The Queen's Tower - Imperial College Road, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 29.896 W 000° 10.619
30U E 695942 N 5709015
Quick Description: The Queen's Tower is on the north side of Imperial College Road and is all that remains of the Imperial Institute. The Institute was built to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and was designed by Thomas Edward Collcutt RIBA medal winner.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 8/14/2013 10:31:56 AM
Waymark Code: WMHV41
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member razalas
Views: 1

Long Description:

The Scottish Architects website tells us about Collcutt:

Thomas Edward Collcutt was born in Oxford on 16 March 1840. He was educated at the Oxford Diocesan School at Cowley and at Mill Hill.

In 1856 Collcutt was articled to Richard Armstrong, an Edinburgh-born London-based architect who had been an assistant with Edward Blore and had some connection with David Bryce. At the end of his articles he became an assistant first to Mills & Murgatroyd and then to George Edmund Street, subsequently spending some time with the cabinetmakers Collinson & Locke which gave him experience in high-quality woodwork. In 1867 he moved to Brighton as assistant to its burgh surveyor P C Lockwood, working on the conversion of the Pavilion stables riding school into assembly rooms.

Collcutt commenced independent practice in London in 1869, one of his earliest private clients being his former employers Collinson & Locke whose Fleet Street premises he designed in 1873-4. In 1872, when briefly in partnership with the obscure H Woodzell, Collcutt won his first competition, the Public Library and Museum at Blackburn, Lancashire. In 1877 he won that for the Town Hall at Wakefield with a Gothic design in deference to the assessor, his former master G E Street, but in execution redesigned it in a predominantly English early Renaissance manner which was to become characteristic of his work in the 1880s and 1890s, increasingly infused with refined French and Hispanic detail, frequently executed in terracotta.

These successes resulted in him being admitted FRIBA on 13 January 1879, his proposers being Street, James Brooks and Edward Robert Robson. By 1886 he had acquired sufficient standing to be nominated for the limited competition for the Imperial Institute in South Kensington, which he won, the building being completed in 1893: his refusal to shorten the tower is said to have cost him the knighthood usually conferred for such buildings. The story may be apocryphal, but no other major government commission came his way and the remainder of his career was spent on a flourishing practice of private and commercial client work, notably for Richard D'Oyly Carte at the Royal English Opera House (1891) and at the Savoy, where a bold High Renaissance treatment in white faience was adopted. In his domestic work an accomplished English Arts and Crafts manner was adopted from about 1900.

Collcutt was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1902. From 1906 he was in partnership with Stanley Hinge Hamp, born 1877, who had been both pupil and assistant and had briefly left to establish his own practice in 1904.

Collcutt retired in 1920, devoting his time to writing 'London of the Future' (published in 1923), a book which discouraged open fires and advocated central heating to improve the atmosphere. He died at Southampton on 7 October 1924. The Buenos Aires architect Bertie Hawkins Collcutt (1883-1937) was his nephew.

The cornerstone on the tower is inscribed:

This stone was laid
Her Majesty Queen Victoria
Empress of India
on the 4th day of July
in the 51st year of her reign

His Royal Highness Albert Edward
Prince of Wales

The information boards, at the base of the tower, tell us:

The Queen's Tower

The Queen's Tower is all that remains of the Imperial Institute, which was built to mark Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee in 1897. It was 700 feet long with a central tower (the Queen's Tower) and smaller towers at the east and west ends. When it was to be demolished in the early 1960s, the Victorian Society and John Betjeman, (Poet Laureate 1972-1984) campaigned against total demolition and the Queen's Tower was saved.

The Queen's Tower is 287 feet tall, clad in portland stone and topped by a copper covered dome. The internal wooden structure of the dome is an interesting example of Victorian craftsmanship. Near the entrance to the tower are two large stone lions. These are two of the four lions which flanked the entrance to the Imperial Institute. The other two are now at the Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park.

The belfry contains the Alexandra peal of 10 bells. Each bell is separately named after members of the Royal family - Queen Victoria, her three sons, her daughter-in-law and her five Wales grand-children. The bells are now rung on Royal Anniversaries between 1 and 2pm.

The tower is Grade II listed with the entry at the English Heritage website telling us:

Queen's Tower GV II Surviving tower of the demolished Imperial Institute 1887-1893. Thomas E Collcott. Portland stone with red brick bands; copper dome. Eclectic Renaissance manner. Four main stages with balustraded balconies between. Tall square shaft with pilaster strips; archway near base. Small arched windows at intervals, paired towards top. Dome with octagonal stage beneath having semicircular turrets and flying buttresses above four corners of tower. Cupola and gilded finial.

Architect: Thomas Edward Collcutt

Prize received: RIBA Royal Gold Medal

In what year: 1902

Website about the Architect: [Web Link]

Website about the building: [Web Link]

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