London Historians

Holden Masterpiece to become Luxury Flats

55 broadway

Transport for London has announced that its Charles-Holden designed Art Deco HQ is to become luxury flats.

TfL claims that turning the Grade I-listed 55 Broadway – a purpose-built 10 storey office block – into accommodation, will generate more revenue than keeping it as offices or making it into a hotel, which was the other plan being considered.

The scheme is opposed by heritage groups, chief of whom is the 20th Century Society.

TfL claims that its proposal delivers the best value for tax payers and customers.

More on this story.

— 7 November 2014

Hermione Hobhouse (1934 - 2014)

Hermione Hobhouse, a leading champion of London’s built heritage, has passed away at the age of 80. She was for many years a leading light of the Victorian Society and also the biographer of Thomas Cubitt. In addition, she wrote the acclaimed Lost London and was for over a decade the general editor of the Survey of London.

Obituary, Daily Telegraph

— 3 November 2014

Victorian Society cites Abney Park Chapel

abney park cemetery chapel

The Victorian Society has published this year’s list Ten Most Endangered Buildings. A notable London inclusion is the chapel of Abney Park Cemetery which is in great danger without urgent attention. Abney Park is one of London’s so-called “Magnificent Seven” public cemeteries built in the mid 19C and its Grade II-listed chapel is the oldest-surviving non-denominational building of its type in Europe. The Victorian Society urges Hackney Council and the Abney Park Trust urgently to work together to alleviate the danger facing the building.
More on this story

— 10 October 2014

Four Magna Cartas to be United

As part of the 800 year anniversary commemorations of Magna Carta (1215), all four original survivors of the ancient are to be on show together for the first time at the British Library next February. The Library, along with Lincoln Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral will unite their copies of the ancient manuscript. However, the momentous occasion will bizarrely be for one day only, 3rd February. Members of the public wishing to see the display must enter a ballot.
More news and the public ballot.

— 9 October 2014

Thames Panorama Web Site Launched

panorama of the thames

After several years of preparation and hard work, the Panorama of the Thames web site has gone live. It is based on the now fully digitised 60 ft painting of the banks of the Thames, created in 1829. The Leigh Panorama as it is commonly known, features 15 miles of both banks of the river from Richmond to Westminster. By far a more ambitious adjunct to the project has been the addition of modern photographic equivalents of the same stretches of water but from Hampton Court all the way to Tower Bridge.
Panorama of the Thames.

— 29 September 2014

Adrian Tinniswood Delivers Inaugural Lecture

adrian tinniswood

Author, historian and architectural expert Adrian Tinniswood OBE, last night delivered London Historians’ Inaugural Annual Lecture at Gresham College’s ancient Barnard’s Inn Hall in Holborn. Addressing a full house, Tinniswood’s talk was titled Christopher Wren: Extraordinary Genius in which he threw light on the former Gresham College Professor’s scientific achievements in astronomy and medicine and not just architecture. The talk was recorded and has been uploaded to YouTube where it can be viewed here

— 5 September 2014

Transformed Imperial War Museum Re-Opens

Imperial War Museum
Image: Imperial War Museum

As part of the World War One Centenary, the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth will reopen on Saturday 19 July after a major transformation. The main change is the addition of the First World War Galleries which tell the story of the experience of the war by both the combatants and those on the home front. The re-opening will also see the start of a major art exhibition: Truth and Memory: British Art of the First World War which runs until March 2015. Imperial War Museum is free admission.
More Information.

— 17 July 2014

Artillery Museum in Woolwich to Close

royal artillery museum, firepower, woolwich

Firepower, our oldest military museum, is to close at the end of 2016, in a move which allows Woolwich council to squeeze a more attractive return from the site. A statement, issued by the Royal Artillery Museum Board on 26 May, stated that the root of the problem is “the Museum will be unable to live within the available income and it is also clear that the location is very unlikely to be able to deliver the number of visitors in the timescale needed for financial sustainability.” It went on to say that a new home will be identified locally to house some of the collection. The staff of the museum are unable to comment. A petition to save the museum has been set up here.

— 4 June 2014

Pitzhanger Manor Awarded Lottery Grant

pitshanger manor, ealing

Pitzhanger Manor, once the Ealing “country house” of architect Sir John Soane, has won a £4.42 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a total restoration of the Grade I-listed building. Soane designed the building himself on the site of a house built by his mentor George Dance the Younger, a wing of which remains intact. It was used by the architect’s family in the first decade of the 19C as a weekend retreat from his city residence in Lincolns Inn Fields, now the Soane Museum.

The work will commence in January 2015 until 2018, so do visit the property this year while you can. Entrance is free.

More on this story.

— 3 June 2014

Official Tour Guides Association for Camden is Launched

Up until recently, there have been associations for qualified guides in the City, Westminster, Clerkenwell & Islington, and Greenwich, but none for Camden, a central London borough with hugely significant heritage. This has been put to rights with the launch of the Camden Tour Guides Association, at the behest of the council. The project is led by a group of highly-experienced existing guides, including Peter Twist as Chair and David Brown as Vice-chair. Both are active London Historians Members.

Public guided walks will start from 14 June and the first guide training programme begins in September. The Association invites applicants to join their inaugural course. There is a maximum of 24 places.

Camden Tour Guides web site

— 30 May 2014

Fox Talbot image to star in Bridge Exhibition

henry fox talbot, hungerford bridge
William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Hungerford Bridge, c1845. © Museum of London

The Museum of London has announced it is able to display a very early Fox Talbot photograph at its forthcoming exhibition, Bridge, opening at Museum of London Docklands on 27 June. Not only is it the oldest photograph in the museum’s collection, it just so happens to show Brunel’s original Hungerford Bridge in 1845 – the year it opened. Ironically, Brunel’s bridge was demolished within fifteen years after the photograph was taken to make way for a railway crossing.

More info on Bridge.

