From a 1903 letter to Franz Xaver Kappus from Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.


“Live the questions now.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Thank you for visiting this page. I’m Julia, and I work as a psychodynamic psychotherapist, relationship counsellor, and clinical supervisor. I’ve been in private practice in the City of London and in south-west London for the past three years; for the decade before that, I worked as a specialist psychotherapist for working age adults in the NHS (where I’ve also run staff groups).

This is where you will find the posts on my London-based blog, which I update constantly through the week, almost as a stream of consciousness. It reflects my interests, including psychotherapy, and my weekly experience outside – though not divorced from – my work. It’s a contemporary version of the commonplace book – one where the thoughts, responses, and comments of others are welcome.

King’s Cross / St. Pancras Conservation Area

From Camden’s Conservation Area Statement 22 – King’s Cross:

4.2.62 (see image above) The grade II listed German Gymnasium (1864-5) to the south of Stanley Buildings. Built at the same time as Stanley Buildings (1864), it was a unique, purpose-built gym for the German Gymnastic Society and designed by Edward Grüning. The gym is of great historic and aesthetic importance. It was part of the movement towards the establishment of the Olympic Games and was important in the development of public sport and fitness. Its style is a Prussian neo-medieval vernacular. It has rare surviving laminated timber roof ribs of a type originally used in King’s Cross station. Whilst the former entrance to this building from the original alignment of Pancras Road has been demolished as part of the CTRL works, this two and a half storey multi-coloured stock brick building is not diminished by the loss of the immediate urban fabric. Its southern façade is sufficiently imposing to enable the building to sit successfully against the backdrop of the station extension. Its new west wall, created by the demolition of the western part of the structure, has been rebuilt to form an external wall, in keeping with the other elevations. The gym has been exposed to views from the south, due to the removal of an adjacent warehouse.

Die Turnhalle: Britain’s first gymnasium

4.2.85 Two shortened blocks of the grade II listed Stanley Buildings (1864-5) remain in the area between the realigned Pancras Road and the station extension. Originally there were five blocks, built as philanthropic housing for workers, by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Co Ltd (builder Matthew Allen). The north and south facing blocks face Stanley and Clarence passages respectively, both of which have been truncated by the CTRL works.

They are walk-up blocks with open central spiral staircase with balcony access. The blocks of flats are five storeys in height and have recessed balconies supported by cast-iron columns and enclosed by railings in a lattice pattern. Each balcony opening is flanked by pilasters, which are decorated with an oval emblem and Ionic scrolls. The ground floor level has a painted stucco finish. They have an early example of fireproof floor construction.

The CTRL works involved the demolition of the westerly block, second world war bomb damage destroyed one block and another had been lost to road widening. Therefore, their architectural integrity has been compromised.”

From the Historic England entry:

“Philanthropic flats. 1865. By Matthew Allen for the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company under the guidance of Sydney Waterlow. Materials and treatment of architectural elements, identical to flats 1-20 in Stanley Passage to the north (now demolished) with which this block formed a group. 5 storeys. One window to end ranges flanking 2-bay balcony-stair recess; balconies enclosed by cast-iron lattice railings and supported by cast-iron columns and lintels. 2-window range to right return with segmental-arched windows, the lintels cast from concrete and panelled. Left-return rendered to all but top storey. Ablution and scullery towers to rear.

Among the earliest blocks built by Waterlow’s influential and prolific IIDC, Stanley Buildings are in addition an important part of a dramatic Victorian industrial landscape.”

From kingscross.co.uk:

“The Stanley Buildings were built in 1864-65 by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company to provide a higher standard of accommodation for King’s Cross workers. There were originally four flats per floor, later converted to two.

Flat roofs were provided for clothes drying and children’s play areas. The flats were unusual in that they provided completely self contained accommodation.

There were originally 5 blocks housing 104 families. Today only one remains. The building is an early example of the use of concrete in construction – used because it was cheaper and reduced the risk of fire.

The remaining Stanley building has been restored and the structure updated with a modern addition. It provides serviced offices and meeting rooms by The Office Group.”

St Pancras Waterpoint, Camley St, London N1

Above: viewed from Somers Town Bridge

Anna Whitney reported for The Independent of 29 November 2001:

“A 350-ton listed water tank in north London, built in 1872 to service steam locomotives but now threatened by the latest in high-speed trains, was yesterday transported nearly half a mile to a new location to ensure its survival.

St Pancras Waterpoint, a Grade-II listed building designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, had been faced with demolition to make way for the new Channel Tunnel rail link. But the 129-year old structure was taken on specialised transporter units to its new home on a viaduct overlooking the St Pancras yacht basin.

