London blogger The Gentle Author has been photographing the changing face of London, focusing on what is known as “facadism”, the practice of destroying everything apart from the front wall and constructing a new building behind it.
Here, we present a few pictures from the series and the story of the buildings that once stood.
National Provincial Bank, Threadneedle Street, City of London, EC2
This Grade I listed building was designed by John Gibson as London’s largest banking hall, in 1863-65, with figures along the roofline representing locations where the bank did business including:
Above the arched windows, eight sculpted panels of heroic allegorical scenes represent the achievements of mankind:
- the arts
The Cock & Hoop, Artillery Lane, Spitalfields, E1
Thomas Lloyd is recorded as this pub’s first landlord, in 1805.
After it closed for good, in 1908, the building was incorporated into the Providence Row Night Refuge and, in 2006, converted into student housing for the London School of Economics.
London Fruit & Wool Exchange, Brushfield Street, Spitalfields, E1
This building was designed by Sydney Perks, in 1927, as a state-of-the-art auction room with a roof that simulated sunlight on cloudy days, parquet floors, careful detailing and significant craft elements throughout.
Since the fruit and vegetable market left Spitalfields, in 1991, it has housed many small independent local businesses.
The tenant of the new development is an international legal corporation.
465 Caledonian Road, Islington, N7
Mallett, Porter & Dowd built this handsome warehouse for their business, in 1874.
Redevelopment by University College London for student housing was turned down by Islington Council, citing inadequate daylight, due to the windows of the new building not aligning with those in the facade.
But this judgement was later overturned by the Planning Inspectorate.
And the development won Building Design’s Carbuncle Cup for 2013.
College East, Toynbee Hall, Wentworth Street, Spitalfields, E1
Designed by Elijah Hoole, this part of the Toynbee Hall campus, built in 1884-85, was demolished and facaded for the construction of Attlee House, which was completed in 1971 but itself demolished in 2016.
It will next front Gatsby Apartments, a development of flats for the commercial market.
Former Unitarian Chapel, Stamford Street, Blackfriars, SE1
Designed in 1821 by Charles Parker, the architect of Hoare’s Bank, in the Strand, this chapel was demolished in the 1960s apart from the portico and part of the ground floor, which stood in front of a car park for many years.
The Grade II listed Doric hexastyle portico is topped by a triglyph frieze and a pediment.
Its central door has a shouldered architrave and iron gates.
The Spotted Dog, 38 High Road, Willesden, NW10
The Spotted Dog was described as “a well accustomed public house” in 1792, by which time it was at least 30 years old.
In the 19th Century, it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s housed a dancehall.
18 Broadwick Street, Soho, W1
Decorative brick inlay on the Berwick Street elevation declares this facade was built in 1886.
Originally a bakery, it became Central Chemists in 1950 when the ground floor and basement premises were acquired by Gertrude Kramer.
Michael Moss acquired the pharmacy and freehold to the building from Mrs Kramer in the 1970s and enlarged it to include 85-86 Berwick Street in the late 1980s, naming it Broadwick Pharmacy.
Richard Piercy bought the shop in 1990 and ran it as Zest Pharmacy until 2016.
In recent memory, the upper parts of the building were used as offices by music, film and voice-over businesses.
All photographs © The Gentle Author from the book The Creeping Plague of Ghastly Facadism.
Imperial College London and the Royal Brompton Hospital have found a way to make ventilators more precise for individual intensive care patients.
The trial involves a monitor next to a patient’s bed that will collect data showing their breathing patterns and lung capacity.
Doctors and nurses will use the data to better understand how to treat a patient and individually tailor their ventilator oxygen levels and pressure.
If successful, it could prove to be the future of critical care medicine, according to the research team.
Video by Gem O’Reilly.
The sound of someone tinkling the ivories has become commonplace at UK railway stations. But who plays them, what is their appeal and how did the trend take hold?
Every Monday and Friday, Denis Robinson, 92, makes the 30-minute trip from his home in Sutton, south London, to St Pancras International station, in the heart of the capital.
