Victorian London - Districts - Streets - Tottenham Court Road

Another London Improvement

Demolition of an Unsightly Block in Tottenham Court Road - The Result of a Quarter of a Century's Negotiations.

Many visitors to London have been puzzled at the existence of the huge and ugly block of buildings which obstructs the view and impedes the thoroughfare at the junction of Tottenham-court-road and Oxford-street. It is one of those brick-and-mortar anomalies which are often to be found in the main arteries of our large cities. How it came there no one has been able to discover; why it was put there everybody is equally powerless to appreciate; but the news that it is now in course of demolition will be welcomed by all who have an eye for the artistic in our public streets. The buildings which form the block have been a trouble to the London central authority for the past quarter of a century, but it has been left to the County Council to bring about this much-desired improvement. Bozier's-court, which forms the western boundary of the block, is on the confines of no less than three parishes - St. Marylebone, St. Pancras, and St. Giles-in-the-Fields. When the proposed improvement was first mooted in 1875, the Metropolitan Board of Works expressed the opinion that the scheme was one towards the cost of which the local authorities ought to contribute. Those bodies, however, refused to fall in with the suggestion, and after years of useless negotiation the County Council decided to let the charge fall upon the metropolis as a whole. Curiously enough, two attempts have been made by railway companies to get possession of the block for the construction of a station. In 1889, the Central London Railway promoters scheduled the property, and the Council endeavoured to make arrangements for the setting back of the station, so as to provide for the necessary widening of the road. The negotiations, however, were not successful . . . .  The length of the block of buildings now being removed is 100ft., whilst the width is 20ft. When the site of the buildings shall have been added to the public way, the width of the thoroughfare will vary from 63ft. to 110ft. Part of the cost of improvement will be met by a betterment charge levied upon the owners of the property benefited.

Municipal Journal, established as "London," January 19, 1900