London Bridge rail heritage under "imminent death sentence"
Campaigners hoping to save two Victorian buildings likely to be demolished as part of the redevelopment of London Bridge Station have opened an exhibition of the work of the two architects responsible for the historic structures.
Under the title Vanishing Victoriana, the Bermondsey Village Action Group has opened displays of the work of Charles Henry Driver, who designed the trainshed on the southern side of the station, and Charles Barry Junior who was responsible for the South Eastern Railway office building on Tooley Street.
"We want to raise awareness and get people to appreciate what of their heritage is under imminent death sentence," says Russell Gray, founder of BVAG.
At 10-14 Crucifix Lane the work of railway architect Charles Henry Driver is explored through a well-presented collection of photographs of his other buildings, from country stations like Boxhill & Westhumble in Surrey to handsome London stations like Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill.
His work overseas is also explored, with images of the Luz station in Sao Paulo, as well as non-railway structures including Llandudno Pier and the central market in Santiago de Chile.
Upstairs there are displays focussing on Driver's collaboration with Joseph Bazalgette on the pumping stations at Crossness and Abbey Mills, and the architect's role as a champion and pioneer of cast iron as a construction material.
BVAG succeeded in getting Driver's railway arches along Crucifix Lane and St Thomas' Street listed by the Government, but failed to convince Southwark Council that the flank wall of the trainshed roof and the South Eastern Railway offices could be successfully incorporated into the redeveloped station.
The group insists that the benefits of the redevelopment project can be achieved without losing the station's Victorian heritage.
At nearby Globe House there is a photographic exhibition of work by Charles Barry Junior, including Dulwich College and part of Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Gray says he is realistic about the prospects of success for BVAG's campaign on this issue but he is determined to fight on.
"I'm not going to walk away and let them knock it down without a fight," he says.
At the end of last month BVAG issued a claim for judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission, citing alleged failures on the part of Southwark Council, the Greater London Authority and the secretary of state for communities and local government.
"It's not a foregone conclusion that we'll get our day in court – but the underlying issues are very solid," says Russell Gray.