In 2017 we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the listing of 356 buildings in Bedford Park, the decisive act in ensuring that Bedford Park and its architecture were preserved.
We will mark the event with a commemorative exhibition as part of the 2017 Bedford Park Festival.
In the early 1960s the architectural legacy of Jonathan Carr and his architects appeared gravely threatened by demolitions and by general decay (some two thirds of the houses were by one calculation in multiple occupation). The demolition of a Norman Shaw house at 13 Bedford Road and the construction of a yellow brick old people’s home prompted the formation of the Bedford Park Society.
In 1967, as part of the first of the Bedford Park Festivals the Society mounted an exhibition, The Art and Architecture of Bedford Park, 1875-1900. The exhibition demonstrated both the quality and the plight of buildings in Bedford Park. Arthur Grogan, at that time an inspector with the Historic Buildings Council (the predecessor of English Heritage), and a passionate lover of late 19th century architecture and works of art, visited the exhibition. His recommendation for the statutory listing of 356 buildings in Bedford Park ensured the protection of the buildings. It also marked the end of the period of gradual dilapidation of the area as new owners attracted by the heritage and sense of community of the area began moved in and to restore the houses, with the Bedford Park Society providing guidance through their publications and their comments on planning applications.
The 2017 exhibition will recall the context and content of the 1967 exhibition and consider its consequences, showing how the listing ensured the retention of the original buildings and helped to ensure that alteration and additions reflected the spirit and detail of the original architecture.
Further details of other planned events to commemorate the anniversary will be announced shortly.