LONDON IMPROVEMENTS—PLAN OF THE RECORD OFFICE.
The Sixth Report of the Commissioners for inquiring into the most effectual means of Improving the Metropolis, and providing increased facilities of communi- cation, sets forth that Lord Morpeth had submitted to the Commiasioners certain plans, prepared by Mr. Pennethorne, for building a Record Office and making ap- proaches thereto, with esciar reference to the appropriation of a portion of the Rolls estate in Chancery Lane, to the purpose. The Commissioners report that these plans showed the site of the building and the intended approaches; the exe- cation of a line of street to form a main central thoroughfare between the Eastern and Western divisions of the Metropolis; and they also exhibited the general arrangement of the proposed building. The Commissioners did not inquire into the plans of the building itself, having understood that they had been approved by Lord Langdale; but their attention was directed to the plans for improving the communications in the vicinity of the proposed site, and to the capacity and eligibility of the site itself, having reference to the exigencies of the present time and to the future enlargement of the building. The Commissioners were informed by Mr. R. L Jones that the formation of a new street between the Eastern and West- ern divisions of the Metropolis had been under the consideration of the London Bridge Approaches Committee already. Mr. Pennethorne's line of street, though not identi- cal with this, was in Mr. Jones's opinion as good as any which could be devised; and he thought if the appropriation of coal-duties to Metropolitan improvements could be placed upon an amended footing, the City authorities, out of funds arising therefrom, would at once undertake to form the portion within their own boundary Mr. Jones thought that, should difficulties impede the completion of the whole plan, the execution of a more limited one as affecting Fetter Lane and Chancery Lane would in itself be a great improvement.
With reference to the existing buildings which hold the public records, the re- port that "no one of these buildings, according to the evidence adduced before this Commission, appears to have any special aptitude for the purposes to which it is applied; and in some instances it may be stated that they are de- cidedly unfitted to those purposes. Partly from want of space, and partly from apprehension of fire, the reception of the more modern and current class of records is understood to have been suspended; and from these and other causes, the ex- pense of lodging, maintaining, and protecting the records which are in charge, is stated to be from 1,5001. to 2,0001. per annum." Mr. Pennethorne's plan for the accommodation of the records had been pre- pared in communication with the Master of the Rolls; who had suggested altera- tions while they were in progress, and had at length signified his approval. The Commissioners were informed that " the space which the records now in charge would occupy in any building provided for that purpose, would be 160,000 cubic feet; that if the Welsh and other records, not at present actually in charge, were added to that collection, these requirements would be increased to 225,000 cubic feet; and that, looking at the probably increased deposits within the next century, there would be a further addition of not less than 200,000 cubic feet required within that period; making a total of 425,000 cubic feet for the deposit of records alone. The requirements for access and ventilation, however, it is represented to your Majesty's Commissioners, would considerably exceed that amount. It would involve, in Mr. Henry Cole's opinion, the appropriation of a space amounting to about 3,000,000 cubic feet for all purposes. Assuming that such extent of space could be provided, Mr. Henry Cole is of opinion, looking to por- tions of the estate which would still be unappropriated, that the probable exi- gencies of the next hundred years would be amply met by the proposed arrange- ments."
The plan of the new line of street produced by Mr. Pennethorne " diverges Southwards from Long Acre into Carey Street, Lincoln's Inn; traverses the North side of the Rolls estate into Fetter Lane; and proceeds thence (in a line nearly iden- tical with one proposed by Mr. Bunning, the City Surveyor) by a bridge over Farringdon Street; passing by the Sessions-House, Old Bailey, and Newgate Market, to the West end of Cheapaide." Mr. Pennethorne's object "in diverting that portion of the line extending from
Carey Street to Fetter Lane, was to render available for the purposes of the Rte. cord Office the largest possible portion of the Rolls estate; and at the same time, in conformity with the recommendation of Mr. Braidwood, and the ulnae merits of the Master of the Rolls, to provide, in the isolation of that b
an additional means of security against fire."
Mr. Pennethorne is of opinion, that the line now submitted would, asikg thoroughfare, compared with the line proposed to the Select Committee of 188S on Metropolitan Improvements, afford an equally advantageous channel for the general traffic of the town; while it would be more effective in relieving the present excessively crowded traffic of the Strand, and would present more convenient means of communication between the Record Office and the Courts of Law, in the event of those courts being ever erected in the same locality." The Commissioners then describe the several plans; and thus conclude their report—" The net ultimate cost of purchasing these properties, of forming the streets in the immediate locality, and of erecting and fitting up the proposed Be- cord Office, according to these plans, would be—
For the cost of the building £175,000 For the coat of the fittings 31,500 £ 206,500 For purchases £293,500 Deduct probable return from ground-rents 50,000 243,500 Total net cost 450.000
" In the memorandum referred to this Commission with the plans, Mr. Panne.• thorn observes, that the cost of the purchases may be apportioned thus—
For the Record Office £130,107 For the improvement of the thoroughfares 112,908 £243,015 " The gross sum being nearly in accordance with that stated iu his evidence before this Commission.
" Your Majesty's Commissioners are not apprized of the funds out of which it would be proposed to defray any portion of this expenditure; nor are the evils to the remedy of which those funds would be more immediately applied a fitting subject for comment on the part of this Commission. On the other hand, the ne- cessity for providing vent for the overcrowded traffic of the central portions of the Metropolis, by the formation of new thoroughfares in a direction East and West of Temple Bar, has been so frequently, urged in evidence before Select Committees of Parliament, that your Majesty's Commissioners have not felt it requisite to hear further evidence on this point on the present occasion. They think it necessary, indeed, at the present moment, to direct the attention of your Majesty's Govern- ment to the central portion only of that plan,—that portion for the execution of which the acquirement of property would become necessary in reference to any immediate proceeding connected with the erection of a new Re- cord Office; and, looking to the testimony of Mr. Richard Lambert Jones in favour of executing such portion, even in the event of the more extended line not being adopted,—looking to the approval by the Master of the Rolls of the parti- cular site proposed for the Record Office, and of the approaches thereto,—and look- ing to the evidence of Mr. Pennethorne, showing the advantages which would accrue to the public from connecting these important objects with each other,— your Majesty's Commissioners are of opinion, that if measures be adopted by the Government for the erection of such a building, such portion of Mr. Pennethorne's proposed line of streets as are comprised in Plan No.1 should be at the same time executed. Your Majesty's Commissioners think it their duty, however, at the same time to add, that the line of communication proposed by Plan No.2 is (irre- spectively of the special advantages of erecting an office for the records of the kingdom on the site suggested) the most eligible and the most practicable line for connecting the Eastern and Western portions of the Metropolis, and that it would.. very advantageously, increase the facilities of communication within the same. Your Majesty's Commissioners have the satisfaction of adding, that, hating submitted the preceding pages of this report to the Master of the tolls, his Lord- ship has signified his approval both of the plans for the Record Office and of the site proposed for the building."