As the waterpoint is a unique building, with fine, detailed brick and stone features, it was decided that dismantling it brick by brick would damage it to an unacceptable degree. Instead it was moved in pieces. The building was cut horizontally at two levels and into three sections. The upper two sections were moved to the new site and placed on a replica of the lowermost part, which was impossible to move. The sections were lifted on to the transporters using one of the UK’s biggest mobile cranes.

English Heritage intervened when the waterpoint was first threatened with demolition, and forged a binding agreement with the building’s owners, London and Continental Railways, to enable it to be relocated.

Heritage of London Trust Operations was approached to undertake the project and the new site was found. At its new location, the waterpoint will function as a viewing tower, with information panels about the building and the surrounding area.

Diana Beattie, of the Heritage of London Trust, said: “The move has gone very well. There have been a huge number of people watching.”

Sir George Gilbert Scott also designed London’s Albert Memorial, St Pancras station and the Home Office, and was responsible for the former Midland Grand Hotel, next to St Pancras. Built in 1873, it was a hotel until the Second World War and was then used as offices. It is now a Grade I-listed building. The station includes a train shed that at one time was the greatest enclosed space in the world.

The relocation of St Pancras Waterpoint is part of the preparations for the new high-speed track, which will enable train passengers to journey from London to Paris in less then two and a half hours…”

Charing Cross Station, Strand, London WC2

From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“It was not long before a second terminus obtained a foothold on
the north bank of the Thames, stimulated, as ever, by competition
between the main railway companies in south London. This was
Charing Cross, a bare mile and a half to the east of Victoria and built by the South Eastern Railway, the third major force in south
London railways other than the two main users of Victoria, which
had long sought to reach the West End. And unlike any other
railway company, it did…

…Hungerford Bridge (see image above) built across the Thames to reach Charing Cross station was another monstrosity. Brunel’s footbridge was removed by the railway company, which sold the chains and ironwork to be recycled for the celebrated Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Designed by the South Eastern’s engineer, Sir John Hawkshaw, Hungerford’s over-engineered lattice iron structure was in a style known as ‘pony truss’…The ironwork, which to make matters worse was painted in red oxide, was so heavy and thick that trains passing along the bridge almost disappeared from view. The arched brickwork support on the central supporting pier did little to improve the appearance of the bridge as it was equally banal and leaden. The bridge’s only redeeming feature was its utilitarian functionality. It carried four tracks, which proved essential for the density of traffic. Adjoining it were the narrow footpaths on each side that replaced Brunel’s far more appealing footbridge, a legal requirement that the railway was forced to provide and did so grudgingly, charging users a halfpenny to cross the river. Perhaps the bridge’s enduring quality was its solidity since it remains in place today, thankfully shielded now by elegant new matching independent suspension footbridges (Golden Jubilee Bridges) on either side; a Millennium project that greatly improves the riverscape in this area popular with tourists…

Victoria Embankment (A3211)

As the station was built on an incline rising from the river, there
was plenty of space in the arches underneath, which was long used
as cellars for wine merchants. There were half a dozen platforms as well as the customary cab road and a small concourse overlooked by a large clock on the inner wall. Agreeing to meet people ‘under the clock at Charing Cross’ became a music hall joke with a louche undertone. The Railway Magazine commented that ‘half feminine London used to wait there at night for its young man, and the other half said that was who it was waiting for’.

Apparently, when Cannon Street opened in September 1866, this second group of women discovered that the first-class compartments of the trains between the two stations provided an ideal and cheap venue, at a fare of only sixpence (2.5p), for a ‘quickie’, as the journey took seven minutes and the windows had excellent blinds. Unfortunately, though, once the stop at Waterloo Junction, which opened in 1869, started being used on most journeys, the number of drawn blinds on these trains noticeably declined. They would easily have found elsewhere to go, however, as the area around Charing Cross was not salubrious and had long been a red light district.

“Kipling was first commemorated by the London County Council with a sepia brown plaque in the experimental series in 1940. This, one of perhaps only three plaques erected by the LCC during WWII – the others being a plaque commemorating Thomas Hardy which was erected in March 1940, just before wartime economies precipitated a seven year suspension of the scheme, and a very short lived stone tablet commemorating Lenin which was something of a propaganda stunt. The brown Kipling plaque was so badly weathered by 1957 that it was replaced with this blue roundel.” Open Plaques

Rudyard Kipling lived nearby on his return from India in 1889, attracted by the low rent and cheap eateries in Villiers Street alongside the station, which inspired him to write his first novel, The Light That Failed (1891), a story of unrequited love. Charing Cross was planned as an international station from the outset…The rapid connections with the Continent gave Charing Cross a key role in the war…

The highlight of Charing Cross station was the obligatory station
hotel, which in keeping with the fashion of the time was large
and luxurious.

