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Peter Murray

 

On 5 December, Matt Brown, editor at large of the Londonist and author of Everything You Know About London is Wrong, gave the Christmas talk to the Society members at the offices of Pilbrow & Partners in St John’s Square. Jo East reports.

Founded 14 years ago by Matt and other likeminded enthusiasts for all things London, and described by Frank Skinner as “the thinking person’s guide to London” the Londonist has grown to be an online font of knowledge about both London’s current events, and its history and myths. Over the years this has given Matt privileged access to areas denied to most people and Matt took us on a tour of literally the highs and the lows of his time at the Londonist – roofs and tunnels.

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Peter Murray

 

2017 was a bumper year for The London Society with 2500 people attending some 60 events – and 2018 is shaping up to be even better and bigger!

We’ll be continuing with the busy programme of walks, talks and Saturday Morning Schools, as well as, of course, the Banister Fletcher Lecture but 2018 will also see the Society investigating a number of new themes: Alan Powers, former Chair of the 20th Century Society curates a series of talks on London in the 1930s – when planning was so influenced by the Society’s agenda; Eric Reynolds, famous for creating Camden Market, among others, and regenerating Trinity Buoy Wharf, is putting together a programme onLondon: Global Market looking at key examples like Billlingsgate, Spitalfields, Leadenhall and Borough; GLA planner Colin Wilson is curating a programme around the London Plan, which will be the focus of much attention during the year, entitled Planning for 10 Million Londoners.

We will be continuing our studies of London Great Estates and London Iconsthroughout the year.  There will also be Members Only series – How We Work a series of visits to the capital’s key architectural and planning practices to look at the work they are doing and how it will impact on the London of the future.

Click here to download a copy of the current 2018 Spring Events Programme

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Peter Murray

 

The fourth of the Society’s Saturday Morning Planning School talks was on Saturday 11th November 2017 with Rachel Fisher (Head of Infrastructure in the Cities and Local Growth Unit at DCLG) explloring the flip side of local growth – can places become too successful? Drawing on international and UK examples, the talk explored the relationship between planning policy and what happens in reality. Barry Coidan reports.

On Saturday we were treated to Rachel Fisher’s enlivening personal view on how growth happens on the ground in towns and cities here and around the world.

Rachel began with the general and took us down to the particular – Harlow, a planned town in Essex, and Haringey, a not so planned borough of London. On the way we visited New York, Bologna and Bilbao.

In general terms the conditions for growth (and prosperity) are: good jobs, homes (affordable and market priced) and connectivity – be that broadband or transport links. We’re all urban now. The 21st century is the century of cities and London takes its place as a global city – with a huge population vying for limited space. Imagine the functions of New York, Washington and Los Angeles in one place – that’s London. Its size, economy and status means it has a disproportionate impact on the rest of the UK. Scaling a map based on population, the UK looks grotesquely distorted – with London bloating out much of England south of the Wash.

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Peter Murray

 

Members are the lifeblood of the London Society, helping fund our events, publications and the work we do with the All-Party Parliamentary Group.

More than that, the engaged membership that we have gets involved in the talks and debates we hold, comes on the tours and walks, and contributes to the discussion on the sort of capital city that we want.

If you’re interested in making London a better place in which to live and to work, want to know more about the city’s history and development, enjoy seeing ‘behind the scenes’ at famous buildings and architects’ practices, then you really need to become a member.

And this is the best time at which to join. In the New Year, membership rates increase, so if you join now, you can save up to £10 off.

The spring 2018 events programme is taking shape (you can download the current list here) with booking open to members for several events.

Many of our events sold out in 2017, so if you want to make sure that you don’t miss a talk or tour that you’re really interested in, then becoming a member gives you priority booking as well as discounted tickets.

We have nearly 1,000 individual members now and hope to get this to 1,500 next year. Join today and you’ll be part of a growing society that is educating, informing and entertaining its members. Click here for more information.

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Peter Murray

 

The next meeting of the forum will be on Monday 11th December at HTA Design LLP between 2.30 and 5.30 pm. Please confirm if you wish to attend with the Secretary, Drummond
Robson robplan@btconnect.com, 0778 732 6019.

DISCUSSION TOPICS:
‘The Housing Problem in London: A Broken Planning System’
Introduced by Sir Mark Boleat, London City Corporation and author of the Report.
Amit Mahotra, Head of Planning at Telford Homes and Rosemarie Jenkins from Islington Council together with Nick Cluff, Land Director of Pocket Living, will provide some thoughts on Sir Mark’s paper.

