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Screen walls on Princes and Lothbury Streets, 1803-1807 (21)

The screen walls on Princes and Lothbury Streets encircled the new north-west extension. The Bank's Princes Street front was more than doubled in length, extending about 235 feet to the north. The Lothbury Street front was also doubled, extending more than 200 feet to the west. The walls enclosed over an acre of newly acquired land, for which Soane had begun negotiations in 1800. And it was from 1800 that Soane began making designs for the screen walls. Requests for the walls were first made by the Committee of Building in 1802, with a design approved in November 1802. The final designs for the Princes Street wall were made in 1803 and the wall was completed by 1805, possibly as early as the winter of 1803/4. The final designs for the Lothbury Street wall were made in 1805 and the wall was completed in 1806/7. Princes Street was paved in January 1807, indicating that the wall was probably completed by then. It was opened to traffic in September 1808 (Acres, p. 402).

Building works on Lothbury Street and the northern end of Princes Street were affected by unforseen delays, as negotiations for properties faltered when tenants refused to quit their leases. In May of 1803, eight houses were still occupied on Princes and Lothbury Streets and as late as January 1805, two houses were still not yet acquired and were hindering building work. Finally, the last property was acquired. Because of these delays, the wall on Princes Street was only built in part, reaching to the 'blind portico' in 1805, some 65 feet from the north-west corner. In 1807 the wall was joined with the corner of Lothbury Street.

On Lothbury Street, the existing street front (built 1797) was essentially doubled. Soane intended to have a prominent porticoed frontispiece in the middle, to be aligned with one of the avenues in George Dance's intended City of London development plan (see scheme 3:3). This feature was approved in November 1802 but was never executed. Instead, a smaller projection was designed in 1805 and built on the finished wall.

The screen wall on Princes Street followed a different design. Joining with the existing Robert Taylor screen wall (1780s), the Princes Street front had an entrance gate and a
'blind portico' feature. As in the Lothbury Screen wall (2:5), a rampart walk was included behind the parapet. Designs for the wall suggested some alterations to the Taylor wall, but these were never executed.

Aside from the attics, the screen walls on Princes and Lothbury Streets still exist today. They were integrated with the new street fronts built by Soane in 1825-8. The Princes Street entrance was bricked up by C.R. Cockerell, Bank architect from 1833 to 1855.

Madeleine Helmer, 2011

Literature: W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from within, 1931, pp. 398-402; D. Abramson, Building the Bank of England, 2005, p. 200.
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