There were 250 bedrooms in the seven-storey hotel that was spread across a wide French Renaissance-style frontage almost adjoining Trafalgar Square. It was designed by Edward Barry, the son of Charles Barry, the architect for the Parliament building under construction at the other end of Whitehall. Until the 195os, the outside of the attic rooms and the mansard roof were in the same style as similar buildings in Paris, which gave it a really French flavour, but sadly this was lost when the top floor was rebuilt in a more conventional Georgian style. (Historic England: “The two upper floors were reconstructed in about 1953 to the designs of FJ Wills and Son following bomb damage in 1941.”) Thankfully, perhaps, the interior was not quite as extravagant
as the Midland’s but, in fact, it was almost equally impressive in
a more restrained way, exuding a feeling of serious dependability;
class and timeless style’.” Like the Grosvenor, Charing Cross had a lift, which was so slow it was fitted with comfortable seats.
The hotel was such an instant success that a ninety-room annexe,
connected to the main building by a footbridge over Villiers Street,
was added in 1878 and it contributed considerably to the railway’s
profitability, earning in the initial years a handsome 20 per cent
rate of return on the investment.

The original Charing Cross monument had stood at the top of
Whitehall for three and a half centuries, as the grandest of a dozen
similar crosses erected across the country by Edward I in honour of his deceased wife Eleanor. The cross was destroyed by the Puritans in 1647 and Barry was charged with erecting a replacement. He managed to copy the design from an indistinct print of the original held in the British Museum, but his effort was actually even grander and more ornate than the original. At seventy feet tall and built from Portland Stone, it is an elaborate monument that stands among the taxis in front of the station but is passed unnoticed by most Londoners and visitors, being rather overshadowed by the hotel itself and Trafalgar Square nearby…

“The name of the lost hamlet, Charing, is derived from the Old English word most helpfully spelt cierring, a river bend, in this case thus meaning: in the Thames.
The suffix “Cross” refers to the Eleanor cross made during 1291–94 by order of King Edward I as a memorial to his wife, Eleanor of Castile. At the time, this place comprised little more than wayside cottages serving the Royal Mews in the northern area of today’s Trafalgar Square, and built specifically for the Palace of Whitehall(today much of the east side of Whitehall). A debunked folk etymology ran that the name is a corruption of chère reine (“dear queen” in French), but the name pre-dates Eleanor’s death by at least a hundred years. A variant form in the hazy Middle English orthography of the late fourteenth century is Cherryngescrouche.” (Wikipedia)

…Hawkshaw’s roof proved to be less solid than his bridge. Just
before Christmas 1905, work was being carried out to renew part
of the roof when the men on the scaffolding above the station
heard a sudden noise. They soon realized that the enormous
roof was beginning to sag in the middle and started to flee. The
station was hastily evacuated just before a seventy-foot section of
the roof and the huge windscreen at the river entrance crashed
onto the stationary trains below. The side wall on the western side
also collapsed, demolishing the next-door Royal Avenue Theatre.

“Initiated in 1882 by Sefton Parry, a speculative theatre builder, who bought the site hoping it would have to be purchased from him by the South Eastern & Chatham Railway Company, whose terminus was alongside. He usually claimed to design his own theatres, but, in this case, his architects were Fowler & Hill…on a site at the bottom of Northumberland Avenue/Craven Street and visible from the Embankment. The external elevation in Portland stone, curving round the corner from Craven to Villiers Street, are those of the 1882 theatre, raised in proper classical manner by the additional storey. The theatre had already been substantially altered. In 1905, during a remodelling of the interior, a mass of masonry from the side of Charing Cross station fell onto the theatre, resulting in six fatalities. The compensation, however, made it possible to reconstruct the interior completely in fashionable French taste, to the designs of Detmar, Blow & Billerey (essentially Fernand Billerey).” (Theatres Trust) https://database.theatrestrust.org.uk/resources/images/show/149-fa-ade-of-the-the-playhouse-london

Thanks to the warning signs, which resulted in a partial evacu-
ation and the fact that the collapse was in the middle of the day
rather than rush hour, only six people were killed. The subsequent
inquiry suggested that the structural integrity of the original roof was compromised by the failure of a supporting wrought-iron bar.
A fault with the initial welding had been exacerbated by the extra
weight of the scaffolding that had been erected for the maintenance. The station had to be closed for three months while repairs were undertaken, and an entirely new roof, a simple utilitarian flat design, was erected.

