• Court short?

    Eighteen months ago the Corporation of London chose Eric Parry Architects for its new courthouse and police building, then due to open in 2025; I analysed the proposals as they then stood and made some predictions. Last Wednesday the Corporation opened public consultation on an indicative masterplan for the scheme, which it refers to as the Fleet Street Estate project although just nine days earlier development partner and end user HM Courts and Tribunal Service announced that the complex would be called the City of London Law Courts – a name which does not appear anywhere in the Corporation’s material. It’s a small point of divergence but one which signals larger contradictions…

    My main predictions have proved correct. The courthouse will indeed front Fleet Street, the police building will be entered from Whitefriars Street, a single van dock will be used by both (they will share “a security controlled basement, building servicing and core to create efficiencies through the build process and in the day-to-day running”) and the southern portion of the site below Salisbury Square will be landscaped. True, I was wrong to assume that Hanging Sword Alley to the north west would be built over to form a contiguous plot, albeit with public access maintained via a passageway, but only because it has now been confirmed that the courthouse and police station will be massed as two separate structures with the alley developed as an east-west route. Only one of the City’s existing police stations, Bishopsgate, will remain in use alongside the new building, and I still prefer ‘Justice Centre’ as a name (as indeed did HMCTS recently in Leamington, and its Scottish equivalent in Inverness).

    The real news is the revelation that a third major component has been added to the scheme – a commercial block, to be placed at the south end of the site. Primarily housing offices, its ground floor uses “could include” shops, cafés and bars, though the actual tenants “will be carefully curated so as not to impact the integrity, safety or security of the new CoLP headquarters or court facilities.” Money would appear to be the reason for this significant change, as “The project will be funded by the City of London Corporation in part by the disposal of the existing court and police facilities, and in part by the provision of [the] new commercial space”.

    The consultation material confirms the site as comprising the entire triangle of land bounded by Fleet Street, Salisbury Court and Salisbury Square, Primrose Hill and Whitefriars Street; a re-reading of an HMCTS intranet post from February 2019 makes it clear that the Corporation’s purchase of 68-71 Fleet Street that year was the final part of the Fleet Street portion rather than – as I understood at the time – the only part. As far as the buildings within it are concerned, my assumption is that all will be demolished and in preparation five-year certificates of immunity preventing ‘listing’ for architectural interest took effect for every one of them the same day the consultation opened. The sole exception – though it is still pictured in the consultation’s 'History' section alongside some of the other buildings – is the already Grade II-listed 2-7 Salisbury Court (in practice, numbers 2-3 and 5) of 1878; an application for listed building consent would be required to demolish it.

    In seeking to justify the loss of these buildings, the consultation uses misleading language in places. Two passages summarise the current site as being “quite closed off with no real connections through, with blank walls and no quality public space”, and say that it features “blank walled office buildings creating a dark environment”, “physical barriers” and “no opportunity to walk through or appreciate the location and surroundings.” Fleetbank House, it claims, “dominates and creates a barrier from St Bride’s Church and Salisbury Square, making it difficult to walk through or appreciate the location and surroundings” and “There is a lack of active frontages facing onto Hanging Sword Alley”.

    Those descriptions, along with that of the site as “impermeable with a large 1970s office block cutting off pedestrian movement” in the accompanying press release, are either plain wrong or disingenuous.

    As I mentioned in my earlier post, the entire triangle is emphatically permeable, with Hanging Sword Alley – actually a large courtyard for most of its length – entering from the west and then turning south, Hood Court cutting through the Fleet Street building line to join it and a set of steps linking Salisbury Square to and from Primrose Hill. All of these pass through or under the buildings, interweaving paths and architecture in line with the City’s well-known tradition. Similarly, Hanging Sword Alley is typical of most of the Square Mile’s other alleys so would not be expected to have public doorways or windows along it. This kind of phrasing, whilst sadly endemic in property development, is disappointing to find in such a prestige scheme, especially when used by the party that will be approving it.

    Nevertheless we are promised that the process of realigning Hanging Sword Alley will be responsible for “revealing magnificent views of the St Bride’s Church spire“ emerging above Lutyens’ superb Reuters building to the east of Salisbury Court, although it will be interesting to see whether the drawing of this – one of only two illustrations showing the new buildings included in the consultation pack – will match the formal verified view imagery required for a planning application. Salisbury Square will be remodelled as “a new public green”, and there will be an “opportunity to create” (note the caution) roof terraces on all three buildings.

