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The rise of ‘facadism’ in London

The rise of 'facadism' in London

London blogger The Gentle Author has been photographing the changing face of London, focusing on what is known as “facadism”, the practice of destroying everything apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it.

Here, we present a few pictures from the series and the story of the buildings that once stood.

National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2

National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2

This Grade I listed building was designed by John Gibson as London’s largest banking hall, in 1863-65, with figures along the roofline representing locations where the bank did business including:

  • Manchester
  • Birmingham
  • Dover
  • Newcastle
  • London

Above the arched windows, eight sculpted panels of heroic allegorical scenes represent the achievements of mankind:

  • the arts
  • commerce
  • science
  • manufacturing
  • agriculture
  • navigation
  • shipbuilding
  • mining

The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1

The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1

Thomas Lloyd is recorded as this pub’s first landlord, in 1805.

After it closed for good, in 1908, the building was incorporated into the Providence Row Night Refuge and, in 2006, converted into student housing for the London School of Economics.

London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1

London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1

This building was designed by Sydney Perks, in 1927, as a state-of-the-art auction room with a roof that simulated sunlight on cloudy days, parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout.

Since the fruit and vegetable market left Spitalfields, in 1991, it has housed many small independent local businesses.

The tenant of the new development is an international legal corporation.

465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7

465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7

Mallett, Porter & Dowd built this handsome warehouse for their business, in 1874.

Redevelopment by University College London for student housing was turned down by Islington Council, citing inadequate daylight, due to the windows of the new building not aligning with those in the facade.

But this judgement was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.

And the development won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup for 2013.

College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1

College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1

Designed by Elijah Hoole, this part of the Toynbee Hall campus, built in 1884-85, was demolished and facaded for the construction of Attlee House, which was completed in 1971 but itself demolished in 2016.

It will next front Gatsby Apartments, a development of flats for the commercial market.

Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1

Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1

Designed in 1821 by Charles Parker, the architect of Hoare’s Bank, in the Strand, this chapel was demolished in the 1960s apart from the portico and part of the ground floor, which stood in front of a car park for many years.

The Grade II listed Doric hexastyle portico is topped by a triglyph frieze and a pediment.

Its central door has a shouldered architrave and iron gates.

The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10

The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10

The Spotted Dog was described as “a well accustomed public house” in 1792, by which time it was at least 30 years old.

In the 19th Century, it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s housed a dancehall.

18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1

18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1

Decorative brick inlay on the Berwick Street elevation declares this facade was built in 1886.

Originally a bakery, it became Central Chemists in 1950 when the ground floor and basement premises were acquired by Gertrude Kramer.

Michael Moss acquired the pharmacy and freehold to the building from Mrs Kramer in the 1970s and enlarged it to include 85-86 Berwick Street in the late 1980s, naming it Broadwick Pharmacy.

Richard Piercy bought the shop in 1990 and ran it as Zest Pharmacy until 2016.

In recent memory, the upper parts of the building were used as offices by music, film and voice-over businesses.

All photographs © The Gentle Author from the book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism.

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Algorithms helping patients on ventilators at London hospitals

Algorithms helping patients on ventilators at London hospitals

Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital have found a way to make ventilators more precise for individual intensive care patients.

The trial involves a monitor next to a patient’s bed that will collect data showing their breathing patterns and lung capacity.

Doctors and nurses will use the data to better understand how to treat a patient and individually tailor their ventilator oxygen levels and pressure.

If successful, it could prove to be the future of critical care medicine, according to the research team.

Video by Gem O’Reilly.

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Celebrating artists who have experienced homelessness

Celebrating artists who have experienced homelessness

One Festival of Homeless Arts brings together works of visual art, theatre, film and photography, all created by artists who are or have been homeless.

The work is being exhibited at the Old Diorama Arts Centre in London.

Three festival artists talk about their work and how their art relates to their experiences of homelessness.

Geraldine Crimmins at her home in North London

Geraldine Crimmins, from London, discovered her love of art when in prison at the age of 50 as a result of her drug addiction. “I got arrested and it was great because I got detoxed,” she says. “Prison was brilliant, it got my head clear, I cleaned up in there. It saved my life.”