His final destination: an upright piano tucked beneath a staircase on the station concourse, opposite the arrivals door where holidaymakers from across the world depart the high-speed Eurostar train.
Denis is one of Britain’s amateur train station pianists. A minor celebrity, following a viral performance of Somewhere Over the Rainbow with West End singer Ceili O’Connor in April, he has been delighting commuters with his own arrangements of nostalgic hits for seven years.
He aims to arrive at the piano stool either side of lunch. Breaking with tradition to meet BBC News mid-week, he takes his pew by 11:30am on a Wednesday.
Within moments of his opening chord, passing travellers pause to listen, smile and offer him praise.
“It’s an absolute joy,” says the retired auditor, who has been playing since he was a child. “I nearly always come home with a memory to tell my wife.
“I’m lucky because I’ve got an ever-changing appreciative audience.”
Denis suffered a stroke at the station in August, which affected his left hand, but it wasn’t long until he returned to the instrument in autumn for a rendition of As Long as He Needs Me, sung softly to himself.
“When I walked round to the piano again, there was just this feeling of ‘I’m back’,” he says.
There are two pianos at St Pancras, located at either end of the station’s main arcade of shops. Denis credits his wife of 34 years, Diane, for introducing him to the one he plays.
She was studying Greek at the nearby British Library when it was donated to St Pancras in 2012, following a three-week art project that placed so-called street pianos at public locations around London.
While Sheffield is often cited as the home of the first street piano, the idea for the St Pancras pianos was the brainchild of British artist Luke Jerram, whose Play Me, I’m Yours project has been touring cities around the world since 2008.
The scheme sees second-hand pianos installed in public locations, with an open invitation to play. Each piano is unique, often decorated by local artists or community groups.
“I realised within a city, there must be hundreds of invisible communities, regularly spending time with one another in silence,” Luke explains.
“Placing a piano into the space was my solution to this problem, acting as a catalyst for conversation.”
Several other pianos that were placed in London train stations in 2012 also ended up staying put after Luke’s project ended, including two at Canary Wharf and one at Herne Hill railway station.
And it’s not just talented amateurs that have taken to the keys. Global stars such as Sara Bareilles and Sir Elton John, who donated a Yamaha piano to St Pancras in 2016, have also given public performances.
Elton’s signed piano, still at the station, reads: “Enjoy this piano. It’s a gift. Love, Elton John.”
Inspired by the success of the St Pancras pianos, other groups have gone on to install their own at railway stations around the country.
There are now at least 34 pianos available to play on station concourses.
Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle lobbied for a piano at Brighton station in 2014 in the hope that it would “reduce the misery” of time spent at the terminal.
Ten months later, with the go ahead from Southern Rail, the station’s first piano arrived from local dealer Brighton Piano Warehouse, painted in circus-style red and yellow with “Please Play Me” emblazoned above the lid.
While the instrument has been replaced twice due to wear and tear, a piano has been at the station ever since.
Brighton and Hove Council street cleaner Mikah Laiberg, 28, has made a regular appearance at the instrument from the outset – at one point rehearsing on it every day after work.
“It’s a compulsion,” he says. “I can’t understand how people who can play an instrument can walk past without playing it.”
Clips shared online show Mikah, in his employee high-vis jacket and boots, stunning passers-by with his classical improvisations influenced by composers such as Alexei Stanchinsky.
Such videos, of everyday people showcasing their talent, have arguably played a key role in the success of public pianos.
Street pianos emerged around the same time as the smartphone – the first iPhone was released in 2007 – making performances increasingly easy to document and share.
Now, videos of pianos being played prove particularly popular on YouTube.
In August, Alicia Palmer, 16, wowed the internet with her rendition of Adelweiss at Tottenham Court Road’s piano alongside public piano player Brendan Kavanagh – gaining more than 750,000 views on the site.
‘Life and colour’
Selhurst is one of several small stations in London with a public piano.
Hannah Sayers, 34, and her local community group arranged for a piano to be placed there in 2018.
Donated by Hannah’s neighbour and painted by a local resident, they hoped it would “help people feel positive about where they live”.
“We wanted to bring life and colour to our little ward in Croydon,” Hannah says.