    There are official design standards for each of these: the Court and Tribunal Design Guide (finally published by HMCTS a few months after my earlier post), the Police Building Design Guide from the Home Office and the Best Practice Guides of the British Council for Offices. These represent the latest client thinking, but of course the project is moving forward at a remarkable time, post-Brexit and during a pandemic. The consultation admits as much, yet mentions Covid-19 only in the context of a lack of face-to-face consultation in this round and a generalised need to ensure that “the UK invests in its future” in the wake of the virus. Both feel like last-minute insertions and neither addresses the wider questions the situation raises.

    Whether the rationale for a commercial block still holds at a time when physical retail and consolidated office space are at the very least being reconsidered must surely be one of those, not least given the near-ten-year timeline of the project when conception is considered. The other might be why a large courthouse is needed at all. Since March HMCTS has rapidly accelerated its use of remote technologies in the civil and criminal jurisdictions, both of which will be accommodated at Fleet Street. Digital adjudications – some might call them ‘decisions’ when shorn of the elaborate formality that normally surrounds them – are made outside of a courtroom environment, exist only in the electronic realm and have even been conducted with the magistrate and legal advisor in their own homes recently. There have also been more court sessions where parties join in sound and vision instead of in person. Overall, the organisation is taking “urgent steps to increase the capacity of our existing systems, to introduce new capabilities, and to provide guidance to our staff on organising telephone and video-enabled hearings”. This is despite concerns expressed by some over the effectiveness of such solutions when considered for judicial outcome (as opposed to simple efficiency) and others wondering if the right problem has been identified in the first place.

    It is also worth noting that the additional Crown Court capacity planned for the new court in 2019 is not mentioned in the new material and the design guide itself is explicit on provision for significant video link use, with even small rooms normally used only for brief periods to be designed to “enable advocates to use the booths in the future to attend hearings virtually”. Thus with HMCTS showing every sign of widening the range of cases heard by these new routes, continuing the closure of courthouses and opening back-office service centres in more economic parts of the country, in five years’ time a large, specialised building in one of Europe’s most expensive cities may not seem as sensible an investment as it does today. In the meantime, perhaps robust cyber security should be added to the specification as well as physical resilience, and it is surely not being flip to suggest this should extend to the architect and contractors given Building Information Modelling (BIM), a live, digital 3D model for the planning, design, construction and operation of buildings, is mandatory for public projects in the UK.

    What, then, of the architecture? EPA has not designed comparable criminal justice buildings before, though it has extensive experience in the commercial and wider public sector. Building outlines shown in the ‘Emerging masterplan’ slide do though appear to be of the future scheme. The courthouse is a rectangle paralleling Fleet Street, symmetrical about an atrium whose southern wall includes a wide bay of some kind. The plans of neither the police nor office buildings, though, can be determined in any detail beyond broad block shapes. Internally there will be little room for flair within the tight prescriptions of the site and the design guides, in the courthouse especially. The principal architectural decision there, responsible for shaping the entire building, is how to orientate the sandwich of public area/courtrooms/private area. Several standard layouts exist, the choice often driven by the size and shape of the site and the maximum permissible height. Though represented diagrammatically in the guide, along with the associated flows necessary for the segregation of parties, cross sections that bring these together to indicate actual design options have been redacted from the document.

    There is an architectural dilemma involved when determining the appearance of a courthouse – and, for that matter, a police station: transparency versus solidity. The Corporation terms the Law Courts a “new civic hub”, and it is the most important public project in the City since the Guildhall Art Gallery opened twenty years ago right next to the seat of government for that body (it is a shame that the current magistrates’ court site further along could not have been utilised for this project, effectively completing the quadrangle around Guildhall Yard). There, stone was used, as it had been for centuries. After 1945 architects from the Gilbert Scott dynasty worked to ensure this and brought a consistency of style within that family’s distinctive interpretation of Modernism when designing for the Corporation over two generations. At Fleet Street, though, we are told that the materials used “will provide each of the three buildings a sense of their own identity, taking inspiration from the surrounding streets and the wider city”.

    That EPA has been selected makes sense in this regard; the practice deploys a sometimes surprising variety of finishes in its work, from load-bearing stone to glazed ceramic to steel. The consultation shows this with two photographs of completed EPA buildings and mentions “expressed weathered steel and a variety of stone façades” as the materials to be employed at Fleet Street. That first sketch seems to agree. On the left stands the rear of the courthouse, with what from this angle seems to be a full-height bay window containing a spiral staircase (and perhaps with an openwork top) that is flanked by boxed-out oriels; both features might be assumed to be of stone. To the right is the side of the police building, the façade here seemingly of unclad steel. The other sketch, looking west along Fleet Street, gives a few more clues. It shows a courthouse that follows the massing, set-backs and cornice lines of Reuters and whose elevational treatment appears to include two double-height upper storeys, almost certainly those housing the court rooms.

