Richard Saumarez Smith

Following my brother’s recent, unexpected death, I wrote a short obituary of him for the Guardian as a way of documenting his life. The odd thing was that it got longer as they asked me to fill in the gaps in my account. As follows.



I spent a fascinating morning being shown Tornagrain, a new town being built east of Inverness. It looks deliberately as if it has been there for 150 years, using a form of early nineteenth-century vernacular. But it only started being built in 2018:-


Spain and the Hispanic World

We went to the Hispanic exhibition at the R – a great experience. I have been to the Hispanic Society several times over the years – the first time making the mistake of changing subways lines in Haarlem – but have never properly registered how rich and systematic the collection is, including wonderful ceramics.

My reference photographs are a bit idiosyncratic, more for Romilly than me:-

Andrea de Mena, Mater Dolorosa:-

Andrea de Mena, Ecce Homo:-

Eagle Pendant (c.1600):-

Pendant with the Virgin of Trapani in in Niche:-

A Black Book of Hours:-


Liverpool Street Station (15)

I have just read that the developers of Liverpool Street Station think that the Victorian station no longer exists. I would urge everyone, including the developers, to go to Liverpool Street Station, and go onto the Platform – I think it is Platform 17 – which allows you to look up at the original roof decoration. It looks to me pretty well preserved, although I’m sure it could benefit from a bit of refurbishment:-


Liverpool Street Station (14)

It always seems to take quite a bit of time for heritage campaign to get going, but the announcement this morning of the revival of the Liverpool Street Station Campaign, which managed to save the station in the 1970s, suggests the campaign is now properly underway, uniting all the various heritage bodies, including Historic England. I hope they can blow the proposals out of the water.


Liverpool Street Station (13)

More on Liverpool Street Station from the Gentle Author, who alerted me to what’s proposed:-


Liverpool Street Station (12)

I have been sent an image of the linocut done by Edward Bawden in 1962 of Liverpool Street Station:-

It was in the dying days of steam trains, but shows the cathedral-like magnificence of the railway sheds, which can still be seen if you go beyond the unattractive 1960s shopping mall which blocks the view. It remains one of the better preserved great railway stations of London. The plan to plonk a monster tower block on top of it and another next door will block out all the daylight and destroy the whole sense of scale of the building. Betjeman campaigned in the 1970s to stop Liverpool Street Station being replaced by the ‘slabs and cubes of high finance’. Poor Betjeman must be turning in his grave.


Liverpool Street Station (11)

In case you haven’t seen what is planned for Liverpool Street Station, here it is:-

Just take a look at the difference in scale between the old Victorian railway station and the Herzog and de Meuron tower blocks, one of which is actually on top of the Grade 2* listed station.

This is at a time when the evidence points to fewer people wanting to work in the City, many of them working a three-day week, and the City planners wanting to make the City a better environment to work in.

This is an interesting way to start.


Liverpool Street Station (10)

I sometimes slightly despair about what is happening in some parts of the City. Saving Liverpool Street Station was one of the great victories of the 1970s conservation movement, led by John Betjeman. Now, Network Rail, or whoever now owns the stations, plan to use it as the deck for a vast skyscraper, thereby completely destroying its surviving Victorian character.

The thing which is pretty unbelievable is that they held a public consultation in which they showed only half the project – the bottom half, of course. This is so fantastically disreputable that the City planning department should simply ban the developers from ever submitting a project for consideration again.