Previously, Geraldine was a businesswoman but says her mental health deteriorated in her late 30s. She lost two businesses and her house to drug addiction by the time she was 40.

She has experienced homelessness, spending two years on the streets around Victoria station in London. When she was mugged, she spent six weeks in hospital and then moved to bed and breakfast accommodation, where she spent a further four years. She now lives in north London.

While in prison, Geraldine attended an art class and started to paint portraits of nude figures. “I’ve always liked the female nude. I’ve developed my artistic eye and I do more abstract figurative work now.”

Geraldine works on one of her portraits

She submitted a small watercolour painting of a nude to a prison exhibition. Six people wanted to buy the painting. “That gave me such a buzz when I sold it. At the exhibition the next year I sold two more pieces.”

A close up of tubes of paint

Geraldine is now an art mentor for people with mental health difficulties who have been in a hostel or living on the street.

She also takes a women’s group to the Royal Academy of Arts every two months to see an art exhibition. “There are so few things for women in the homeless arena, I try to give women a voice.

“I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD and an anxiety disorder, and I got treatment.

“But I think a lot of mental health conditions of the homeless go untreated. Many homeless people don’t realise that they actually need to see a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.”

Geraldine Crimmins at her home in London

Geraldine Crimmins with one of her paintings

As a self-employed artist, Geraldine carries out consultancy work for Cafe Art, a social enterprise that aims to empower people affected by homelessness by supporting their art, photography and entrepreneurship.

“Someone once asked me what my dream would be and I said working with marginalised people and being an artist, [which has] ended up coming around. It’s been amazing.”

Geraldine has submitted a number of paintings to this year’s festival, including the image below called Woman with Purple Hair, drawing inspiration from a book of nude photo portraits.

Geraldine Crimmins standing next to her artwork

One Festival of Homeless Arts was founded in 2016 by ex-homeless artist and campaigner David Tovey, seen below with one of his works during the hanging of the exhibition.

David Tovey holding his artwork

Two men hang artwork on a wall

Artwork hung on a wall

Artist Stephen O’Grady submitted three pieces of art to the festival, seen below.

Work by Stephen O'Grady

The ink drawings show different places in which a homeless person may find themselves sleeping: a pavement, on a discarded mattress or in a seaside shelter.

“I’ve slept on mattresses I’ve found so many times,” Stephen says. “To someone that’s a discarded bit of rubbish, but at that time that was home to me. I’m trying to get that across in the art – that everything has a value to somebody.”

Stephen found himself homeless in late 2015, following several years of alcohol abuse and the breakdown of his marriage.

He was homeless in Watford, the area in which he grew up, before deciding to travel to the south coast. “If you’re going to be homeless, it’s nice to be beside the seaside, so I went to Brighton.”

Stephen O'Grady sketching in his pad

The shelter seen in his work, next to the word Belvedere, is a scene from Brighton seafront.

While homeless, Stephen returned to his love of art, which began when he attended Watford School of Art as a teenager.

Stephen O'Grady sketching in his pad

“I always drew even when I was on the streets, I’d have my sketchpad and pens in my bag. The output wasn’t great.

“But looking back on some of the art is quite eye-opening. It was a diary, like an outlet.”

Stephen O'Grady sketching in his pad

Stephen found creative inspiration from the people around him. “I’m inspired by people’s faces, expressions and speed of movement.

“When you’re homeless you’ve got the freedom to stare a bit more at people, because you are being ignored, plus you’ve nothing else to look at. Not being looked at really got to me.”

Stephen O'Grady sketching in his pad

Stephen is now in accommodation in Watford and is nourishing his love of art. “I like the feeling of opening a box of paints, or my art box, and just attacking a bit of paper.”

Stephen O'Grady reaching into his pencil case

He recently filled a sketchbook with drawings dedicated to his partner, with every page inspired by her. “She got a feeling of joy when she was given it, saying, ‘No-one’s ever done anything like that for me, that’s amazing.'”

Artist Claire Bastow first experienced homelessness shortly after she moved to London in the 1980s.

Claire Bastow seen in her home

“The landlord of the accommodation I was in found out that two of my housemates were gay, and so threw all six of us out,” she says. “I had to sleep on people’s couches. I ended up in a squat for a while. There was no legislation to protect us at that point.”