Selhurst’s piano is conveniently located near to the BRIT school, for performing arts students to play, and has a large passing traffic of commuters and Crystal Palace football fans.
“The one thing we were really worried about was that it would get damaged or vandalised,” adds Hannah, “But it hasn’t been so far.”
Neighbouring Thornton Heath station recently installed its second piano after a water leak damaged its original instrument.
Local resident Linda Watson calls it a “community asset”. She adds: “Thornton Heath has many brilliant musicians. To have live music when you are travelling is a delightful surprise.”
Meanwhile for Malcolm Ingram, of Ingram’s Removals, placing a piano in Darlington Bank Top station was a way to save an unwanted instrument.
Pianos, once the entertainment hub of the family home, have long been in decline.
Some 5,000 are sold annually, the Financial Times reports, compared with 30,000 in the 1980s. Malcolm says customers are frequently looking to get rid of their old pianos.
In 2018, he had a brainwave and arranged for a client’s Hemingway piano to be relocated to the station concourse, where it is now loved by staff and passengers.
“A piano brightens up peoples’ day – if someone has the gift to play it, it provides that feel-good factor,” he says.
“The piano was just going to have to go to landfill otherwise, which seems criminal.”
Speaking at the end of his performance in St Pancras, Denis says his repertoire of old-time classics are a constant hit with audiences.
“The songs bring back memories for some people, so they come over and say thank you,” he says.
“The music I play, it’s simple really. It’s a blessing to see that I can provide happiness.”
Photography by Phil Coomes, Dave Charnley and Julia Horbaschk
“I just took a DNA Test, turns out I’m a credited writer for the number one song on Billboard.”
That’s what British singer Mina Lioness tweeted after officially being credited as a writer on Lizzo’s song Truth Hurts.
The row started after Lizzo wanted to trademark the phrase “I just took a DNA test turns out I’m 100% that…”.
Mina tweeted a similar phrase in 2017, but Lizzo claimed not to have seen it.
It’s the opening lyric to Truth Hurts, which reached number one on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
“In 2017, while working on a demo, I saw a meme that resonated with me… I later used the line in Truth Hurts… I later learned that a tweet inspired the meme”, Lizzo said on Twitter.
“The creator of the tweet is the person I am sharing my success with…”
While she didn’t name her, Mina responded shortly after with a tweet thanking Lizzo and her team.
Lizzo also mentions two men who claimed to have created the lyric with her in a writing session.
Justin and Jeremiah Raisen said the line in question was taken from a song called Healthy that they wrote with Lizzo and two other writers in April 2017.
They say they’d been “shutdown” when trying to resolve the issue for the past two years.
Lizzo said they “did not help me write any part of the song”.
“There was no-one in the room when I wrote Truth Hurts, except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears.
“That song is my life, and its words are my truth.”
Even though the song was released in 2017, the row began this year when Mina heard that Lizzo wanted to trademark the “DNA” phrase.
It was reported she wanted to use it on t-shirts, jackets, hats, bandanas and wristbands.
Lizzo said in an interview that after the initial reaction to Truth Hurts, she almost stopped making music, feeling it wasn’t “even making a splash”.
But the song began to grow in popularity and was added to the deluxe version of her 2019 debut album Cuz I Love You.
It’s been a big year for Lizzo since then – she made her Coachella debut and Rihanna gave her a standing ovation after her performance at the BET Awards.
She also starred in the movie Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B.
The head teacher of an unregistered school, prosecuted for operating it illegally, has said it has a “unique” approach and will remain open.
Nadia Ali, of Ambassadors High, in Streatham – which an inspection found “wilfully neglected” safeguarding – was given community service last month.
She called the pupils “happy learners” and denied it was breaking the law, as it was now open 18 hours a week only.
Ofsted has urged improved legislation to deal with unregistered schools.
By law, any institution with more than five full-time pupils has to be officially registered and inspected. Government guidance defines full-time education as more than 18 hours a week.
The south London school, which describes itself as having an Islamic ethos, says it charges £2,500 a year per pupil and had 45 children on the roll at the time of its last inspection. But it has not yet met standards required to register.
