DERELICT LONDON - PUBLIC BUILDINGS- schools, police stations, museums
Battersea - St Joseph's Boys School - Battersea Park Road
The church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and St Joseph and this old school building are remnants of a former Catholic enclave which once extended to a presbytery, a convent and three schools. The convent is now offices. The land was bought for the church in 1868 from the liquidators of the abortive West London Wharves and Warehouses Company.
Next to the church is this former St Joseph’s boys’ school built in 1882, run at first by the Xaverian Brothers (a religious institute named after Saint Francis Xavier & dedicated to Roman Catholic education)
This front originally had small porthole lights only, the present windows being later insertions. An adjoining classroom was added in 1892 but these appear to have been recently demolished. St Joseph's Playgroup were the last to use this building which currently lays derelict with its fate unknown.
FOREST HILL - LOUISE HOUSE
Louise House is a rare survivor of a purpose built industrial home.
Industrial Homes developed from the Ragged School movement of the mid-19th century. These schools sought to give children a basic education and sufficient training to earn an honest living & it was believed that some children would only prosper if they were removed from the corrupting influence of their home environment. The industrial home provided that refuge.
Local benefactors of the Forest Hill industrial homes (the boys one down the road was demolished in 2000) included FJ Horniman (he of the Horniman Museum) & members of the Tetley family. Princess Louise who opened the buidling in 1890 continued to keep an interest in the building that bore her name. Thomas Aldwinckle was the principal architect of both Louise House & the adjacent Forest Hill Pool (also derelict - see the Pools page) .
Janusz Korczak, a Polish Jew wrote that he was inspired by a visit to Louise House in 1911 to found a similar institution in Poland. He became an active campaigner for children's rights which culminated in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, later adopted by the United Nations. In 1942 Korczak, 12 members of his staff and 192 children at his orphanage were rounded up by the Nazis & transported to an extermination camp; that is the last that was heard of them.
Louise House remained a girls' home (the word 'Industrial' was removed in about 1930) until the mid-1930s. By 1939 it was occupied by Air Raid Precautions and after the war it became a child welfare centre. Louise House was closed and boarded-up in 2005.
POPLAR, E14 - DERELICT SCHOOL
This school in Bullivant St, Poplar has been vacant for many years. It was squatted by a number of people who follow the Derelict London Facebook page though they were evicted 3 years ago and the place has deteriorated ever since.
SHOREDITCH - POLICE STATION & MAGISTRATES COURT
Built 1903-8 to the design of John Dixon Butler in an Edwardian Baroque style. One of the finest Edwardian civic buildings in London according to English Heritage. Planning permission and listed building consent granted in 2008 for conversion to a hotel but work not yet started on site.
I bet this building could tell a few stories. For starters I heard that Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell were there, charged with stealing books from Islington library & the Krays were charged here in 1965 for demanding money with menaces.
PECKHAM RYE - FRIERN SCHOOL
Friern School opened in 1896 as a primary school for girls and boys.It was later to become a secondary modern called Friern Girls High School until 1978 when it amalgamated with Honor Oak Grammar School and became known as Waverley School which remained open until 2002. A fire destroyed a lot of the building shortly afterwards. Much of the building is to be demolished although the school's Victorian façade will be preserved. A new school (The Harris Academy) for 950 boys is to be built on the site and to be sponsored by Lord Harris of Peckham (the owner of the Carpet Right superstores)
KENSINGTON - THE COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTE
The building that used to house the Commonwealth Institute is a 1960s Millennium Dome. It is a monument to a fuzzy idea, which hoped to achieve through construction an image of confidence and certainty which the clients didn't have themselves. Like the Dome, it tried to look dynamic and modern, with thrusting buttresses and a parabolic roof, also tent-like, as if it sat lightly on the earth and could as easily be taken up and transported somewhere else.
As with the Dome, image was tripped up by reality. Its content - a series of exhibits about Commonwealth countries - struggled to interest people. The Commonwealth is itself a compromise, a palliative for loss of empire with some capacity for benign influence, so to create an institute about a compromise is to wrap something woolly in yet more wool. No amount of architecture can disguise this fact.
The supposed lightness and flexibility of the structure turned out to be an illusion, and, as with the Dome, finding a new use has not been easy. The original purpose of the Institute building was doomed when Britain joined what is now the European Union - an act which reduced the importance of the Commonwealth and made its countries less inclined to contribute to the Institute - and the exhibition space eventually closed as a permanent display when the exhibits were removed in 1996. Despite 15 studies and proposals since 1987, it remains forlorn and stubbornly empty, marooned at the southern end of Holland Park like some relic of a long-abandoned space programme. It occupies some intensely desirable real estate but is inert and valueless. (EVENING STANDARD 2008)
Despite Grade II listing in 1988 and a £3 million restoration in 2001, the building was abandoned and its own trustees since embarked on a high profile campaign to de-list, demolish and sell the site to fund its educational operations based in Cambridge.
But a happy ending...the Design Museum will be moving into this building in 2014 thanks to a £17 million donation from Terence Conran
Old Kent Road SE1 - FIRE STATION
Built in 1903, this fire station replaced an earlier 1868 station on the same spot.
I have been told that in the basement there is a plaque recording that this was the site of St Thomas a Watering, the first stop for medieval pilgrims bound for the shrine of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury, where they could find water for their thirsty horses. The well they drew from is now buried far underground. Hangings apparently also took place here.
The fire station has been disused since 1971. Part of the building now houses a second-hand shop (the largest antique fireplace showroom in the world, so it is claimed). Note the old fire station dummy in the window.
LIMEHOUSE PUBLIC LIBRARY
Limehouse Public Library was first proposed for construction in 1888, but the required finances could not be raised until 1900 when J Passmore Edwards (a journalist, newspaper owner and philanthropist) was approached for assistance. He subscribed a sum of £5000, and he subsequently laid the foundation stone on October 19 of that year. The library was opened to the public in November 1901 by The Mayor of Stepney.
More recently usage of the Grade II listed building fell, and it eventually closed in 2003. It is currently boarded up to prevent vandalism.
Outside formerly stood a statue, erected in 1988, of Clement Attlee, who was Labour Member of Parliament for Limehouse from 1922 to 1950, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951. In April 2011 the statue was unveiled in its new position less than a mile away at Queen Mary University of London, in Mile End.