Later in life, Claire says she was made homeless again as a result of domestic violence.

“When I’ve experienced homelessness it’s been pretty awful, that uncertainty. I’ve had to spend the odd night on the street. Or living on people’s couches.

“I’ve been able to use some of that experience to inspire me creatively. There’ve been some positives from it, that’s how I’ve processed it. All that comes out in my art; a sense of belonging, and not belonging.”

Claire Bastow seen in her home

Claire developed her art skills in her late 30s, earning various qualifications, including A-level art. She has fond childhood memories of spending time with her grandfather Basil Bastow, an established watercolour artist who was also president of the Nottingham Arts Council.

“We used to go to art galleries all the time. We queued up for three hours to see the Turner exhibition. Turner was his main inspiration.”

Claire has two portraits in the art festival, both paintings of women who have experienced homelessness, Marianne (below left) and Maiya (below right).

Portraits by Claire Bastow

“You can see their stories in the characters of their faces. Marianne is pointing to her eye as though to say, ‘Look at me, I have a story to tell.'”

“When people see my work I hope they get from it the idea that when you first glance at somebody, whoever they are, it’s better to look further. Everyone has got a story.

“Everyone has experienced difficulties in their life. Everyone is valid and has a voice and deserves to be seen and heard, and not hidden away, or stigmatised.”

Artwork in the One Festival of Homeless Arts can be seen at the Old Diorama Arts Centre.

Interviews and photographs by Matthew Tucker.

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Worcester Park fire: Flats ‘still at risk from missing or useless fire stops’

Worcester Park fire: Flats 'still at risk from missing or useless fire stops'

Fire at Worcester Park

Image copyright
London Fire Brigade

Image caption

A four-storey block of flats was destroyed in September’s fire on the Hamptons estate

Residents on two housing estates where blocks of flats burned down have been left at risk because of fire stopping measures in buildings being “missing or useless”, the BBC has been told.

A block built in Worcester Park in south-west London by the Berkley Group burned down in September.

The BBC has found apparent flaws in two more Berkley Group buildings it is said would allow fire to spread quickly.

The developer said all properties had been “independently signed off”.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionWorcester Park resident Darren Nicholson “woke up to the sound of crackling”

Since September’s blaze, the housing association for The Hamptons estate has temporarily changed its “stay put” evacuation policy following advice from London Fire Brigade.

Former resident Stephen Nobrega told the BBC the way the fire spread “was more or less instant. It was like paper”.

Wood is combustible and so fire stopping in timber frame homes is important to prevent the spread of fire.

“You would expect that the materials would contain a fire for a considerable amount of time, but it just didn’t happen,” Mr Nobrega said.

Although there were no injuries, some residents believed they just about escaped in time.

‘Shoddily thrown together’

A number of families lost their homes in the fire while others on the estate said they were concerned their own homes were not safe.

The development has since been on high alert, with security guards patrolling 24 hours-a-day on the lookout for fire.

Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH), the housing association that now manages properties in the Hamptons, said it had “fitted smoke alarms in the electrical cupboards of all our blocks”.

“We are worried about how our homes are built and if they could go up, we want to be evacuated,” a resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, said.

Image caption

Fire crews were called to Richmond House in The Hamptons at about 01:30 BST on the day of the blaze, 9 September

A large fire would be able to spread quickly at another building on The Hamptons site, two independent surveyors have claimed.

Independent chartered surveyor and fire safety inspector, Arnold Tarling, found a large gap between the fire stopping and the cladding on the outside of a building in the estate, which he said would act as a “chimney through which a fire will spread”.

“What we have here is a form of fire stopping which just won’t do its job,” he said.

Greig Adams, a fire safety expert, told the BBC these breaches had “consequences, including a considerable increased risk to life in the event of a fire”.

“The provision of effective fire barriers is a mandatory requirement, not an element that can be shoddily thrown together or to cut corners on,” Mr Adams said.

Image caption

Fire surveyors found a large gap between the fire stopping and the cladding of the building

A former home owner at the Worcester Park estate has told the BBC she contacted the Berkeley Group nine years ago over safety concerns.

Sheila Majid said she had an independent inspection of her property in 2010 that revealed similar problems with fire stopping and meant “our home did not meet basic fire safety requirements”.

