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 > 2014. > > 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: > > https://www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/environment/planning-and-built-environment/planning-applications/ > > > 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 > graveyard > > > > *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.