The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 18 Bloomsbury and Districts to the North

Gower Street and University College

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Parallel with Tottenham Court Road, on the east, runs the sombre but respectable Gower Street, from which, in fine weather, a glimpse of the hills of Hampstead and Highgate may be obtained, closing the vista on the north. The street begins on the south at Bedford Square. On the right, farther on, at the corner of Keppel St., is the site once destined for the Shakespeare Memorial National Theatre, but now for the London School of Hygiene. A little beyond, at Nos. 62-64, is the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, founded by Sir H. Beerbohm Tree (died 1917). For three years after his marriage in 1839 Charles Darwin (1809-82) lived at No. 110 (then 12 Upper Gower St.). The Indian Students' Union and Hostel, Nos. 106-112, was opened in 1923. Among other residents in this street have been Mrs. Siddons, Sir Samuel Romilly, and Sir John Millais. William De Morgan (1839-1917) was born at No. 69. University College, on the right, near the north end of the street, was founded in 1826 and opened in 1828, with the title of University of London, by Lord Brougham, Thomas Campbell, James Mill, and other friends of religious liberty, with the object of affording, on undenominational lines, and 'at a moderate expense the means of education in literature, science, and art.' Theology is not included in its curriculum. It was incorporated by royal charter in 1836 as University College; in 1900 it became a 'school' of the reorganized University of London, in which it was finally incorporated in 1907. This college was the first to admit women students to university courses. There are about 2800 students (400 post-graduate), taught by 42 professors and 180 assistant teachers. The central building, with its Corinthian portico and fine dome, designed by west Wilkins, has been considerably added to and is to a certain extent masked by some of the new buildings in Gower Street and Gower Place. In the hall beneath the dome is the Flaxman Gallery (admission daily 10-4, Saturday 10-1, on application at the office), containing original models and drawings by John Flaxman (1755-1826). In the cloisters below are sculptures in marble niello of Homeric subjects, by Baron Triqueti, presented by Grote, the historian. The Flinders Petrie Egyptology Collection is shown on previous application to the secretary. The college contains also the Slade School of Art, established under the will of Felix Slade (1790-1868), the art-collector. On the opposite side of the street is University College Hospital, rebuilt in 1906 in the form of a diagonal cross by the munificence of Sir Blundell Maple. It contains 320 beds, and over 70,000 out-patients are annually treated by the medical staff. Adjoining it on the south is the Medical School, opened in 1909. In 1920 the Rockefeller Foundation presented �370,000 to University College and �835,000 to University College Hospital. At the north end of Gower St. is the Euston Square Station of the Metropolitan Railway.