    New criminal justice buildings around the world are offered up in the pack as examples of what is happening elsewhere, though once again the material is somewhat inconsistent. All of the buildings shown feature extensive glazing despite the points referred to above, and Singapore, which practises capital and corporal punishment, is included but the United States, which builds many new courthouses, is not.

    So, the City of London Law Courts is not an open and shut case. There is a long way to go. The current consultation period will be followed by another, each informing discussions with planners and clients before a formal application is lodged this winter. If the process that yielded Westminster Magistrates’ Court is any guide, this is likely to be iterative and difficult and will invariably involve compromises. As someone with a foot in more than one camp and experience of that building, I only hope more of those are headed off early or at least acknowledged before business begins at Fleet Street, this now intended for 2026.

    Find the consultation materials and response portal here.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • The Isolation Files #3 – ‘Instant’ architecture

    Demand is falling for the modular, transportable or slot-together medical facilities brought quickly into being around the world, although many have proved critical. Traditionally, speed is considered antithetical to good architecture. Consideration of the brief, site and approach followed by construction itself all take years – typically three to five for any large building today – with the implication that effectiveness, efficiency and, yes, aesthetics have been thoroughly considered in that time too. Yet permanent as well as temporary buildings have appeared every fifty years or so since the industrial age began which were in fact conceived and – especially – fabricated in months rather than years…

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1800

    Building: Ditherington Flax Mill (Shrewsbury, UK)

    Architect: Charles Bage

    Construction: 12 months

    Function: Textile mill

    Capacity: 900 spindles

    Materials: Iron, bricks, timber, glass

    Features: Iron frame; non-structural brick elevations

    Bage was actually a structural engineer. He had worked closely with fellow engineer William Strutt to produce the earliest known analysis of the strength of iron beams and columns, and used the knowledge to build this mill for spinning flax into linen yarn and thread. Ditherington has a structure of cast iron columns and beams spanning the building at each floor level, with floors on brick arches tied by wrought iron bars. This is entirely self-supporting and the brick elevations are merely weather-proofing. Ditherington was far more fire-resistant than mills built from the traditional timber and the first iron-framed building in the world. It is thus regarded as the ancestor of the iron- and steel-framed office building or skyscraper, which only appeared – in Chicago – well over three quarters of a century later.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1851

    Building: Crystal Palace (London, UK)

    Architect: Joseph Paxton

    Construction: 9 months

    Function: Exhibition venue

    Area: 92,000 square metres

    Materials: Iron, timber, glass

    Features: Kit of parts; self-supporting structure; modular wall panels

    Paxton had pioneered iron and glass construction with a great greenhouse on the Chatsworth estate in Derbyshire. He sketched his initial idea for this temporary exhibition venue on a train and, having been selected over many renowned architects to build his scheme, partnered with a contractor to produce a full set of plans in 10 days. Every component was designed to be simple and repetitive, allowing volume manufacture at reasonable cost and fast assembly. The structure was formed from iron columns and lattice frames, both cast and wrought; the columns acted as downpipes. It followed a grid that was itself driven by the largest panes of plate glass then manufactured. Those on the roof were formed into units and fitted from trolleys. The floorboards were initially used for hoarding the site and external walls were modular, composed of glazing panels, ventilation louvres or timber. The Exhibition made a 40% profit and the building was re-used elsewhere in expanded form afterward.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1895

    Building: Reliance Building (Chicago, US)

    Architect: Daniel H. Burnham, John Root, Charles B. Atwood

    Construction: 8 months

    Function: Commercial tower

    Floors: 16

    Materials: Steel, terracotta, glass

    Features: Steel frame; terracotta cladding; electric light and telephone in each office

    The Reliance is generally accepted to be the first building to bring together the steel frame, a lightweight ‘skin’ and large expanses of expensive plate glass to make an office tower whose rooms were flooded with daylight. Careful column specification and design removed the need for cross-bracing whilst still providing good wind resistance. This economy, plus the absence of masonry above the ground floor (which was part of an earlier scheme aborted after the death of Root), meant it was exceptionally fast to build, taking just twelve weeks for the frame to be assembled. This was enclosed with white, glazed terracotta pieces that were thinner than brick or stone, aiding the provision of daylight. Intended for rental as professional chambers to doctors, dentists and so on, tenants began occupying the building on New Year’s Day, 1895.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1939

