The History and Redevelopment of the
Royal Free Hospital Site in Islington

The London Fever Hospital (later the Royal Free Hospital ) moved to Liverpool Road from its earlier premises at King's Cross when the site was needed as part of the site for the Great Northern Railway terminus at King's Cross Station. Liverpool Road was a much better position for a fever hospital because it was on the top of a gravel ridge, high and well drained. They did not know much about fevers at that time. They did not know how they were spread and they could not separate one fever from the other, but they did know that airy, well drained sites were better than damp, airless ones. Here they would build a new hospital, with the latest ideas on healthy living. In charge was Dr Southwood Smith who had carried out experiments in building healthy flats in King's Cross, a very important influence on thought at that time and later to become Minister of Health.

The Competition for the New Hospital

An architectural competition for the design of the new hospital held in 1848, was won by David Mocatta but subsequently, in a turnabout typical of the competition system, the commission was given to Charles Fowler. Once Fowler's plans had been made public Mocatta accused him of plagiarizing his own. In arbitrating between the two men the RIBA decided that since the hospital had purchased Mocatta's drawings they had a free right to use them, but at the same time Fowler agreed to acknowledge his indebtedness to Mocatta. Therefore, it would be fair to attribute the original parts of the hospital, including the main elevation facing Liverpool Road, to Fowler and Mocatta together.

The front façade consisted of the front elevation with three blocks linked by single-storey colonnades very much as we see them today. The central block and colonnades were intended to house offices, stores and the committee room. Behind were two flanking blocks which were occupied by 'superior class wards', incorporating the latest ideas of the time for healthy nursing. Later buildings were added behind, but these were of so little architectural interest that were not even mentioned in a survey many years later later, when the Royal Free Hospital had moved to Hampstead and the site was being considered for conversion into housing. The extent to which other parts of the original design have survived is harder to gauge. At the rear of the site, two trans­verse ward blocks appear to have been rebuilt, probably as part of the reconstruction scheme adopted by the hospital committee in 1894.

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Engraving of The London Fever Hospital, Liverpool Road
Artist and source unknown but it looks like one of the Shepherd family.

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The Layout in 1848

References  

B
C
D
E
F
G
H
L
M
N

Fever wards
Acute wards not fever
Superior class wards
Noisy wards
Head nurses’ rooms
Under nurses rooms
Bath and Examination rooms
Patients’  clothes  Mattress  store 
Medical officer’s Room
Dispensary
Office

O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Z
Kitchen
Hall
Linen room
Scullery
Servants, room
Engine and boiler house
Drying Room
Washhouse
Foul washhouse
Laundry
Gateways

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The 1848 Plans and Sketches of the Proposed Royal Free Hospital

 

The New London Fever Hospital

Builder [August 12,1848]

The erection of the New London Fever Hospital (illustrated by the accompanying engravings) has been occasioned by the Direct Northern Railway Company taking the site of the present structure, together with the Smallpox Hospital, for the purpose of forming their intended terminus near King's Cross. The site of the New Fever Hospital is in the Liverpool Road, Islington, at a higher level, and much more spacious and suitable than the present one.

The building is also upon as enlarged scale, calculated for the reception of 900 patients, the present hospital being for 120 patients only; and the accommodation is proposed to embrace the various improvements resulting from science and experience in sanitary matters. All the wards for fever patients are on the ground-floor, with upper wards for the convalescents; so that the greater part of the hospital is only of one storey. Particular provision is made for simultaneous supervision by the head nurses, as well as for a ready inspection of the whole establishment. The means of warming and ventilating are also provided for in the construction. The building is to be of a plain but substantial character; the rusticated work and architectural dressings in front to be of Caen stone, on a granite plinth; the remainder of the facing to be of red brick.

The first stone was laid by the president, the Earl of Devon; on the 29th of June, assisted by the Earl of Eldon and several other trustees and members of the committee and friends of the institution. The building is advancing rapidly and is to he completed by the 31 st of March. 1849. Messrs. T. and W. Piper have undertaken the contract at the sum of £12,312, which is inclusive of lodges, boundary walls, and several other contingent works, required to render the plan complete.