The collapse of the roof did have a fortuitous side effect. The station had been in need of refurbishment and, following the completion of the new roof, the amenities at the station were greatly improved, with the creation of a new large booking hall and waiting room. It also resulted in a better connection with the Underground, which was under construction at the time…”


“The older, eastern portion of the market is the direct product of Robert Horner’s vision of his own situation.”*

*the gentle author, on Spitalfields Market.

From: The Survey of London’s approaches to the history of East London, by Peter Guillery (Survey of London, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London):

“…Sheppard brought greater urban historical rigour to the Survey and the approach to recording under his leadership was increasingly inclusive, heavily influenced by his friendship with H. J. Dyos, whose pioneering work on London helped to establish urban history as a field of study…

…The introduction, probably written by **Walter Ison, among the more judgmental historians to have written for the Survey, concludes:

A return to a more amiable style of building is to be seen in the uniform ranges surrounding Spitalfields Market (1886–93), designed by George Sherrin in a pleasant semi-domestic style that derives from Norman Shaw’s work at Bedford Park. Sherrin’s building is preferable to the large additions made to the market in 1926–8, in which an attempt is made to clothe the shed-like structure with the dress of early Georgian houses. Neo-Georgian feeling of a better kind pervades the blocks of flats on the large Holland Estate, built on the Tenter Ground site for the London County Council between 1927 and 1936. The only other twentieth-century building that need be mentioned here, principally on account of its great size, is the faience-fronted factory of Messrs Godfrey Phillips in Commercial Street, built in the 1930s.

In terms of both style and content much has changed since in the way the Survey of London conducts its research and presents its material…”

**Christopher Woodward: “Ison (1908-97) was born to a middle-class family in Leamington. He worked as a junior assistant in the office of Frank Verity, the theatre architects, and studied architecture in the evenings.”

From: ‘Spitalfields Market area’, in Survey of London: Volume 27, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town, ed. F H W Sheppard (London, 1957):

“…The first part of Horner’s rebuilding to be completed was the roofing-over of the central marketplace. A competition for designs was advertised in February 1883 and of eighteen competitors Messrs. Oswald Gardner and Company were successful. By March 1884 the first three spans of the glass and iron roof were in place. In 1883–1885 the old seventeenth-century buildings surrounding the market-place were demolished…

…Between 1886 and 1893 the new buildings which still survive as the eastern part of the market were erected. The architect was George Sherrin of Finsbury Square and the contractors Messrs. Harris and Wardrop of Limehouse. A project for the complete reconstruction of the market property with entry from the corners was abandoned, and North, South and East Streets were largely retained, although the previously wholly open access was replaced by openings in continuous buildings on the north, south and east sides.

The iron and glass halls of Horner’s market are enclosed by ranges of shops with two storeys and a garret-storey of living accommodation over them. These buildings have a pleasant domestic character, influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and slightly reminiscent of Norman Shaw’s work at Bedford Park…

…The fronts are faced with a good red brick, dressed with moulded brick, stone and plaster, and the steeply pitched roofs are tiled. The sashed windows, which have brick segmental arches with stone keys, are grouped in pairs or placed singly between pilasterstrips of brick, and are underlined by stone sills on narrow brackets, the second-floor sills forming a continuous band. The south range of the Commercial Street front has a plaster-faced gable at each end and one just south of the centre, the last emphasizing the wide rusticated archway below. The north range, with a shorter frontage, has a gable at each end, and between the two ranges is a square glass-roofed building of two storeys, fronted with three rusticated arches, their lunettes containing highly ornamented windowsurrounds.

The plaster panel over the arched entrance in the south range is inscribed ‘SPITALFIELDS MARKET Rebuilt by Robert Horner during the year of QUEEN Victoria’s Jubilee 1887’…

…The lead rainwater-heads on the east range of the Brushfield Street front are dated 1886, and those on the west range are dated 1889…

“The recurring decorative sunflower in iron, stained glass, stucco, terracotta, and wood, was the hallmark of Queen Anne and of Aestheticism (Gilbert and Sullivan lampooned it in Patience in 1881)…Taylor had used sunflower panels on his almshouses as well, but in service of the rural Old English. Queen
Anne, more urbane and eclectic, was fashionable in Bedford Park and
in London itself, especially among artists and aesthetes in Kensington
and Chelsea, where it signified advanced artistic taste.” (Susan Wagg, 2013)

…On the Lamb Street corner is a plaster panel inscribed ’this market was finished rebuilding by R. Horner 1893’…

…The final cost to Horner of the rebuilding was about £80,000.”

