HL Deb 27 February 1969 vol 299 cc1280-2WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What advice they have received from the Historic Buildings Council for England in regard to the future of the Tate Gallery.


The Tate Gallery proposals have been considered both by the Minister's Advisory Committee on Buildings of Architectural or Historic Interest and by the full Historic Buildings Council, of which the Committee forms part. The Chairmen of the Committee and of the Council have sent the Minister of Housing the following statement and have agreed to its publication.The Committee, as constituted in 1965, opposed the demolition of the portico and steps and hoped that enough expansion space could he found by using the vacant land on the north-east of the site. The Architect's revised brief from the Trustees now calls for the virtual filling up of the whole site—including the northeast corner—to existing height levels, but provides for no further expansion after that. The Committee recognises the increased flexibility and the great practical advantages which the Architect's plan would ensure for the Trustees and the public in the short term; but strongly opposes the destruction of the exterior architecture of the building and the loss both of the open space and of the recessed building line, all of which the execution of the plan would entail. At the lowest estimate the portico is a competent exercise in the kind of classicism which late Victorians liked. With its supporting steps, pavilions, paved and planted courts,

Age at Entry Number of Hostels Number of Places
Youths 15–17 3 25 52 507
15–18 13 267
16–19 4 83
17–19 1 22
18–21 4 83
Girls 15–18 8 12 163 241
16–19 1 20
17–21 3 58
Since July, 1966 the following additional hostels have been opened:—
Braley House, Worcester—18 places (girls)—August, 1967.
Upper Norgrove, Redditch—21 places (youths)—January, 1968.
St. Josephs, Patricroft, Manchester—20 places (youths)—May, 1968.
One hostel for girls with 26 places was closed during this period.

statue and railings, it is a valuable and instructive monument of the social history and artistic patronage of its period. Porticos are of course uneconomic; they will not be built again at any foreseeable period, and those that exist therefore become more precious as the years pass. The Committee does not believe that the removal of the Tate portico and the loss of space it commands can be justified on the grounds that it is uneconomic as it stands. A similar argument would justify the redevelopment of uneconomic porticos and forecourts at the British Museum, the National Gallery, University College and the Royal Exchange, and this cannot be accepted. It may be that in the light of the vastly increased public interest in the arts, the entire site will eventually prove inadequate to the demands made upon it, and the Committee hopes that possible alternative sites for a new building, either to replace the Tate or to supplement it, will be fully examined before a decision on the present proposals is taken. The Committee thinks that if the present proposals were implemented a vital quality of these historic compositions would be lost and that the loss would, in a very few years, be regretted.