24 FEBRUARY 1956, Page 12

City and Suburban

BY JOHN BETJEMAN THIS month's casualty list of attractive English buildings to be destroyed is so long that I can only give a few examples, arranged alphabetically under counties : otos. Icomb Round Tower : a three-storey folly of 1810, with circular rooms.

HANTS. Sugar's House, Twyford: 17th century. Panelling and staircase.

KENT Bourne Park, Canterbury : Queen Anne brick in park with lake, contemporary staircase inside.

Cobham Hall : Lord Darnley's house, remodelled by Wyatt. For sale, may yet be saved. South Park, Penshurst : mid-19th century, built for Lord Hardinge, with Indian features.

LANCS. Christ Church, Salford : 1831 Greek Revival. 'Low' and unique, with two-decker pulpit in front of altar. I remember this as one of the most interesting and impres- sive Georgian interiors I have seen in the North of England.

LEICS. Ragdale Old Hall: 17th century, brick, stone and half-timber.

Theatre Royal, Leicester : by S. Beazley, 1836, who designed the St. James's Theatre and Lyceum, London. LONDON 17 Buckingham Street, Strand : 1675.

Union Wharf, Greenwich : a complete group of picturesque late-Georgian domestic buildings, with tavern, balconies and harbour master's office.

This list, which represents only a tithe of the destruction going on, should make us,all feel proud of the beautiful new Britain of bus stations and pre-fabs, concrete and electric cables which is arising at the taxpayers' expense.


I hope that the Editor won't consider it advertising if I mention a shop in Marylebone High Street, London, which must be the only surviving relic of the youth of many of my older and of course more respectable readers. It is the premises of Messrs. Gayler and Pope, Linen Drapers and House Furnishers, who still have those delightful overhead railways. where the change is carried along in a wooden ball from the cash desk. I am very sad to hear that this railway does not work as it used to do and has to be poked along by hand. The firm which makes the wooden balls for change has gone out of business. Messrs. Gayler and Pope had a request from a shop in Ireland, which had a similar system, for information about repairs and were unable to help.


Another railway project, this time of a hopeful nature, I have read about in a paper whose un-ironic title is the Muck Shifter & Public Works Digest. It is the plan of Mr. P. M. Eavis for providing quick railway transport from London Air- port. He proposes a branch of two-and-a-half miles from the Airport to join the Southern Electric to Waterloo at Feltham. The journey could be completed in thirty minutes if this line were made. It would certainly be cheaper and less noisy than the helicopter service, and quicker than an extension of the tortuous and many-stationed Piccadilly Line.


I went with a friend lately to see Paul Scofield's excellent performance as Hamlet. It was a cold Monday night, and the audience contained a fair proportion of chocolate-eaters who had possibly been disappointed of seats at The Pajama Game. As Hamlet killed Polonius behind the arras my friend over- heard a man say to the lady sitting next to him : 'Did you have company when I 'phoned?'