Save the Workhouse on Cleveland Street Fitzrovia
- John Penrose MP, Minister for Tourism and Heritage & Alex Bushell, Planner, London Borough of Camden
- United Kingdom
The building at 44 Cleveland Street in Fitzrovia (near London's Telecom Tower) is the best preserved Georgian workhouse in central London. Originally built on fields in 1775, it has been used for the care of elderly and sick Londoners ever since. It had been the Outpatients' Department of the Middlesex Hospital for many years when it was closed in 2006.
The building stands pretty much unchanged since Georgian times, and it is a rare living testimony to those bleak institutions as a whole, rich in architectural as well as historical interest.
Since the closure and destruction of the Middlesex Hospital (to the south-west) complete demolition and redevelopment of this former workhouse has also been proposed: the building in the new plans is yet another very large development of expensive flats quite out of character with the surroundings. A planning application has already been submitted and the decision in favour or against is imminent, and so potentially is its demolition.
Time is really upon us all to save this Georgian building. For too long it has been overlooked and judged only on the basis of its functionality. Its aesthetic is austere and rigorous and yet it sits extremely well between the elegant neighbouring period properties, and its ties with social and medical history are extraordinary, making it a London landmark.
Recent research also links the workhouse as the likely inspiration for Charles Dickens Oliver Twist, as it has been discovered that the famous author lived only a few doors away. Dr Joseph Rogers, a friend of Dickens, worked at the workhouse for many years, and his work was responsible for key reforms of the time.
Virtually every other Georgian property in the country has already been listed, on the basis that - no matter what the aesthetic represented - the age of the building and the fact that Georgian properties are in percentage rare are sufficient elements to grant preservation. Justice needs to be done!
Find out more information about our petition and the campaign to save the building via the following links:
Cleveland Street Workhouse - www.clevelandstreetworkhouse.org
The Georgian Group
Camden Planning Application Ref 2010/2205/P
Camden Planning Application Ref 2010/2209/C
The Times - Public Letter asking for building to be saved
Dobson's statement on workhouse published in the Times
The Times - Activist response to Dobson statement
Westminster Councillor Support
Georgian Group - Impressive groundswell of support
Dr Richardson - Joesph Rogers and the reform of workhouse medicine
CNJ - Dobson seeks demolition
University of London - Georgian workhouse under threat
West End Extra - Workhouse is just as it should be
Powerful letter written by SAVE Britain's Heritage
The former Strand Union Workhouse was built in 1775 and not only it has contributed a very important role in the abolition of workhouses, but it is also a rare example of a functional, purpose-built Georgian workhouse which should be preserved for the generations to come.