— 26 May 2014

Branagh backs plan to revive 'lost' Victorian Theatre

Sir Kenneth Branagh has added his voice to support a project to restore a theatre at Alexandra Palace which has been closed for 80 years. The 2,500 seater – designed by John Johnson – opened in 1875. Alexandra Palace hopes to have the space active again by 2017 as part of a £31 million Lottery fund bid. It has been used variously over the years as, among other things, a refugee centre and a storeroom for BBC props.
More on this story.
Pictures

— 26 May 2014

Ripper Historian Philip Sugden Dies

Philip Sugden, the historian who through academic rigour debunked dozens of flaky theories surrounding “Ripperology”, has died aged 67. His celebrated work, The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (1994), is generally considered the definitive study on the so-called Whitechapel murders of 1888. It was backed by nine years of meticulous research. Sugden’s other areas of interest included Stuart maritime expansionism and the Georgian underworld, in particular the story of notorious jail-breaker Jack Sheppard.
Telegraph obituary

— 18 May 2014

Royal Institution Vows to Keep Albemarle Street Home

the royal institution

Following a period of financial uncertainty, speculation and rumours, the Royal Institution is now confident that its Albemarle Street home has a secure future. Until recently, there was a real possibility that the Ri would have to sell or lease its famous neo-Classical fronted building to make ends meet. But following the 2014 AGM, in a statement to Members and Trustees, Chairman Sir Richard Sykes announced: “I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know that at the most recent meeting of the Trustees in March 2014, it was decided that the sale, or even part–sale, of our property will no longer be considered as part of any long-term plan for the charity. This decision means that the Ri’s historic Albemarle Street home will continue to be the centre of our operations for the foreseeable future.” The Royal Institution has been based at Albemarle Street since its foundation in 1799.

— 28 April 2014

Museum of London acquires historic photo collection

christina broom
The ‘Bermondsey B’hoys’ from the 2nd Grenadier Guards, Wellington Barracks.

The Museum of London has obtained over 2,500 photographs from the work of Christina Broom, who was active in London from 1903 to 1939. Self-taught, she was a working postcard photographer as well as undertaking major reportage work which included Suffragette protests and coronations. She also had exclusive access to the Household Cavalry with whom she developed a close working bond. The first exhibition featuring this collection starts on Friday 4 April at the Museum. Entrance is free.
More info.

— 31 March 2014

Rare Restored Spitalfields Photos Go On Show

C A Mathew
Bishopsgate Institute/Jeremy Freedman

100 years ago, photographer C.A. Mathew stepped off the train at Liverpool Street, took a series of pictures around Spitalfields, and left. Nobody knows why. For the first time, the complete series of never before seen images is being shown, fully restored by photographer Jeremy Freedman. It is a remarkable record of the people of the area before the First World War. The show opens at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery in Princlet Street on 7 March.
More info.

— 3 March 2014

MoL releases Streetmuseum 2.0

streetmuseum 2.0

The Museum of London has added over 100 new images to its award-winning Streetmuseum App, now released in version 2.0. They range from 1868 to 2003. The images superimpose historical street views onto today’s exact equivalent. The app allows users to select a destination from a London map or use geo-tagging and Google Maps to pinpoint their location. Once selected, a historical image of their London location appears onscreen, which can be expanded and explored in detail, along with historical information about the subject. The new version includes views from London’s suburbs.
More info.

— 27 February 2014

Brentford Lucozade Sign Wins Reprieve

Lucozade Brentford
The Brentford Lucozade sign – well-known to generations of travellers along the M4 and A4 arteries – has been saved from being torn down and replaced with a modern liquid screen. The current sign is a replica of the original 1954 version which is the collection of Gunnersbury Park Museum. The move to change the sign was made by outdoor advertising giant JC Decaux whose headquarters are ironically in Brentford. Hounslow Council rejected the planning application on Friday.

— 2 February 2014

Londoners Included in latest ODNB update.

sir robert mark
former Met Commissioner Sir Robert Mark
The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has released its latest batch of eminent Britons, including prominent Londoners: Malcolm McLaren, Frank Crichlow of the Mangrove Café, Notting Hill; Rose Gray, co-founder the River Café, Hammersmith; the local politician and ILEA leader Frances Morrell; Brian Duffy, East End photographer (one of the so-called ‘Black Trinity’ with David Bailey and Terence Donovan); Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick industrial dispute, Willesden in the mid-1970s; Beryl Bainbridge, long-time resident of Camden Town; Roger Walters, chief architect for the GLC; and Sir Robert Mark, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1970s.
More on this.

— 22 January 2014

Over 100K digitised Images released by Wellcome

wellcome images
Section of London panorama, 1845, by Frederick James Smyth
Wellcome Library has announced the release of over 100,000 images from its collection through Wellcome Images. The depictions are all available in high resolution and are free to use with the appropriate accreditation. In the wake of recent similar news from the British Library, this is a fabulous boon to historians, researchers and writers. Many of the images are relating to London.
More on this.

— 20 January 2014

Historic London Fire Stations Closed

Westminster Fire Station
Westminster Fire Station
Amid emotional scenes, ten London fire stations closed their doors for the last time at 9:30 am on 9 January. They included the city’s oldest, Clerkenwell, which opened in 1872. The others were Woolwich (1887), Denham, Westminster (1907), Silvertown (1914), Southwark (1878), Knightsbridge (1907), Kingsland, Bow (1974) and Belsize (1915). The closures come as a cost-saving exercise by the London Assembly, led by Mayor Boris Johnson.
More on this story..

— 9 January 2014

British Library Releases over a Million Images

The British Library has uploaded more than a million images to its Flickr Commons account for free use for academics and the general public alike. They include maps, drawings and illustrations from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries.

london map

The library plans to launch a crowd sourcing project in 2014 to build descriptions of all the images.
More on this story.

