Friends of the Dickens Forum,
The assiduous and pro-active Ruth Richardson <anatonyruth@gmail,com> has
been in the forefront
of Dickensians in alerting us to the importance of the Cleveland Street
Workhouse in the history of
Dickens Studies. Here she alerts us to a new shadow on the workhouse. (pjm)
> Dear Friends of the Dickens Forum,
> Re: CLEVELAND STREET WORKHOUSE, LONDON
> I am writing to let you know that the property developers are hovering
> again. Two planning applications are currently lodged with the local
> authority, the London Borough of Camden. The first is to gut and refurbish
> the 18th century Workhouse itself to create some super-expensive flats, the
> second is for the demolition of the fine Victorian Nightingale wards at the
> back of the workhouse building, and the demolition of other buildings on
> the periphery of the historic workhouse site (including the Workhouse
> mortuary), and for the erection of a large new commercial development over
> the old pauper graveyard which surrounds the Workhouse.
> The Planning Authority is asking for public comments on the scheme, to be
> submitted before *23rd February* - that is next week!
> I apologise for the short notice, but in London now there are only 21 days
> statutorily allowed for comments, and we were late in discovering that
> these applications had gone in. Yes! you guessed it! The statute does NOT
> stipulate that either the planning authority or the property developer need
> inform interested parties, even when those interested parties are publicly
> known, and had worked hard to save the buildings in question before.
> So we are asking everyone on the Dickens List, please, to take a few
> moments to send a swift email to:
> Kate Henry, Senior Planning Officer
> ... with a comment on this developers' plans. Please make clear that your
> comment relates to BOTH schemes for the Workhouse site, and include this in
> the subject line:
> Strand Union Workhouse / Middlesex Hospital Annexe, 44 Cleveland Street,
> London W1
> To help you, I give below the text of the Special Resolution passed by the
> International Conference of the Dickens Society held at Beziers France in
> If you can, I would also ask that you might say something about the pauper
> burial ground, consecrated in 1790, and used for burials until 1853, when
> it was closed because of overcrowding.
> Dickens, you will remember, lived only a few houses down the street from
> this Workhouse, as a small child for two years and again for possibly
> longer as a young adult. He would have seen many pauper funerals pass his
> door. We know how he felt about such deaths, and such funerals.
> I am fearful that this graveyard, in which burials go down at least 20 feet
> and up to within not far below the surface, will be desecrated by this
> development. There are thousands of dead Londoners - Dickens's poor
> contemporaries - buried there. The Bishop of London promised at the
> consecration ceremony in 1790 that they would rest in peace *free from all
> indignity* for ever. This is a really historic burial place, a sacred
> place, and it should not be treated simply as building land.
> *Your email need not be lengthy, it just needs to say that the whole
> extraordinary site is special. The Workhouse should NOT be gutted for
> costly apartments, and the rest should NOT be cleared for building as if it
> were any ordinary brownfield site.*
> Please ask friends to comment, too.
> *Thank-you so much for any help you are able to give to save this special
> place! *
> Kindest regards,
> Ruth Richardson, Past President, The Dickens Society.
> The planning applications can be found online here:
> enter *2017/0415/L* for the gutting of the Workhouse itself and
> plans to make it into posh apartments
> enter *2017/0414/P* for the destruction of everything else on
> the site and the application to build an 8 storey building over the
> *This resolution** concerning the Cleveland Street Workhouse was passed
> unanimously at the **international conference of the *
> *Dickens Society, Beziers, France, in 2014:*
> The Cleveland Street Workhouse stands only a few doors from Charles
> Dickens’s childhood and adolescent home in London. Dickens scholars and
> readers world-wide have a strong interest in the site, because of the
> importance of the Poor Law to Dickens’s famous novel Oliver Twist, and
> Dickens’s efforts in later life to reform Poor Law health care. The central
> section of the Workhouse itself has been listed for preservation, but the
> buildings which flank and frame the Workhouse to the street – to the north
> and south of the Georgian section - and the Victorian Nightingale wards at
> the rear, remain under threat of demolition.
> THIS CONFERENCE URGES THOSE RESPONSIBLE *NOT* TO ALLOW THE DEMOLITION OF
> THE VICTORIAN BUILDINGS ON THE CLEVELAND STREET WORKHOUSE SITE, BUT
> SENSITIVELY TO RE-USE THEM.
> THIS CONFERENCE FURTHER URGES THOSE RESPONSIBLE TO PRESERVE THE INTEGRITY
> OF THE WORKHOUSE SITE IN CLEVELAND STREET, INCLUDING ITS VICTORIAN
> BUILDINGS, WHICH HARMONIZE WITH THE SCALE AND CHARACTER OF THE GEORGIAN
> LISTED WORKHOUSE.