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Don’t demolish evidence of London’s Foundling Hospital

Two of the last remaining buildings of London’s historic Foundling hospital could be lost if plans to redevelop part of Coram’s Fields are given the go ahead.

The Victorian Society is warning that the hospital's swimming pool building and mortuary are facing a very real threat of demolition.

Coram's Fields is the site of the original Foundling Hospital, the first of its kind in Britain and established by Captain Thomas Coram in 1739 to provide care for London's abandoned children. The hospital building was demolished in the 1920's but the charity which ran it still exists and its child welfare services are based in offices in Coram's Fields.

The Thomas Coram Foundation now wants to build more offices and meeting rooms and has applied to build a three-storey block to replace the two nineteenth century buildings.

'The small swimming pool and mortuary are an important physical reminder of the history of this area of London. Destroying them removes a link with the past that can't be replaced', said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. 'The pool building provides a tangible link with life at the hospital and the mortuary a poignant reminder of the high rates of childhood mortality in nineteenth century London. Both are surprisingly intact and could be retained and imaginatively adapted for a modern use.'

Permission to demolish the two buildings has been granted once before but that permission is about to expire.

The Victorian Society believes that the demolition of these historic buildings now needs to be reassessed. Miss Brown added, 'such a wasteful and unsustainable approach to the historic environment now directly contravenes new Government planning guidance published earlier this year.'

Camden's planning committee meets tomorrow (Thursday 4th November) and the Society is urging Camden councillors to refuse consent for the scheme.

Wednesday 3 November, 2010

More recent item: Expansion plans too damaging
Earlier item: Concern over damage to historic Lyme Regis house

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