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Private Eye on the State of the ‘Namer of Clouds’ Home

7 Bruce Grove, Tottenham, London, the home of Luke Howard is on the Historic England At Risk register

Private Eye on the State of the ‘Namer of Clouds’ Home

We were pleased to learn that Private Eye, the British satirical magazine, recently published a story to publicise the sorry deterioration of the historic home of Luke Howard. In 1802, this 19th Century pharmacist and lifelong lover of the sky devised the naming system for clouds that we still use today. His legacy for the world of meteorology and far beyond cannot be underestimated.

The Grade II listed building at 7 Bruce Grove, Tottenham, London, is on the Historic England ‘At Risk’ register. It has for many years been left to decline by its owners, a property development company which plans to sell if off as apartments. This strikes us, along with Society members and friends in Tottenham, as a crime against the culture of the sky. Such a significant property should never be allowed by the developers to deteriorate like this. It is the only building in the whole borough of Tottenham to boast a blue plaque, which simply states that The Namer of Clouds lived and died here.

Call us crazy, but we think that some part, at least, of this fine old building should be made into the world’s first and only
MuseumOfClouds2

We don’t know what such a museum would include, but we’d love to hear what you think. Leave us a comment below!

Private Eye, 19 February, 2016
43 Comments
  • Larry Holderfield avatar

    Larry Holderfield

    March 3, 2016at4:35 pm

    Berndnaut Smilde should be involved in this endeavour.

    http://www.berndnaut.nl/images/NimbusDumont.jpg

  • Elliot Chandler avatar

    Elliot Dowding

    March 3, 2016at4:50 pm

    A marvelous idea! Perhaps it could showcase atmospheric recording equipment both old and modern. Maybe models and galleries to explain cloud formation and the different types as well as bits on clouds in our culture such as paintings or sculptures. Perhaps a large glass skylight in the roof for observing clouds with reclining chairs for visitors to watch the sky in comfort?

  • John Telford avatar

    John Telford

    March 3, 2016at5:38 pm

    Surely 40,000 of us could buy all or part of the building? I helped restore a Grade II listed Signal box, which Network Rail had left to rot for 32 years. English Heritage simply don’t have enough resources to police all listed buildings and require the owners to look after them.

    Let’s go for it. We might even get Heritage Lottery Fund money.

  • Laura Sauter avatar

    Laura Sauter

    March 3, 2016at5:43 pm

    Great idea! Love Elliot and John’s ideas above too ^. If all of us gave a little, it seems we might have a very good chance to buy it.

  • THERESA HING avatar

    THERESA HING

    March 3, 2016at5:43 pm

    What about having it part museum and part holiday let?
    Wonderful to live amongst the exhibits.
    Don’t Landmark Trust buy up houses and convert them?

  • Ian Dennis avatar

    Ian Dennis

    March 3, 2016at5:45 pm

    Hope this idea can cumulate. 40,000 members does make it seem like it would be do-able. Could the Science Museum get involved?

  • Peter Salwen avatar

    Peter Salwen

    March 3, 2016at6:12 pm

    A cloud museum would be a brilliant solution — but in any case it we be deplorable for a site of such significance to be destroyed or altered out of character.

  • Eileen Potts avatar

    Eileen Potts

    March 3, 2016at7:01 pm

    I was born in Tottenham and it grieves me to see how the whole area has been allowed to deteriorate. As John Telford says, let’s go for it and see if we can get Heritage Lottery involved. The house may not be as beautiful as Clevedon’s Victorian Pier but it’s just as important.

  • David Sellers avatar

    Av8rdave

    March 3, 2016at7:12 pm

    This seems like a great idea and I would get behind it if I could. I live in Portland, Oregon and here, there is a company named McMenamins – http://www.mcmenamins.com/- that buy up old historic buildings and renovate them into pubs, hotels, etc. and do a really cool job of it. Maybe there is a similar company over there? Heck, maybe McMenamins is ready to go international.
    But bottom line, this is a really great idea.

  • Laurel Fais avatar

    lfais

    March 3, 2016at7:16 pm

    I’m in! Love the suggestions

  • Jeffrey Roach avatar

    Jeffrey Roach

    March 3, 2016at7:42 pm

    I’m in!

  • Gordon Tripp avatar

    Gordon Tripp

    March 3, 2016at7:47 pm

    Great to see such support! Don’t know the area but part museum (who staffs it?) part flat seems a possibility.

  • Jim Hamilton avatar

    Jim Hamilton

    March 3, 2016at7:54 pm

    I second what John Telford has mentioned in the above post. Just checking on our membership numbers, of the 40,000, nearly 26,000 live in the U.K.Even if half of that number could donate £15.00 minimum, and then again in another 6 months, we would be shy of £400,000.
    I know im rambling on, im just throwing figures up. And, i never want to pressure anyone into subscribing into something if it causes any hardship.But, this why we have a the CAS. We have a cracking little club, full of good people, and this would be a fantastic cause for us to get behind, its why were here!Annoy the hell out of the Lottery fund as well. Hopefully, there is a cleverer person reading this who can put this rant into English, and get things moving in the CAS. Maybe a quick banner headline on the cloudshop page so we could donate straight into that.

