Saturday, 9 January 2016

Spiegelhalter's - one year on.

It was a year ago today that I launched a campaign to save the facade of Spiegelhalter's in the Mile End Road. Developers wanted to demolish the plucky little structure and replace it with a void flanked by metal shards (what I described as 'pound store Serra'). This would have eradicated what the great topographer Ian Nairn called 'one of the best visual jokes in London'.

The campaign, supported by the Victorian Society, the East End Preservation Group and the 20th Century Society, attracted huge interest. There was coverage in coal and national newspapers, local and national radio and television and (most importantly) around 3,000 signatures from supporters. Thank you all!

You can visit the campaign site here:  here.

And you can read London's peerless chronicler The Gentle Author's fine piece on Spiegelhalter's (also published one year ago today) here: here.

It's good to know this tiny fragment of London's past will survive for now - but elsewhere it's a different story. Look around you - the real London is fast disappearing, the skyline becoming Dubai-on-Thames. Glass blocks of no aesthetic merit are relaxing established and richly-textured districts in the city. The legacy of Mayor Boris will be a cluster of gargantuan dildos on our horizon.
There's no affordable housing to buy or even rent in Greater London or most of the suburbs and the impactions of this for us all are nothing short of catastrophic.

Campaigns are easy to set up but time-consuming to run: but if my modest effort in the East End has any value it's to suggest one way of organising opposition to thoughtless and rapacious developers and architects. We have every right to demand the best from both.

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