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Notes and news — April 1977

In this issue:

Recording Group

The Recording Group has been reorganising during the winter and now, with David Thomas as secretary, Robert Vickers is able to apply himself to the other end of the job: writing reports on the workshops and factories they recorded just ahead of the bulldozer in the last couple of years. It is hoped that the first fruits of this new arrangement will be available shortly — a booklet on Tower Bridge. (No, it hasn't been bulldozed, but it has seen some considerable changes in the past year).

I note that some of our new members said on their forms that they were interested in recordings — do get in touch with David Thomas, he will be delighted to hear from you and do have a look at the last page of this newsletter to get an idea of the sort of things we 'record'.

A year or so ago the Recording Group visited the Silchester Road Public Laundry and Slipper Baths in North Kensington with the object of looking at its interesting machinery, they became involved with local groups campaigning for the preservation of the (to quote the Inspectors' report) 'magnificent late 19th-century' building and subsequently added GLIAS's protest at the enquiry. The result is that the Secretary of State for the Environment has refused consent to the demolition of this listed building.

Three lessons can be learned from this, I think: never assume that demolition is inevitable — this building must have looked a very bad proposition for retention a few years ago being only one of many hefty Victorian buildings that nobody appreciated, its purpose gone, its roof stripped of lead by vandals. Secondly, never assume that because the DoE have said 'No' to its demolition that it's safe — there is still the risk of 'Seifert-fire' or a 'dangerous structure' notice slapped on it by a carefully neglectful council. Thirdly, the success of the conservation groups in this case, as in many others, was probably due to the fact that they proposed reasonable uses for the buildings, not only did the Inspector think that it would provide an historic landmark in an area largely redeveloped, but the local history museum and community centre suggested were needed by the new residents; he also thought that if local youth could be interested in the restoration of the building it would not only save public funds, but also help to prevent further vandalism.

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© GLIAS, 1977