The architect is Mr. Charles Fowler, and the design was selected in a competition, concerning which a correspondence appeared is our pages some time since.

The means of warming and ventilating are also provided for in the construction. The building is to be of a plain but substantial character; the rusticated work and architectural dressings in front to be of Caen stone, on a grantee plinth; the remainder of the facing to be of red brick.

The first stone was laid by the president, the Earl of Devon; on the 29th of June, assisted by the Earl of Eldon and several other trustees and members of the committee and friends of the institution. The building is advancing rapidly and is to he completed by the 31 st of March. 1849. Messrs. T. and W. Piper have undertaken the contract at the sum of £12,3121., which is inclusive of lodges, boundary walls, and several other contingent works, required to render the plan complete.

The architect is Mr. Charles Fowler, and the design was selected in a competition, concerning which a correspondence appeared is our pages some time since.



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The London Fever Hospital on the Ordnance Survey map in 1871

 

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The London Fever Hospital 1894

The sort of problems the Fever Hospital was trying to solve.

This is a description of one of the hidden courts in Marylebone, normally not entered by better-off people, but typical of the places where many of the Royal Free patients were forced to live.

A Fever Den

The Mercury Independent, 28 June, 1881

"Now if you are to see as bad a den as exists in this part of London, I'll take you there; its close by."

We assent with alacrity and follow our guide back into Upper Lisson Grove. At the lower end, just before reaching the Marylebone Road, our communicative guide stops. I should advise you to hold your handkerchiefs in your hands," he says, "You may require them. We are going into one of the foulest dens in the district."

Having favoured us with this attractive introduction, he leads the way up a passage some three feet wide. The narrow gangway is bounded by walls some eight feet high, and the lane thus formed is so long as to give one the idea of our being led into a trap. We know our guide has no such intention however and follow him with confidence.

As we reach the end, we are met by a most nauseous odour, which strikes one as being the veritable fever smell. This is what must be meant by the allusion to our handkerchiefs. Careful not to inhale the poisonous air, we pass under the archway and find ourselves in a square some fifty feet across. The place is surrounded by one-storey tenements, each being fronted by a so called garden bordered by broken railings. In the centre stands a dilapidated pump, and the place has the most ruinous and woebegone aspect. The smell is dreadful, especially at the corner where we enter, caused, we are informed, by the bursting of a drain.

There are twenty four houses round the square in all, twenty two of which are inhabited. They are all in a ramshackle condition, yet each of the twenty two houses harbours two families, one in each room, consisting in one case of eleven persons who sleep and eat, drink, when they have anything to eat or drink, in one room eleven feet square. Several of the upper floors let the water in through the roofs, while the staircases are in a dilapidated condition. As we enter the square the officer accosts a woman who is hanging some clothes to dry on a clothes line.

"Well Mrs. - how are you getting on?"

“Nicely thank you kindly sir."

“You have some work to do 1 see."

"Well sir, I manage to pay my way. I got a little sewing this week and now I've got some more coming in this afternoon. 1 can't do as much as I would like to though because of the smell. It's very bad sometimes."

"It's bad enough now," we remark, joining in the conversation. "But are not the authorities looking into the matter? Surely this state of things has not been going on long."

"Well sir, it's always been bad since I came here two months ago. The two houses at the end are empty now; they can't get anyone to take them. The stench is so bad. They rose the rents all round six weeks ago except those two. When I first came here I paid six shillings but I have to pay seven now. They used to be five I am told. It's very unhealthy here. We've got two down at the fever hospital now, but what are we to do?

"Surely people would be better off in the workhouse than living in such a place as this?"

"Well yes sir, I suppose they would, but people have such a horror of the House. They won't go into it now if they can keep out of it. 1 think they are wrong. Thank God 1 have always been able to keep out myself, but if I could not get enough work to get my little comforts somehow, I would ask for an order at once.'

We thank our intelligent informant and make a tour of the 'square', talking to some of the residents. It is acknowledged to be foul and unhealthy, the rents are high, but there was nowhere else to go.


