Sunday, 13 March 2011

Success as Cleveland Street workhouse is listed!

Success - for the moment! The Heritage Minister John Penrose has agreed to list the old workhouse at Grade II. There is still an outstanding application to demolish the building, but the listing increases the presumption in favour of retention and the local authority will need to take it into account when determining the application. The listing follows a long campaign which attracted wide-ranging support.

The building served most recently as an outpatients' department of the Middlesex Hospital and has been a source of concern ever since the demolition of the largely twentieth century hospital in 2006. It was built as a workhouse in 1775-78 by the parish of St Paul’s Covent Garden, on the site of their old burial ground, and acquired its pair of projecting end blocks in 1829, when it became known as the Strand Union Workhouse. An article in the medical journal The Lancet in 1865, reporting on the grim conditions in the workhouse, very largely contributed to the passing of the 1867 Metropolitan Poor Act. The Central London Sick Asylum District, an amalgam of former Poor Law Unions, then used the building as an infirmary until it became part of the Middlesex Hospital in 1927.

The old workhouse has a place in the annals of social history and architecturally it is remarkably intact, its H-plan a visible reminder of how the Georgians left it. We submitted a listing request in 2008; despite being supported by English Heritage this was turned down by the then Government.

The workhouse was then occupied by Camelot, a company that provides security for otherwise empty and vulnerable buildings by using them as temporary low-cost housing, as the campaign to preserve the building gathered pace.

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