The Society of the future
15 Apr 2014
Peter Murray, Chairman of The London Society
When Edwin Lutyens, Raymond Unwin, Aston Webb, Beresford Pite, Frank Brangwyn et al started The London Society in 1912, planning as we know it was in its infancy. The meetings and events held at the time highlighted key issues about the future of the capital - housing, roads, railways, the channel tunnel, bridges and even airports. All issues high on the agenda today.
The Society was set up “to interest Londoners in London” according to Aston Webb. Raffles Davison wrote “The chief issue is the good of London, its orderly and beautiful development, its general amenity as a place for business or pleasure”and that the Society’s role was “to think about the Future of London and it's improvement” as well as “the jealous preservation of all that is old and beautiful in London as far as is possible.” These aims of the Society seem to us to hold good even today.
In recent years the Society has kept a low profile. We think it is time that it starts to take a role in the debate about the London of the future. We plan to build up the membership - to ensure the economic health and future of the Society, and to give it a powerful voice. We are creating links - as was the case when the Society was first started - with London organisations such as RIBA London, the London Committee of the RTPI, the TCPA, the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of Arts, RICS, New London Architecture, Academy of Urbanism, Open House, London Festival of Architecture and the Architecture Foundation.
One of the Society’s earliest stated aims was to become a focus “around which the voluntary and thoughtful agencies for the good of London would concentrate.” We look with interest at the work of the Municipal Art Society in New York - founded a few years before the Society, it runs an active programme of involvement with the changing environment of the city, focusing on key issues relating to tall buildings, infrastructure, historic buildings and major regeneration projects. We want the membership to be made up of the widest possible range of London citizens - all those who are concerned and interested in the built environment, who are Londonists and want to learn more about the city and to enjoy both its history and its future. So please join us. If you are a member, please get others to join up. The Society might claim, as Sir Christopher Wren inserted beneath the phoenix on the transept of St Paul’s Cathedral “Resurgam”, I will arise again.