FROM THE ARCHIVES
As we look to the future here at St Giles, it does us no harm to also reflect on the past, so here is the first of a series of extracts from parish newsletters of the past. This letter was written by The Revd. Gordon Taylor in December 1972:
Camden Council have announced that it is their intention to purchase Centre Point compulsorily if the Government consents. Let us hope the government will consent, for this monster has now remained untenanted for no less than eight years. To build Centre Point half St Giles High Street was destroyed, its tenants bundled out and its businesses terminated. Restaurants and cafés were especially plentiful, and the High Street pulsated with life. The flow of traffic was small. There was car parking along both sides. Until 1961 no buses ran past the church, and at lunchtime people were glad to come to the area to relax.
In that situation we had huge attendances at lunch-hour services. On Thursdays over a period of some years the average attendance exceeded 150 at 1.25pm and the galleries were in use. Our biggest-ever lunch-hour attendance was 259 in October 1956, in which month we had no less than three lunch-hour services, with address, each week. It was that kind of heyday that was destroyed by, first, the demolition of the High Street and, second, the years of the building of Centre Point. Since 1964 our skyscraper has languished empty, its adjacent plaza bleak and deserted by tenants and pedestrians alike, while the former High Street, without any pedestrian crossing whatever, takes all the traffic which goes westwards along Oxford Street. Crossing the High Street is extremely dangerous. With Centre Point and the adjacent maisonettes tenanted, proper arrangements for pedestrians would have to be made. So we hope and trust that Camden will be permitted to purchase Centre Point compulsorily. And we hope that its floors will be partitioned and let to the smaller type of tenant. We are tired of ‘prestige’ talk, and the creation of showrooms in place of shops, both of which blight whole areas and depopulate them.
‘Enough is enough’ indeed. In May 1961 I wrote in this Newsletter on the same subject: ‘We are witnessing the rebirth of an area which has long waited to receive its due reward.’ Eleven years later, believe it or not in our age of technological wonders, I repeat those words - I hope, this time, with truth.