Sunday, 4 July 2010

Cap'n Bob and The Georgian Group

Apart from restoring eighteenth century features, the current basement improvement project at 6 Fitzroy Square, home of The Georgian Group, is revealing interesting clues about the building's more recent history. This fading sticker, attached to a cabinet left behind by the previous occupiers, NatWest Bank, bears the legend 'Pergamon', the publishing firm owned by Robert Maxwell. In the 1980s, Pergamon had offices at 2 Fitzroy Square and the (apocryphal?) story goes that Maxwell, who banked with NatWest, so valued the convenience of a branch almost next door that he threatened to close the account if NatWest closed the branch. The story is lent credence by the fact that NatWest did indeed move out as soon as decently possible after Maxwell died in 1991. By that time the country was in the grip of a recession, property prices were low and the Georgian Group had just benefited from the largest benefaction in its history, courtesy of the banker and connoisseur Sir Philip Shelbourne. This perfect storm of propitious circumstances allowed the Georgian Group to buy the freehold of 6 Fitzroy Square at what would now be considered a knockdown price. Unfortunately the cabinet has no hidden compartments and contains none of Mr Maxwell's missing millions. 


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