Airmen and our heritage

by
21 September 2018

September 20th, 1918.

THE commandeering by Government departments of hotels and other buildings is bad enough, though it may occasion nothing worse than inconvenience and perhaps pecuniary loss, but this appetite becomes a much graver matter when it threatens buildings of historic interest and beauty. Not content with the Hotel Cecil and other large premises in the neighbourhood, the Air Board is now threatening to absorb an important part of the Adelphi; for some months indeed it has occupied the Adelphi Hotel, the scene of a famous supper party in “Pickwick”, and the adjoining houses. Ceilings have been bored through to make way for tubes and pipes, and a great many internal alterations made, and all this for no better purpose than to provide billets for young airmen engaged in the Ministry. Few quarters of London, if any, are more crowded with historic and literary associations than the Adelphi. And it is difficult to imagine any place more unsuited to a large business organization than these tiny eighteenth-century houses, replete with every ancient inconvenience. Here are plaster ceilings with Angelica Kauffmann plaques, fine marble mantelpieces, and narrow characteristic Adam doorways whose maltreatment can never be repaired or compensated for. We do not for a moment believe that the Office of Works will willingly be a party to what cannot be described as other than an act of vandalism, and it is greatly to be hoped that some other means will be found to provide the necessary accommodation. One way of doing this would seem to be by erecting a temporary building in the foreground of the Adelphi estate, where there is a large area of land lying idle.


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