  • Elaine Reading avatar

    Elaine

    March 3, 2016at8:22 pm

    Could Haringey re-visit the idea of compulsory purchase? It should be a crime to allow this shocking state to occur, despite the input from other interested parties/legal bodies.

    Definitely worth trying to raise the money ourselves, along with other sources. Any professional fund-raisers amongst us?

    How about support from airlines?! They could get involved with the CAS & distribute educational material…

  • Kathryn Myers avatar

    Kathryn Myers

    March 3, 2016at9:44 pm

    My passion is turning run down buildings beautiful again. If we can make this happen I’ll be there to help.

  • Kathy Fisher avatar

    Kathy Fisher

    March 3, 2016at9:51 pm

    It sounds very exciting and I would love to be part of it, but have a few concerns at this stage. Who will own the building if we manage to raise the funds to buy it, who will manage it and I assume more money will need to be raised for the refurbishment, etc. It’ll be an ongoing commitmen too. Big project!

  • Susan Hickey avatar

    Susan Hickey

    March 3, 2016at10:12 pm

    I often pass this building and always feel dismay at its state of disrepair. The ideas suggested all sound good and worth consideration. Could it be used by Haringey as a local museum incorporating the history of the naming of clouds and other cloud related things. The biggest probem is probably its current owners. Would it be worth contacting the local newpaper, if there is one, and asking them to get involved as it is the only building with a blue plaque in Tottenham.

  • Carolyn C Brinkman avatar

    Carolyn C Brinkman

    March 3, 2016at11:49 pm

    I’m in!

  • Timothy Jordheim avatar

    Timothy

    March 4, 2016at2:20 am

    It’s great to see so many good ideas listed already. I, too, would contribute to the CAS acquiring some or all of the building.

  • Catherine Farry avatar

    Catherine

    March 4, 2016at9:04 am

    lovely idea!

  • Sukey Barnhart avatar

    Sukey Barnhart

    March 4, 2016at9:33 am

    Wonderful idea. I’m in Amsterdam and look forward to reading about further developments in the newsletter.

  • Marianne C Richards avatar

    Ms Marianne C

    March 4, 2016at11:24 am

    I like Jim Hamilton’s idea; willing to donate if you put a system online. What about an online petition e.g. Change.org as this is a heritage project. Would heritage lottery funding be feasible as this has historic interests? The building could be used by members as a ‘clubhouse'[on the lines of a ‘gentleman’s club’ but for ladies too] ie a place to meet or use as a club ‘hotel’. Other enthusiast societies might also be invited to use the building, on a commercial basis or sharing renovation /running costs e.g. fields like meteorology, science, geology, archaeology. There are plenty of ‘enthusiasts’ [sometimes termed ‘anoraks, but hey, I love my anorak] of all stripes who might appreciate a venue to meet, stop over, be part of such a project.

  • Rita Leahy avatar

    Rita

    March 4, 2016at4:18 pm

    …count me in

  • Carole Evans avatar

    Carole Evans

    March 4, 2016at4:25 pm

    I would come and see it. Hope you can get something done. Good luck.

  • John V Morris avatar

    John V Morris

    March 4, 2016at8:11 pm

    Museum is a great idea, but how about including a large scale cloud photo-gallery … we already have all the pictures we need! Canvas photo-printing is typically about £34/square meter. We have 40k members, if we each chip in £1 that will buy over 1000 square meters of canvas photo-prints; probably enough to cover most of walls in 7 Bruce Grove!

  • Gavin Pretor-Pinney avatar

    Gavin Pretor-Pinney

    March 4, 2016at8:28 pm

    These are all great ideas and suggestions. Do please keep them coming! I love the enthusiasm from our members for this idea. We will keep everyone informed of developments.

  • Sheila Cruchley avatar

    Sheila Cruchley

    March 4, 2016at11:22 pm

    It certainly is a mammoth project but worthwhile if we can incorporate the ideas offered above. John and Elliott had some inspired thoughts and if Jim’s sums are correct I would guess we would still need heritage lottery funding or some such but it might just work. I’m in.

  • Lisa Marie McIntyre avatar

    Lisa Marie

    March 5, 2016at11:55 am

    I think that the idea of a museum in this building is a fantastic one, and one that has believable potential. I’m sure that there would be a strong case for a grant from the HLF (as Sheila suggests) as it has an indisputable heritage value, plus the urgent impetus of being on the Heritage at Risk Register, and it would be easy to outline the community and educational outcomes of a museum project. It would bring a cultural and educational asset to one of London’s more deprived areas. In addition to heritage, it has the science draw card so there could be engagement with schools to use it as a learning resource. Could it even attract support or advocacy from the Science Museum or other relevant major national organisation?

