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My Ghastly Facadism Lecture

October 20, 2019
by the gentle author

Cover design by David Pearson

To celebrate the forthcoming publication of my new book THE CREEPING PLAGUE OF GHASTLY FACADISM, I am giving an illustrated lecture showing some of London’s worst cases of facadism and explaining why it is happening and what it means.

I am especially delighted that this lecture will be held behind one of the facades in my book, the former Whitechapel Public Baths of 1846, Britain’s oldest purpose built public baths which were facaded in 2002 and are now part of London Metropolitan University.

The lecture is at 7pm on Monday 4th November at The Wash Houses, The Cass, London Metropolitan University, 25 Old Castle St, E1 7NT.

Click here to book your ticket

This event is presented with the gracious support of The Cass, London Metropolitan University

Whitechapel Public Baths, 25 Old Castle St, E1

Following Edwin Chadwick’s sanitary report of 1842, a Committee for Baths for the Labouring Classes was formed in October 1844, spurred on by concern to prevent further outbreaks of cholera. The Committee agreed to make their first intervention in Whitechapel and subscriptions were sought.

Inspired by the 1846 Baths & Washhouses Act, this pioneering facility where people could wash themselves and their laundry was designed by Price Pritchard Baly and completed in 1851. Its construction was utilitarian, combining brown brick walls with an iron roof. The Builder lauded its ‘useful’ design but described the scheme as entirely devoid of the ‘beautiful,’ noting that its appearance was ‘not simply plain and unpretending, but downright ugly.’

Lack of funding forced the Committee to abandon its ambition to build four bathhouses of several storeys each and the single storey Whitechapel Baths was their only success.

The bathhouse closed in the nineteen-nineties and was rebuilt as The Women’s Library in 2002. Since 2013, it has become an events space for London Metropolitan University.


“As if I were being poked repeatedly in the eye with a blunt stick, I cannot avoid becoming increasingly aware of a painfully cynical trend in London architecture which threatens to turn the city into the backlot of an abandoned movie studio.”

The Gentle Author presents a humorous analysis of facadism – the unfortunate practice of destroying an old building apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it – revealing why it is happening and what it means.

As this bizarre architectural fad has spread across the capital, The Gentle Author has photographed the most notorious examples, collecting an astonishing gallery of images guaranteed to inspire both laughter and horror in equal measure.

You may also like to take a look at

The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism

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