It’s been revealed that an investigation in 2017 as to the feasibility of restoring the Euston Arch put the cost in excess of £50 million.
The figure came from a House of Commons written answer to Michael Fabricant MP, who asked what plans there are to restore the Euston Arch as part of the wider Euston station redevelopment.
In the answer, Andrew Stephenson MP, who is also the Minister of State overseeing HS2 noted that feasibility work in 2017 indicated that reconstruction of the Euston Arch would cost in excess of £50 million and there were also challenges in terms of recovering the original construction materials.
That review probably followed on from a speech given by the former Transport Minister, John Hayes in 2016 who vowed to restore the Euston Arch as part of the HS2 station development.
The arch is a totem for a lot of people, mainly it has to be said because it represents a moment where the heritage lobby lost a major battle to save a piece of heritage, and forgiveness is slow in coming. Part of the reason seems to be that most people interested in the arch see it as it was when first built in 1838 — as a grand entrance to a station.
A century of development though saw the arch being slowly hidden from view surrounded on all sides by offices and a large hotel.
By the time it was torn down in the 1960s, it was more a dirty facade that was squashed in on a side road that hardly anyone could see.
Since its destruction, there’s been a long-simmering campaign to rebuild it.
Some of the stones have been recovered as part of the London 2012 clearance works, and some were put on display outside the station in 2015. More than half the arch is thought to exist, albeit often in the back gardens of people who worked on its demolition!
Candidly, the arch was interesting, but not that exciting. It could, and probably should, have been moved somewhere and saved, but these were still the early days of heritage conservation, and people didn’t readily think like that back then. Indeed, the destruction of the arch probably did more to trigger awareness in the wider public about what could be at risk, and indirectly, the loss of the arch probably saved vastly more buildings elsewhere thanks to a newly fired up conservation lobby.
If the Euston Arch is to have a legacy, it’s all around us, in all the other buildings across the UK that were saved from their own demolition in the 1960s and 1970s.