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The Brunswick

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A concrete megastructure and its immediate environs, built in the late 1960s on the borders of St Pancras and Bloomsbury, north-east of Russell Square. This was the site of a series of Georgian and Victorian terraces, deemed substandard and overcrowded by the council – but almost certainly capable of rehabilitation. The architect Patrick Hodgkinson created a pair of layered terraces consisting of flats with glazed ‘wintergardens’, shops at ground level and car parking below. Many aspects of the original plan never came to fruition. A third set of flats was proposed for Handel Street in place of the Territorial Army centre; the shopping area was to have been glazed over; the concrete should have been painted cream to match the neighbouring Georgian stucco; and the centre was originally intended as a private development by Marchmont Properties, but Camden council stepped in to take responsibility for the housing. The Brunswick Centre was conceived as a nucleus for the future redevelopment of the entire neighbourhood, which also failed to materialise. Despite the many mutations, the centre is reckoned an architectural success and was grade II listed in 2000. The Renoir cinema was built as an integral part of the Brunswick Centre, on its eastern edge, and remains a popular arthouse venue. The Brunswick (as it is now styled) has recently been redeveloped by Allied London Properties, with its shopping centre branded as ‘Bloomsbury’s high street’. A newly-built Waitrose supermarket closes off one end of the radically transformed retail and restaurant area.

The actress and comedienne Catherine Tate was brought up in one of the Brunswick Centre’s council flats.

The Brunswick
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This Waitrose supermarket is the anchor store of the newly revitalised Brunswick shopping mall

When Thomas Coram’s foundling hospital was pulled down in the 1920s its archive was relocated to 40 Brunswick Square. The Foundling Museum’s collection includes works of art by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Reynolds as well as social history objects relating to London’s first children’s home.

Postal district: WC1

Coram Family heritage

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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