Sir Frederick Trench and London Improvements

Had Trench’s ambitious projects been carried through, writes John M. Robinson, London might have rivalled St Petersburg in neo-classical magnificence.

London is often compared unfavourably with Paris, St Petersburg or Vienna as a great nineteenth-century imperial city. Critics point out that it is conspicuously lacking in the broad straight streets, vast national monuments and urban palaces which are the most striking features of other European capitals. Yet if Sir Frederick Trench’s proposals had been adopted in the early nineteenth century, London would have had all these characteristics in abundance:

In the years after Waterloo, and throughout the reign of George IV, a consistent effort was made to transform London into an impressive and coherent architectural layout as a worthy setting for the government of the richest country in the world. As is well known, many improvements were triumphantly carried into execution under the direction of John Nash, particularly Regent’s Park and Regent Street. Magnificent though these were, they were intended only as a first phase; and in the 1820s even grander improvements were under consideration. Unfortunately they were never realised in their complete form.

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