Away from all that Brexit blather, the Government is currently launching its ‘most ambitious heritage preservation campaign for 40 years’ and is asking members of the public to nominate which buildings should be saved.
I’ve got a better idea, and one I guarantee will be popular. How about nominating buildings that were destroyed in the 20th century by cultural vandals of both the German and British variety, and rebuilding them? Plenty of continental cities have rebuilt or are actively rebuilding their lost heritage, including Warsaw, Berlin and Frankfurt, but Britain is way behind on this front. No one would actually care that they’re not strictly the same atoms as existed 200 years ago; the medieval Ypres Cloth Hall was entirely rebuilt. But instead British cities, when they demolish the mistakes of the 1950s, replace them with less-hideous but soulless and unloveable glass and steel things.
So here are some nominations to start with.
1 Euston Station, destroyed in 1961 in possibly the greatest act of cultural vandalism since the Civil War. This terrible act galvanized John Betjeman to campaign and subsequently save St Pancras from the same fate. Its replacement is fugly. The arch turned up years later at the bottom of one of London’s rivers and Gavin Stamp long campaigned for its return; if the station is ever rebuilt, I hope there is a small spot commemorating Stamp’s dedication,
Other ideas for my top five would be…
5. Sunderland Town Hall (below)