Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd, run entirely by volunteers, was founded in 2002 with the aim to protect and restore this significant public open space and promote the Green's rich history. The Society is conscious of the vulnerability of Clerkenwell Green to exploitation and abhors its current use as it has developed into an unsightly parking lot and through road. Moreover, the impending opening of Crossrail at Farringdon Station will generate public interest and increased footfall on Clerkenwell Green, which gives the Society the opportunity to share and promote the rich history of Clerkenwell Green to a wider public.
Dear Members and Friends of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society!
Please find below a message from our founder & president, Mrs Ann Pembroke, who would like to bring to your urgent attention a planning application to essentially gut & destroy the historic lavatories on Clerkenwell Green.
The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd. Is calling to the Members' attention the details of the proposed LBI Planning Application to change the use of the George Jennings Public Lavatories to a cafe, which were constructed a century ago, to accommodate not only local people but the crowds who came to the Green to listen to the Orators who have given us the freedoms we enjoy today. Today, with the advent of the passenger influx of CrossRail, it is even more critical to restore the Lavatories for public use. On inspection we find the original brass fittings, George Jennings' Victorian trade mark in the form of a disc on each of the ceramic urinals, pine panelled cubicles, tesselated flooring and glass blocked roof. The attendant's cubicle remains and it would appear that this Aladdin's Cave is to be dismembered, removed and discarded. Clerkenwell Green and its area is not short of cafes, bars and restaurants. In fact the Police say it is at saturation point. The loss of these Public Lavatories hits at the heart of the historic public space of the first LBI Conservation Area by such destruction. George Jennings, plumber and engineer, constructed the first underground Public Lavatories for the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park in 1852. The first to "spend a penny". The Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories were also built underground, to ensure that there was no impediment to the view of the Middlesex Sessions House. In prisoners being taken from local prisons and away to serve sentences. The Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories are structures of the iconic history of Clerkenwell Green. They are fit for restoration and use in their original form. The underground space would illustrate the significance for justice and our laws brought through the ages to the public on the Green. HRH Prince Charles called it the "First London Village" and the original site of Free Speech in this country. During 2015, I have held meetings on Clerkenwell Green and its Public Lavatories for restoration to its original size and status with Council officers, our local Councilor, our M.P, Emily Thornberry, TfL, Cross Rail, Heritage England, the Masters of both the Plumbers' and Engineers' Liveries, the Governor of the Board of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (producing Mystery Plays on the Green), the Guild of Parish Clerks (resuming the tradition of theIr Perambulation to the Clerks' Well in 2016), local frontagers, including Publica, Grangers and the Craft Centre who support the Society. Helen and I recently met again the owner restoring The Old Sessions House. It will be necessary once more to mount an Appeal, by approaching "The Times" and "Guardian" Newspapers, as hitherto, when we stopped Islington Council building a multi-storey commercial block on the site of the Public Lavatories.
The ruse of advertising such Planning Applications over the bank holiday periods of Christmas and New Year must be stopped. Islington Council closed these public services forty years ago, plenty of time to keep them water-tight and to public use.
You will know that I stopped the cement mixers on the public open space from pouring cement down the steps of the Lavatories, so much for the Council's care of public assets. I proposed the steel plate covers instead so access was possible! I would be most grateful for you to publish a report to CGPS members on its web site, using the above material, stressing the urgency of making objections to Islington Council's Planning Application for the destruction of the Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories to be replaced by a cafe.
Time being of the essence, not to miss the January 7 deadline.
With thanks and all good wishes, Ann M.F. Pembroke, OSt.J., C.C., Founder/Director, The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd. Registered Office: The Penthouse, 42 Clerkenwell Green, London, EC1R 0DU. Telephone: 0207 490 2000