Photograph James Royall
In the two decades following the First World War Britain suffered periods of economic depression. However in central London land prices rose and commercial development increased. Many Georgian buildings and West End mansions were sold to developers by cash strapped aristocrats. Elsewhere demand for offices, shops and apartments grew. Carlton House Terrace and Gardens formed one of Britain’s grandest streets, part of a late Georgian scheme by the architect John Nash which connected the Mall and Regents Park. During the 1920s Nash’s Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus were re-developed to create larger shops and increase commercial income.
Digital reconstructions by Meredith Hall with thanks to Crown Estate Archives. Photograph James Royall
By 1932 there were plans to replace Carlton House Terrace and a proposal for an eight-storey paint manufacturer’s office was accepted. Above we see the Terrace as it would probably have looked had it been built to Reginald Blomfield’s design. The reconstruction created by Meredith Hull, is based on proposals published both in the Times, and in campaign literature. Measurements come from contemporary correspondence with The Fine Arts Commission (now part of the Design Council), which commented on the proposal. Textures, colours and details have been taken from 4 Carlton House Gardens which Blomfield acknowledged as a pattern for the scheme.
However the 1932 proposal was, it turned out, part of a much larger redevelopment proposal that included offices, flats and a hotel. Influential local residents, with the support of The London Society, The Architects’ Journal and The Architectural Review, launched a major campaign to save the Terrace. The campaign succeeded, remarkably - as inhabited buildings were afforded no protection until 1947 - but many of London’s other Georgian buildings were less fortunate. Despite the efforts of the Georgian Group, formed in 1937, large numbers were lost to new development, or suffered heavy bomb damage during the Second World War.
Blomfield’s design stood at 100 ft, then the maximum permitted height for buildings in central London; a time when eight storey buildings were still a novelty. Today, just over 80 years later, the tallest building in central London stands at 1016 foot.
Carlton House Terrace was afforded Grade I listing status as a building of outstanding architectural and historical interest in 1970 - a year when many other central London buildings were also designated. By this time the Blomfield buildings which had replaced Nash’s in Piccadilly Circus and Regent Street were recognised as also being of value and were listed Grade 11. Blomfield’s paint manufacturer’s offices in Carlton House Terrace were proposed for listing in 2013 by The Twentieth Century Society, leading us to ask 'How can we predict long-term building value'?