The building could be used as a recording studio with the equipment and controls housed in the Church Hall behind. Various record companies, including EMI were interested. It would provide excellent rehearsal facilities for small and medium-sized orchestras. Plans were made to put the curved pews on runners so that they could be slid back to provide more space.

There were inquiries from The National Theatre Student Company, a film society, craftsmen wanting a venue for a monthly market, and more. The possibilities seemed enormous. BROACH produced an impressive Feasability Study which was well received.

In the midst of this creative planning the church authorities appealed over the head of Haringey Council to the Department of The Environment for permission to demolish and redevelop the site. The DOE arranged for a Public Inquiry on 15th and 16th November 1977 at Hornsey Town Hall, which was later postponed to 2nd and 3rd May 1978. BROACH had to postpone planning and fight for the church for the third time.

 

The Inquiry

BROACH assembled an impressive array of experts including Sir John Summerson, then Curator of the Soane Museum; David Adler, consulting engineer; Christopher Wakeling, who was completing a thesis on Nonconformist churches and had visited dozens of Baines churches; Felix Aprahamium and other musicians who confirmed that the church had an outstanding acoustic; Dr Joan Schwitzer of the Hornsey Historical Society, and many others.

David Adler's evidence was critical because the church authorities were trying to say that the roof was unsafe and the building should be demolished for safety reasons. As luck would have it, Alistair Service, the writer on Edwardian Architecture, 31 had just sent a letter to BROACH saying:

'The roof structure is one of the most ambitious and successful designs of its sort in London. It is an early example of roof trussing by a light steel frame developed by Messrs Dawnay & Sons and was illustrated as an example to be followed by other church architects. (Vol 4 of Modern Buildings: Their Planning, Construction and Equipment, by G.A.T.Middleton, 1907).'

This letter arrived by final post on the first day of the Inquiry, with David Adler due to give evidence next morning. At 10 o'clock the next day I was at the the doors of the Royal Institute of British Architects Library as they opened, and twenty minutes later I was in a taxi on my way to the Inquiry with a photocopy of the roof truss. As David Adler was talking we were able to put the truss design in front of him. He said that the truss was not well designed and one member had probably collapsed when the roof was first built, but this was not of any importance. Muswell Hill had lived with the roof as it was for eighty years and could live with it for another eighty.

The Inspector rejected the application to demolish and advised conversion to a use which required an enclosed space of a high standard. He suggested a Concert Hall or Library. It was this suggestion which was to founder because the inside had not been listed.

Haringey Council renewed its offer to buy, but the Church prevaricated. They were slow at answering letters and set up obstacles.

197

CER, Hornsey and Finsbury Park Journal, 15 June,1895.

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