Victoria Station Arcade, Terminus Place, Victoria, London SW1

Terminus Place is the road which links Victoria Bus Station to Buckingham Palace Road, the main road through the area. It contains the entrance to the Victoria Arcade, opposite the main entrance to Victoria Station.

From the Historic England entry:

“Victoria Station Arcade…

…and the attached range of shops…

…in Terminus Place formed part of the rebuilding of Victoria Metropolitan District Railway (MDR) Station in 1909-11. The MDR (known as the District Railway), had been acquired in 1901 by the American transport entrepreneur, Charles Tyson Yerkes, becoming a subsidiary of his Underground Electric Railways Co of London Ltd, which implemented the planned electrification of the line in 1901-5.

Electrification meant that stations could now be fully enclosed and ticket halls sited below ground, freeing up valuable space at street level for retail lets. Victoria was one of several MDR stations to be rebuilt during this period. The architect, George C Sherrin, had designed MDR stations at Liverpool Street, South Kensington and Kensington High Street, each incorporating a shopping arcade.

Steel framing was by now routinely employed in Underground station construction, which enabled the addition of extra storeys for commercial lets at a later date. At Victoria, a large superstructure over the station and arcade was envisaged at the outset, enabled by the provision of deep concrete foundations and a reinforced concrete raft over the station platforms. Sherrin had produced designs for a grand hotel in the Edwardian Baroque manner, but the plans were rejected by the London County Council. After Sherrin’s death in December 1909 the station design was completed by Harry W Ford, architect to the MDR, who made some minor modifications to the arcade. In 1922-5 a large office block, Victoria Station House…

…was built over the arcade to the design of Trehearne and Norman. At the same time a single-storey restaurant was built at the rear of the shops in Terminus Place.”


George Campbell Sherrin (1843-1909)

Above (Theatres Trust): “The architects George Sherrin and John Clarke designed a large, domed tower in Baroque style to mark the main entrance of the Kursaal site. The Kursaal Palace, Southend, of 1901 was a large, flat-floored single-balcony music hall and ballroom in the centre of the complex.”

From: London Underground By Design (2019), by Mark Ovenden:

“Commercial pressures haunt the history of the Underground. Architect George Sherrin had been employed by the Met to rebuild Liverpool Street…

…and other stations with shopping arcades incorporated into them. As well as generating much-needed extra income, the work was generally elegant. At High Street Kensington, for instance, passengers passed through a beautiful glazed octagonal ticket office (recently restored) to reach Derry & Toms and Pontings department stores…

“This building, carried out in 1906–8, consists of a shallow four-storey building of thin red bricks and stone dressings. In the centre is a toplit arcade flanked by shop windows and leading to an octagonal space which has side entrances off into stores; originally this contained the booking hall. Though the front of the building is uncomfortably asymmetrical and its windows are jammed together, Sherrin’s crisp details, neat internal arcading and spacious octagon have some elegance.” (Survey of London)

…At South Kensington the ticket hall was relocated to provide space for a joint facility with the Piccadilly and the pedestrian tunnel to the Museums, allowing room for a new arcade of shops flanked by huge wrought-iron grilles in the entrance ceilings (still in situ) with the station name in serifed Green-style capitals…

…At Victoria and elsewhere, the company initials ‘D.R.’ were shown in an arcade ceiling cartouche (still visible today).”

The Architecture of Pleasure: British Amusement Parks 1900-1939 (2013), by Josephine Kane:

“…The Kursaal is strikingly lacking in the stylistic flourishes which had – thanks to architects such as Frank Matcham, Eugenius Birch and Maxwell & Tuke – become the approved hallmarks of seaside architecture. Even the supposedly promotional voice of Darbyshire’s Guide to Southend-on-Sea could not hide its disappointment in the new exterior: ‘the elevation of the Kursaal is not altogether striking – in fact, the heavy-looking red brick structure, with stone facings and terracotta ornamentations, is rather depressing; but what is lost in attractiveness is gained in solidity.’

The light and spacious interior enjoyed greater favour, despite its use of cheap materials and finishes:

The main entrance, protected by an ornamental portico, faces Marine Parade, overlooking the sea, and leads to the octagonal entrance hall, which is surmounted by a lofty dome, supported upon eight massive pillars of richly ornamented fire plaster [ ] Light is obtained from portholes in the dome, which are cleverly obscured by a very effective arrangement of coloured glass…throughout the building so that an abundance of daylight is admitted everywhere. [ ] In the centre of the [entrance] hall, majestic palms and exotics are to be placed; and from the hall radiate the arcade, the ballroom, and the dining hall.’

