Historian Dan Cruikshank in battle to stop 18th century Huguenot house in Shoreditch being bulldozed
- Credit: Mike Brooke
TV historian Dan Cruikshank is spearheading a campaign to stop an historic 18th century Huguenot silkworker’s house in Shoreditch being bulldozed to make way for a luxury block of flats.
The veteran celebrity preservation campaigner is behind a move by the Huguenots of Spitalfields heritage group to save the three-storey property in Club Row.
Now the Department for Culture's Historic England, the public body that protects the nation's historical environment, confirmed last night to the Hackney Gazette that it was considering listing the house.
Developers have applied to demolish the 260-year-old property and replace it with modern flats.
"Houses like this are now rare," Dan told the Gazette. "Its survival all these years shows how the silkweaving cottage industry developed.
"These homes were built for silkworkers to live in and work with their families, unlike the grander Huguenot properties where the wealthy master weavers lived."
The structure was plain, with a single room on each floor with a wide window front and back to let in much daylight needed for silk-weaving with its delicate colourings.
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"Such simple houses are easy to overlook when it comes to preservation," Dan fears.
"This building is important, because it gives us an insight into the economy of the 18th century silk industry before the industrial revolution—there are now too few left."
The application was made by Squire Heritage consultants whose client is listed as Concept Stew computer systems and software consultancy in Brick Lane. There has been no response to calls to their listed number.
Objections from the Huguenots of Spitalfields heritage group say the Club Row house on the corner of Redchurch Street is "exceptionally rare" and should be listed as an historic building in a conservation area. The proposed block of flats, they insist, is "not worthy a replacement".
An Historic England inspector has been to Club Row this week. A spokesman said: "I can confirm that one of our inspectors did visit the site and we are considering the weavers' house for listing."
This boosts Cruickshank's campaign - he lives in a preserved former weaver's cottage half-a-mile away off Commercial Street and has championed local heritage struggles since the 1960s.