Tuesday, 4 June 2013

74-75 Long lane

Long lane in Smithfield is a road which runs parallel with Cloth fair, this area of London is rich with medieval remains as the Great Fire which destroyed so much elsewhere did not reach as far north as Smithfield. Numbers 74-75 Long lane (pictured left © 74- right & 75-left) are late sixteenth century townhouses probably built around 1598 as a development of five houses. They are now only a handful of such townhouses to survive in London which pre-date the Great Fire of London. Much of the historic core of the buildings survives but the facades of both have been altered substantially, in the case of number 75 it was rebuilt in the Victorian era along with 76 (which may also contain a heavily altered older core) whilst number 74 was remodeled in the late Georgian era. Rebuilding of the facade rather than the whole house was common place in all periods as it was obviously much cheaper than rebuilding the entire site from scratch. They were often remodeled to give the house a more modern and fashionable look. The rebuilt facade of number 74 has kept the jettied front of the building in which the upper stories  do slightly project out into the street. The top (which is relatively modern) is hung with mathematical tiles, quite uncommon in London, whilst below it is fronted with conventional London brick. The four circular objects are braces which serve a structural purpose added after the new facade, giving the building additional strength as well as extra character. 

By the end of the second world war number 74 (and more dangerously number 73 {right in picture left ©}) due to neglect and possible bomb damage. It was however restored after the war which is when the mathematical tiles were installed on the upper story. Number 73, perhaps a more interesting building with a gable and a large bay was not restored and demolished some time afterwards. 

Numbers 74 and 75 were listed grade 2 by English heritage in 1977 due to their rare (although significantly altered) survival and age.  

The buildings was originally two houses until the ninetieth century when the two shops underneath were installed. They are now linked together and is currently a sushi shop. The buildings were used as offices until recently until being converted back into use as shops and housing above. The alley way to the right of the image above connects to Cloth Fair and an alley 'East passage' which runs directly behind the buildings.

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