Timothy Brittain-Catlin presented an episode from his forthcoming book The Edwardians and their Houses on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour last night. This told the story of how from 1900 the London County Council, controlled by members of the Liberal Party, transformed a district of industrial works and slums at the southern edge of the Palace of Westminster into an idealised ‘late Stuart’ residential quarter around the baroque church of St John, Smith Square. Some of the finest buildings here, including 4, Cowley Street (above), were designed by the architect Horace Field, whose commercial buildings look as if they were the homes of prosperous Restoration merchants and were thus the harbinger of much interwar high street bank architecture. Appropriately, this house, which had been built as the offices of the North Eastern Railway, served as the headquarters of first the Social Democratic Party and until recently, the Liberal Democrats. Today the district serves as a fine example of a politically inspired residential area which looks as if it has ‘always’ been there.
The full programme is here .