    Building: Maison du Peuple de Clichy (Paris, France)

    Architect: Eugène Beaudouin, Marcel Lods, Jean Prouvé

    Construction: 26 months (excluding emergency basement shelter)

    Function: Community facility

    Area: 2,000 square metres

    Materials: Steel, glass

    Features: Cladding independent of structure; moveable internals; adjustable roof

    Intended to provide in one building a covered market, village hall, conference room, cinema and offices for a union and the local council, the ‘people’s house’ is a key project featuring the designs of metal worker and architect Prouvé. To combine the contradictory needs of the brief, his wall and floor elements are separate from the structure and can be installed, erected or moved as needed, creating for example a meeting venue with partitions or an open trading area out of the same space at different times of the week. The roof could open as needed. Toilets, stairs and other fittings were prefabricated. Prouvé was inspired by the automobile and aeronautics industry, anticipating the work of the British High-Tech movement, and later specialised in metal curtain walling which often had built-in shutters and vents.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1966

    Building: DeLaveaga Elementary School (Santa Cruz, USA)

    Architect: Leefe & Ehrenkrantz

    Construction: 9 months

    Function: School

    Roll: 270 students (initial building)

    Materials: Steel, brick, glass

    Features: Demountable partitions; moveable services and storage

    DeLaveaga was one of a dozen schools built under California’s experimental School Construction Systems Development (SCSD) programme, serving the rising population of post-war America via an industrialised, component-based approach to the provision of education facilities. SCSD was created by architect Ezra Ehrenkrantz who was inspired by the comparable British Consortium of Local Authorities Special Programme (CLASP) of 1957. Six subsystems comprised the SCSD specification, encompassing structure (excluding external walls), air conditioning (within the roof space and repositionable), lighting and so on. Commissioning echoed the aerospace industry, as each school board gave performance goals for suppliers to respond to with their versions of the subsystems. These therefore had to be compatible with each other to allow the necessary flexibility. Some bids included maintenance for a period.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 1993

    Building: Igus GmbH (Cologne, Germany)

    Architect: Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners

    Construction: 15 months

    Function: Factory

    Area: 7,400 square metres

    Materials: Steel, aluminium, GRP, glass

    Features: Unobstructed floors; service runs in ceiling; interchangeable cladding panels

    Designed for a plastics company as an expandable factory, warehouse and testing facility with the specific additional requirement of a complete change of use thereafter, Igus was one of a series of buildings by High-Tech architects that were flexible, fast and future-proof in their design and erection. Steel masts with tension rods work with steel beams arranged as a simple square grid to form the structure; the insulated exterior skin includes areas that can be changed between glazed, solid, grille or door inserts, and fittings can be attached directly to its inside face. Services are not fixed and hang from the roof or sit outside the overall envelope. The self-contained pods are plugged into ducting and risers and can float to another location on the floor. Domes of GRP bring daylight and natural ventilation.

    -------------------------------------------------

    Completed: 2019

    Building: Mjøstårnet (Brumunddal, Norway)

    Architect: Voll Arkitekter

    Construction: 18 months

    Function: Mixed-use tower

    Floors: 18

    Materials: Timber, glass

    Features: Prefabricated timber structure and cladding

    The world’s tallest all-timber building contains a hotel, apartments, offices and a restaurant. Its structure, lift shafts and façades are made exclusively from two kinds of factory-made engineered timber – glulam, where layers of planed wood are sandwiched together with their grain aligned, and cross-laminated timber where the grain is alternated. Adhesive is used in both cases. Here the former was used for columns, beams and diagonals, the latter for elevator shafts and balconies. Elements were brought to the site assembled before being craned into position. Such materials are increasingly employed as alternatives to concrete and steel, compared to which they are more sustainable and renewable without sacrificing strength and durability.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • VE DAY 75: Aftermath

    “It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.”

    - Aristotle

    “Those who can win a war well can rarely make a good peace and those who could make a good peace would never have won the war.”

    - Churchill

    The impact of the war for Europe was almost impossible to comprehend, even excepting its contribution to a death toll of tens of millions. Entire armies and their weapons had to be stood down, disarmed and returned home. Prisoners of war awaited repatriation. There were insurrections, ethnic and other retaliations and more formal reckonings via war crimes trials. Vast swathes of land had changed hands. Millions of civilians found themselves in the wrong country, homeless or starving, or wandering, lost. Cities had been levelled and were littered with unexploded ordnance and wrecked materiel.

