Marchmont Association
Bloomsbury London WC1

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the local area for the benefit of all'

History Project by staff

  History Project


History Project

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In 2006 we established a group to research into the history of the area. In 2007 we produced an exhibition, which was first shown in Mary Ward House and then Camden's Local Studies and Archives Centre. It illustrated the development of Marchmont Street from 1790 to the present day (with the support of an Awards for All/Heritage Lottery Fund grant). You can view a small selection of the historic photos which featured in the exhibition via the Flickr.com link, below.

In 2008 we published the first edition of a book based on the exhibition titled "The Story of Marchmont Street - Bloomsbury's original high street". This was our response to numerous visitors to the exhibition who wrote to say "I can't wait for the book". The demand for this book far exceeded our original expectations, demonstrating a high level of interest in the social history of the area. We have so far published four editions of the book, with the most recent one being launched at Skoob Books on 2nd November 2012. See the section on 'The Story of Marchmont Street' for more details, including local shops selling the book.

Our early research revealed a number of notable former residents of the street, including Kenneth Williams, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley (author of "Frankenstein"), Richard Greene, who played Robin Hood in the long-running TV series, William Henry 'Bird's Nest' Hunt and John Skinner Prout, both 19th century watercolour painters. This led us to establish our own independent commemorative plaques scheme in 2009, as a means of further raising awareness of the social history of the wider area. Some of the most famous people commemorated to date include Kenneth Williams, Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley, Sir John Barbirolli, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, Jerome K Jerome, J.M. Barrie, the Bloomsbury Group, and the Pankhurst family. See the article on commemorative plaques for more details. We are grateful to Camden Archives (web link below) for allowing us unlimited access to their fascinating collections of historical documents and images. Many other sources of support have been appropriately credited.

We published our second local history book in 2014, titled 'Tales of Brunswick Square - Bloomsbury's untold past', which as the name suggests is about the history of Brunswick Square, based on the lives of notable former residents and the events which have shape the development of the square since it was created by James Burton in 1795-1804. 'From Fields to Fountains - The Story of Bloomsbury's Russell Square followed in 2016. We are also planning to install 'History Boards' in key locations around the area, explaining the rich history of each locality to residents, workers and visitors. These boards, which will be similar to the interpretive boards in some of Bloomsbury's garden squares, are being developed with a number of valued partner organisations, including the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and the University of London, who have both installed boards in Tavistock Place and Cartwright Gardens, respectively, with our first history board being revealed at LSHTM on 25th April 2015. We have also supported the Friends of Brunswick Square by securing funds to pay for the installation of three interpretive boards in Brunswick Square Gardens containing detailed references to the rich history of this Georgian square. We have also been given the red light by Camden Council to install 'History Boards' in the public realm and we are in dialogue with the owners of The Brunswick and the various stakeholders in Mecklenburgh Square about the possibility of 'History Boards' in these locations.

We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with individuals and organisations to promote awareness of the area's history and we are always keen to learn about 'new' historical facts. In this regard, we were delighted to be able to work with James Pender, a resident of Burton Street, who showed a keen interest in exploring the history of this street. The result of his labours is attached below this article as 'Burton Street.pdf'. This attractively illustrated article, which explains the early development of the street and the demographic changes which took place during the nineteenth century, has been incorporated into the latest historical publication titled: 'Three Men and a Field - Bloomsbury North of Tavistock Place' (see separate article). If you would like to get involved in the MA History Project, please get in touch with us via the 'Get Involved' link on this page. Details of retailers selling the above publications can be found in the respective articles on this site.

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Created On 05 November 2010

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