A representative of this journal has since visited the locality indicated. It is certainly not the foulest den fever den in the district as in the very next court there is a much graver danger to the inhabitants who are fully aware of the necessity for a change, and have frequently appealed to the landlord as the person most directly responsible for the nuisance. Should the remedy not be forthcoming, the sanitary authorities ought at once to take action. With the prospect of a hot summer before us and the warning of the mortality caused by cholera in Spain before our eyes, no one can say that matters like these may not prove of life and death importance to many besides those immediately affected.'

This area described in 1881 was near Lisson Grove. Just over a century later, in the 1980s, a nearby block of houses in Bell Street was being redeveloped as modern housing by the Peabody Trust. As the developers cleared the ground they uncovered the foundations of a row of small houses. The front elevations must have looked respectable enough but behind, in each tiny yard was an outside privy and a well side by side. The ground below was gravel which was always considered a healthy foundation for housing. The wells had drawn their water directly from the gravel which also drained the privies. Anything less healthy would be difficult to imagine.

Dr. Southwood Smith (1788 - 1861)

Dr. Southwood Smith was a great Victorian health reformer who became Minister for Health, He was born in Mortock, in Somersetshire, began training to become a minister but could not accept all the church teachings and his grant was withdrawn. His family, which was narrowly religious, cast him off at once and for good. He married but his wife died young, leaving him at the age of 24 with two young children. In 1813 he decided to leave the children in the loving care of his wife's relations and study medicine at Edinburgh University.

Passing his examinations in 1816, he married again, this time to a girl from Hackney, and came to London. He was appointed to The London Fever Hospital, then on the site of future King's Cross Station. At this period, years before Pasteur, fever was a mysterious subject. Doctors could not distinguish one fever from the other. They still thought that disease was spread by smell (miasma) as the Greeks had done. It was before the realization that there were many forms of fever, with different causes. Bacterial infection was not understood. Everything was obscure. It would be generations before the different fevers were understood, and in the meantime, Southwood Smith's thoughts were concentrated on how fevers in general might be prevented.

The Fever Hospital patients seemed to show a pattern. Patients (mainly women) came in with ‘a low fever', were cured by rest and nursing, returned to their miserable homes, only to develop fever again. There seemed to be a connection between poor living conditions and ill-health. There was also some connection between being in the same house all day and going out to work somewhere else all day, as men did.

He published reports on this. In 1833 he worked on the Factory Commission and in 1834 he published ‘The Philosophy of Health' which was widely read. Three years later there was a serious fever epidemic in London and Southwood Smith was appointed to report on East London. From this came ‘The Report on the Physical Causes of Sickness and Mortality to which the Poor are particularly exposed and which are capable of prevention by Sanitary Measures‘.

Later, Southwood Smith and his friends had carried out a deliberately planned experiment to try to prove that good housing would help to produce good health. In 1842 a few individuals formed themselves into an Association to prove that health could be improved by building houses on well-drained sites; admitting light and fresh air into every inhabited room; abolishing cess pits (earth closets) and introducing water closets; supplying abundant clean water and removing rubbish regularly.

The Association thought some houses could be built on these principles, but money had to be raised from shareholders. This was before the Limited Liability Act, so a special Act of Parliament had to be passed so that shareholders were liable only for the value of their share and not everything they owned (as Lloyd's shareholders still are today).

The Association took the name ‘The Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes' and its first venture was ‘The Metropolitan Buildings' in Old Pancras Road, King's Cross. They consisted of 110 sets of rooms, 20 two-room and 90 three-room flats, in five-storey blocks.

Southwood Smith published a book on the results of the experiment, and holding it in ones hand, in red cloth covers and tiny six-point type, is a vivid experience. In the three years 1850-52, child deaths in the Buildings were only one third those of the Metropolis as a whole. The contrast to The Potteries, in Ladboroke Grove) was even greater.

(The average age of death was twelve years. Sanitary Report for 1856.)

