Record

Ref NoRC/62/A
Title1 Lowther Gardens: The Commission's Office 1920 - 1987
Description1 and 2 Lowther Gardens were built in 1877 by Colonel W.T. Makins, to the design of the architect John J. Stevenson, in the gardens of Lowther Lodge. Lowther Lodge was built in 1874, on the premises of Eden Lodge, recently demolished and formerly owned by George and subsequently Robert Eden, Earls of Auckland, by the Hon. William Lowther and sold in 1912 by his son James William Lowther (Viscount Ullswater) to the Royal Geographical Society. Colonel Makins occupied 1 Lowther Gardens himself and sold No. 2 in 1878.

In 1920 the Commission bought 1 Lowther Gardens from Graeme Alexander Lockhart Whitelaw with the object of obtaining more space for both the Commission and the various committees of the British School at Rome, whose work was assisted by the Commission's Board of Management. The move also returned the Commission to the centre of its Estate.

From 1920 to 1925 the upper part of 1 Lowther Gardens was leased to the Aeronautical Department of Imperial College, and from 1927 to the Institute of Physics, the Optical Society and the Physical Society. The Institute of Physics (with which the other societies had amalgamated) finally moved out in 1975.

Before the Commission's long occupation of Lowther Gardens, its office premises had changed several times. With the closure of the 1851 Exhibition and the removal of the Crystal Palace (habitually the meeting place), the Secretary, Edgar Bowring, carried out the Commission's business from his office in Whitehall, where he was Registrar at the Board of Trade, and subsequently from his home at 69 Westbourne Terrace. On his becoming an M.P. in 1869 and his retirement from the Secretaryship, the new Secretary, Major-General Henry Y.D. Scott, used 32 Abingdon Street as the office, although much correspondence from him at the time is simply headed 'South Kensington' (probably 5, Upper Kensington Gore).

Various Victoria Street premises became the Commission's office at different times from mid-1877, firstly No. 2 (renumbered 18 in January 1889), from October 1890 No. 16, and from 1905 No.54.

During the seventy years from the end of the Great Exhibition to the purchase of Lowther Gardens, the Commission met as a body, until about 1866, mainly at the Palace of Westminster, then a few times at 32 Abingdon Street, and then generally at Marlborough House. Lowther Gardens provided ample meeting space after its acquisition in 1920.

In 1986 the Commission sold the lease of 1 Lowther Gardens (which was subsequently renamed 1 and 2 Prince Consort Road) and moved its office, together with its archive, to accommodation at Imperial College. See 62B.

Files in this series were organised numerically. Missing numbers relate to files that were deemed to be of a very ephemeral nature and so were not retained in the Archive.

Date1920 - 1987
FormatManuscript
Add to My Items

    Showcase items

    A selection of the items in our collection