She managed to sell her property back to the Berkeley Group, but remained concerned other Berkeley properties had similar problems.

Image caption

Arnold Tarling found flammable cladding in a loft space at the Holborough Lakes estates

Two years ago a fire at another Berkeley Group-built property on the Holborough Lakes Estate in Kent destroyed a block of flats.

Mr Tarling inspected a loft space at a property in the estate and found similar fire safety problems to those at the Worcester Park estate.

“There needs to be a full investigation of these properties, not only by the contractor but by the authorities,” he said.

A spokesman for the Berkley Group said “all properties were independently signed off as building control compliant”.

Speaking about the Hamptons fire he said “the police and the fire brigade are still investigating the cause of the fire, which remains unknown” and the group was “making all necessary checks to reassure residents”.

A National House Building Council spokesperson said it was the approved inspector for the Worcester Park development and the organisation had “carried out periodic inspections at key stages of a development’s construction”.

However, they added that “the primary responsibility for achieving compliance with the regulations rests with the builder”.

Image caption

Several homes were damaged in the blaze at the Holborough Lakes estate

Housing association MTVH said it had since commissioned surveys of all the buildings it owned and managed.

Geeta Nanda, chief executive of MTVH, said: “It’s our absolute priority to ensure we provide residents with the support and help they need at this difficult time, and making sure that the homes throughout The Hamptons are safe.”

London-based developer Berkley Group has built 19,500 homes in the past five years across the south of England and the Midlands.

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Defiant head vows to keep unregistered school open

Defiant head vows to keep unregistered school open

Nadia Ali

Image caption

Ms Ali does not usually wear a niqab but said she wanted to keep a low profile for her interview

The head teacher of an unregistered school, prosecuted for operating it illegally, has said it has a “unique” approach and will remain open.

Nadia Ali, of Ambassadors High, in Streatham – which an inspection found “wilfully neglected” safeguarding – was given community service last month.

She called the pupils “happy learners” and denied it was breaking the law, as it was now open 18 hours a week only.

Ofsted has urged improved legislation to deal with unregistered schools.

By law, any institution with more than five full-time pupils has to be officially registered and inspected. Government guidance defines full-time education as more than 18 hours a week.

The south London school, which describes itself as having an Islamic ethos, says it charges £2,500 a year per pupil and had 45 children on the roll at the time of its last inspection. But it has not yet met standards required to register.

Ms Ali told the BBC’s Today and Victoria Derbyshire programmes the school had remained open as its work with the children was “quite unique”.

“I’ve been teaching for 15 years and I’ve seen how children need a different approach and that what we’re trying to do at Ambassadors,” she said.

“This is why I believe in what we’re trying to do because we’ve seen a lot of results within our children. They’re happy learners.”

Inspection failings

Image caption

It is unclear how many hours the school now operates

Inspectors twice issued warnings they believed the school was operating illegally, before it first applied to register in 2016.

And it failed its pre-registration inspection, in February 2019, with inspectors judging it would not meet the Independent School Standards.

However, the school remained open – leading to Ms Ali’s prosecution.

The inspection found she had, “wilfully neglected to meet some basic, crucial, safeguarding responsibilities”.

Inspectors found six out of 11 teachers had not had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or criminal-record checks.

But Ms Ali said all staff working at the time of the inspection had been thoroughly checked.

“At that time, we only had four members of staff at that school,” she said.

“So, the staff who had left were still on the central record… we did try to explain it to the inspector.”

Inspectors also said ”teachers do not have the skills” to help pupils progress and concluded there was ”no capacity for improvement” at the school.

And they found there was ”no plan in place to actively promote fundamental British values”.

In 2018, inspectors found texts in the staffroom that:

  • encouraged parents to hit their children if they did not pray
  • said a wife had no right to deny her husband

But they found no evidence children had access to these books.

Image caption

Ofsted says it has inspected 260 unregistered schools since 2016

Ms Ali said the books had been donated by a mosque and had been kept locked in the office. Accepting they were unsuitable, she denied they contributed to a perception she did not want the school to be part of modern British society.

She said: “I don’t believe that just by finding some books or a paragraph from a book like that makes us go against the fundamental British values… because our children and us, we’ve grown in British society.”