— 18 December 2013

Kenwood House Reopens After six million pound refurb

kenwood restored

Following extensive, much-needed restoration and re-decoration, the wraps have been removed from Kenwood House as it opens to the public again for the first time since March 2012. The Robert Adam town house, built in the 1770s for celebrity judge Lord Mansfield, has been returned to its original interior designs and colours to make it more like its original purpose and less resembling a museum. The project – part of the Caring for Kenwood programme – cost £5.9 million pounds with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Woolfson Foundation. Most exciting for some will be the re-hang of Kenwood’s 63 paintings from the Iveagh Bequest which include many acknowledged masterpieces.
More on this story

— 27 November 2013

Pristine Roman eagle discovered at City building site

roman eagle news

Museum of London Archaeologists (MOLA) have discovered an almost perfectly preserved statue of a Roman eagle dating from the first or second century AD. Working at a site which is to become a 16 storey hotel in the City of London, the team discovered what is one of the best of examples of its type anywhere. The crouched eagle, which is devouring a serpent, will go on display at the Museum of London for six months from 30 October.
More on this story.

— 29 October 2013

England's First Football Captain Remembered

A new gravestone was unveiled today for Cuthbert Ottoway, England’s first football captain, who died in 1878 at just 27 while his wife was expecting their first child. Ottoway captained England against Scotland firstly in 1872, then again in 1874.

grave of cuthbert ottoway
Photo courtesy www.playedinbritain.co.uk

He was an outstanding sportsman, representing Oxford University at not only football, but also cricket, athletics, real tennis and racquets. Ottoway was buried at Paddington Old Cemetery where in the early 2000s his biographer Mick Southwick discovered his grave in a pitiful condition. This sparked a campaign, led by England fan Paul McKay, to raise money for a fitting replacement.
The rededication service was conducted by Rev Christine Cargill of St Anne’s Brondesbury, and attended by a congregation which included the Mayoress of Marlow (Ottoway played for Marlow FC), the Etonian Association (Ottoway was a King’s Scholar), Cllr Roxanne Mashari of Brent Council, the Football Association, Englandfans FC and other supporters. Abide With Me and Jerusalem were sung.

— 13 August 2013

The old In and Out to be Luxury Mansion

Grade I-listed Cambridge House in Piccadilly – more famously known as the In and Out – has been atrophying for a decade and more since its former owners the Naval and Military Club moved to new premises in St James’s Square.

94 piccadilly

Its current owners, billionaire property developers David and Simon Reuben have announced that it is to be fully restored as an 45 room palace and placed on the market with a probably £250+ million price tag. This is good news for historically-minded Londoners saddened by the delapidated state of former Prime Minister Lord Palmerston’s once magnificent home.
More on this story.

— 2 July 2013

Wilton's Future Assured with Lottery Grant

Wilton’s Music Hall has received a £1.75 million National Lottery grant which will secure its future, which has been in doubt for some years. Wilton’s is the only London survivor of this historic form of entertainment. The grant will secure the five Georgian houses that make up Wilton’s Front of House (including the bar, foyer and offices) and will complete the full preservation of the building. Following the re-opening of the fabulously repaired Grand Hall in February 2013, the Grade II*, listed internationally significant building is saved from ruin.
More.

— 23 June 2013

Spectator Archive Published Online

spectator cover
The Spectator – Britain’s longest-running political periodical – has published its entire archive online, 185 years of magazines, dating back to 1828. There was an unrelated title of the same name dating back to the 18C. Considered a publication of the Right, the magazine has historically often supported distinctly liberal agendas such as the 1832 Reform Act and abolishing anti-homosexual laws in the mid-20C. It also famously attacked Charles Dickens, although for literary rather than political reasons.
More in this story.

— 18 June 2013

Cheapside Hoard: Overlooked Gem Reveals Important Clue

The Cheapside Hoard – an eclectic collection of precious jewels from around the world – was discovered during excavations in 1912. For over a century experts have been uncertain about the date of the stash, in particular when the burial may have taken place. But very recent examination revealed a gem to bear the badge of Viscount Stafford, a known jewellery collector. This dates the hoard to around 1640, no earlier, and suggests its burial to perhaps have been caused by the English Civil War.

stafford intaglio

The Cheapside Hoard will be at the centre of a forthcoming exhibition at the Museum of London starting in October this year.

— 9 June 2013

New Historic Mint Exhibition at Tower of London

A small and ongoing exhibition which celebrates the role of the Royal Mint at the Tower of London opens to the public tomorrow, 24 May.The Royal Mint operated here for over 500 years until 1812. Its buildings were in Mint Street just inside the curtain wall.

tower of london mint

The exhibition, Coins and Kings: The Royal Mint at the Tower, shows the development of coin-making from that practised for thousands of years with hammer and stamp, through the introduction of milled coins in the 17C to just prior to the use of steam power. Key objects from the Tower itself have been united with items from the Royal Mint Museum in Wales, the British Museum and other institutions to give a compelling narrative of coin production down the centuries. The great and the good – kings, scientists, forgers and brigands – all are featured.
Entrance to the exhibition is included in the Tower of London entry ticket.

— 23 May 2013

Massey Shaw Returns to the Water

A major step has been taken in the project to restore 20C fireboat Massey Shaw to the Thames. The vessel was placed back in the water for the first time last weekend, in Gloucestershire. After fitting and testing her engines and pumps, she will finally return to the London Thames in June.

fireboat massey shaw

Massey Shaw – named after London’s first fire chief Captain Eyre Massey Shaw – was commissioned in 1935 and served with distinction during the evacuation of Dunkirk and the Blitz. She worked as a fireboat on the Thames until decommissioned in favour of new vessels in 1971.

More information on the project
Facebook
Twitter: @themasseyshaw

— 30 April 2013

Museum and Library in Southwark Damaged by Fire

The roof of Newington Library and Cuming Museum in Southwark was destroyed by fire on Monday afternoon. It started at about 12:30 GMT and took 120 firemen using 20 engines several hours to bring it under control. It is unknown at this stage what damage has been sustained by books, documents and the museum’s precious artifacts, which include loans from the British Museum.
BBC Report.
BBC Report.

