Bloomsbury: The Case Against Destruction
In 1952 it was agreed, after a public enquiry, that the network of little streets in front of the British Museum should be pulled down to make room for the British Library. In 1962 the minister of Works (as he then was) appointed Sir Leslie Martin and Colin St John Wilson as architects.
The proposals became detailed in the early 1970s and the February 1974 edition of the Architectural Review was scathing of the emerging scheme design, “St George’s is hemmed in a narrow, chillingly unsuitable gulch. The British Museum is faced, much too close, with an unbroken front of building which is much larger than itself; and the north/south route through the site has been extinguished altogether.”
“This may, conceivably, be the way to build a library. Emphatically it is not the way to rebuild a central piece of city.”
A campaign was mounted by Camden Council and presented in a booklet; Bloomsbury: The Case Against Destruction with every street in the area of proposed destruction recorded by artist, Albany Wiseman.
The booklet is opened by Frank Dobson who, at the time, was Leader of Camden Council:
“It is a primary duty of the elected representatives of the residents of Central London to resist any further measures of depopulation. The venerable plan to house the national library collection in buildings next to the British Museum would involve the destruction of one of the few remaining mixed communities in the centre of London”
We are planning an exhibition of Albany’s beautiful sketches in July 2014.