The new development will replace four central campus buildings, below is a short history of each.
When LSE arrived on Clare Market the east side of Houghton Street was dominated by St Clement Danes Grammar School. Opened in 1862 the school taught Divinity and Latin alongside English, science and maths. It also ran schools for girls and infants. The school was very cramped and in 1927 London County Council proposed that the school move to new premises in Hammersmith. In 1928 the School’s surveyors and architects Trehearne and Norman, were asked to begin negotiations. The School signed the contract in 1929 paying a deposit of 10% - £2,400. The sale was completed in 1930.
At the same time the School began to negotiate the purchase of some of the smaller properties on Houghton Street with the aim of consolidating the entire block as an LSE development. The premises included a bookseller, a grocery shop and a pub, The Three Tuns pub on the corner of Houghton Street and Clements Inn Passage.
Trehearne and Norman took on the design of the new building but developing the site was difficult, because of the need to maintain the right to light of the surrounding buildings. The south side of the building was completed in 1931 and the front, including the New Theatre and the roof garden, was completed in 1938.
The purchases and building work were partly funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and grants from the University of London. The project received strong support from LSE governors including Frank Pick, Managing Director of London Underground, and other high profile supporters such as Sir Stephen Tallents, secretary of the Empire Marketing Board.
Although Clare Market was not opened until 1969, plans for a development on the site began in the 1930s when the School took over the leasehold of the Three Tuns pub on the corner of Houghton Street and Clement’s Inn Passage. However plans to develop the east side of Houghton Street was thwarted by the offices of the St Clement Danes Holborn Estates Charity which sat in the middle of the block. Despite attempts to find the charity alternative accommodation it was the mid-1950s before it moved out of Houghton Street.
In 1958 the School architect R.C.White-Cooper provided a design for a joint new development linking Houghton Street and St Clements but in 1964 R.T.Cusdin of Easton and Robertson, Cusdin, Preston and Smith was appointed as architect to the project. The firm had previously designed the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge. Building work commenced in 1966 supported by a grant from the University Grants Committee and the University of London.
A distinctive feature of the building until 1991 was the paternoster lift, a perpetual lift with no doors which moved slowly allowing people to enter or leave at the right moment.
Initially the corner of Houghton Street and Clement’s Inn Passage was occupied by a garage for 18 cars but in 1980 the Students Union moved from St Clement’s to Houghton Street and the Three Tuns reincarnated as the Student’s Union bar.
The Anchorage was built around 1800 and by early twentieth century was used as the vicarage for St Clement Danes church by the rector, the Reverend William Pennington Bickford who had bought the property for his family.
The front of the building bore a large cast iron anchor traditionally linked with the parish. The anchor is the symbol of St Clement, who said to have been put to death by being thrown into the sea strapped to an anchor.
In May 1941 St Clement Danes was hit by an incendiary bomb and five weeks later the rector died – it was said of shock and grief. His funeral was held in the ruins of St Clement Danes. Sadly on 5 September his widow committed suicide, falling from the roof of a children’s home in Portslade, Sussex.
The Anchorage was left by the Penningtons to Lord Exeter as the patron of the parish of St Clement Danes for use as a parish house. However their wills were extremely complicated and there was doubt following the war as to whether St Clement Danes would continue as a parish. In 1958 St Clement Danes was re-consecrated in memory of those who had died in the Second World War as part of the Allied Air Force.
LSE wanted to purchase the property to complete their ownership of the properties along Houghton Street and Clement’s Inn Passage. In 1945 LSE leased the Anchorage and it was used as administrative offices. LSE acquired the building in the late 1950s and between 1959 and 1967 the ground and first floors were used as a residence of the Director. Following renovation in 1974 the entire building became the Director’s residence until 1991 when the building reverted to office space with two flats on the top floor.
For over fifty years LSE shared Clare Market and Clement’s Inn Passage with the Government Laboratory and the St Clement’s Press.
In 1897 the Government Laboratory had moved from Somerset House to purpose built accommodation in Clement’s Inn Passage, designed by the Sir Thomas Edward Thorpe, the principal government chemist. The building was designed around its laboratories and, as LSE developed its premises, the Government Laboratory used LSE rooms for its winter lecture series and laboratory staff visited the School cafeteria.
At the other end of Clare Market a noisier neighbour, the St Clement’s Press, moved into a new building in 1898. The building was designed by Emden, Egan and Company, an architect better known for designing hotels and cinemas. The building, known as Strand Newspaper House, was built with printing presses and folding rooms on the basement and ground floors and offices above. St Clement’s Press produced the Financial Times and for many years LSE lived alongside the clatter of the printing presses.
Between the laboratory and the printing press stood St Clement Danes parish vestry offices, the last remnant of the original parish local government. The building was integrated into the St Clement’s Press building in 1926.
In 1958 the Linstead Report into the working of the Government Laboratory noted that the building was woefully outdated and recommended a move to new premises. In 1959 the laboratory moved to Cornwall House on the south bank near Waterloo Station. When the St Clement’s Press moved to Cannon Street the same year LSE was able to gain possession of the entire site.
St Clement’s phase one
1959-1962 saw the conversion of The St Clement’s Press building for School use. R.C White-Cooper oversaw the adaptation of the building which retains the original Victorian building at its core. Funded by the University Grants Committee the building was stripped back and given a modern exterior.
The artist Harry Warren Wilson was commissioned to produce two art works for the building. The etched glass entrance doors were designed to symbolise economics, statistics, and geography – some of the departments who found a home in the building. The corner of Clare Market and Portugal Street was decorated with an aluminium mural depicting the breadth of the social sciences – law, government, trade, transport, finance and industry. Academic Board were not impressed with the mural and requested a change but the mural remains.
St Clement’s phase two
The extension along Clement’s Inn Passage was designed and built alongside the Clare Market by Easton and Robertson, Cusdin, Preston and Smith. The two buildings were linked by a bridge across Clement’s Inn Passage.
Also funded by the University Grants Committee, like Clare Market, the building quality suffered from funding restrictions. The building was opened in 1968.
Talk to us
Monthly drop in sessions with the main contractor, Mace and LSE Capital Development staff will be held on the last Wednesday of each month between 1pm and 3pm in the Plaza Cafe. The LSE community and neighbours are encouraged to attend to meet the team and discuss any queries you may have about the project.
Any questions or concerns can also be emailed to Estates.Centrebuildings@lse.ac.uk
These webpages will be updated with all relevant information over the course of the project so why not bookmark it for easy access?