Thursday, 11 February 2010
Lights out in Fitzroy Square
A major improvement to the streetscape in Fitzroy Square in central London, where the Georgian Group is based, has just taken place with the removal of three dual carriageway-issue streetlamps along the northern side and their replacement with lights more suitable, in design and scale, for a conservation area. The columns of the new lamps, awaiting lanterns, are shown here in the upper picture alongside the 'swan-neck' lights they replaced. The lower picture, looking in the other direction along the same terrace, shows the new lamps fully-installed. The works are the culmination of an improvement scheme for the Square sponsored by English Heritage and the London Borough of Camden.
The overall result is that the Square is looking better now than at any time since the War, when the railings round the central gardens were removed and replaced with rough wooden stakes strung together with wire. In the fifties, the Square was regularly full of car transporters, a spillover from the second hand car trade in neighbouring Warren Street, and most of the houses were split up into cheap lodging rooms. In the sixties, the garden was dug up to allow for tunnelling work for the London Underground Victoria Line and the garden almost became home to a permanent extractor vent. Since then, the tide has turned and a series of incremental improvements has taken place, including replacement of the railings and, within the past two years, the relaying of York stone pavements and the resurfacing of the carriageway in bound gravel. Increasingly - both a cause and effect of the streetscape improvements - the houses are being returned to single residences, with owners often keen to reinstate missing architectural features such as fanlights.