In 1861, Hollingshead described The Potteries as, ‘ a marshy district lying between the villas of Bayswater and Notting Hill.- - - (It had) highways not yet adopted by the public and consequently dedicated to nothing but rivers of mud. The inhabitants are pig-trainers and brick makers, ‘fanciers' of spurred gamecocks, and red-jawed bull terriers. The huts have grown a little the worse for wear. Refuse matter is still collected by the pig-trainers and boiled down in coppers, that the fat may be separated for sale. '

Southwood Smith wrote:-

‘In The Potteries, Kensington, an un-drained area in Notting Hill with no supply of clean water or method of removing filth, the child mortality was 51 in about 384. So the Potteries, with 80 fewer children, had 41 more deaths than the Metropolitan Buildings. '

As a result of this and similar reports, by Southwood Smith and others, the Contagious Diseases Act, The Public Health Act, and The Metropolitan Sewers Act, were all passed before 1848, the year when he was appointed to the Board of Health.

One of the estates built by 'The Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes' was Gibson Gardens in Stoke Newington.

Link to Gibson Gardens

References to Southwood Smith in this website

140 Years Later: The Royal Free in the Nineteen-nineties.

The London Fever Hospital stood for over a century, high on the healthy Boyne Hill Gravel of Liverpool Road. After the Second World War it became an annex to the Royal Free Hospital. Then, in the 1980s, the Royal Free built a large Hospital in Pond Street, Hampstead, and left the Liverpool Road site vacant. The buildings were listed, so they could not be demolished, but life drained out of them, neglected for want of a use.

This is how the buildings were described after the Second World War.

Liverpool Road  N1 ( East Side )
Royal Free Hospital

TQ  3183 NW 58/1194

Formerly London Fever Hospital.

Circa 1848, by Charles Fowler. Late classic al style with Palladian composition of 3 blocks with connecting colonnades. Central blocks, 3 storeys and attic; wings, 2 storeys. Each block, 3 windows each. 1 storey colonnades with 7 bays and central entrance. Slated ripped roofs, central block with pediment. Red brick with stone dressings, Blocks with rusticated stucco ground floor and rusticated stucco block quoins. Bracketed stone windows; 1st floor of central block with flanking pilasters carrying entablature. Lunette, formerly for clock face in tympanum of pediment. Blind colonnades of links with Doric pilasters carrying entablature and parapet. Centre block with central arched doorway with radial fanlight and panelled door.

Eventually, about 1990, it was decided to convert the site for housing. A survey was commissioned to decide which of the buildings were of architectural importance and must be retained and which were not.

The Conversion of the site into housing in 1990

Islington announced the Development in this way

The Conversion of the site into housing in 1990

One of the largest housing association projects undertaken in London, this £11 million development will provide 182 new dwellings in a joint scheme by two housing associations and is due for completion in May 1990.

The scheme consists of a mixture of new build, conversion, and restoration of the original listed hospital buildings.

Levitt Bernstein's scheme for New Islington and Hackney Housing Association includes 92 new dwellings and a water tower converted for housing. There is also a day centre for the local health authority.

Thus one end of the site would be preserved and converted, while the other would be largely 'New Build'.

Extracts from the Architectural Survey made by architectural historian
who was asked to decide which of the buildings were of historical importance.

The Front Range

‘The front range, with or without the colonnades partly or completely opened up, is an interesting and important structure which is nevertheless possibly capable of interior conversion. Exterior alterations are not likely to be easily accommodated, with the exception of opening up certain bays of the colonnades.

The Side Wings

‘The side wings are, as my previous letter suggested, almost certainly contemporary with the front range. They are, by comparison, much plainer and less interesting. Internal alterations are not likely to prove objectionable, even quite radical re-organisation; exterior alterations on the outer and inner (courtyard) elevations could be accommodated within the context of a historically detailed scheme of adaptation. Alternatively, the side wings could be incorporated into a more extensive and architecturally ambitious scheme involving new building in the courtyard areas and substantial re-organisation of the existing buildings.

The returns of the side wings and the rear of the central element

‘Such a scheme could also extend to the rear returns of the side wings and the rear of the central element. Considered on their own, these latter two sections are not worthy of preservation. Indeed, there could be a case for suggesting that they actually detract from the special interest of the rest of the complex. Whether or not their demolition would release a viable site for redevelopment I cannot of course assess, but no resistance to this approach is likely to be offered.