— 26 March 2013

Tube Map Designer Beck is Honoured Today

At 10 am today, Sam Mullins, the director of the London Transport Museum will unveil an English Heritage Blue Plaque to Harry Beck (1902 – 1974) at his birthplace in Leyton. It is the 80th anniversary of the first publication of the draughtsman’s famous Tube diagram (more commonly called “map”). And, of course, this is also the Tube’s 150th anniversary year.

harry beck plaque

The design was an immediate hit with the public and has survived in updated forms to this day. Beck himself updated it until 1960. The plaque will break from practice and be written in London Underground’s typeface, Johnston Sans.

tube150

— 25 March 2013

Royal Institution Under Threat

The Royal Institution (Ri) has announced that it may have to sell its home in Albermarle Street to meet a potentially ruinous financial shortfall created, ironically, by an over-ambitious refurbishment of the same building. The magnificent Grade 1-listed neoclassical edifice has been the Institution’s only home.

The Ri – not to be confused with the Royal Society – was founded in 1799. Its early leading lights included Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday. It is a working laboratory to this day, and also houses a library, priceless archive and the theatre where the famous Christmas lectures are delivered, begun by Faraday in 1825. It’s also the home to the wonderful Faraday Museum (founded 1973, free entry, open Mon-Fri).

The Royal Institution has issued this statement. London Historians will vigorously support any campaign to prevent the institution being separated from its building.

Report.

— 17 January 2013

Death of Well-Loved City of London Guide

paul taylor
Picture: Miles Twist

City of London Guides were shocked when their Vice-Chairman Paul Taylor suffered a fatal heart attack last Wednesday, 9 January. He was actually researching a walk at the time. Paul’s knowledge of the City was “legendary” and he was always available for fellow guides who sought advice. Many City of London Guides are supportive London Historians Members. Our condolences go to them and their colleagues and also to Paul Taylor’s family.

— 14 January 2013

English Heritage to Suspend Blue Plaque Scheme

English Heritage has announced that, beyond existing commitments, it will not be undertaking further blue plaque commissions. This is in response to 2010’s 34% cut in its funding from central government by Chancellor George Osborne. The scheme was introduced in 1867; English Heritage has run it since 1986. Dr Emily Cole, who is in charge of blue plaques at the organisation says that its future is uncertain.

— 7 January 2013

Charles Dickens Museum reopens

After a nine month overhaul controversially scheduled during the novelist’s bicentenary, London’s Charles Dickens Museum reopens to the public on Monday 10 December. The project – code-named Great Expectations – involved a complete refurbishment and integration with the property next door in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury. The whole programme, supported by Heritage National Lottery, cost £3.1 million. Entrande to the museum is £8 adults, £4 children. Concessions apply.

— 6 December 2012

Rose Theatre Project Granted Funding

The Rose Theatre Trust, which runs the archaeological projects relating to Philip Henslowe’s 1587 Elizabethan theatre on Bankside, has announced further funding to continue its Rose Theatre Revealed project. The grant from Heritage Lottery Fund will go towards architectural, conservations and public engagement work.
More.

— 14 November 2012

London Historian Campaigns to Save Animal Art

sculpture by barry baldwin Pic: Peter Berthoud

London Historians member Peter Berthoud has on his own initiative kicked off a campaign to save some attractive stone sculptures in Victoria. Ironically – in the circumstances – featuring endangered species, they are part of the Allington House which is owned by property company Land Securities. They were originally sculpted by British artist Barry Baldwin. Land Securities claims that it is not feasible cost-effectively to save the work. Berthoud has set up an online petition and urged English Heritage to become involved.
More on this story

— 24 October 2012

London Mayor overturns council in favour of developers

Campaigners were left distraught after a long and hard-fought campaign to prevent the re-development of the Fruit and Wool Exchange in Spitalfields came to naught when Boris Johnson last night came out in favour of the developers. Tower Hamlets council had turned down three successive applications from Exemplar but it was overturned when the developer turned to the executive powers to overrule granted to the mayor in 2008. Apart form its frontage, the body of the unlisted 1929 building will be demolished.
More on this story.

— 11 October 2012

Elephant & Castle medieval burial ground discovered

Archaeologists have uncovered over 500 skeletons in 25 crypts in Elephant and Castle. The experts were invited to explore the site by developers prior to commencing construction of a £20million sports complex. The bones date from as early as the 11th Century right up to the 19th.
More on this story

— 4 October 2012

George Orwell Plaque Unveiled in Kilburn

richard blair george orwell kilburn
George Orwell was celebrated in Kilburn today with a plaque which was unveiled by his adopted son, Richard Blair. The writer lived in a property with his wife Eileen and infant Richard in Mortimer Crescent NW6 during the early years of the World War II until it was destroyed by a V1 flying bomb. Orwell had to retrieve his only manuscript for Animal Farm from the wreckage. The new George Orwell plaque was placed by the Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme which was set up in 2010 to recognise Kilburn’s rich heritage of historical residents.

— 11 September 2012

Lord Byron's Copy of Frankenstein Found

A copy of Frankenstein, dedicated to Lord Byron by the author herself, Mary Shelley, has been discovered in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. It was found among the papers and documents belonging to the late Labour politician Lord Jay by his grand-son, Sammy. The authenticated dedication reads: “To Lord Byron from the Author.” The book is in the safekeeping of London antiquarian booksellers Peter Harrington and is expected to attract over £400,000 at auction.
More on this story.

