The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Wide angle shot of St Thomas' hospital

The architecture of labour…..

Any moment now, a C20 neo-Georgian building is going to be on the front of just about every newspaper and leading on TV news too.  How can I be so sure?  Does this have anything to do with our neo-Geo conference and tour back in 2011?  No, the exposure will be totally incidentally, and I’m willing to bet that the style of the building won’t get a single mention.

The Duchess of York is in labour in St Mary’s Hospital, and I’m guessing that the Lindo Wing is by Sir Edwin Cooper—it’s certainly a (not very fine) example of new-Geo—itself an underrated style.  Cooper’s first building on his own was  St. Marylebone Town Hall, (1911—a competition win), and his best known buildings include Star & Garter Home Richmond Surrey (1921 – 1924).  The only bit of his rather fine building for Lloyd’s  that still remains, is now grafted on to Richard Roger’s Grade I high-tech masterpiece.

Cooper certainly did the medical school at St Mary’s in 1933, and the firm was still working for the hospital in 1951 when the nurses home was completed (although Cooper himself was dead by then).   In 1960 Gollins, Melvin, Ward & Partners added a fracture clinic to St Mary’s, and the 1970s there were proposals by YRM, but they came to nothing.  If I’m reading the plans right (and they’ve got time to look) Kate and William will be  looking out at the large 1978 extension by Llewelyn-Davies Weeks (it’s got murals by Bridget Riley, which might be a nice distraction, but I can’t imagine they are being allowed to wander….!)

My daughter was born in a YRM building (see photo above), with a great view of the Houses of Parliament.   That’s because NHS patents get that side of St Thomas’, whilst private mums get to gaze at the air-conditioning out the back … a better start to life (architecturally at least), I think!


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