A petition to save the Marquis of Lansdowne has been signed by 600 people

Furore over Geffrye's expansion

Gareth Harris, Issue 113/02, p6, 01.02.2013
Historic buildings trust opposes plan to pull down closed pub
The Geffrye Museum in east London is facing calls to save a 19th-century pub due to be demolished as part of the museum’s expansion plans.

The proposed extension, designed by David Chipperfield Architects, will include a gallery, as well as new facilities for the collections and archives. The new wing will also ease overcrowding and congestion.

As part of the redevelopment, the museum plans to pull down the closed Marquis of Lansdowne pub at the rear of the site. The move is opposed by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust.

The trust has launched a protest petition which has been signed by almost 600 supporters. William Palin, a former director of the conservation group SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “The redevelopment is the perfect opportunity for the Geffrye Museum to bring back to life a valuable local asset with a rich social history.

“The fact that the Geffrye, essentially a museum about place, is proposing the demolition is extraordinary.”

Meanwhile, Tim Whittaker, director of the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust, said he wrote to the Geffrye Museum in November offering to refurbish the Victorian building, but his offer was rejected.

A statement from the museum said that many options for the pub had been considered, but it had decided that the public benefits in developing the site for the museum outweigh the arguments for its restoration.

The pub, which is owned by the museum, is not listed and is in poor condition, the statement added.

A planning application submitted to Hackney Council in December was still under consideration as Museums Journal went to press. The Geffrye Museum project will cost about £18.9m. The Heritage Lottery Fund has given first-stage approval for a £10.9m grant.

The museum’s extension is scheduled for completion in 2016.