— 6 September 2012

Petition demands protection for Mendham Collection

A petition has been launched in an attempt to prevent the Law Society from auctioning part of the Mendham Collection, an 1869 bequest of rare books and manuscripts. Some items date from the 13th Century. The collection has been in the care of Canterbury Cathedral since 1984. The Law Society wishes to sell a selection of books from the collection.
More on this story here
Sign the petition here

— 5 August 2012

William Morris Gallery Re-opens

The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow reopened today following a 15 month, £10million complete makeover. Once Morris’s own home between 1848 and 1856, the former Water House was first opened as a gallery by local MP Clement Attlee in 1950. The refurbishment included substantial enlargement of the display areas which now show over 600 objects.
The gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays between 10am and 5pm. Entrance is free.
Review.

— 2 August 2012

BBC Abandons Bush House

Today marks the last day of broadcasting from Bush House, whence the BBC had been conducting overseas broadcasts since 1940. The corporation’s landmark premises in Aldwych was originally opened in 1925. The World Service (previously Foreign Service) has now relocated to new premises at Broadcasting House in Portland Place. The service – funded directly by the Treasury rather than from the licence fee – suffered severe cuts last year as a result as part of the government’s deficit reducing programme.

— 12 July 2012

Bentham Project lands large Grant from Mellon Foundation

Transcribe Bentham and the Bentham Project have been awarded a $538,000 grant by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation to help continue research, digitisation and related work. The projects already collaborate heavily with various UCL humanities departments; this will now be extended to the British Library. Hence the project will now encompass for the first time the digitisation of all of Bentham’s works, a massive undertaking, for the philosopher and political scientist was long-lived and had a prodigious output. More on this story.

— 2 July 2012

Wilton's to Close for repairs until 2013

Beginning 2 July, Wilton’s Music Hall is to close for essential repairs to the auditorium which are expected to take at least six months. There will be two free talks about the project on Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend. More info

— 27 June 2012

Stunning historical aerial photos go on-line

The Britain From Above project today published online thousands of aerial photographs dating from between 1919 and 1953. The images are from the Aerofilms Collection, comprising 1.26 million negatives and over 2,000 photograph albums. There may be difficulty visiting the site today (25 June) due to overwhelming traffic, but you may be lucky ; whenever you wish to try, it is here

— 25 June 2012

London Fire Brigade Museum Reprieved

london fire brigade museum
The London Fire Brigade Museum, which has had the threat of closure hanging over it for the past year, is to stay open to the public, it has been announced, although probably not at the same site in the long term.
More on this story.
Review.

— 21 June 2012

Ragged School Museum Vandalised

The Ragged School Museum in Mile End had several dozen windows smashed by vandals over the weekend, causing thousands of pounds in damage and more lost revenue through cancelled bookings. Londoners who cherish our small museums which are run on a shoe-string mainly by volunteers will be appalled by this mindless atrocity.
More on this story.

— 22 May 2012

Sculptures recovered in South London scrap metal raid.

A raid on a scrap metal merchant by Croydon police on Monday 14 May has recovered valuable bronze sculptures and a large number of memorial plaques. Two men have been arrested for receiving and processing stolen goods and will appear at Croydon Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.
Full story.

— 17 May 2012

Lord Ashcroft plugs Bomber Memorial Funding hole

The ongoing funding difficulties of the new Bomber Command Memorial which is being constructed in Green Park could be over. Lord Ashcroft has stepped forward and pledged the final £1 million needed to complete the project.
More.

— 10 May 2012

Footprints of London Announces Shakespeare Walks

Guided walks co-operative Footprints of London – comprising 28 London guides – have launched Shakespeare-themed walks: Shakespeare In London. Follow Shakespeare’s path to fame and fortune on three separate but connected guided walks. From seedy Shoreditch to the City’s affluent West End via outlaw Southwark. Footprints of London guides read between the lines at theatres, inns and other sites which played key roles in William’s development into England’s foremost playwright. 20% discount to London Historians members.
More info.

— 23 April 2012

Museum of London World's Biggest Archive

museum of london archive
It’s official. According to the Guinness Book of Records, Museum of London has the largest archaeological archive in the world, comprising over five million artifacts from more than 8,500 excavations. Roy Stephenson, Head of the Museum of London’s Archaeological Collections and Archives, said: “The water-logged environment is perfect for preserving organic objects from leather clothes to wooden waterfronts as well as pottery, coins and bones, all of which and more are represented in our archive.”
Museum of London

— 17 April 2012

England Fans Raise Money to Remember Ottaway

cuthbert ottaway
Cuthbert Ottaway was England’s first football captain who died at the tragically young age of 27. Yet the man was a sporting phenomenon, a true legend. He would be worth millions in today’s world. In honour of Cuthbert’s memory Englandfans FC will play a match against Belgiumfans FC on Saturday 2nd June at Bedfont Town. The match will be played for The Cuthbert Ottaway Memorial Cup. A further match against Marlow FC will be played in due course. Funds raised will be put towards a headstone and general improvement of Ottaway’s grave site at Paddington cemetery.
Further information.

— 16 April 2012

Creeping VAT Threatens Heritage

Following fierce criticism of the Budget for so-called Granny Tax and Charity Tax, it emerges that introducing VAT on certain categories of improvements to listed buildings will add tens of millions of pounds to the bills of churches and other heritage sites. The government has claimed that the aim is to “simplify” taxation in these areas, but the extra cost will have to be carried by church congregations and heritage trusts, or quite possibly important work will be cancelled altogether.
More on this story.

— 16 April 2012

Cutty Sark Reopens 26 April

The restoration is complete. After a lengthy project which nearly saw the tea clipper lost through devastating fire, the iconic Cutty Sark will be open to visitors at last on 26 April. In addition to the repairs and re-fit, the boat has been raised three metres above the bed of her dry dock so that her hull can be better appreciated in its entirety.
cutty sark
© Cutty Sark Trust

Open Tues – Sun 09:00 – 16:00. Initially pre-booking only.
Adults, £12.00, children £6.50, concessions apply
More info

— 13 April 2012

Bloody Tales of the Tower - National Geographic Channel

This three part series about the Tower of London, filmed earlier this year, premieres on National Geographic Channel on 16 April at 8pm. The episodes are titled Traitors, Executions and Scandal! The programmes are fronted by Tudor academic Dr Suzannah Lipscomb and Joe Crowley.
More info.

