King's College London
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In the Beginning ...

Access to the site

Engraved line drawing of stone entry gate with a rounded arch and coat of arms at top between two blocks of plain housesDesign for Strand entrance 1831Smirke first had to address the problem of access for building materials and men.

Numbers 159 and 160 Strand had been purchased in March 1829 at a cost of £17,000 and demolished to make way for the future pedestrian entrance to the College precinct. These properties were evidently the home of wealthy individuals.

We know that a one Mr Jonathan Andrews lived at 160 Strand. Among the contents listed in a consequent house sale were 'beautiful French porcelain', 'a pair of finely carved ivory card racks' and cabinet pictures by, among others, Rubens and Van Dyke.

Requests for compensation were also heard from householders in poorer dwellings in Strand Lane earmarked for destruction and concern was voiced about the probable loss of light from the development.

The building contract

The Provisional Committee and its successor, the College Council, next obtained tenders for the building work.

The contract was awarded on 26 November 1829 to an St Pancras-based developer, Thomas Martin, to sink foundations and erect the substructure or 'carcass' of the main building for the sum of £63,947, paid in instalments every three calendar months.

He was charged to 'duly execute perform and complete all the works' by 1 December 1831. Robert Smirke retained overall control of the project as its manager as well as architect.

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