Saturday, October 10, 2009

Iron, Glass and Failure

On a distinctly strange book about The Monument to the Third International for International Socialism. I hadn't realised when writing my review, and Norbert Lynton hadn't mentioned it in his book, but one of the rejected designs for the Wembley Tower, North London's only one-tenth built Eiffel-surpassing iron monument, had an incline decidedly similar to that of Tatlin's tower. Another thing to add perhaps to Murphy's secret history of the failed solutionism of high-tech architecture. Scans when I can get at a scanner.


Blogger Lang Rabbie said...

Ummm... according to Roger Huddle's review of the same book for Socialist Review, that model in Bookmarks isn't plastic - it is crafted from wrought iron by Keith Dowber - craftsman blacksmith.

Which reviewer is telling the truth?

8:15 pm  
Blogger owen hatherley said...

I have no idea! I think they've had two - the last time I was in Bookmarks the model looked different and considerably more swish. But as a mere crypto, I don't get told Party secrets.

8:34 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I've always loved those iron and glass buildings; before the first world war, there was a huge industry in the UK prefabricating the cast and wrought iron sections and glass panes and shipping 'em out as a CKD kit in a lot of big wooden crates. Market halls. Exhibition spaces. Galleries. Factories. Churches in Australian silver mining towns. Actually, Charters Towers is pretty much all like that.

The parts were fairly standardised, so you could spec out the building quickly, and also add to it. It's a great bit of palaeo-globalisation, if that is a word.

9:55 am  
Blogger Chris Matthews said...

Watkin was also responsible for the last main line to London from the North - The Great Central Railway. Considered by many as belated and almost entirely superfluous it was subsequently short lived. Despite its economic failings it was popular with people in terms of functions and aesthetics. Although its London terminus at Marylebone was perhaps not as grand as its predecessors.

Oh and isn't there a story somewhere regarding the scrappage of wrought iron in the UKs urban environment during WWII? As it "intended to make the people think they were contributing to the defence of Britain following the debacle of Dunkirk" The result was that many Victorian suburbs lost their original wrought iron features. I’d love to know how much and where exactly?

6:03 pm  
Blogger Lang Rabbie said...

The model Tatlin tower in Bookmarks still looked black and metallic rather than red and plastic when I was in there on Saturday and slightly worried that I was failing to buy anything.

Went to London Review Bookshop instead to assuage my guilt at not supporting independent booksellers since Crockatt and Powell went under.

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