Heritage Buildings: Their Value to You


In the past years the City of London has lost many of its most important and cherished heritage buildings. The famous Talbot Block (now recreated in the JLC), the recent loss of Locus Mount, the scare of loosing the Capital Theatre and the long list of other buildings that are deteriorating as we speak, The Normal School, the buildings of the London Psychiatric Hospital and now the Brunswick Hotel.

Recent news tells us that the owner of the Brunswick Hotel (better known as The Wick) is seeking a demolition permit due to the poor structural condition of the building, this is a permit that the city and local heritage activists will apparently not contest.

The Wick itself has been around in London since 1855 when its primary functions were of hotel and tavern. Today many of these activities continue at The Wick, however no where near at the same capacity as they once did.

Sometime within the past 15 years (the actual time period escapes me at the moment) The Wick has had its facade re-worked and cleaned up in an attempt to both restore the building to the respect it deserved, sadly the same attention has not been paid to the interior of the building and in recent years much of the inner structure has degraded and now a number of rooms in the hotel are un-inhabitable, one reason leading to the owner to apply for a demolition permit.

With that said it seems that London is loosing yet another of its Heritage buildings along with which will go the deep heritage that it carries with it.

Far too often people dismiss the importance of a heritage building and quickly call for it to be torn down, thinking that it holds no use in their lives or modern society. Although that may be true for a small percentage of the existing heritage building stock in the City of London the majority of the buildings carry a deep history with them that we can both taken in to enjoy and appreciate as well as learning from them at the same time.

If we simply disregard these buildings as old and useless we end up loosing the foundation for which this city and the society we live in were based upon. The stories of these buildings alone can only teach us (and future generations) a limited amount about our history, to the point that without the physical building history becomes something of simple the imagination with nothing substantial to tie the past to the present.

Although I may be considered an optimist and/or idealist I have in no way lost touch with reality. My academic and work background both have me immersed in heritage studies and I will be the first one to support a heritage building, however even I can see when a building has been lost (such as The Wick or the LPH Examination Building) and even I must accept its fate. The solution to this issues, the issue of loosing these buildings, is to not let a building get to such a poor condition in the first place.

We must begin to understand the actual importance of these buildings, the importance for today, and for tomorrow. We must invest in these buildings now so that those in the future can draw on the resources they provide. There are countless cities from around the Country World that invest in their built heritage and have gain significantly because of it, why cant London do the same? It is sad but it seems as each day when I read the paper I read of another building near extinction; this should not be the case.

Only by looking to the past can we properly plan for the future. If we look and nothing exists what does that say about the outlook for our future?


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3 Responses to “Heritage Buildings: Their Value to You”

  1. John Leschinski Says:

    Is there a list of all the heritage buildings in London?

  2. KVL Says:

    I forgot to post the image of the hotel in 1907, depicted on a Fire Insurance Plan (FIP) from that same year. Please look here for the image.


    As for a list of Heritage properties, there is a report published every few years, I think the latest was in 006. You can purchase it from the City (I think its around $12.00) or you can view it at most libraries.

    I couldnt find the online list (although I have a spreadsheet of all the properties, but due to research contracts, unable to make it public) but if you head to the following page and click the link to City Map it will show you all of the properties, conservation districts and such.


  3. KVL Says:

    Another building on its way down, literally


    People need to start taking care of their buildings, there has to be less of this “run a building into the ground and move on to a new one” mentality.

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