Koran lessons

It is unclear how many hours the school currently operates, although Ms Ali insisted it was not longer than 18 hours. But we saw a timetable for pupils aged 11-14 that added up to 21 hours per week. Ms Ali denied it was accurate.

The pupils used to be taught the Koran in school – but this now happens at a nearby mosque. Ms Ali said the Koran lessons were run by parents – but the school website, no longer online, asked parents to pay £80 a month for the lessons.

Parents also say they run a home-tuition club in a separate setting close to the school.

Ms Ali said she was getting her paperwork in order to apply again to register the school in a few weeks’ time.

Despite Ofsted inspecting almost 260 suspected unregistered schools since January 2016, and issuing warning notices to 71 settings, this was only the second time a case was brought for prosecution.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said there needed to be a proper legal definition of “schools” and “full-time”, as the current legislation was too vague.

“It doesn’t matter if the school is operating for seven, 10, or 17 hours… children should be registered and getting an education,” she said.

“The law didn’t expect unregistered schools to exist – it wasn’t designed to prevent these places from happening.”

Education Minister Lord Agnew said unregistered schools were “illegal, unsafe and anyone found to be running one will be prosecuted”.

“Where settings are only operating part-time, there are a range of legal powers in place to make sure children are safe in their care

“And in the vast majority of cases those settings are doing an excellent job in enriching young peoples’ lives.”

“We have provided funding to a number of councils to boost their capacity to take action on settings causing concern.”

Follow the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Facebook and Twitter – and see more of our stories here.



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British IS fighters taken into US custody, says Trump

British IS fighters taken into US custody, says Trump

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Media captionInterview with Islamic State ‘Beatles’ duo

Two of the so-called “IS Beatles” have been taken out of Syria to “a secure location controlled by the US”, President Donald Trump has said.

El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are accused of being part of an Islamic State group cell which kidnapped and murdered Western hostages in Syria.

The pair – who are from London – are in the custody of the American military, according to US media reports.

In a tweet, Mr Trump described them as “the worst of the worst”.

He said the decision to remove them from Syria had been taken “in case the Kurds or Turkey lose control”.

The news comes after the US withdrew its forces from the region this week.

On Wednesday President Trump told reporters the US had transferred “some of the most dangerous IS fighters” amid fears they could escape custody as Turkish troops invade Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria.

The New York Times and Washington Post say the pair have been removed from a prison run by Kurdish militia in northern Syria.

Other members of the IS cell – dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British accents – included Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.

Emwazi is thought to have killed US journalist James Foley in 2014.

All four were radicalised in the UK before travelling to Syria.

Elsheikh and Kotey are designated as terrorists by the US state department, which links them to the group’s executions and “exceptionally cruel torture methods” including electric shocks, waterboarding and mock executions.

They were said to have been captured by Kurdish forces in January 2018.

Image copyright
unknown/HO via Met Police, Kotey, Handout

Image caption

Mohammed Emwazi, Aine Davis, Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh (l to r)

The New York Times reports that the US is planning to take Mr Elsheikh and Mr Kotey to Virginia, where they will be put on trial.

It remains to be seen whether the evidence against the pair amassed by British investigators will be handed over in full to US authorities.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was home secretary in 2015, told Washington the UK would only hand over evidence after receiving a categorical guarantee that neither man would be executed.

The UK has long sought and obtained such a death penalty assurance from the US.

That position was reiterated by Mrs May’s successor, Amber Rudd, but then reversed after Sajid Javid entered the Home Office in April 2018.

Mr Javid decided to hand over 600 witness statements, without seeking any kind of guarantee that Mr Elsheikh and Mr Kotey would not be put to death.

Mr Elsheikh’s mother, Maha Elgizouli challenged the decision but, in January, lost that case in the High Court.

The issue is currently being decided by the UK Supreme Court.



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Mauricio Pochettino: Tottenham need time to rebuild squad harmony

Mauricio Pochettino: Tottenham need time to rebuild squad harmony

It is 11 years since Tottenham last won a major trophy – the League Cup in 2008

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said he needs time to overcome the “different agendas in the squad” after his side’s difficult start to the season continued with a Carabao Cup exit at League Two Colchester United.

Spurs lost 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in the third-round tie.

Pochettino has spoken of his squad being “unsettled”