By the late 1890s, the Kursaal’s chief architect, George Sherrin, was a well-established member of London’s artistic and architectural élite, contributing to Royal Academy exhibitions, and becoming an RIBA Fellow in 1898. At the time of the Kursaal commission, Sherrin ran a thriving London architectural practice, with a string of high-profile projects to his name, including élite private residences, churches, schools and London Underground railway stations. In 1893, Sherrin was commissioned to design the superstructure for Moorgate Station…

(Image shows corner of Moorfields and Moor Place; the other side of the station faces Moorgate.) Moorgate started life as a surface station when the Metropolitan Line was extended east in 1865.
Moorgate station was rebuilt 1894-96, architect George Campbell Sherrin. The single storey station building opened on 17 June 1896.

…and the following year, to complete the dome of the London Oratory, South Kensington, providing technical experience which would be employed at the Kursaal.

The Kursaal, Southend, Essex, was the first of only two forays into recreational architecture – in 1903, Sherrin designed the Alexandra Hotel, with assembly hall, theatre and restaurant on Marine Parade, Dovercourt, Essex.


But Sherrin had developed a consistent style irrespective of context. The Kursaal lacks the novelty and excitement which had come to define seaside architecture, and there is little to distinguish it from Sherrin’s other commissions. Following the Kursaal commission, for example, he provided the Metropolitan Railway with a new plan for its High Street Kensington Station in 1903-4, later re-designing stations at South Kensington, Gloucester Road…


…and Victoria. The High Street Kensington scheme (executed 1906-8) bears a striking resemblance to the Kursaal…

…Sherrin’s portfolio in 1898 did not make him an obvious choice of architect for a seaside amusement complex. He did, however, lend an air of solid respectability to the project. His commissions epitomise the revival of English Baroque which dominated public architectural commissions at the turn of the century. Sherrin’s position in the London architectural world provided a network of useful contacts, including the engineer R. J. G. Read, with his experience of tower buildings. Finally, Sherrin had local knowledge of Southend. He had begun his career in Essex, and maintained a second house in Ingatestone. In light of this, the choice of Sherrin follows a general trend in south coast resort development for employment of locally known architects.”


“Despite St Pancras’s unfinished state, the Midland opted to open it on 1 October 1868.”*

*From: Cathedrals of Steam (2020), by Christian Wolmar:

“…There is the neo-Gothic frontage, including the George Gilbert Scott-designed hotel and clock tower, and the train shed, an engineering tour de force, which is the work of William Barlow, the Midland Railway’s chief engineer, supported by Rowland Mason Ordish, the structural engineer…

…Little work was undertaken on the station buildings before
the shed behind St Pancras was completed. Major construction,
delayed by the financial crisis of 1866, finally started in April 1867,
but progress was fitful. There were a series of disputes between Scott and the Midland when the company wanted to pare back some aspects of the design. Mostly they were minor cuts (it is evident today, for instance, that the niches along the front of the building were designed to take figures that never materialized) and, aside from some furnishings, Scott mostly got his way. Again, as with the shed, there was a lot of attention to the source of materials. The glowing red bricks were from Nottingham and laid with consummate skill while, as described in Gordon Biddle’s seminal work on railway architecture, ‘the lavish dressings, replete with every kind of adornment, are in different shades of Ancaster and Ketton limestone, red sandstone from Mansfield and grey and red polished granite from Petershead for the shafts and columns.

With costs mounting, the directors sought further cutbacks
and attempted to delay completion of the hotel, leaving the west tower unbuilt. Without it the building would have been lop-sided,
according to Biddle, who wrote that it forms the dominant feature
of the façade, complemented at the east end by the tall, steepled
clock tower’.”

