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Save The Chamber St Wall

February 21, 2020
by the gentle author

This week Historic England refused the application to list the Chamber St wall and offer it protection, so now it may be destroyed. As the most visible and best preserved piece of shrapnel damage from World War II in the East End, this wall carries great significance for a lot of people and its loss would be a disaster. It is – in effect – a war memorial that commemorates the bombing of London and the East End, and the thousands who died and were injured.

Last year, Tower Hamlets approved a planning application to demolish the wall to make way for a hotel extension. Yet it would not be impossible for the hotel to be constructed around the wall, leaving it in place as a feature to remind future generations of the important history that it witnesses.

The developers say they propose to reassemble the wall on the site within a publicly accessible courtyard, although there will be no legal obligation for them to follow this through. I think it is clear from the photograph above, which shows the complex and subtle scarring of the wall, that any attempt to take it apart and rebuild it will destroy its value as an authentic relic.

Please write to the owner of the site, Henry Bartlett of Marldon Developments and ask him to build around the wall and not move it. Email Copy in the East End Preservation Society so we know how many people have written.

Here is the current building which the developers want to extend, Prescott House, showing the Chamber St wall to the right

Here is the developer’s proposal for their hotel extension that will replace the wall of shrapnel damage with the location of the existing wall marked

Extract from Historic England’s explanation of their decision to refuse listing the wall

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London’s Scars of War

18 Responses leave one →
  1. February 21, 2020

    It is so sad to see the history of the UK been demolished by money hungry developers. As for Historic England, you are pathetic, you will rather demolish a piece of history to expand a bloody hotel. There are ways and means to prevent this. Who knows perhaps someone is getting a bit of cash in the back pocket. The developers in the UK will not be satisfied until every bit of history has been demolished and destroyed.

  2. February 21, 2020

    Historic England, this might come as a surprise to you but a large percentage of tourists visit the UK because of its history. The mature tourists are the ones who bring in the money not your day tourists. You state that the wall does not “embody a clear and specific story” but all you need to do is place a plaque on the wall stating the history of the wall. But then its obvious that money talks.

  3. rebecca bowden permalink
    February 21, 2020

    It never ceases to amaze me that modern architects manage to design such ugly buildings… and it amazes me even more that people in planning departments give approval for them to be built….

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    February 21, 2020

    As a frustrated designer I can’t understand why the developers couldn’t make a feature of the wall as it stands. It could even give their dreary design a much needed point of interest (at the moment their generic ‘spread sheet’ building could be anywhere in the world – not specifically London!)

    Come on architects – use some imagination and respect for the past please!!

  5. Vicki Lovell permalink
    February 21, 2020

    As happens here in Australia as well, these organisations, councils, even supposed “Heritage” organisations whose role it is to preserve buildings, homes, walls, even heritage trees, are destroying at a rapid pace these precious reminders of our history. Seems power and greed are the rule these days, so sad. An amazing wall with incredible memories for the people of London and the East End.

  6. Robin Ellams permalink
    February 21, 2020

    Such a shame…
    The REAL problem is Tower Hamlets approval of the Planning Application, and perhaps can still be appealed, modified or revoked.
    The hotel (like so many others) will disappear in just a short while, but history should (MUST) be preserved and the lessons live on.
    Looking back at the “London’s Scars of War” post I was very struck by the images of the V&A on Exhibition Road which I walked past so often in my student days.

  7. Mick permalink
    February 21, 2020

    It’s a scandal. There are some wonderful monuments erected as memorials to the horrors of the Blitz. Some of the beautifully preserved ruins of some of the bombed churches such as St Dunstans in the East also come to mind. However, nothing can convey such a real and graphic image of the horrors of being bombed and the effects of the deadly damage caused by explosions and shrapnel on this wall. This is a peoples monument to the real, brave and stoic people of London that defiantly continued to keep our city alive. It must be allowed to stand…and featured, not hidden or made subtle and arty…..lest we forget!

  8. simon permalink
    February 21, 2020

    Took a walk from the City to see the wall today. There’s quite a bit of graffiti on it, but more worrying that is the fact that they were boarding up the wall which seems a little premature?

  9. Peter Huddart permalink
    February 21, 2020

    Email sent. Mr Blundell email not accepted so sent to Post, fao Mr Blundell

  10. February 21, 2020

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, wishing you the best in trying to preserve the deeply scarred Chamber St. wall from oblivion. From reading your posts over the years, we are reminded of how indelible is the memory of the extensive damage to the area during WWII. I remember that great photo of Winston and Clementine inspecting the destruction in the East End after a bombing, giving its residents hope.

    Carry on in this endeavor!

  11. February 21, 2020

    Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, that is one hideous building. And now they want to double it? They should be pilloried. Why not make the wall an actual feature? The Mayor of London should have the authority to overturn idiotic decisions like this. Historic England should be ashamed of themselves. Is their Board of Directors populated with ‘developers’?

  12. Robin permalink
    February 21, 2020

    Letter sent. Thank you, GA, for bringing this to our attention

  13. paul loftenp permalink
    February 21, 2020

    Save that wall! It is a brick wall that is a stark reminder of the horror of war. This wall tells you the truth and is there to prevent you from entering a world of delusions.

  14. Pamela permalink
    February 21, 2020

    My mother used to tell us about the terrible bombings and shelling that went on near where she worked during the war and when I became a police officer and worked in the same area and was the same age she had been in the war we walked together to see the damage that had been done to that particular piece of wall. I have grandchildren and they will know of it only by a photo.
    There are people trying to save pieces of an old wooden bridge further down the river and yet this solid bit of wall will be tossed away.
    No person with any soul even know London history.
    Why are we putting money towards the Parthenon in Athens? After all that is old and falling down! Save our history – at least house it within the structure.
    A hotel by last section before the railway lines – better they make sure the windows of the hotel rooms are too thick to break for “Death by suicide train!”
    People with no history or life will never stop demolishing the old, a sad comment on so called Historic England. Only there to demolish.

  15. February 21, 2020

    As usual killing our history for the sake of developers, councillors with no brains and for money.
    All concerned should be ashamed to neglect our history.

  16. Chris Ashby permalink
    February 21, 2020

    I’ve just objected to this short sighted proposal.
    Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
    All the best.

  17. February 22, 2020

    The proposed extension is ugly….whether or not the wall is kept.

  18. Betty Simmons permalink
    May 22, 2020

    I have stood at places where death and tragedy happened. A pockmarked wall in the town of Esteli, Nicaragua, where air fire was brought down, by Somosa, on his own town. There was the day I visited the San Francisco Zoo and was overwhelmed by the feeling of grief at that one spot, learning later it was the zoo cage home of Tatiana, the magnificent 300-lb tiger shot and killed because two teens taunted her and she pursued them. I stood with others at the sites of brutal killing and bombings in both Ireland and Germany, including Bergen Belsen. I walked on the land of the Blackfeet in Montana, where buffalo were slaughtered to cause starvation of the native people. My feet are on the same ground as those victims, I am breathing the same air, knowing it could have been me facing those gun barrels or hearing the mortar fire does something to me that standing in front of a memorial marker can never do. Time disappears. For those minutes I am present at that event, I am standing in the shoes of the people, and looking into the eyes of the tiger, who were so brutally killed. For those minutes I feel their agony. A bit of ground on this planet has become sacred. The earth remembers.

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