Ms Ali told the BBC’s Today and Victoria Derbyshire programmes the school had remained open as its work with the children was “quite unique”.
“I’ve been teaching for 15 years and I’ve seen how children need a different approach and that what we’re trying to do at Ambassadors,” she said.
“This is why I believe in what we’re trying to do because we’ve seen a lot of results within our children. They’re happy learners.”
Inspectors twice issued warnings they believed the school was operating illegally, before it first applied to register in 2016.
And it failed its pre-registration inspection, in February 2019, with inspectors judging it would not meet the Independent School Standards.
However, the school remained open – leading to Ms Ali’s prosecution.
The inspection found she had, “wilfully neglected to meet some basic, crucial, safeguarding responsibilities”.
Inspectors found six out of 11 teachers had not had Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or criminal-record checks.
But Ms Ali said all staff working at the time of the inspection had been thoroughly checked.
“At that time, we only had four members of staff at that school,” she said.
“So, the staff who had left were still on the central record… we did try to explain it to the inspector.”
Inspectors also said ”teachers do not have the skills” to help pupils progress and concluded there was ”no capacity for improvement” at the school.
And they found there was ”no plan in place to actively promote fundamental British values”.
In 2018, inspectors found texts in the staffroom that:
- encouraged parents to hit their children if they did not pray
- said a wife had no right to deny her husband
But they found no evidence children had access to these books.
Ms Ali said the books had been donated by a mosque and had been kept locked in the office. Accepting they were unsuitable, she denied they contributed to a perception she did not want the school to be part of modern British society.
She said: “I don’t believe that just by finding some books or a paragraph from a book like that makes us go against the fundamental British values… because our children and us, we’ve grown in British society.”
It is unclear how many hours the school currently operates, although Ms Ali insisted it was not longer than 18 hours. But we saw a timetable for pupils aged 11-14 that added up to 21 hours per week. Ms Ali denied it was accurate.
The pupils used to be taught the Koran in school – but this now happens at a nearby mosque. Ms Ali said the Koran lessons were run by parents – but the school website, no longer online, asked parents to pay £80 a month for the lessons.
Parents also say they run a home-tuition club in a separate setting close to the school.
Ms Ali said she was getting her paperwork in order to apply again to register the school in a few weeks’ time.
Despite Ofsted inspecting almost 260 suspected unregistered schools since January 2016, and issuing warning notices to 71 settings, this was only the second time a case was brought for prosecution.
Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said there needed to be a proper legal definition of “schools” and “full-time”, as the current legislation was too vague.
“It doesn’t matter if the school is operating for seven, 10, or 17 hours… children should be registered and getting an education,” she said.
“The law didn’t expect unregistered schools to exist – it wasn’t designed to prevent these places from happening.”
Education Minister Lord Agnew said unregistered schools were “illegal, unsafe and anyone found to be running one will be prosecuted”.
“Where settings are only operating part-time, there are a range of legal powers in place to make sure children are safe in their care
“And in the vast majority of cases those settings are doing an excellent job in enriching young peoples’ lives.”
“We have provided funding to a number of councils to boost their capacity to take action on settings causing concern.”
Two of the so-called “IS Beatles” have been taken out of Syria to “a secure location controlled by the US”, President Donald Trump has said.
El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey are accused of being part of an Islamic State group cell which kidnapped and murdered Western hostages in Syria.
The pair – who are from London – are in the custody of the American military, according to US media reports.
In a tweet, Mr Trump described them as “the worst of the worst”.
He said the decision to remove them from Syria had been taken “in case the Kurds or Turkey lose control”.
The news comes after the US withdrew its forces from the region this week.
On Wednesday President Trump told reporters the US had transferred “some of the most dangerous IS fighters” amid fears they could escape custody as Turkish troops invade Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria.
Other members of the IS cell – dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British accents – included Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, and Aine Davis, who has been jailed in Turkey.
Emwazi is thought to have killed US journalist James Foley in 2014.
All four were radicalised in the UK before travelling to Syria.
Elsheikh and Kotey are designated as terrorists by the US state department, which links them to the group’s executions and “exceptionally cruel torture methods” including electric shocks, waterboarding and mock executions.