The Lodges

The lodges are contemporary with the main hospital building, and are therefore of considerable intrinsic interest. They are possibly difficult to adapt or integrate into a scheme for housing use of the whole site. Extensions to the existing lodges or the erection of ‘lodge' sized pavilions or free standing pavilion sites towards the northern and southern boundaries of the forecourt could be contemplated provided the design was carefully evolved to reflect the original buildings.

The Forecourt

‘I consider that the front range, forecourt, fountain, railings and lodges form a unified architectural composition which it would be difficult to integrate with any substantial new building (with the exception of the ‘lodge' extensions above) whether for housing or other purposes.

The Staircase Additions

The staircase additions are of no particular interest.

The Railings

‘In such a scheme, openings in the railings (in addition to the central gates) could be incorporated allowing I access to ‘Lodges', perimeter access, or a circular route.

It is noticeable that the original frontage in Liverpool Road is considered important, while the rear buildings, which must have been added over the years, are not even mentioned.

Islington Council now knew what could be done and what could not. Now they could bring in the architects but by this time the Conservative government was in power and they would no longer allow Local Authorities to build to let. The 1890 Act had been abolished. The only alternative was to ask a Housing Trust to build on behalf of the Local Authority, for nominated tenants to be selected from the local Housing List.

The site was too large for the capital of one Housing Trust so the site was divided between two trusts; Circle 33, and the New Islington & Hackney Association. Normally architects compete with each other for contracts, but here, with the site divided in two, the architectural practices were instructed to work in co-operation, but separately. Architects Pollard, Thomas & Edwards would convert the main hospital buildings, in their fine red brick, into flats for Circle 33, without destroying the original facades. At the same time, Levitt Bernstein Associates would demolish much of the Upper Street end of the site, convert the old water tower into housing for nurses, build a medical centre, and built a complete new village. This would include special disabled housing, for the North Islington & Hackney Trust.

Thus one end of the site would be preserved and converted, while the other would be largely New Build.. The final result shows how comfortably the new blends with the old. The whole is a delightful development.

The Architects commissioned a model of the combined scheme.

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View of the model from due west


An Artist’s Aerial Impression of the Proposed Development


The Circle 33 scheme is at the near end and the
Levitt Bernstein scheme at the further end.



View of the Development from Liverpool Road

The Artist's Impression of the new Central Square. The avenues of trees, which today are mature, are saplings. Behind are the Levitt and Bernstein buildings with tall bocks at the corners and in the centre, linked by lower ones with attic floors.


An elevation of some of the New Build houses by Levitt and Bernstein

 

More Pollard Thomas Edwards buildings.

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The division of the site between the two housing trusts,
with old buildings in red and new work in blue.

The plan above shows the old and new buildings in red and blue. The blue areas show two completely different types of new building. The Pollard Thomas Edwards ones are in the style of the original façade. The Levitt & Bernstein ones are in modern late 20th  Century style.

This plan shows how the site was divided between the valuable old buildings which were to be restored and the ones which were newly built. At the top is a section through the centre of the site, with the refurbishment buildings on the left and the new-build on the right.

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The original facade of the London Fever Hospital to be converted into flats
by Pollard, Thomas & Edwards for Circle 33, 1987-90

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Some of the new houses to be built by Levitt Bernstein Associates
for New 1slington and Hackney Association.

These will be discussed later

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A more detailed plan of the final work,
showing some internal details of the flats

 

Now follow the Circle 33 restoration work, The Central Square, and the Levitt and Bernstein ‘new-build' houses and flats.


Restoration work by Pollard Thomas Edwards & Associates

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The Front Buildings of the London Fever Hospital
before they were converted into housing in 1987-90


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Detail drawings of one of the front buildings

 

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Rear Elevation sectioned through the rear arms

 

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Side Elevation of the End Buildings
sectioned through the single storey connecting arms

 

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Elevation from Theberton Street              Elevation from Barford Street

Externally these buildings still look much as they have ever done.
Internally, of course they have been converted into individual modern flats

Drawings by courtesy of Pollard Thomas Edwards & Associates
The New Build Village by Levitt & Bernstein



The restored frontage to the Royal Free, with its new arms
projecting forward towards Liverpool Road.

