Please find the latest CGPS Press Release in which we urge you to support the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society in its efforts to preserve this essential public space.
London, UK – The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society (CGPS) is calling for public support to restore the historic public space of Clerkenwell Green. The Society has been working to improve the “Friendly Streets” plan proposed by Islington Council and is now calling for a public meeting on the site to discuss the proposed improvements.
The site has been subject to controversy in recent years, with Islington Council proposing a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on the site, despite having rejected the idea in 2017. The Society believes that this proposal is irrational and invalid, and is calling for a Public Consultation to be held.
The Society has a photograph in its records, dated 1900, which shows Clerkenwell Green as a public open space without a bisecting road. The original plan for the site also does not show a road dissecting Clerkenwell Green. The Society believes that the restoration of the original encirclement of the Green by a road would enable the central open space to be grassed, making it “greener” as supported by Councillor Rowena Champion.
The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society, founded by Ann Pembroke in 2002, is dedicated to preserving the heritage status of Clerkenwell Green. The significance of Clerkenwell Green as a complete historic public open space is not to be divided by a road. It is a vital space for public use, including pedestrians, and has been the site of significant protests throughout history. In the 11th century, protesters used the space to prevent being arrested within the Walls of the City of London. Today, gatherings continue, particularly on May Day, when people carry banners, placards, and play music. Their children often wear national dress before marching on to Trafalgar Square to continue their protests. This Heritage Site has originated “Freedom of Speech” and is celebrated as John Betjeman’s “First London Village”.
The local community has expressed deep concern regarding the years of neglect of Clerkenwell Green, including the continued closure of George Jennings’ Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories. Jennings, a celebrated engineer, worked with Prince Albert to design and build the first underground public conveniences in 1851, specifically for the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. The profits from these conveniences went towards the construction of the South Kensington Museums. We are supported by AgeUK and the Victorian Society in our efforts to have these Victorian Public Lavatories restored for public use. The lavatories have been closed for forty years, and their sanitary fittings were removed by Islington Council for conservation purposes.
It is important to note that the proposal for a Sylvia Pankhurst statue on Clerkenwell Green has been the subject of much debate in the local community, and has previously been rejected following a Public Consultation carried out by Islington Council in 2017. While Sylvia Pankhurst is undoubtedly an important figure in the history of women’s suffrage, she has no historical connection to Clerkenwell or Clerkenwell Green. Moreover, any decision to erect a statue on a public space like Clerkenwell Green must be guided by the principles of the UK’s planning and heritage laws, which require careful consideration of the cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance of the area in question.
In this context, it is concerning that Islington Council has included a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst in their latest plans for Clerkenwell Green, despite being previously rejected by the local community. It is worth noting that a statue of Sylvia was unveiled in 2011 on Mile End Road, Bethnal Green, where she did have a historical connection. The inclusion of her statue on Clerkenwell Green could set a precedent for encroachment on the historic public open space and damage the area’s cultural heritage.
Therefore, it is imperative that the Council listens to the views of the local community and respects the outcome of the previous Public Consultation. Any decision to erect a statue on Clerkenwell Green must be guided by a robust and transparent process of consultation and evaluation, to ensure that it is appropriate for the area’s historical and cultural context.
Islington Council spent £150,000 in the north side of the Borough, without the Society’s knowledge, designated for the “Restoration of Clerkenwell Green” emanating from the St. John Street redevelopment of the Allied Brewery Site. The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society aims to ensure that the future of this first Conservation Area in the Borough is restored to its deserved heritage status.
Andy Brown, Marlborough’s Construction Controller in charge of the buildings’ site, has held meetings with the Society and has suggested that their representatives meet him, other CGPS supporters, and Islington Council representatives to discuss proposals for improvements to the Plan. Brown has stated that he wants all asphalt removed from the site and is “holding” the building of a road dividing the historic public space of Clerkenwell Green to enable the reinstatement of the original road, now covered with paving outside The Crown Tavern and adjacent businesses, which would allow the proposed delivery lay-bys in narrow Clerkenwell Close to be removed.
The CGPS is now calling for a press conference on Clerkenwell Green to raise awareness about the situation and call for public support. The Society is inviting members of the press to the building site and is urging the public to write letters of support to Islington Council.
Ann Pembroke, who founded the CGPS in 2002 and is its Director, said: “It is critical that we restore Clerkenwell Green to its former glory. This historic public space is of great importance to the people of London, and it is our duty to ensure that it is preserved for future generations. We urge members of the public to join us in this fight and call on Islington Council to listen to the voice of the people.”
For more information about the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society and its efforts to restore Clerkenwell Green, visit our website.
Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society
Mrs. A.M.F. Pembroke, B.E.M., OSt.J.,
Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd. (a non-profitmaking, non-political local amenity company 4353031. run by Volunteers)
42 Clerkenwell Green,
London EC1R 0DU.
Telephone: 0207 490 2000