Draft London Plan.
Darren Richards, Head of London Plan, Rachael Rooney, Principal Strategic Planner at Greater London Authority, with John Lett, formerly an officer at GLA have been invited to prompt the discussion

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Peter Murray

 

High Buildings, Low Morals. Another sideways look at twentieth-century London.

by Rob Baker

Reviewed by Don Brown

 

Fans of Rob Baker’s blog ‘Another Nickel in the Machine‘ and his earlier collection of tales of the West End of the 20th century, ‘Beautiful Idiots and Brilliant Lunatics‘ will not need any further recommendation to buy his new selection of stories of the characters – performers, club owners, crooks and hangers on – from London’s night life.

The title comes from a Noel Coward quote (and Coward is a recurrent visitor throughout the book) “I don’t know what London’s coming to – the higher the buildings, the lower the morals.” and provides a dozen cause celebres of the last century – huge stories in their time that filled acres of newsprint – which have now been completely forgotten.

There’s Tallulah Bankhead seducing schoolboys at Eton (“We don’t at all mind you taking some of the senior boys over for a smoke or drink or a little sex on a Sunday afternoon. That doesn’t upset me. What does upset me is you giving them cocaine before chapel.“) Or Lord Boothby – formerly Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill – and his deeply suspect ‘friendship’ with Ronnie Kray, or the drug-related death of the actress Billie Carleton in 1918.

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Peter Murray

 

The third of the Society’s Saturday Morning Planning School talks was on Saturday 4th November 2017 with Dr Paul Watt of Birkbeck College University of London discussing regeneration projects: what is meant by ‘urban regeneration’ and an examination of  what is referred to as ‘sports-led regeneration’ with particular analysis of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Barry Coidan reports.

Dr Watt’s talk – “London 2012 and the post – Olympics city – a hollow legacy?” began with an overview of urban policy, and regeneration in the UK and Europe. We then looked at recent Olympic Games and their raison d’être besides being sporting spectacles, before focusing on the London 2012 Olympics and its stated aims, the geographical area it was to impact on and its outcomes.

Urban Policy is broad brush: focused on area or territorial impact, not geared to a specific clientele, service provision or benefits. Regeneration seeks to bring about physical renewal as well as social and economic improvement to the area affected. This change is to be sustainable and achieved through a mix of private, public and voluntary sector involvement.

There was, however, little evidence that government decision making recognised that urban regeneration affected different people differently. This lack of recognition in developing a regeneration strategy – asking who it was for, who are to be the real beneficiaries – would impact on the desired outcomes.  

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Peter Murray

Member Jo East describes our visit to this grand and, er, ‘historic’Art Deco style hotel, not far from Selfridges

The Society’s party was welcomed to the subterranean Lotos Room – a grandly boardroom-style function room – by famed (Wolseley etc) restaurateur and co-owner of this Mayfair hotel, Jeremy King (Corbin and King). The architect of the project, Patrick Reardon (Reardon Smith), who has over 40 years experience of working on luxury hotels, was also in attendance.

The room is adorned with photos of famed ‘20s figures, and Jeremy explained that many if not all of these people had graced The Beaumont when the hotel was first opened by a US ‘refugee’ from Prohibition, the famed Jimmy Beaumont. Patrick explained that the hotel had fallen into the hands of a chain in the 70s, who had covered everything with Formica. Miraculously, when this was stripped away, Patrick was delighted to find many of the original features still intact, providing the basis for a magnificent restoration. By way of historical colour, Jeremy drew particular attention to the vital part The Beaumont had played in being a base for pro-British Americans, who helped Roosevelt to enter WWII.

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Peter Murray

 

The central London branch of the Historical Association has arranged a private guided tour of Spencer House, London’s finest surviving 18th century aristocratic palace, on 17 December.

Built between 1756-1766 for John, first Earl Spencer, an ancestor of Diana, Princess of Wales, Spencer House is in St James’s Place and is recognised as one of the most ambitious aristocratic town houses ever built in London and the city’s only great eighteenth-century private palace to survive intact. This magnificent house has regained the full splendour of its late eighteenth-century appearance after a ten-year restoration undertaken by RIT Capital Partners plc, under the Chairmanship of Lord Rothschild.

Tickets are £16. For further information about this and other Historical Association events, please email chrissie@ganjou.com or you can download a booking form here.

 

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Peter Murray

 

The London Society is delighted to welcome Derwent London as a new Corporate Supporter.

 

Derwent London plc owns a 5.6m sq ft portfolio of commercial real estate predominantly in central London valued at £4.8 billion as at 30 June 2017, making it the largest London-focused real estate investment trust (REIT).

We typically acquire central London properties off-market with low capital values and modest rents in improving locations, most of which are either in the West End or the Tech Belt. We capitalise on the unique qualities of each of our properties – taking a fresh approach to the regeneration of every building with a focus on anticipating tenant requirements and an emphasis on design.

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