They were said to have been captured by Kurdish forces in January 2018.
The New York Times reports that the US is planning to take Mr Elsheikh and Mr Kotey to Virginia, where they will be put on trial.
It remains to be seen whether the evidence against the pair amassed by British investigators will be handed over in full to US authorities.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May, when she was home secretary in 2015, told Washington the UK would only hand over evidence after receiving a categorical guarantee that neither man would be executed.
The UK has long sought and obtained such a death penalty assurance from the US.
That position was reiterated by Mrs May’s successor, Amber Rudd, but then reversed after Sajid Javid entered the Home Office in April 2018.
Mr Javid decided to hand over 600 witness statements, without seeking any kind of guarantee that Mr Elsheikh and Mr Kotey would not be put to death.
Mr Elsheikh’s mother, Maha Elgizouli challenged the decision but, in January, lost that case in the High Court.
The issue is currently being decided by the UK Supreme Court.
Pret a Manger has completed a roll-out of more comprehensive labelling on foods across its stores in the wake of a girl’s death after suffering an allergic reaction to one of the chain’s sandwiches
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died in 2016 because her sandwich contained sesame, but it wasn’t listed as an allergen on the packaging as it wasn’t required by law.
As a result of campaigning by Natasha’s parents the law will change in 2021, compelling businesses to clearly label all ingredients and allergens on products and help save lives.
Reece James’ star showing in Chelsea’s Carabao Cup third round thrashing of League Two side Grimsby Town is “just the start” for the teenager, says Blues boss Frank Lampard.
James, 19, set up Michy Batshuayi in the seventh minute before his superb cross was tapped in by Kurt Zouma.
He scored Chelsea’s fifth late in the second half before Batshuayi slotted home his second goal.
Chelsea’s Ross Barkley and Callum Hudson-Odoi also scored, while Grimsby’s Matt Green netted a volley.
Lampard said: “With his end product, Reece James showed what he can do. Two assists and a goal, but Reece’s performances on loan last year at Wigan showed the talent he has got.
“I think he is going to be a big player for this club. It is just the start for Reece.”
The Blues take on Premier League rivals Manchester United in the next round after they scraped past League One side Rochdale in a penalty shootout.
It is the fourth successive season in which they face United in a cup competition.
Manager Lampard changed the entire starting XI following Chelsea’s defeat by Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday, but there were several big names included.
Batshuayi has played just 32 minutes in the league this season and was on the scoresheet for the first time since January 2018.
He was joined in the starting line-up by £58m signing Christian Pulisic and 18-year-old England international Hudson-Odoi – the latter returning from an Achilles injury suffered in April.
But it was James who impressed the most – linking up with Batshuayi in the build-up to the second goal and setting up Zouma with a superb cross from the outside of his boot after the break.
Grimsby’s 32-year-old striker Green gave more than 5,000 travelling fans a glimpse of hope at Stamford Bridge as Chelsea were caught out by a long ball in the 19th minute, but from then on the hosts dominated.
Aside from an early volley from Elliott Whitehouse, Chelsea keeper Willy Caballero was barely troubled and the Blues recorded their 12th successive victory against a team from outside the Premier League in this competition.
Lampard added: “I thought Billy Gilmour ran the game from midfield, and Marc Guehi was solid. They’ve been outstanding this year.
“And the young subs showed how comfortable they are on the ball. Now the hard work starts to get in the team regularly.”
West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini took responsibility as his side were bundled out of the Carabao Cup in humiliating fashion by League One Oxford United.
The Hammers arrived at the Kassam Stadium on the back of an outstanding win over Manchester United to reach the heights of fifth in the Premier League, but Karl Robinson’s side superbly outplayed and over-powered their illustrious opponents, who ended a complete shambles.
Oxford, currently 12th in League One, were high on confidence after a record-breaking 6-0 win at Lincoln City at the weekend and this was a famous and richly merited triumph.
“The whole team didn’t play well. Not only did we concede four goals, but we didn’t create too many chances,” Pellegrini said.
