Friday, 17 April 2015

EUSTON – WE HAVE A PROBLEM

London’s historical buildings are fast disappearing.

All the time I’m reading about another famous pub or landmark that’s to be demolished, making way for yet more horrible flats and shops for the super-rich.

Just recently, plans to destroy a part of the iconic Portobello Road Antiques Market were revealed. The 200-year-old shops in Burlington Arcade are being pushed out to make way for designer chain stores. Another huge chunk of the already sanitised Camden Market is also to disappear, the list just goes on and on.

But over 50 years after one of London’s worst acts of cultural vandalism, a chink of light has appeared that just might reverse this awful trend.

Outside Euston Station, there once stood a majestic arch, looking like a Roman temple, called the EUSTON ARCH. Built in 1837, it proudly looked over the station until cruelly destroyed in the early 1960s, when the station underwent major reconstruction. Despite huge public protest, and high profile opponents including John Betjeman and Nikolaus Pevsner, down the arch came. Tragically, it never needed to be removed at all, as it didn’t impact on the new station in any way.


Euston Arch in all its glory.


The stones from the arch were individually taken apart and were unceremoniously dumped in a river. These were then rediscovered in the 1990s and since then there has been a growing interest in rebuilding the arch. This would be easier than you think, as it would be like redoing a jigsaw puzzle, although only 60% of the stones are left.

Brilliantly, a few weeks ago, some of them emerged again in  Euston Square Gardens, next to the original site. As I work right next to Euston Station, I’ve seen them on my daily commute. They are gorgeous, especially the distinct column-shaped piece. 

As part of the renewed effort to get it restored, the Euston Arch Trust have put on this little display. Alongside the stones there are some information boards, giving you the full picture of the story and the plans. If you pass by that way, go and have a look, it's there until May 9th!


I really hope they succeed in rebuilding it and at last reclaim at least one bit of London’s history.

http://www.eustonarch.org

Start of the mini exhibition at Euston Square Gardens.

Walkway to the stones, with the forever congested Euston Road in the background.

And here they are, four original pieces of the arch.

Behind you can see the two lodge buildings, between which the arch actually stood. They are the only remaining structures from the original station.

Closer inspection, which reveals how the pieces were slotted together.

A section of the distinctive Doric columns.

It looks like a giant Lego piece!

A bit bashed, but still impressive!

Information board number 1.

Board number 2, showing the destruction.

Board number 3 looks at the discovery of the arch found in the river.

Number 4, with the bold new plans for the arch.

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