When the Hospital was first built the frontage consisted of three blocks with lower connecting buildings between them. The developers decided to build two new four-storey blocks, again with connecting buildings, to turn the flat frontage into a courtyard. Thus the original design was enlarged in perfect harmony with the original.


One of the new Front Extension building and its Connecting Arm
extend the old Royal Free frontage garden onto this Courtyard.

The main block echoes the shape of the original central block except for three details.

The round (occulus) window in the original has been replaced by a semicircular one. This allows far more light into the room and allows people to live in the old attic space, making the building four and a half storeys high.

Secondly, the stone quoins of the original central building have been copied in brick of a different colour from the rest.

Thirdly, balconies have been added to the new buildings but not to the original one.

The New Central Square  


The old hospital wards, now converted into flats, seen through the entrance arch.


Old Royal Free Square


Entrance to the new Royal Free Square from the Nottingham Road end.

The old central square has been landscaped with a multitude of trees to provide a grateful shade and a central area of astro turf for activity throughout the year.


The original North Wing has been preserved with its
balconies and French doors on the upper floors.

As the text explains elsewhere, these North and South Wings were the large hospital wards. The acutely sick wards were on the ground floor and the convalescent ones above. Ceilings were extremely high by any standards because the only cure then known for fever was fresh air. The convalescent patients would have spent much of the daylight hours with the doors wide open and sitting or lying on the balconies. Outdoor balconies in hospitals were not covered in until after 1950 when our modern cure for Tuberculosis, Streptomycin, was in common use. These modern flats are fossilized medical history.

The small modern balconies on the ground floor appear to show that an extra floor has been inserted into the ground floor wards.

A view of the central area with its astro turf surface, permanently green and useable at all times of the year. It is railed-off with extremely strong, sculptural ironwork and surrounded with seats. This is a splendid use of the Old Square.


The "New-Build" Village by Levitt & Bernstein

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Elevation of the "New Build" Village

 

Drawings for the "New Build" village which we will see below


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Some typical flat designs of different sizes.



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The Special Needs ones were built after close consultation
with the future tenants and other experts.

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This half of the Square is next to the old but restored hospital buildings.
These new buildings have been designed to blend with them.

This picture shows the end of Old Wards on the left, a tall Central Block of a similar height which joins the old and new, and lower New-build flats on the right. The Central Block has tall rectangular French doors and balconies, as if saying quietly, “ I am different,” but the new work to the right has round headed windows like the Old Wards at the other end. The first and second floor are separated by the continuous blue and yellow band of bricks which unites this end of the Square. However, look closely. The panels containing the first and second floor windows are set back, just like the tall windows of the Old Wards, so the new work is like the old again. The whole Square has become a unity.

The opposite side of the square


The other side of the Square with old Wards and New-build flats side by side.



A new corner inside the Royal Free Square

This corner of the Square is completely new but it to echoes the shape and some features of the original buildings at the other end. The round headed windows are similar. The way that the first floor windows and the entrance doors below are set back by half a brick, imitate the tall windows of the original wards. The brick colours blend in. The two designs blend.

But look at the differences. There is a band of yellow and blue glazed bricks laid as stretchers (long-ways) all round the new half of the Square to tie it up like a ribbon. There are tall, four storey, buildings at intervals and three storey ones between, preparing us for the new Southwood Smith Street houses glimpsed through the exit. The entrance to this street is splayed to welcome us in, but it is corbelled out to use the full space on the upper floors. It is more like castle building than ordinary houses. Finally the brick planters are attractive additions and not mere railings to border the car parking spaces. What one admires is the thought behind it all.


The other new corner of the Square


The New-Build houses from inside the Square

 

The Central Square


The Central Square with its astro turf playing area surrounded by railings
and gates and the Nursery Playground area padded with rubber matting.

 


A detail of the powerful, but playful gates, with their profiles of birds and fish.

The big, bold birds and fish are designed to appeal to the young children who play on the nursery equipment outside the gates. To older people the gates have other, intriguing, messages.