“Outside the station the clock tower on the Midland Grand Hotel has a clock on each elevation while inside the station a massive clock was displayed at the south end of the trainshed. At 16ft 9ins (5.15m) diameter it was said to be the largest clock at any railway station in England, with the length of hour hand being 4ft 5ins and that of the minute hand 7ft 3ins (Williams F.S 1877:348). The clock dial was made of slate. (All the clocks at St Pancras were constructed by Mr John Walker of Cornhill, London.) This splendid clock remained in place for nearly 100 years…the pieces from Roland (Hoggard)’s barn however yet again provided a template for a new clock to be built – this time using materials similar to the original – metal plate, slate diamond shaped hour markers and roman numerals. The third St Pancras clock was made by Dent with Smith of Derby – both companies with long histories of clock making. Dent were an important player in Victorian clock making history – they made the standard clock at the Royal Observatory Greenwich as well as Big Ben – and Smith of Derby were established in 1856 and supplied the Midland Railway Company.” StPancras.com
“Facilities more closely associated with running a railway may
have taken second place but had not been entirely forgotten. The
spacious booking hall off the main concourse was another example
of extravagance with an extremely high, arched roof that could have
passed off as a nave in a sizeable church. The wood-panelled ticket
office in one corner almost seemed like an afterthought, such was
the scale of the room, which received natural light from six pointed
arch windows. Passengers waiting to buy tickets could amuse
themselves by trying to guess which of the whimsical figures of
various key rail workers on the stone brackets was the driver, guard, pointsman or signalbox boy they were supposed to represent. From
this hall, several doorways led to the roof-enclosed concourse.” Wolmar
“in the figure of James Allport, the Midland had both
a commercial genius with great business acumen and someone with
a thorough understanding of engineering. It was a combination
that proved vital over the next few years. The son of a Birmingham
small arms manufacturer, Allport had worked in the railways for
thirty years but was still under sixty and had a youthful exuberance
for innovation…Throughout the building process, Allport
insisted on only the best materials being used, something that has
subsequently contributed to the building’s resilience. Stone was
either Derbyshire gritstone or Bramley Fall stone from Yorkshire,
the same quarry that was used for the Euston Arch. Slate was
sourced from Wales, and Derbyshire iron was used for the wrought
ironwork.” Wolmar

From Wikipedia:

“(Allport) was a director of the Midland from 1854 to 1857, but returned to being the general manager. When he retired in 1880 he was given an honorary directorship, and was knighted in 1884.

Allport was sponsor of an Act of Parliament in 1883 to install a network of high-pressure cast iron water mains under London. It merged two of Edward B. Ellington’s companies to form the London Hydraulic Power Company, which eventually powered machinery in docks and buildings across large areas of central London.

Allport died at the Midland Grand Hotel, St. Pancras, on 25 April 1892, from acute inflammation of the lungs, the result of a chill. His funeral at Belper Cemetery took place on 29 April 1892.”

(From Pancras Road) “As for the exterior, a contemporary edition
of Building News provides the best description, and attempted
to set out Scott’s thinking in designing the façade according to a
classical hierarchy of decorative features, rather than just providing
a mish-mash of random detail: ‘We find the simple semi-circular
massive ground-floor windows, the ornate, trefoiled, traceried, and
cusped first-floor windows, and the two upper tiers of less detail as
they are removed from the eye, each designed with reference to their
position, instead of, as too often seen, the most elaborate multiplicity
placed so far above the eye as to be thrown away.” Wolmar

In Battersea Park Road, London SW11

From railwaystationlists.co.uk:

“This list aims to cover the whole of the traditional electric, steam, cable & horse tramway systems in the London area. Routes are listed in numerical order generally as at October 1934 (Kingston area as 1930 map, horse tramways as 1913 map).”

From Wikipedia:

“The London County Council Tramways was an extensive network of public street tramways operated by the council throughout the County of London, UK, from 1899 to 1933, when they were taken over by the London Passenger Transport Board.

Under the Tramways Act 1870 local authorities were permitted to acquire privately operated tramways in their area after they had been operating for twenty-one years. Accordingly, in October 1891 the LCC decided to exercise its option to take over four and a half miles of route operated by the London Street Tramways Company. The company disagreed with the price offered by the council, and the sale did not go through until 1 March 1895. As the LCC had no powers to operate tramways itself, it put the operation of the line out to tender, which the incumbent London Streetways won, being the only applicant.

In 1896 the London Street Tramways offered its network for sale to the county council, as did the North Metropolitan Tramways Company. The council purchased the lines, and the North Metropolitan was awarded a fourteen-year lease to operate them.

The council succeeded in having the London County Council Act 1896 passed, which gave it powers to operate trams. The next system to be acquired was that of the London Tramways Company in 1899, and from that date all lines taken over were operated by the county council itself. By 1909 most of the tramways in the county had been taken over, the LCC operating 113 miles (182 km) of tramways.

In 1900 a further Act of Parliament gave the council the power to electrify its system. On 15 May 1903 the first electrified section from Westminster to Tooting was opened by The Prince and Princess of Wales who rode the route in a specially decorated tramcar, and paid their fares with halfpenny coins minted for the occasion. The last horse tram ran on 30 April 1915. Much of the system used overhead power pickup, but also the conduit system of electric current, as the metropolitan boroughs had the power of veto on the installation of overhead wires.

The tramways north and south of the River Thames were almost completely separate until the opening of the Kingsway Subway in 1908.

From 1 July 1921 the LCC Tramways assumed operation of the Leyton Urban District Council Tramways trams.