    My father – who was to spend six months in Germany – and his Wing at Travemünde saw many of these problems. A factory was emptied to allow blankets to be made and 2,000 military supply containers were converted into stoves for civilian use in the winter. Theft of food and other items occurred, a guard was killed during an escape of prisoners near Hamburg and cuts in rations caused “alarm and adverse comment on the British administration”. And though the war was over, death was still present for the Wing itself – seven of its airmen died during their posting, by explosion, gunshot, vehicle crash and drowning.

    Mere miles from the agreed occupation boundary between Russia and the Western Allies, the Wing found itself at the intersection of two very different armies and two very different cultures. Oral testimonies of British servicemen based at Lübeck and Travemünde reference Russian abuses of German civilians and the difficulties of intervening in the actions of an ally, and reveal their complicity in disobeying repatriation orders and falsifying papers to allow those fleeing from the east to stay in the west. Interference by Russia in Western intelligence operations was not unusual, although Russian officers visited the Wing cordially at least once. And as early as March 1946, speaking at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, Churchill warned that "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an ‘iron curtain’ has descended across the continent”.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • VE DAY 75: 8 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 8 May 1945, it was Victory in Europe Day in Britain, western Europe and America. In London 50,000 people, some of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to be there, gathered in Whitehall for Churchill’s announcement. Made in Downing Street but relayed live by loudspeaker to the crowd outside, he proclaimed that the war in Europe would end at “one minute past midnight tonight”. An hour later Churchill appeared with the Royal family on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to great acclaim. Two hours after that, he emerged onto the balcony of 100 Parliament Street, opposite the building containing the underground cabinet war rooms, and said “This is your victory,” before beginning an impromptu rendition of Land of Hope and Glory that the crowd happily joined. Finally, at 9pm, King George VI broadcast to the nation, remembering “those who will not come back” and saluting “the great host of the living who have brought us to victory”.

    Much later – after midnight in fact – in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst German commanders were made to sign the surrender again for the Soviet Union, which to this day marks VE Day one day after the rest of the world in accordance with the Allies’ original plan. The resentment this caused in Russia would be one of many steps toward a new conflict that would overshadow the world in the coming decades. This war, though, was over, although it was not until 20 May that the German garrison on Texel, an island immediately north of Amsterdam, was defeated by Canadian forces in the last battle of the European war.

