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Saturday, 26 September 2015

London and Open House weekend.

Last weekend was Open House London, an annual event designed to celebrate the architecture and interior design of buildings not usually open to the public. Sometimes these are 'ordinary' homes that may have been remodelled or were of advanced design for their time, Span houses spring to mind. 

This year we hit the City of Westminster, on Saturday leaving Embankment staton we walked to Whitehall Place, following a route I took daily when I worked in the Old War Office Building. It was my first 'proper' job, a senior librarian said to me, "Are you interested in this?" I was, trying make sense of the UDC (Universal Decimal Classification) letters and numbers I inked on the spine of books, the special classifications for military and for regimental histories, the hand written dictionary catalogue arranged by British Museum library 1909 rules. I was interested enough to be sent to Liverpool library school to study for the then Library Association exams., to still belong to CILIP LA's successor,  to be a member of the LA Dewey classification Committee and specialise in Cat'n'Class.

This memorial to the Tank Regiment was a surprise to me, the Old War Office Building is to the right, so clean today compared with the sooty building in the sixties.  

 We started our visit in part of the Admiralty building, sadly cameras weren't allowed so couldn't show the views over Horse Guards or the paintings.  The queues for entry into Admiralty House were long, I had made an error in not bringing knitting or crochet to pass the time, instead we lunched at Waterstones before jumping on a bus to the Westminster Archives in St Ann's Street, not so much for the building but to compare and contrast the facilities offered at the Archive where I volunteer. What a difference, a purpose built building with a reading room with so much space, interesting exhibition of historical artefacts including G. F. Handel's rates bill, a conservation department and a Conservator whose work we were shown. I suspect I will go back for research into my paternal family history. Nothing to do with the building but excellent hospitality from the volunteers for this well organised tours. 

Although not a good photo Open House is about buildings so I show this window in the Re├áding Room which reflects this historical city. 

On Sunday we made just one visit to the Methodist Central Hall near Parliament Square, on emerging from Westminster tube the Battle of Britain fly past of spitfires and hurricanes looped over, such timing. The whole area was busy, the congregation, so smart in uniform or Sunday best was streaming out of Westminster Abbey after the Battle of Britain service whilst the Queen Elizabeth conference centre was hosting an event for the London Fashion Show. All this and sunshine made for a great atmosphere. 

View of QE2 conference on left from staircase. If we had wanted to climb up the dome our efforts were thwarted by the disclaimer form, couldn't meet the health criteria, it didn't matter, again the visit was more than the building, there was an interesting video about Methodism and a wall display including this:-

An ideal 'rule of conduct' for the world, transcending all politics and beliefs. 

1 comment:

  1. A glimpse behind the scenes or into places where one can't normally go is always fascinating, isn't it! We have "Open House Sunday" here once a year, but this year the buildings in my home town that were open were either not all that interesting for me or I'd been to them already.
    I went to Librarian school in the 1980s and became a Librarian in 1988, worked at our local library until the early 1990s. Your remarks about classification reminded me of that time! Great memories...