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Acquiring property for the north-west extension, 1800-1803 (23)

In February 1800 the Bank petitioned Parliament for permission to purchase property to its north-west and rebuild Princes Street. Soane coordinated the acquisition of fifty separate building plots on a site of roughly three and a half acres. Most of the properties were acquired easily by the end of June 1801, but the Grocers Company strongly resisted the proposed plans.

To accommodate the Bank's expansion and facilitate the movement of traffic around the perimeter, Soane's plan was for Princes Street to be rebuilt in a straight line running from the Mansion House to Lothbury Street. However, the new Princes Street would bisect the Grocers Company's garden. Negotiations carried on between Soane and Thomas Leverton, the Company's Surveyor, until April 1800 when the two agreed that Princes Street would turn abruptly north to avoid bisecting the garden completely. This would have left much less space for the new north-west extension. Fortunately for Soane, however, the plan was brought before the City of London's Court of Common Council on 25 April, and the City Lands Committee, including its Clerk of the City Works George Dance, in mid-May. The Committee preferred the straightened Princes Street, overriding all negotiations and on 30 June 1800, Parliament authorized the decision. In June 1801 the Bank paid the Grocers £6,800 compensation as well as exchanging a small parcel of land to the north of their Hall.

While the freehold properties were acquired easily, the leaseholders were more difficult to satisfy. Notice was given to the leaseholders at the end of 1802 and in 1803 (Acres). Soane reported in May 1803 that eight houses were still occupied. Three occupants on Lothburywere paid in August 1804 and in December 1804 Soane reported to the Committee of Building that Number 14 Lothbury, occupied by Mr Collingridge, was finally purchased. Collingridge, a Secondary (an attorney's position for the City of London) had demanded more than the Bank was willing to pay in early 1803. Number 14 was the Secondary's Office with a house behind belonging to an officer of that office, presumably Collingridge. William Healing, an occupant of Number 20 Lothbury was paid by the end of January 1805.

The screen wall enclosing the north-west extension was constructed between 1803 and 1808, as the buildings inside were erected. The north-east extension screen wall, 1796-7, was continued and essentially doubled in width on Lothbury Street, with additional blind Tivoli windows. Preliminary designs for the screen wall, as shown in drawings 5 to 10, feature a columned projection in the centre, capped with either a dome or a pediment. This projection was objected to for its encroachment upon the street, and a narrower projection was included in the executed wall.

Literature: M. Acres, The Bank of England from within, Oxford, 1931, pp. 397- 399; D. Abramson, Money's architecture: the building of the Bank of England, 1731-1833, doctoral thesis for the Department of Fine Arts, Harvard University, 1993; H. Rooksby Steele and F.R. Yerbury, The Old Bank of England, London, 1930, p. 20.

Madeleine Helmer, 2010
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