24 August 2016 | 30 °C

Exhibition Preview: Saving A Century - The Victorian Society

Exhibition Preview: Saving A Century - The Victorian Society
The National Provincial Bank in Bishopsgate – the best Victorian bank building in the City of London it was proposed for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the site with the Nat West tower.  It was reprieved with a Building Preservation Order following a public inquiry in 1964.  Now known as Gibson Hall.
The National Provincial Bank in Bishopsgate – the best Victorian bank building in the City of London it was proposed for demolition as part of the redevelopment of the site with the Nat West tower. It was reprieved with a Building Preservation Order following a public inquiry in 1964. Now known as Gibson Hall.
The interior of Crystal Palace in the 1860s
The interior of Crystal Palace in the 1860s
The Columbia Market in Bethnal Green, designed by Henry Darbishire and built in 1864-69 to benefit the East End of London.  A magnificent Gothic folly, it closed in 1885, was bought by the London County Council in 1915 and cleared to build flats between 1958 and 1966.
The Columbia Market in Bethnal Green, designed by Henry Darbishire and built in 1864-69 to benefit the East End of London. A magnificent Gothic folly, it closed in 1885, was bought by the London County Council in 1915 and cleared to build flats between 1958 and 1966.
The Euston Arch – demolished in 1962 despite the Society’s best efforts
The Euston Arch – demolished in 1962 despite the Society’s best efforts
The Albert Memorial - the Victorian Society campaigned for the restoration of the Albert Memorial when the government vacillated over finding money for that purpose.
The Albert Memorial - the Victorian Society campaigned for the restoration of the Albert Memorial when the government vacillated over finding money for that purpose.
The Barlow Shed at St Pancras International Station
The Barlow Shed at St Pancras International Station

The Victorian Society has been championing Victorian and Edwardian buildings for more than 50 years and photos from their archives form the basis of the exhibition, Saving a Century, now open at the Kew Bridge Steam Museum.

The exhibition charts the development of the Society, starting with remembering some great Victorian buildings lost before its foundation (e.g. Crystal Palace) and documenting some of its most famous campaigns — the bitter battle for the doomed Euston Arch, the loss of the Coal Exchange, the saving of the Barlow train shed at St Pancras and the protection of Whitehall, including the preservation of George Gilbert Scott's Foreign Office building.

The display also gives a photographic survey of places of worship, railway buildings, domestic architecture, industrial buildings, public institutions and country houses cared about and fought for by the society.

As Dr Ian Dungavell, Director of the Victorian Society quite rightly notes, ‘Without these campaigns, many of our most famous places would look very different today. The exhibition is a testament to the energy and vision of the early members of the Victorian Society as well as a sobering reminder of the way that public opinion and tastes change.’

Saving a Century is on show at Kew Bridge Steam Museum, Green Dragon Lane, Brentford, TW8 0EN. Open Tuesday to Sunday 11am to 4pm, until 19 February. Admission to the museum is £10 but that gets you an annual ticket to return whenever you wish.

The Kew Bridge Steam Museum is one of our top 10 things to do in the Borough of Hounslow. See what else you can do around there when you visit.

Got a taste for Victoriana? Join the Victorian Society and start reading the Dictionary of Victorian London.

Last Updated 16 July 2015

Lindsey

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