Once again the London Open House weekend has swung around and found me plan-less; not that I’ve had no warning, dg has mentioned it on and off for the last month.
I shall make hasty plans, restricting myself to my home towns and try and turn up something interesting.
Dagenham Civic Centre: Just me and three old ladies to trouble Dave the mace-bearer and part-time Mayor’s bodyguard [well, he's mainly there to see that no oik takes off with the chain of office - valued at around �20k]. It’s obvious he loves both the building and his job – delivering a guided tour of the parts of the centre the public are lucky to ever see.
Following a fifteen month restoration at a total cost in excess of �1.9M, the building is now restored to its original 1930s art deco style and many original features have been rediscovered.
Barking Town Hall: Designed around the same time as its Dagenham counterpart, construction of the Barking Town Hall has interrupted by the war. Only the underground parts finished and converted to emergency air raid shelters. This was a rather brief tour by someone who could have easily spoken for longer on her subject; others in the party had asked for a brief tour to make other commitments.
There are plans to next year extend the building by another two floors – hopefully in keeping with the existing style and not taking inspiration from the new library opposite.
Eastbury Manor House: Dating from around 1560, Eastbury is one of the two surviving manor houses in the borough. Although rather grand in appearance, the inside is rather spartan, with large rooms mainly used for meetings and short events rather than any long term displays. By far the most disappointing of the buildings visited this weekend.