— 10 April 2012

Kew Bridge Steam Museum lands Lottery Grant

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum has been awarded a £1.845 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a restoration project to improve its facilities and displays. The museum is the nation’s leading facility dedicated to heritage public water management and working historic steam engines. The funds will be allocated to Project Acquarius which is also being supported by The National Lottery and Thames Water.
More info.

— 6 April 2012

Ziggy Stardust Site Gets Plaque

ziggy stardust
A plaque has been unveiled in Heddon Street, W1 to commemorate David Bowie’s iconic 1972 album, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. The singer was photographed for the famous cover in his Ziggy guise with guitar, outside the long-gone K West nightclub.
More on this story.

— 30 March 2012

New Crown Jewels Display Unveiled at The Tower

Today the Crown Jewels exhibition at the Tower of London was opened in a new format and display which will show the treasures to better effect and emphasise more their historical and political context with the aid of video footage. The re-vamped display is part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
More.

— 29 March 2012

Boston Manor House Reopening Imminent

One of west London’s less celebrated treasures – Boston Manor House – is to re-open on 7 April. For over a year the three storey Jacobean mansion has been closed for urgent repairs on the south west corner of the building. Built in 1623 for Lady Mary Reade, the house was owned by the Clitherow family for over 250 years from 1670. Today it is run by Hounslow Council. It will be open during the summer on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays only.
More information here and here.

— 25 March 2012

Kensington Palace Reopens

Kensington Palace has reopened after a £12 million makeover. Part of the palace is open to the public and includes displays featuring Queen Victoria as well as William and Mary, its first royal residents. The private part of the building will become the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as it was for Diana, Princess of Wales.
More on this story

— 21 March 2012

Burlington Arcade shops oppose developers - again.

Having had their first development plan for Burlington Arcade rejected by Westminster Council, its owners have submitted a revised plan. The new submission is to change the existing floor of the arcade to “beige quartzite tiled flooring”, something which shop owners claim can be found in malls throughout the world. Once again, they are vigorously opposing the plan. Objections to the council must be made by 31 March.
More here.

— 16 March 2012

Big Ben trip charges postponed until at least 2015.

The House of Commons Commission has backed down over the plan to introduce charges for visiting Big Ben at the summit of the Palace of Westminster’s Clock Tower. A charge of £15 had been suggested. The issue will not be addressed again for the remainder of this parliament.
More on this story.

— 15 March 2012

Battersea Power Station Put Up for Sale

Beleaguered Battersea Power Station has been put on the market for an estimated £500 million. The iconic industrial monolith – a Grade II* listed structure – was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and generated electricity for fifty years between 1933 and 1983. Since then it has changed hands between a succession of developers who have proved big on promise but short on delivery.
More on this story.

— 26 February 2012

Underground Urban Explorers Busted by TfL

Four urban explorers have been issued ASBOs and bound over not to interact with one another for an astonishing ten years or to publish anything relating to their activities. The group were arrested by British Transport Police a matter of days before the Royal Wedding last year while exploring the disused Aldwych “ghost station”. The group, who call themselves the London Consolidation Crew, sparked a terror alert having spent several hours photographing the old station during the small hours of Easter Monday, 2011.
More on this story

— 26 February 2012

£2.5 million needed to save St Bride's

The iconic Wren church St Bride’s, Fleet Street, has announced that unless it can raise more than £2.5 million, it will have to close for safety reasons. Since being restored after World War II, decades of weather damage and pollution have undermined much of the masonry on the building’s exterior. The church houses a famous memorial to news gatherers who have died while reporting from danger zones around the globe and is hence known as the Journalists’ Church.
St Bride’s
News report.

— 22 February 2012

London Business School to take Charge of Marylebone Town Hall

Westminster Council and the London Business School have announced that they are in negotiations for the school to take over Marylebone Town Hall. The listed early 20th Century neo-Classical building, familiar to many for celebrity civil weddings over the years, was designed by architect Sir Edwin Cooper. As part of the agreement, LBS will commit to undertake much-needed refurbishment of the premises.
More

— 14 February 2012

Government rescues Bomber Command Memorial

The government has stepped in to cover an £800,000 tax shortfall due on work undertaken on the Bomber Command memorial, scheduled to open in Green Park later this year to commemorate the 55,000 airmen who lost their lives with Bomber Squadron during WWII.
More on this story

— 12 February 2012

Book on Victorian Fern Craze Published

Our congratulations to London Historians member, Dr Sarah Whittingham, whose book Fern Fever The Story of Pteridomania is published today. We review it on the London Historians blog, here

— 2 February 2012

Model of Nonsuch Palace Goes on Show

Archaeologist Martin Biddle has spent a career investigating Henry VIII’s almost mythical Nonsuch Palace near Sutton. A scale model of the Renaissance building has now been created based on Biddle’s finding and will be on show until March at the Nonsuch Palace Gallery in Cheam. Sundays only.
More on this story.

— 30 January 2012

English Heritage Takes Over Great Barn in Harmondsworth

One of England’s most outstanding extant medieval structures had been taken under the wing of English Heritage, in order to ensure its ongoing preservation. The organisation purchased it for £20,000. The 60 metre long wooden barn, dating from 1426, is little known to the public at large, but was dubbed “the Middlesex Cathedral” by Sir John Betjeman. The Harmondsworth Barn is expected to open to the public on a limited scale in the Spring, once emergency repairs have been done.
Guardian story.

— 30 January 2012

Property Developers Wish to Move London Stone

Property developer Minerva has announced its intention to move the so-called London Stone – also known as the Brutus Stone – from its current home opposite Cannon Street Station. The artifact is encased in glass behind a grille within the wall of 111 Cannon Street, at pavement level. It often goes unnoticed by passers-by. It is thought to be an old Roman milestone. The myth is that as long as the stone is safe, then London will remain so too. It has been moved from pillar to post many times over the years, the most recent occasion in 1962.

