Campaigners have welcomed new plans for the Geffrye museum’s extension, after the last design was dropped following months of local protests against the demolition of a disused Victorian pub.
The Geffrye Museum of the Home in Hoxton revealed new plans for a £15 million development scheme on Tuesday, 21 October, that will see the Marquis of Landowne pub on Cremer Street transformed into the museum’s café.
Will Palin, one of the founders of the campaign “Save the Marquis”, said: “We’re pleased with the new plans and we’re delighted that the pub will be saved and re-used. We’re grateful to the Geffrye and we are generally very supportive of the new scheme, which is much more sensitive than the first one.”
The “Save the Marquis” campaign was started in October 2012, when plans for an extension of the Geffrye were submitted that included the demolition of the Victorian pub. In May 2013, Hackney council denied planning permission to the museum due to the local unpopularity of the scheme.
But the Geffrye did not give up and new plans for the development, designed by Wright & Wright Architects, have so far been met with enthusiasm by local residents and associations.
Palin said: “Going through the rather painful process of the rejection of the last scheme has ultimately been beneficial. This shows that it was worth fighting for. It was also very difficult because we never wanted to be negative, we just thought that the museum and the area deserved better than they got with the first scheme. I think we’ve been vindicated.”
The proposed revamp will generate almost 40 per cent additional space within the museum’s 18th century, Grade-I listed almshouses. A new gallery in the lower ground floor, the introduction of a library and study collections on the first floor, a new entrance directly opposite to Hoxton station and a new conference facility are all new elements of the scheme.
Palin continued: “We’ve always thought that being where it is, in the heart of fashionable bustling Hoxton, if the Marquis of Landowne were to open as a pub or a micro pub with a restaurant it would be wonderful, but we have seen that it would be problematic from the museum’s point of view. Turning it into a café is the next best thing, so that the pub will be brought back to life as a related activity.”
David Dewing, director of the Geffrye Museum, said: “We are excited with the scheme that Wright & Wright have created which will breathe life back into our almshouse buildings and safeguard the museum and collections for future generations. It benefits our audiences in Hackney and beyond and will be good for the local economy.
“We have been working closely with Hackney Council, English Heritage and local community partners to develop the scheme, and have been thrilled with the support we’ve received so far. We want to encourage as many people to come along to the museum to see the plans and tell us what they think.”
Regarding the development of the new scheme, Palin said: “We went to have a look at the scheme a couple of months ago, but we had already been told earlier on that part of the briefing given to the architects was that the pub had to stay. We were very comforted by that and then when we saw the plans it was quite clear that it was a much cleverer scheme, so we felt that we could give it our support.”
At the time when the first Geffrye’s development plans, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, were contested Palin was also a trustee of the Spitafields Historical Buildings Trust. He said: “The Spitafields Trust has offered to help the museum in any way with their expertise with the detailing of the restoration of the pub building. Hopefully, after all this, it will be a big happy family again.”
Wright & Wright Architects will make an application for funding to the Heritage Lottery Fund next month. The HLF gave initial support for a £10.9 million bid in 2011 when the David Chipperfield Architects’ plans were revealed, but this was lost after the first scheme was rejected by the local planning authority.
A pop-up display, including the architect’s model, will be at the museum for the next few months for visitors to view and leave their feedback. There will also be a public open evening at the museum on Tuesday, November 4 from 6 to 7.30pm, which will offer a chance to meet the architect and director and hear more about the plans and share feedback. Alternatively, people can complete a survey online here or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Geffrye museum, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in August this year, explores the home from 1600 to the present day, focusing on the living rooms of the urban middle classes in England, particularly London. The redeveloped museum could open in 2020.