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Peter Murray

 

On 26 February the London Society and London Historians are holding an event about statues and monuments in the capital.

As well as announcing the winner of the award for London’s least favourite statue, we’ll be celebrating some of the people, events and things that are not currently commemorated.

If you have someone or something that you feel passionately about and would be happy to talk to a warm, friendly audience for five minutes or so, please email us – we’d be delighted to have you on board.

It could be a big name (Dickens has no public statue for example), a forgotten hero or heroine, a plea for more monuments to women, or to commemorate an important event. Whatever it is, get in touch.

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Peter Murray

 

We’re planning over 50 events this year – talks, debates, lectures, tours, schools, walks and others.

Key to the Society is sharing the message of what gets discussed, so we’re looking for volunteers to write up our events so we can publish a report here on the blog and on our Facebook page.

We’ll give you free tickets for the event you’re covering (and a +1 for the talks and debates).

It would be great if you could help. Just sign up using this form (click here) and we’ll be in touch.

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Peter Murray

 

The latest edition of Planning in London magazine is now published and can be read below.

Planning in London is produced by the London Planning and Development Forum (LPDF). The LPDF was formed in 1980 following an all-party inquiry into the development control system. It selects topics to debate at its quarterly meetings and these views are reported to constituent bodies. It is a sounding board for the development of planning policy in the capital.

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Peter Murray

 

Vote for your least favourite London sculpture and you could win a bottle of champagne. Dozens of monuments were nominated for the London Society/London Historians  prize and VOTING IS NOW OPEN on the shortlist.

Public nominations reflect a variety of grumbles, including a (perceived) lack of quality in the artwork, or an inappropriate location. The poll closes 20 February, and the ‘winner’ will be announced at our special event on 26 February.

There is also the opportunity for you to propose people, events or things that are not currently commemorated in the capital, and which you feel deserve recognition.

The Shortlist (in alphabetical order) is:

  • A Conversation with Oscar Wilde | Strand
  • ArcelorMittal Orbit | Queen Elizabeth Park
  • Bomber Command Memorial | Green Park
  • Dolphin Lampposts | Thames Embankment
  • Eye-I | Broadgate
  • Girl with a Dolphin | St Katherine Docks
  • I K Brunel | Paddington Station
  • Monument to the Women of WW2 | Whitehall
  • The Meeting Place | St Pancras Station
  • William | Central St Giles

See below for images of the shortlist, and cast your vote here.

Read More…

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Peter Murray

 

The Society is very pleased to welcome its latest corporate supporter, E H Smith Architectural Clay.

EH Smith Architectural Clay have been advising Architects on façade materials since 1922. Still privately owned, we are proud to have played our part in supplying bricks, terracotta rainscreen and other materials to thousands of sites across London. (You can see some of their recent projects here.)

EH Smith are particularly passionate about the unique creativity that is possible with the humble brick and the way it has shaped London throughout the years. We work with the whole construction supply chain from Client to Bricklayer to ensure that the right materials are selected and supplied. This service is backed up with over 500 members of staff, a fleet of 60+ delivery vehicles and 13 stocking locations. Find out more here.

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Peter Murray

 

There is a new series of debates about London for 2019. The London Society and RTPI London are working together on six events that will look at different aspects of life in the city and examine the controversies behind them, and suggest ways in which planners and urbanists can improve things.

The first is on 6 February and looks at air pollution in the capital. Over 50 years on from London’s Great Smog and the original Clean Air Act of 1956 the streets of London continue to have toxic levels of pollution. Thousands of Londoners continue to die prematurely each year as a result of small particulates in the atmosphere. In 2018, legal limits for pollutants were breached by January.

You will hear from speakers at the sharp end of the battle to improve London’s air quality. You will learn more about the Mayor’s strategy for improving the air quality in the City as well as campaigners who have successfully challenged the UK Government in the high court. To book your tickets, click here.

On 5 March Daniel Moylan, former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London and former Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, will ask if the planning system in London is not now so anti-market and so anti-people in its outcomes that it would not be better to abolish it and start again with a much lighter touch. He’ll be answered by Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI in what will be a fascinating discussion for planners and non-planners alike. Tickets can be found here.

Further debates include an examination of some of London’s recent planning battles,looking at how controversial buildings and developments got through the planning process and the effect that opposition had; there will be a panel discussion around how we plan a city that works for all of the population; and we’ll look at privately owned public spaces – a growing phenomenon in the capital, but what are the implications for the public realm?

To be informed of the whole series and when booking opens for each event, sign up for the London Society newsletter.

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Peter Murray

Don Brown (@donbrownlondon) reviews ‘Bus Fare: Collected Writings on London’s Most Loved Means of Transport” by Travis Elborough and Joe Kerr, published by AA Publishing.

More than the tube, more than the car, more than the railways, or the bicycle, or the cab, it is the bus that moves London. Over 8,000 scheduled buses across 700 different routes lead to nearly 2 billion bus journeys being made every year.

And the red double-decker is an instantly recognised symbol of – in fact, a shorthand for – the capital, featuring on countless postcards and uncountable photographs.

