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The Freemasons are returning to building with new zest. In London there are to be important additions to the Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen-street. At Boston, Lincolnshire, the antiquity and mystery of the craft have been typified by building the new Hall on an Egyptian model : the grand entrance is described as imitated from the Temple of Dandour, the two great columns being copies of those at Edfou and Philæ, and the shafts inscribed with hieroglyphic and other symbols. Mr. G. Hackford was the architect. Another Hall has been built at York, but is of a much more commonplace character. One of some architectural variety, the three orders being all employed in the façade, is building at Manchester.
The Bath and Plymouth Theatres, both of them destroyed by fire, have been rebuilt-the old walls being retained. In both the ventilation has been improved, and additional means of egress provided; and the architects of both claim to have considerably improved the auditory and the stage. The Bath Theatre, of which Mr. Phipps was the architect, is very highly spoken of.
New Music Halls of a popular class are continually being built, as well in the larger country towns as in London. They are often of considerable size and cost, but their architects do not seem to strike out any novelty of idea, though there is ample room for novelty in so many ways. Whether that building by a Company in Brydges-street, Strand, will exhibit any improvements remains to be seen.
6. STREET ARCHITECTURE.
The most extensive piece of street architecture at present in progress in London is the vast collection of chambers which occupies the site of the old East India House in Leadenhall-street. The principal front is above 300 feet long, and the side in Lime-street is still longer. It is a plain, substantial, well-built, and well-finished editice, but as yet has developed no marked architectural character. The architect is Mr. W. Tite, M.P.
As the best illustration of the London street architecture of the year we give an engraving (No. 5) of the offices of Messrs. Longmans in Paternoster-row. As will be seen, the building is of considerable extent; Renaissance in style; not wanting in ornament, and whilst somewhat grandiose in character, as befits the domicile of the chief of the publishing firms of England, it carries distinctly the aspect of a commercial building. The front is of Portland stone. The carvings, carefully executed though unobtrusive, represent the old trading signs of the house (the Ship and the Black Swan), with figures symbolizing the connection of literature, science, the arts, &c. More importance might have been advantageously given to the central doorway, if not to the central portion of the building altogether. The interior is arranged, of course, mainly with a view to business purposes, but considerable architectural effect has been given to the entrance hall and staircase, which are made to form the central feature of the inner arrangements. The architects were Messrs. Griffith and Dawson.
Other City houses of business we must pass over with a word. In
Bow Churchyard the problem how to afford the greatest amount of light for the display of the brighter goods of a Manchester warehouse consistently with architectural character is very fairly solved in the warehouse of Messrs. Copestake, designed by Messrs. Tress and Chamberlain. The façade will not accord with the rules of tectural school, but-its purpose considered-it is perhaps none the worse for that. About Aldermanbury, Wood-street, and the neighbourhood, many warehouses, and around the Exchange, Fenchurchstreet, Mark-lane, Mincing-lane, &c., numerous offices and chambers are finished or building, in all of which an attempt is made after architectural character, whilst some are really effective buildings.
In Lombard-street a substantial but rather plain bank has been erected for Messrs. Robarts, Lubbock, and Co. The site of the former bank of Sir W. Lubbock, opposite to the Mansion House, is about to be occupied with the new Union Bank, their present premises not being large enough. In Finch-lane a neat Italian building of white brick, with rusticated pilasters, quoins, dressings, and entablature of Portland stone, has been erected for the London and Middlesex Bank, from the designs of Mr. Ponget. For a branch of the London and Liverpool Bank a spacious building is in course of erection at the Borough corner of the new Southwark street. For the Royal Assurance Company a large space has been cleared in Lombard-street, and a showy building is contemplated. For the North British a spacious edifice is rising in Threadneedle-street. The Prudential, in accord with their title, have contented themselves with a comparatively modest building on Ludgate-hill, designed for them by Mr. R. L. Roumieu.
Proceeding westward, we may note in passing that preparations are making for a new wing to the Record Office in Fetter-lane ; that in Chancery-lane Auction Rooms of more than average merit have been erected for Mr. Hodgson, from the designs of Mr. G. Pownall; that in Lincoln's Inn Mr. Vulliamy has built for Messrs. Freere a rather ornamental block of chambers; and that in the neighbourhood of the British Museum a large number of shops and private houses on the Bedford Estate are being rebuilt or undergoing transformation—the facing, unfortunately, being for the most part of cement. The new shops, &c., rendered necessary by the construction of the Charing Cross Railway Terminus may be left till the works are completed. In the new street, Covent Garden, little architectural progress has yet been made. The Garrick Club will probably be for some time the principal feature. In Soho-square the Hospital for Women is being rebuilt. In Oxford-street a showy shop has been built for Messrs. Hyams, from the designs of Mr. H. Jones; but the massiveness of the upper part piled on the vacuity of the shop is a fatal artistic defect. In Jermyn-street, it not being necessary to husband every possible inch of shop front, some more satisfactory business houses have been built by Mr. J. Blore.
Banks, warehouses, assurance offices, chambers, shops, and manufacturing establishments, of which we had prepared notes in order to particularize at least the more characteristic, have been completed at Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham,
Lincoln, Worcester, Bristol, Totnes---everywhere in fact-of claim to notice on account of their size, the architectural taste and skill displayed in the designs, or the costliness of the materials. This year, however, they must pass unspecified.
Among the results of the Limited Liability Act none have been so beneficial to the architect as the proceedings of the Hotel Companies. We have in previous years recorded the erection of several of these palace-like structures. This year they extend beyond our grasp. One, the Langham-place Hotel, the most splendid perhaps yet built in London, is making rapid progress; others are begun or talked of in Holborn, the Strand, the Inns of Court, &c.; and on Hampstead Heath, -an egregious pile,-Richmond Hill, Norwood, and, in fact, on every attractive spot around London where a suitable site can be discovered they are commenced, completed, or projected. In the country they will be hardly less numerous. Every large town has or will have them ; in every touring locality they are begun or promised, and every watering-place, whether sea-coast or inland, will soon be adorned with a stately hotel and an almost equally stately rival—if the airy visions of limited liability projectors be realized in solid bricks and mortar : a consurnmation for the peace of the shareholders in many cases to be devoutly deprecated.
7. BRIDGES, Docks, &c. We have already spoken of the Blackfriars and Charing Cross Bridges. The projects brought before Parliament last session included no fewer than five new bridges within the limits of the metropolis—at the Tower, St. Paul's, the Temple, Battersea, and Wandsworth. On one of the bills, however, the Lords passed a general resolution to the effect that " it is not desirable to sanction the construction of any additional toll-exacting bridges over the Thames," and, as all of them were toll-exacting, they were all laid aside for a more favourable season. New bridges are to be made in the place of the inconvenient ones already existing at Fulham and Hampton.
The chains of Hungerford Bridge have been carried to Clifton, where the new suspension bridge is making steady progress under the direction of Messrs. Hawksworth and Barlow. Lendall Bridge, York, a handsome structure of a single span of 175 feet, designed by Mr. T. Page, the engineer of Westminster Bridge, to which it bears a general resemblance, is much praised by the local critics.
Continuous progress is being made with the vast docks and works at Birkenhead, and at Liverpool important extensions are in hand. Some extensive docks are proposed to be made at Hull and else. where. A great breakwater has been commenced at the mouth of the Tees, with a view to convert the estuary into a harbour of refuge. Of the works at the Government Docks, harbours, piers, fortifications, barracks, military stores, and the like, immense and important as they are, it is plainly impossible to speak here. They would require a paper to themselves.