Sunday, 20 November 2011

64-68 Tooley Street. Image: The Victorian Society

It has been compared to New York's Flatiron Building thanks to its striking triangular shape. But while its US counterpart has been designated a National Historic Landmark, the former offices of South Eastern Railway on Tooley Street may be in danger. 

Dating back to 1897 and designed by Charles Barry Jr, it recently featured in the Victorian Society's list of the UK's 'top ten most endangered buildings'. It is now facing demolition as part of London Bridge Station's redevelopment. 

A spokesperson from Network Rail commented: 'We have to find the balance between preserving Britain's railway history and providing a railway fit for the twenty-first century. Retaining this building is simply not compatible with the improvements that passengers and businesses so desperately need.'

Not everyone agrees. Bermondsey Village Action Group has launched a campaign to save both this and another historic structure, the Grade II-listed railway arches on nearby St Thomas Street, which are also under threat. BVAG has put forward an alternative vision to keep the building that involves creating an entrance to the station from the street. Network Rail has rejected their proposal. 

'Everyone accepts the need to rebuild the station, but Network Rail has failed to make a convincing case that the loss of 64-68 Tooley Street is necessary to achieve this,' said Chris Costelloe, conservation advisor for the Victorian Society.

'The Victorian Society wants Network Rail to do a proper feasibility study into the retention of the building. It would make a magnificent entrance to the redeveloped station.' Southwark Council make a decision on December 20. 

See bvag.net/save-these-buildings

This article originally appeared in Time Out. 

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