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Thread: The Grosvenor's development credentials...

  1. #1
    Senior Member knowhowe's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Chester UK

    Default The Grosvenor's development credentials...

    Anxious watchers of the Paradise Project may be interested in this brief quote from Chester: a Virtual Stroll Around the Walls, (URL below)regarding a previous Grosvenor dabble in urban redevelopment...

    'On our right, beyond a shabby bit of wooden fencing, rises the crude bulk of the Grosvenor Laing Precinct and its even uglier multi-storey car park, opened in 1971 and an outstanding example of the brutalist architecture of the period... Excavation of the three and a half acre site in preparation for the construction of the precinct at the end of the 1960s revealed the remains of barrack blocks, a gymnasium and a vast bath house "with walls up to two hundred feet long, standing to twelve feet in height" surviving from the Roman fortress- but, unforgivably, hardly a scrap of any of them was preserved in situ.
    Dennis Petch, Curator of the Grosvenor Museum throughout the 1960s, recalled bitterly that, "the developer refused to give permission for any formal excavation once his work on the site had begun...with customary efficiency Laing's immediately commenced the earthworks for underground storage and delivery bays for shops to be built in the precinct above... it was soon clear that the great colonnaded hall under the arcade formed part of the same complex and was in all probability one of the earliest of the covered palaestrae of the north-western provinces of the Roman Empire. Even after the great size and high degree of preservation of the building had been clearly demonstrated, and protests against its impending destruction were made at local and national level, commercial considerations prevailed, effectively limiting our gathering of site data to piecemeal observation and recording at the pleasure of the contractor, supplemented by very little formal excavation. This was not a very satisfactory way of proceeding in the case of such an important building which had apparently begun its life in the early years of the fortress and was still in use in the third century. This debacle attracted a great deal of public attention and criticism, and the upshot was a general conviction that such vandalism should not be allowed to recur".

    If only that had proved to be the case. The (now defunct) Cheshire Observer of 5th September 1969 quoted the Oxford Professor of the Architecture of the Roman Empire, Prof S S Frere, then on a visit to Chester, as saying, "It is absolutely disgraceful that modern businesses cannot see the value of the history of the town where they have their businesses and which they are expoiting".

    Chester: a Virtual Stroll Around the Walls-

    The Liverpool Gallery-

    The Chester Shop

    Chester & Liverpool Guided Walks

  2. #2
    Senior Member ChrisGeorge's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Baltimore, Maryland, USA


    Hi Steve

    Interesting information on how Grosvenor have conducted themselves in terms of allowing archaeological work. This interests me because I was involved in a "dig" in the area of the Roman forum at Chester in the late Sixties. I do know that preservation interests with the need to conduct archaeology and record history have a constant ongoing battle with developers.

    Christopher T. George
    Editor, Ripperologist
    Editor, Loch Raven Review
    Chris on Flickr and on MySpace

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