Remains of 'Gateway to the North' discovered: Demolished Euston Arch found in the garden of a Kent villa

Click to follow
The Independent Online
REMAINS OF Euston Arch, demolished in 1962 after a fight that inspired the modern conservation movement, have been uncovered in a back garden in Kent.

The 77ft arch by Phillip Hardwick was completed in 1838 and incorporated probably the biggest Doric columns built. It stood in front of the station, the spectacular entrance to the old terminus of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, the 'Gateway to the North'.

It was feared that all the stone had been used as hard core for a 1960s construction project. But Dan Cruickshank, an architectural historian who has been trying to track down the stonework for 25 years, received a tip-off from an associate of the late Frank Valori, the contractor who carried out the demolition.

Mr Cruickshank will reveal in One Foot in the Past on BBC 2 tonight how the trail led him to search the back garden of Paradise Villa in Kent, built for Mr Valori in 1961-62.

Studying a huge terrace, he found it was dressed with the Doric detailing of the arch.

The arch was one of the great monuments of the first railway age, and British Rail's plans to demolish it caused an upsurge of protest which astonished politicians who believed modern was better than old. The gateway was in the way of an expanded station and would have cost pounds 160,000 to move.

In September 1961 as the scaffolding went up to demolish it, public protest broke out. The Royal Fine Art Commission condemned the decision, and the Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan received a deputation as attempts were made to raise private funds to save it. But Cabinet papers released last year reveal that money carried the day.

Cabinet minutes record that 'the general feeling was that such advantages as there might be in allowing the arch to be preserved would be outweighed by the consequent delay, and increased cost, of the reconstruction of Euston station'.

Mr Cruickshank is to investigate the terrace further and hopes that if enough stones survive and finances can be arranged, the arch may now be re-erected. 'A very great wrong can be righted,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

Comments