English Heritage and the Victorian Society oppose the proposal.
Evening Standard report.

— 23 January 2012

London Historians to Support LONDONICITY 2012

LONDON HISTORIANS is pleased to announce its participation in LONDONICITY 2012 : The Second Annual London Studies Conference. The conference, organised by Academic Conferences London, will be held at the Institute of Education, University of London in Bloomsbury on Friday to Sunday 22-24 June 2012.

LONDONICITY seeks to explore, to celebrate, and to critique the great world city in the complex context provided by all the varied excitements and pleasures of the London Olympics and Diamond Jubilee Year, and, contrariwise, all the many challenges and difficulties of the new age of austerity. The over-arching theme for 2012 is London: City of Transformations? in relation to which a wide range of contributions is encouraged.

— 18 January 2012

Westminster Council Rejects Burlington Arcade Makeover

Burlington Arcade traders are celebrating victory in an acrimonious battle to prevent new owners from intalling a newly-designed floor. Shopkeepers joined forces with locals and celebrities in a high profile campaign to preserve the heritage character of the 192 year old mall. Westminster Council agrees with them.
Full report in Evening Standard.

— 14 December 2011

IHR Launches Locating London's Past

The Institute of Historical Research have launched a new web site called Locating London’s Past. It allows you to search a wide body of digital resources relating to early modern and eighteenth-century London, and to map the results on to a fully GIS compliant version of John Rocque’s 1746 map. Records of crime, poor relief, taxation, elections, local administration, plague deaths and archaeological finds can all be searched and mapped on the site.

— 12 December 2011

Records of City of London's Freemen Go Online

The genealogy website ancestry.co.uk and the London Metropolitan Archives have announced the availability online of over half a million records of the Freemen of the City of London. The Freedom of the City Admission Papers 1681-1925 should prove a highly valuable resource to family historians and historical researchers alike. The data includes long-lost professions such as tallow chandlers, coopers, cord wainers, vintners, wheelwrights, turners, loriners and scriveners.
ancestry.co.uk
London Metropolitan Archives.

— 29 November 2011

Lowry Piccadilly Circus Painting Fetches Record at Christies

LS Lowry’s 1960 painting of Piccadilly Circus was auctioned for £5.6 million yesterday, a joint record for the artist and a record for British and Irish 20th Century paintings.

ls lowry piccadilly circus 1960

A rare London scene by the artist, the work was part of a group of items from the Forte Collection which was put under the hammer. The picture shows the classic aspect of the circus, opposite Glasshouse Street with the Shaftsbury memorial and the neon advertising both prominent.
More on this story.

— 17 November 2011

Campaign Kicks Off to Re-open Crystal Palace Subway

A new organisation called Friends of Crystal Palace subway are taking the first steps to make a remarkable unseen London landmark once again accessible to the public. The beautifully decorated brick tunnel was built in 1865 and is situated below a station which was closed in 1960. The immediate aim of the Friends is to persuade Bromley Council to make the site safe for visitors and then to explore further options for the site later. There is a petition so support these aims here The campaign has a Twitter account @cpsubway and also a Facebook group.

crystal palace subway
Image courtesy Jules Hussey

— 15 November 2011

Hogarth's House Re-opens after Three Years

At noon today, Hogarth’s House in Chiswick opens after a total refurbishment, delayed by two years following a serious fire in October 2009. Built in about 1715, the house was purchased by Hogarth in 1749, where he and his wife Jane lived until the artist’s death in 1764. The Hogarths used the house as a country retreat when Hogath was not working at his town house in what is now Leicester Square. Surrounded on all sides by fields, today the house sits behind a wall right next to the dual carriageway of the A4.
More information here and here.

— 8 November 2011

IHR Launches the History of Parliament Online

The Institute of Historical Research has announced the launch of the History of Parliament Online. It is the authoritative record of Members of Parliament and elections, starting in 1386 and going well into the 19th century.
It has its own domain: www.historyofparliamentonline.org.

— 4 November 2011

Government to sell Admiralty Arch

The government has announced plans to sell off Admiralty Arch for a possible £75 million. Government minister Francis Maude claimed that “Admiralty Arch is not fit for a modern day office and could not be adapted without disproportionate costs to the taxpayer.”
Admiralty Arch, commissioned by Edward VII, was designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1912.
More on this story.

— 3 November 2011

£350,000 Appeal to Save the Waverley

The future of the 70 year old paddle steamer Waverley, the last working example of its kind in the world, is uncertain. Although the boat carries thousands of passengers on excursions around the country, including a stint on the Thames during the summer, for annual maintenance and refits, she costs rather more than she takes . The charity which has run the Waverley since 1975 – the Waverley Steam Navigation Company – has launched an appeal to keep the old girl afloat, literally.
More info.

— 28 October 2011

Royal Society journal archive made permanently free to access

The Royal Society has announced that it is to make its historical archive available online, for free. An estimated 60,000 scientific papers will be accessible through a fully searchable archive. Treasures in the archive include Isaac Newton’s first published scientific paper, geological work by a young Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Franklin’s celebrated account of his electrical kite experiment.
More on this story

— 27 October 2011

British Library Launches Untold Lives

The British Library has launched a new blog called Untold Lives. The aim of the blog is to “inspire new research and encourage enjoyment, knowledge and understanding of the British Library and its collections.” They are off to a very promising start with an account of the East India Company’s London workers.

— 18 October 2011

Hogarth's House to Re-Open on 8th November

Following a three year total restoration programme, William Hogarth’s house in Chiswick will re-open to the public on 8th November.

hogarth's house

The project was seriously delayed by a fire in 2009, but fortunately the local fire brigade were able to bring it under control before fatal damage was caused. The house dates from around 1715 and was the home to Hogarth and his wife Jane from 1749 until the artist’s death in 1764, after which time Mrs Hogarth continued to live there. Hogarth was a leading artist, engraver, entrepreneur and philanthropist. The house will be open from Tuesday to Sunday 12 to 5 pm plus Monday Bank Holidays. Admission is free.