The shapes have been cut out of mild steel sheet which is almost 1 cm thick. We shall discuss this later.

The fish standing on its head in the gate is most extraordinary. The only fish I know that does this habitually, is the ‘fossil' fish called the Coeleocanth, which is left over from the time of the dinosaurs. This fish with leg stumps and related to the Lung Fish, was thought to be extinct. It created a sensation when it was found alive off Madagascar in 1938. Some recent research seems to show that it locates its prey by electricity, like an electric eel. When it thinks prey is nearby, it stands on its head and radiates electric pulses from its head and tail to find the exact position of the food. Why it cannot do that when lying horizontally I have no idea, but it certainly stands on its head. Perhaps it measures the length of the prey while lying flat and then stands on its head to measure its height. Only then would it know how big the prey was and if it was safe to attack.

However, the fish in the gate cannot be a Coeleocanth as it has no leg stumps, so you are safe.

 

Latimeria chalumnae

The two metre fish from the time of the dinosaurs, which is still alive today.

Picture from Wikipedia

 

Link to Wilipedia article on the coelacanth

 


The sculptural railings

A view of the playground area from the side, with a raised wall all round it, decorated with pottery spheres set in gravel. They are weathering attractively, quiet and unassuming, but will soon become ancient monuments, older than the hills. The railings have been used to create another form of sculpture. For years adults will come back and compare their full sized hands with their younger ones on this wall of fame, made when they were children.

 


The other end of the playing field railings.

The modern railings around the astro turf playground are different again. The railings are made from rolled mild steel sections and welded together. The panels were cut from sheets of mild steel nearly a centimetre thick, with oxy-acetylene or electric welding cutters,. This is far removed from an early blacksmith's work. It is an engineer's solution to the problem, using modern methods and modern tools. Some early attempts at this kind of machine ironwork were crude, overdone and unpleasant, but here they have developed into artistic work, carrying the age- old blacksmith's traditions to a new level.

The walls are in London Stock bricks with an air cavity behind and a wall of thermal concrete. This arrangement preserves heat within the building and conforms to the new Building Regulation. The pavings are in blue engineering bricks which resist water and are very hard wearing. A band of glazed blue and yellow bricks has been laid as stretchers (long-ways) all around this end of the Square to tie the buildings together. A simple and subtle idea.

Each house has a small enclosed forecourt with modern wrought iron railings, without spikes you will notice, but very strong. These give a private space to each house and a feeling of privacy.

These railings are in rolled sections of Mild Steel, welded to shape. Early railings were made of Wrought Iron and fashioned by a blacksmith. In later times they were made of Cast Iron, poured into sand moulds. The railings round St Paul 's were made like this, much to Wren's annoyance. These are modern designs and are designed with different ideas. They do not aim to keep out burglars. There are no spikes on the top where adventurous children might be hurt. Instead the railings say politely that this particular piece of forecourt is the property of the people who live here so please give them some privacy

 

The New Southwood Smith Street Village Beyond the Square
by Levitt & Bernstein

 


Southwood Smith Street with
Royal Free Square in the distance.

These houses are typical of the ‘new build ‘houses and flats in appearance, but it is difficult to use the word typical when they are of so many different designs inside. The tall flats to the left are the diagonally split pairs of flats, shown in the drawings above. It is most unusual layout but they appear to be perfectly normal from the outside.

 


A house with an integral covered car port designed for a wheel-bound tenant

 


The view of the water Tower from Southwood Smith Street,
at the Islington Green end of the site.

The old Water Tower appears as it ever did but it has been converted into flats.

The Water Tower, which supplied fresh water to the hospital, was a vital part of the whole concept of the original Fever Hospital. For decades much of London 's water was contaminated and Southwood Smith was a great advocate of plenty of clean water as a preventative of fever. It is very fitting that Southwood Smith should have a street named after him immediately below his water tower.

 


The quiet exit from the Royal Free development into the bustle of Newington Green.

 

in 1993 the Royal Free Development won the "Europa Nostra Award"
for Cultural Heritage sponsored by American Express.

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