“We missed too many passes from the beginning and the responsibility is first on me because I picked the players, and second on the team that didn’t compete.
“It’s easy to say that we played very badly, but Oxford did everything they needed to win this game. They played with a lot of motivation, with desire and we didn’t play well.”
Both sides fielded much-changed sides and the only surprise was West Ham actually survived for so long before conceding after 55 minutes when Oxford central defender Elliott Moore shot across Roberto.
Oxford, who missed clear chances in the first half through Cameron Brannagan and Anthony Forde, almost increased their lead immediately as Roberto saved brilliantly from Jamie Mackie.
But there was no escape for West Ham as substitute Matty Taylor turned in Mark Sykes’ cross with 19 minutes left.
Substitute Tariqe Fosu, a hat-trick hero at Lincoln City, raced clear from the halfway line to score with great composure after 84 minutes to extinguish any hopes of a West Ham comeback.
The agony was not over yet for West Ham boss Pellegrini and his abject side as Shandon Baptiste deservedly capped a man-of-the-match showing with a classy fourth.
Oxford host fellow League One side Sunderland, who won 1-0 at Sheffield United, in the fourth round in the week commencing 28 October.
“Looking at the scoreboard – 4-0 against West Ham and a very strong West Ham – this will probably go down as one of the biggest results at the Kassam in recent years,” Oxford boss Robinson said.
Humiliation for West Ham and Pellegrini
The EFL Cup represented a realistic opportunity for West Ham to win a trophy, but Pellegrini risked this shock by making nine changes, leaving out danger men Sebastien Haller and Felipe Anderson.
He paid the price as the Hammers produced a desperate display, much to the annoyance of the fans who packed one corner of this three-sided stadium.
West Ham were lethargic, off the pace and apparently complacent as they were hustled out of their stride as the track-suited Pellegrini failed to inspire his team.
He kept Haller back until they were a goal down but by then the momentum was flowing inexorably in the direction of Oxford, who should have inflicted even heavier punishment as they ran riot towards the end.
Jack Wilshere wasted an opportunity to stake a claim as he was over-run by the energy of Baptiste. Wilshere looked a spent force in contrast.
It was reminiscent of West Ham’s loss at League One AFC Wimbledon in the FA Cup fourth round last season as they lacked heart and stomach for the fight, surrendering without suggesting for one moment they would get back into this game once Oxford went ahead.
West Ham have shown signs of stability and improvement in the Premier League, and this was an altered line-up, but their performance was inexcusable and all the plaudits must go to the underdogs.
“I thought it was a poor performance from everyone,” said Hammers captain Zabaleta.
“We feel sorry about the performance tonight and sorry to the away fans who came to the game. It was just a bad night.”
Oxford’s glory night
This competition gave Oxford the greatest day in their history when they beat QPR at Wembley in 1986 – and this is a night that will also live long in the memory of the jubilant fans.
West Ham made changes but, for context, Oxford manager Robinson also made six changes and his team dealt much better with those alterations.
Oxford were in command from the first whistle, sensing immediately that West Ham were not in the right frame of mind to face a lower league opponent determined to inflict a shock.
Robinson may have feared the first-half misses from Brannagan and Forde may haunt them, but they won at a canter and it would not have been unfair had they enjoyed an even greater victory margin.
Oxford have now scored 10 goals without reply in their past two games and this scoreline was a more than accurate reflection of the gulf between the two sides.
Baptiste was outstanding in midfield, the veteran Mackie was a threat throughout and it is huge credit to Robinson and his players that they never took a backward step once Moore put them ahead 10 minutes after the break.
Oxford continued to be bold and go in search of goals, and the celebrations on and off the pitch at the final whistle were fully deserved.
This was a night of shame for West Ham, but it would be an insult and injustice to downgrade the quality of Oxford’s performance that brought this outstanding victory.
“We had the belief in ourselves that we could get a result,” Robinson said. “I’m over the moon for the fans and the players.
“It’s about the players, about the fans and about the community of Oxfordshire and the big thing for me now is the people who came here for the first time in a long time, that they buy a ticket and come on Saturday [for the league game against Gillingham].”