    For my father and his mates, their job – to remove or destroy Luftwaffe aircraft, equipment and weapons – was just beginning. On VE Day the advance party left Ostend and drove 230 miles to Twente in Holland. They passed through Arnhem, which my father recalled was still burning and filled with starving citizens, and camped by the road that night. The rear party, meanwhile, sailed from England today. Ahead lay a link up, revised orders, a long drive to Germany, and the secret Luftwaffe test centre at Travemünde on the Baltic coast, at the northern-most point of what would soon become the Iron Curtain.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 7 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 7 May 1945, the war in Europe was over by the time people woke up. In the early hours of this morning in a room at the technical college of Reims in France that served as his headquarters, Eisenhower took the formal surrender of all remaining German forces in Europe. The German delegation had arrived late on 6 May with the hope of a signing before midnight but negotiations had taken longer than intended. The surrender was to come into effect at 23:01 Central European Time on 8 May 1945 (one minute past midnight on 9 May, given the daylight-saving then in effect – Britain was in the same time zone for the duration). The delay was to allow Russia, whose own army was pushing forward from the east and which was not properly represented at Reims, to be informed and a simultaneous announcement and so news of the agreement was embargoed as a result. Posing for the press immediately afterwards, Eisenhower made a ‘V for Victory’ sign with the pens used in the ceremony. One journalist leaked the story, however, and by this afternoon the secret was out in much of the West. In Britain the public were anxious for confirmation and eventually the government, in hasty consultation with those of the other Western Allies, had to announce that Churchill would speak to the nation at 3pm tomorrow, 8 May. Just a few hours after the signing at Reims, and still an hour before sunrise, the advance party of the RAF’s No.8401 Air Disarmament Wing embarked at Tilbury for the crossing to Ostend in Belgium, including my father. The Wing’s war diary notes that “lifebelts were issued together with a paper vomit bag”, although fortunately the crossing was calm.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 6 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 6 May 1945, more and more people, including soldiers, medics and journalists, were finding out exactly what the fighting had been for as aid started to arrive at the many prisoner-of-war, concentration and extermination camps Nazi Germany had created. Outside the camps, hundreds of thousands of German troops had to be disarmed, guarded and in some cases interrogated. There were also thousands more refugees, displaced persons and deserters to be fed, housed and managed; some of these wanted to return to where they came from, others wanted anything but. All of this awaited the RAF’s No.8401 Air Disarmament Wing, an advance party of which left RAF Kenley at 0730 in a convoy of 37 trucks heading for Tilbury Docks. My father was among them. Their route took them through Brixton, Vauxhall and Southwark, across the Thames via London Bridge, into the City of London and out past Aldgate. At Dagenham they were diverted to nearby RAF Hornchurch, where they spent the evening awaiting a ship.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 5 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 5 May 1945, the surrender signed at Lüneburg yesterday came into effect. One of the German generals stayed with Montgomery overnight to assist with this. Fighting continued in those parts of Europe outside of the surrender’s scope. Montgomery was still under pressure to secure Demark for the Western Allies and sent a single senior officer and a company of elite British paratroopers in a dozen Dakotas to take Copenhagen. They landed at 5pm to huge acclaim; the Germans stayed in their barracks. In Holland the Canadians managed that country. In a telegram to his Foreign Secretary, Prime Minister Winston Churchill describes the situation as “quite a satisfactory incident in our military history.” At Rheims in France General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Supreme Allied Commander for the theatre, prepared for the total surrender to come. In England my father’s unit, the RAF’s No.8401 disarmament Wing, was ordered to move out tomorrow.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 4 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 4 May 1945, von Friedeberg’s delegation returned to Montgomery’s tactical headquarters at Lüneburg with authorisation to accept the unconditional surrender of German forces in Holland, northern Germany and Denmark. Montgomery had invited a full press corps to the event, which took place that evening within his tented command caravan, lit by floodlights powered by a generator. The signing of the one-page surrender instrument by five German senior commanders was recorded by photographers but also newsreel cameramen using the new technology of synchronised sound. Montgomery relished the moment that, in the words of one Allied officer, he had been rehearsing all his life. Back in Kent the men of No.8401 AD Wing, including my father, conducted practice convoys to get use to the challenge of driving trucks and men hundreds of miles in perfect order.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 3 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 3 May 1945, the first Allied troops arrived at Travemünde, just west of Wismar. A reconnaissance platoon from T-Force, whose sole aim was to locate and seize German technology, scientists and materiel, secured the area against a flow of refugees heading west and took surrender of the top secret Luftwaffe research station on the Priwall peninsular. At Lüneburg, west of the Elbe river, Admiral Hans von Friedeberg, head of the German navy after Karl Doenitz succeeded Hitler as Nazi leader, arrives to offer Montgomery terms; Germany will surrender to the Western Allies only. Montgomery refuses, requiring those Germans in the east to surrender to Russia. Von Friedeberg, horrified, protests, citing what might happen to German civilians and soldiers alike. “You should have thought of all this six years ago,” Montgomery retorts, and sends him back to his commanding officer to try again.

    Read more...

    0 comments

  • COUNTDOWN TO VE DAY 75: 2 MAY 1945

    Seventy-five years ago today, 2 May 1945, Allied forces arrived at Lübeck on the Baltic coast of Germany, having fought their way east since June 1944. The town was supposed to be the limit of their advance, the Russians having also agreed to stop there, but fears of a Russian take-over of northern Germany and Denmark drove Field Marshal Montgomery to send a joint British and American unit 30 miles further east to Wismar to intercept the Red Army. They passed Russian tanks heading west as they did so and only after the threat of Allied-Allied conflict were things settled. Denmark remained in western Europe. In England my father, Cyril Rogers, waited at RAF Kenley with the rest of No.8401 Air Disarmament Wing; yesterday the Wing received orders to move to Germany within a few days, and Cyril was promoted.

    Read more...

    0 comments

Chris Rogers writer on architecture and visual culture

Click blog images to expand; pre-Sept 2011 posts here

L

Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is beautifully illustrated with its own collage-style spread.

The Ivy Press, 2018

Hardback, 160 pages | ISBN 9781782405443

£14.99

You are viewing the text version of this site.

To view the full version please install the Adobe Flash Player and ensure your web browser has JavaScript enabled.

Need help? check the requirements page.


Get Flash Player