We can thank George Shillibeer who, 190 years ago – 4 July 1829 – introduced the first service (based on the Paris ‘omnibus’) running from Paddington to Bank along the New Road (now called the Euston Road). The fare was one shilling – a reasonable sum, and beyond the pockets of the working class.

How this bit of inspired entrepreneurism from a Bloomsbury coach-builder grew to its current network is told in an excellent new book called Bus Fare, a collection of reportage, fiction, history, letters, biography, facts and figures, and other writings on and about buses and their cultural impact, edited by Travis Elborough (who has form, having previously published a book on the Routemaster) and Professor Joe Kerr, “an architectural historian and bus driver at Tottenham garage”.

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Peter Murray

 

Peter Murray, Chair of the London Society, explains the thinking behind our new motto.

“So what’s our elevator pitch?” said Darryl. “What do we say when someone asks what the London Society is all about?” “Antiqua Tegenda, Pulchra Petenda, Futura Colenda”, I answer.

Darryl is not impressed. “Nah! That’s no way to get younger members to join up. Or to get anyone to join up for that matter. Too ancient!”

While the translation of our motto – “look after the old, seek the beautiful, cultivate the future” – might still hold good, we felt we needed something more engaging if the Society is to achieve is aim of growing its membership and increasing its relevance in the discussion around planning and architecture in the capital. We wish to engage the widest possible groups in that debate, so clarity is important.

We asked ourselves: why are we are running the Society and what is the thinking that drives our programme? We picked up on the theme that was as relevant when the Society was founded in 1912 as they are now: that London’s future must be shaped by both contemporary culture as well as its rich and layered history.

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Peter Murray

 

The 2019 events programme is taking shape, with a range of talks, debates, schools, tours and walks currently being slotted into next year’s calendar. To make sure you know when booking opens for each of our talks, sign up for our newsletter.

There are three main themes for next year – London’s High Streetsand Parks and Open Spaces are two, and the third is Engineering and Infrastructure. Sarah Yates explains the thinking behind the series and some of the events to look forward to.

During 2019 one of the main themes that the London Society will be exploring is the capital’s engineering and infrastructure – the ‘underpinning’ that enables us to live, work and move around the city every day.

The history of London’s infrastructure dates back centuries, as the natural resource of the River Thames, its tributaries and springs provided citizens with their water supply. As the capital expanded, road and utility networks also grew. By the 19th century engineering had become an area in which the UK – and London – led the world in innovation and technological achievement.

Among the most renowned of these are of course the Thames Tunnel, the world’s first tunnel built under a navigable river, between Rotherhithe and Wapping, by Marc Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In addition, Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s revolutionary system that diverts sewage to outfalls east of London solved the huge problem of infectious disease outbreak and pollution of potable water supplies.

Today the Thames Tideway Tunnel scheme seeks to upgrade this system for the 21st century in the light of climate change and another further wave of massive population growth. In the same way, the long-awaited Elizabeth Line is hoped to provide much-needed extra capacity for London’s overburdened public transport system.

Although 2018 was officially designated the ‘Year of Engineering’ by the UK government, 2019 will see not only future expansion with the arrival of the Elizabeth line but also, looking back, the 125th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge and the 200th anniversary of the birth of Bazalgette.

Through a full programme of walks, talks and tours, and partnerships with engineering institutions, the Society will celebrate the best achievements of London’s greatest engineers while also exploring how the engineers of today are generating solutions to help make London a sustainable and liveable city in the future.

Talks include:

  • London’s infrastructure history, with Alistair Lenczner
  • Tower Bridge and its 125th anniversary
  • Why is London’s railway network the way it is? Is it still right for London
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Paddington railway station with historian Steven Brindle
  • Waterloo (Ladies) Bridge with Karen Livesey
  • ICE engineering walks, to be led by ICE London Graduates and Students

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Peter Murray

 

The 2019 events programme is taking shape, with a range of talks, debates, schools, tours and walks currently being slotted into next year’s calendar. To make sure you know when booking opens for each of our talks, sign up for our newsletter.

There are three main themes for next year – Engineering and Infrastructure, and Parks and Open Spaces are two, and the third is London High Streets. Jane Clossick, lecturer in Urban Design and resident high streets expert at Cass Cities, London Metropolitan University explains the thinking behind the series.

The London Society High Streets series of walks and talks will offer an insight into high streets across London and the UK. High streets are very much on the political and cultural agenda. In July this year, local growth and high streets minister Jake Berry announced an expert panel to ‘diagnose issues that affect health of our high streets and advise on the best practical measures to help them thrive’. There is much talk in the media of saving the high street, and anguish about the loss of big retail chains like Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us. 

In the Society High Streets series, architects, academics, civil servants and activists will give their take on the state of the UK high street, in a series of high street walks in between presentations and cross-disciplinary discussions, each with three presenters. Join us to find out about the high street’s spatial, social, economic and cultural functions and to participate in a conversation about its future. 

The first talk in the series is High streets: Resilience and resourcefulness with more events to be added before the end of the year.

You can contact Jane for more information about the series, or if you’d like to get involved, via Twitter @jane_clossick. The series is supported by The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design, and you can find out about many more events at The Cass at www.cassculture.org.

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