We had a great visit this week to 55 Broadway, Charles Holden’s iconic building in Westminster, as it closed its doors for the last time as TfL’s HQ. Built in 1929 for the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, it was a bold architectural statement with sculptures by Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Henry Moore on its facade, beautiful modernist travertine interiors and ornamental bronze fittings. Edmund Bird, head of TfL’s heritage, gave us a fascinating tour, including up to the 10th floor roof gardens and 14th floor observation deck. Safe to say it’s still hard to beat those 360 degree views! The building is to be converted to a luxury hotel.

2020 started off with an X-ray investigation of Karel Vogel’s beautiful Leaning Woman statue in Hammersmith – to see what we could understand of its complicated internal structure before we finalise plans for her restoration & relocation nearby. While the upper areas – head and neck – had visible pinning, the statue’s trunk was made of very dense concrete and no images were possible. We will be progressing this in the next months…

 

We had a wonderful morning celebrating the restoration of the Christopher Wren spire in Forest Hill. A great turnout from the local community – neighbours, friends and Year 5 pupils from the local primary school, Holy Trinity School, mince pies and festive biscuits! One of the children, Freya Joseph-Howe, cut the ribbon. Everyone had a chance to chat to the stonemasons about their work.

The spire’s been a fantastic project with so much local enthusiasm and press interest. A couple of nice pieces here and here.

 

We had the most spectacular afternoon on Friday at Buckingham Palace, with a hundred of HOLT’s guests gathered in the Music Room for a lecture by our Patron HRH The Duke of Gloucester. The Duke took us on a mesmerising sweep through Europe with ‘Baroque Architecture – A Fashion or Belief?’, bringing it all to life with the lightest touch. The talk was followed by a delicious and elegant tea in the Blue Drawing Room. Thank you to everyone who joined us and made it such a memorable afternoon.

Please note these photos are not for distribution.

We had a great day bringing pupils from two local schools to see the Wren Spire project in Forest Hill… We talked about the Great Fire, the remarkable Sir Christopher Wren & his rebuilding of London and St Antholin’s church in the City. The children learnt about their local philanthropist and printing pioneer Robert Harrild who rescued St Antholin’s spire after it was damaged in a storm in 1829 and brought it to his garden in Sydenham. And they talked to the stonemasons, London Stone Conservation, about their work.

We visited our project at Reliance Arcade in Brixton to see work on the faience tiles, joined by Chris Elliot, Egyptian architecture expert and our corporate supporters Mishcon de Reya.

The Aldgate Pump has just received its handmade iron lantern, replacing the original lost 100 years ago! The lantern features a low-emission light bulb designed to project the same glow as the gas flame that powered the original.

 

We braved the hottest day of the year so far to climb St Leonard’s Church overlooking busy Shoreditch. We stood face to (clock) face to inspect the beautifully gilded Roman numerals with Melvyn Lee, Director of Thwaites & Reed. The clock’s 18th century mechanism had long stopped working and become a pigeon nesting site – the project will be securing it for the future.