  "As an archivist at the City of Westminster Archives Centre, I know the importance of workhouses in the history of London. I believe that it is important for these buildings from the old St Paul Covent Garden, latterly Strand Union, Workhouse to be preserved as a memorial."
If you are stuck for something to write:
+ Please insist that the whole complex/campus of buildings is saved and not just a facade in token or a small plaque as a memento. This site gives a tangible link to the past beyond what can be found in books. We want to preserve and restore the lot to pre-twentieth century standing.
+ You could also berate Camden Council for its policies which fall short of protecting OUR heritage adequately.
+ Emphasise the appeal to tourists/visitors to London
Thank You!
General information about workhouses here: http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Strand/Strand.shtml 
"The building at 44 Cleveland Street [was] Originally built between 1775 and 1778, it has been a workhouse for most of its life, only later on becoming a part of the Middlesex Hospital.

The building stands in Cleveland Street pretty much unchanged since Georgian Times and it is a rare living testimony to those bleak institutions as a whole, rich in architectonical as well as historical curiosity.

Following the closure of the Middlesex Hospital (south-west of the Cleveland Street Annexe) complete demolition and redevelopment of the former workhouse has been proposed: the building in the new plans is yet another large development out of character with the surroundings. A planning application has already been submitted and the answer in favour or against is imminent, and so is potentially its demolition.

Time is really upon us all to save this Georgian property: for too long this property has been overlooked and judged only on the basis of its functionality. In reality, its aesthetic is austere and rigorous and yet it sits extremely well in between the elegant neighbouring period properties, and its ties with social and medical history are extraordinary, making of it a London landmark."

1 comment:

Caroline Gurney said...

Surely it ought to be a listed building and therefore protected from demolition.