September is a busy month with a series of fantastic talks, intriguing visits and an important debate. The Saturday Morning Planning School is back following the success of the Architecture School earlier this summer: knowledge of the complexities of London’s planning system is essential if one is to understand how this city is being shaped so this is a really important strand of the Society’s programme. The Behind the Scenes tours will take us into 30s town halls, one of the ‘Magnificent 7’ cemeteries, a school of architecture as well as the TUC’s Headquarters – a Modernist icon designed by the brilliant but unproductive David du Aberdeen. And we have an amazing line up for our Brexit debate: under the chairmanship of On London’s Dave Hill, Lord Adonis and Caroline Pidgeon (Remain) and Daniel Moylan and a further speaker (Leave) go head-to-head on the outcome of the current negotiations and their effect on the capital.
In the way that London’s history repeats itself Brexit reminds me of the Hanseatic League in London. It had been trading here since the 13th century, but their success riled the local merchants and in 1596 Queen Elizabeth I threw them out of the City. They had been based in the Steelyard (Stahlhof) on the river west of London Bridge, a walled compound which comprised warehouse, homes and a church, all destroyed in the Great Fire. The League continued to own the site until 1852 when they sold it to the South Eastern Railway Company who built Cannon Street Station upon it. Only a plaque remains to remind us. Now wouldn’t make a good lecture!