There will be a programme of bookable study workshops and occasional evening openings and talks, for some of which a charge wil be made, and small special exhibitions – all to be announced in the next few weeks. A schools learning programme is being planned to be launched in 2012.

— 13 October 2011

The Country's Ten Most Endangered Victorian Buildings

The Victorian Society has compiled a list of ten buildings it considers to be most at risk. An alarming inclusion is Broadmoor Hospital Crowthorne. The only London building in the list is South Eastern Railway Offices in Tooley Street by Charles Barry & Son, 1897-1900, which are unlisted.
More info.

— 11 October 2011

The Country's Ten Most Endangered Victorian Buildings

The Victorian Society has compiled a list of ten buildings it considers to be most at risk. An alarming inclusion is Broadmoor Hospital Crowthorne. The only London building in the list is South Eastern Railway Offices in Tooley Street by Charles Barry & Son, 1897-1900, which are unlisted.
More info.

— 11 October 2011

New Update of DNB Includes Prominent London Architects

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has just released its latest update featuring over 100 prominent Britons. Among these are Eric Bedford (1909-2001) who built the Post Office Tower (1965), then the country’s tallest building. Other notable London designers are Theo Crosby (1925-1994), architect of the Globe Theatre, and Colin Lucas (1906-1984) who created new forms of high-rise housing in the post-war era. DNB is on subscription, but you can access it for free using a library card from selected local libraries.
More info

— 23 September 2011

London History Festival 2011 Programme Announced

14 – 24 November 2011
Various venues, Kensington
Historians Leo Hollis, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Norman Davies, Saul David, Max Hastings and many others. London Historians is sponsoring Leo Hollis/Nigel Jones talk, The Stones of London on 23 November 7pm at Waterstone’s Kensington. We have 20 free tickets to this talk for London Historians members.
All tickets £5 (£3 concessions).
More info.

— 23 September 2011

Significant Roman Site Discovered Under Rail Developement

Network Rail engineers working on the Thameslink project in Southwark have uncovered a large Roman bathhouse. A team of specialist archaeologists has been called in to examine the site. This find will show that Roman London south of the Thames was larger than previously thought.
More on this story.

— 17 September 2011

De Morgan Centre Opens Doors After Two Year Re-Fit

The De Morgan Centre in Wandsworth, which houses the largest collection of work by ceramicist William De Morgan and his wife, painter Evelyn De Morgan is to re-open on 15 September. These late 19th and early 20th century Arts and Crafts Movement works are widely recognised as significant examples of their respective genres. The De Morgans were leading lights in the circle of artists William Morris, FG Watts, Frederic Leighton and others. Founded in 2002, the gallery has undertaken a complete refurbishment and re-fit, introducing pieces that were formerly not on display.
Entry is £4, free to Art Fund members.
www.demorgan.org.uk

— 14 September 2011

William Dobson Celebrated

One of England’s greatest portrait artists, the relatively little-known William Dobson, is to be commemorated during this the 400th anniversary of his birth. Dobson enjoyed the patronage of Charles I and his circle, but dying young in 1646, he has enjoyed scant fame in the centuries since. Championed by art critic Waldemar Januszczak, a new web site has been set up dedicated to the artist. Januszczak himself will present a film The Lost Genius of British Art: William Dobson, scheduled for broadcast on 22nd September on BBC4.
www.williamdobson.tv

— 14 September 2011

Two Temple Place Opens Its Doors

Two Temple Place, once the magnificent town house of William Waldorf Astor on the Embankment, will be opening in October for its inaugural exhibition, featuring the work of William Morris. The role of the building in the future will be to host exhibitions of publicly-owned art from the regions. William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth opens on the 27th October.

— 12 September 2011

National Trust pushes FO to open up Lancaster House

The National Trust is in early negotiations with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make Lancaster House open to the public, during the summer months at the least. The grand classical mansion, based near St James Palace, was built in 1825 and bequeathed to the nation by its last owner, Lord Lever, in 1913. It is generally used for high-profile international conferences and may be rented for corporate events and film shoots.
More on this story.

— 11 August 2011

Open House London 2011 Announces Programme

Open House London has revealed the list so far of buildings participating in this year’s event on 17 & 18 September. You can order the programme as a .pdf file and make bookings for the venues which have restricted numbers. The organisers have also released for the first time an iPhone App.
More info

— 8 August 2011

Hotel Discounts for London Historians Members

If you’re an out of town member of London Historians (and there are many), we have organised hotel discounts if you fancy or need to stay in London overnight. We have set up an arrangement with specialist travel company Sweet Chariot that will give you up to 30% discount on selected four star hotels in central London, including full English breakfast. Typically this should amount to around £75 per person per night (on a twin/double share basis), but seasonal variations and availability apply. Single room prices will be quoted on request. To apply, please contact Ian Carrick of Sweet Chariot on 0800 043 2153 or email him at ian.carrick@sweetchariot.co.uk. Be ready to quote your member number from your member’s card. If you are accompanied by a partner or friend who is not a member, that’s okay.

— 2 August 2011

16 Underground Stations Grade II Listed

English Heritage today announced the Grade II listing of 16 London Underground stations which include classic “ox-blood” tile Edwardian era designs such as Russell Square. The stations are: Aldwych, Belsize Park, Brent Cross, Caledonian Road, Chalk Farm, Chesham, Covent Garden, Hendon Central, Oxford Circus (counts as two), Perivale, Redbridge, Russell Square, St John’s Wood, West Acton, and Wood Green. In addition, three other stations, including Charles Holden’s Arnos Grove are upgraded from Grade II to Grade II*.
More info

— 26 July 2011