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Historic London coffee house under threat from Crossrail

Plans to build an electricity sub-station on the site of a historic nineteenth century coffee house have been criticised by the Victorian Society

The 1901 coffee house near Westbourne Park tube station is the last remaining purpose-built Temperance Bar built by the Great Western Coffee Tavern Company. The company ran seven such premises for use by railway workers as an alternative to the pub.

Now Crossrail says it needs to build an electricity sub-station on the site and this unique building is facing demolition. The rail company claims there are no suitable alternatives available.

'This is a relatively rare building type and a strong local landmark,' said James Hughes, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society.  'It would be a great shame if it was lost and we would like Crossrail to find a way to incorporate at least part of the historic building into their plans for Westbourne Park.'

The basement of the tavern, which is now used by a local company to manufacture handmade beds, was originally known as Carlton Hall and was used as a venue for educational talks and meetings.

Special legislation means that Crossrail doesn't need to apply for planning permission for demolition or to redevelop the site, it only needs approval for the design of the replacement building.

The Victorian Society has written to Crossrail to persuade the company to take a responsible and sustainable approach to local heritage.

Background

Drunkenness was a clear safety concern for the railways and the coffee taverns were built in response to this.

The coffee houses run by the Great Western Coffee Tavern Company were in Reading, Bristol, Newport, Swansea, Smithfield, Swindon and Westbourne Park. The Reading, Bristol and Newport coffee taverns were also purpose-built, but have since been demolished.

The Crossrail Act 2008 authorises the construction of the Crossrail railway and provides for its maintenance and operation. Planning permission is deemed to be granted for the carrying out of development authorised by this act.

Monday 23 January, 2012

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