In 1933, the LCC Tramways had 167 miles (269 km) of tracks in operation, of which about nine were in Leyton, and a quarter of a mile owned by the City of London. Much of Central London was never served by trams, these being excluded from the area by legislation passed in 1872.

LCC trams could also be seen outside the county of London. Apart from operating the Leyton system, there were connections and joint running arrangements with the neighbouring company and municipal systems. This brought council trams to Purley on the Croydon Corporation system, Barnet and Enfield on that of Metropolitan Electric Tramways, and Hampton Court on London United Tramways metals.

The council opened a coal-fired power station for the tramways on the Thames at Greenwich in 1906. As well as 22 tram depots around the county, refurbishment and maintenance works were opened at Charlton in 1909.

On 1 July 1933, the London County Council Tramways passed to the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB), known as London Transport. However, the LCC tram management operated the large tram and small trolleybus fleet of London Transport at takeover and expanded the trolleybus fleet at the expense of the tram fleet, such that trams were virtually eliminated North of the Thames by 1940.”

From tramway.co.uk:

“By the time London County Council no. 1 came into service in 1932, Britain’s tramways were at a crossroads. Faced with growing traffic congestion, increased competition from motor buses and ageing infrastructure, many first generation tramways had already closed and been replaced by either trolleybuses or motor buses. Not all tramways were prepared to give up without a fight, however, and other London operators had responded to the challenge by introducing more modern and efficient tramcars. Not to be outdone, the London County Council decided to not only upgrade its existing fleet but also invest in a new experimental tramcar of much more advanced design…”


Emma Cons (1837-1912) and Lilian Baylis (1874-1937)

Above: Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Rosebery Ave, London EC1.

Emma Cons Gardens, The Cut, London SE1. “The Cut (formerly New Cut) is a street in London which runs between Waterloo Road in Lambeth and Blackfriars Road in Southwark, approximately parallel to the South Eastern Railway (England). The Old Vic theatre is at the western (Lambeth) end.” (Wikipedia)

From: an entry by John Earl in The Theatres Trust Guide to British Theatres, 1750-1950 – a Gazetteer (2000)*:

*updated version of Curtains!!! (1982). 

“…Historically, as well as architecturally, the Vic (The Old Vic, The Cut, London SE1) is one of London’s most precious theatrical possessions. Built as a ‘minor’ for melodrama and pantomime, it was important in the history and development of popular theatre…It became world famous under (Emma) Cons and Lilian Baylis. The management of the Vic and the history of its productions have formed the subject of innumerable books and papers, but there has never been a completely authoritative architectural study. The Survey of London vol. XXIII offers little more than a sketch. Like the Haymarket, the Vic deserves meticulous research, close physical investigation and interpretive recording.”

From the website of English Heritage:

“Cons was a lifelong temperance campaigner and in 1879 she founded the Coffee Music Hall Company with the aim of developing the coffee tavern as an attractive non-alcoholic alternative to pubs and gin-palaces. Her first venture was the Old Vic in Waterloo Road. It opened as the Royal Victoria Coffee Music Hall in 1880, and nine years later also became the venue for Morley College’s evening classes for working-class men and women.

In 1899 Cons passed the management of the Old Vic to her niece, Lilian Baylis, who transformed the venue into a theatre. In the same year Cons took her seat as one of only three female members of the newly formed London County Council.”

John Earl, as above, on Sadler’s Wells:

“In all essentials, a completely new theatre and strictly, therefore, the Wells falls outside the scope of this survey. However, some parts of earlier theatres have survived and, as a location, the record of almost continuous occupation by an entertainment house on a single site is exceeded only by that of Drury Lane. On this basis it cannot be ignored.

A wooden ‘musick house’ was erected on the site in 1683, after discovery of medicinal wells in the grounds of Thomas Sadler. Successor theatres presented popular work of outstanding elaboration and quality, but it was not until the breaking of the Patent Theatres monopoly in 1843 that it became a mainstream theatre under Phelps. It became a music hall in 1893, then a cinema. In 1906 it fell into dereliction. Acquired by a charity initiated by Lilian Baylis, it was completely rebuilt and opened in 1931 in harness with the Old Vic and with the same policy of bringing quality theatre to the people. From 1934 it was dedicated to opera and ballet. The rather cheerless 1934 theatre was one of the first in London to be protected by inclusion in the Statutory List, an honour which must have been bestowed more in recognition of the historic ‘holy ground’ reputation of the site (and its wells) than for reasons of architectural quality.

A fully researched architectural history of the various Wells theatres is long overdue, including, as it would, Cabanel’s historically important 1802 reconstruction and its subsequent evolution. Where will we find a Leacroft or a Southern to do it?”