    Sadly, before any grant applications can be embarked upon, the hurdle of getting it out of the ownership of the developers must of course be overcome! I note that the petition set up by Tottenham Clouds is to the developers, to encourage them to carry out the restoration and conversion into flats, as per the existing planning permission, but we want something different here, don’t we? Has any delving been done into the possibility of Haringey issuing a compulsory purchase order? I don’t know the technicalities of this and if the planning permission obtained is 2013 legally acts as an indication that the owner is addressing the problem. Is a conversation needed with the Council about the options in this respect?

    After those long-winded thoughts, suffice to say that I’m behind doing what I can to support this and to help in ascertaining how viable it is! With a background of built heritage consultancy, I’d happily bring whatever skills I can offer to the party!

  • Rachel Stewart avatar

    [email protected]

    March 5, 2016at9:59 pm

    I would be happy to pay £15 now and £15 at a later date. Or just £30 now. Is the building in a good location for people to visit it,any parking etc? I’m in Scotland so don’t know the area at all. Museum suggests things from the past but we have new cloud images every day/week/ month so C.A.S visitor centre would be better. It could also have a small shop there with cloud and weather related gifts as we now have online and also maybe local schools and colleges would use it as a learning resource. I am in. Will watch out for the next newsletter and how to donate to this great cause.

  • David Parsons avatar

    David Parsons

    March 6, 2016at9:05 am

    I have passed this building on a weekly basis over the last five years or so and lament it’s possible demise every time that I do so. A museum is a wonderful idea it would intersect so many aspects culturally, educationally, scientifically –
    linking art, science, heritage, a huge potential – it must happen! Such possibilities, think of the Rain Room in 2012 at the Barbican, or Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Sun” at Tate Modern also in 2012. Haringay would go for the educational/teaching potential and as many have already suggested Lottery Money and Heritage etc. Yes yes count me in.

  • Lisa Marie McIntyre avatar

    Lisa Marie

    March 6, 2016at12:46 pm

    Oops! That’s slightly embarrassing – when I wrote my comment yesterday I was only seeing one or two of the previous comments on my screen, for some funny reason!

    Further thoughts arising from earlier comments: The idea of seeing if we could purchase – as raised by a few people – is definitely one to investigate. If there’s any scope for getting into Council ownership though, this could be better? It could be owned by Haringay and managed by a Trust? This might remove some of issues of ongoing ownership, and any HLF funding would require match-funding so donations from CAS members could go instead to this – to the cost of refurb, setting up the museum, initial staff costs, etc, etc.

    Perhaps worth speaking to other small museums about best direction for ownership? For example, William Morris Gallery – also outlying London area, where building owned by Council. I’m sure there’s many others too!

  • Jim Hamilton avatar

    Jim Hamilton

    March 6, 2016at1:50 pm

    I would like to propose a back up plan, if things do not bade well for the future of this building.Should we separate the man from this situation?. Remove the blue plaque, keep it safe at the Royal geographic. And with any donations from CAS, have numerous benches( individually designed)installed around the country North, South , East and West, somewhere under open sky, in a national park.Have an inscription on each bench dedicated to Luke Howard.Maybe the bench could be cloud shaped?.Have a reference to the position of all the other benches too.That would be worth a badge to visit them all(hee hee).Or failing that, one main centre piece which could incorporate the plaque, and a history of Mr Howard.First and foremost would be the saving of the building,lets just hope the structure can survive long enough for it to be a viable project.As, unfortunately in this uncaring age “use it or lose it”, is an all to familiar phrase.Apart from that, just a big thankyou to everyone in the CAS, big pat on the back to you all.

  • Gavin Pretor-Pinney avatar

    Gavin Pretor-Pinney

    March 7, 2016at3:13 pm

    It is fantastic to hear our members’ ideas to support this initiative. Many thank to all of you. A campaign would definitely be sensible, but only once there is a clear way forward with a well researched plan. Member input will be crucial on this, so we will keep you posted as things progress!

  • Nicki Gande avatar

    Nicki Gande

    March 8, 2016at11:06 am

    This building must be saved, the idea of a cloud museum seems most appropriate, as suggested by David Parsons above, it could be an excellent venue for general education, lectures and events relating to cloud science and arts. The local branch of the Victorian Society may already have this building on their ‘at risk’ register (it may fall slightly outside the Vic Soc’s remit, I will check with them). If it is not on their list I will suggest it to the Society as they are usually very happy to work with other organisations that propose sympathetic alternative use campaigns/plans.

  • Karen Phillips avatar

    Karen Phillips

    March 9, 2016at4:11 pm

    I haven’t been an active member of the CAS, but I just happened to note this piece, and I have to agree, saving the building would be great. However, if there are too many hurdles to overcome involving the purchase, renovation, ownership, maintenance, staffing, and so forth, I think Jim Hamilton’s idea of 6 March is a really good one: installing nice benches (possibly made of heavy, weather-resistant, easily maintained plastic from recycled drink bottles, like they’re doing in places now in the US, at least) in various parks and preserves so people can sit and reflect on the sky and its wonderful clouds. I can’t tell from the photo, of course, but is the building even salvageable at this point? Certainly a LOT of work must be put into finding out all the details. I live in Texas in the US and have very limited income these days, but I’d certainly be willing to donate a little now and then to support such an idea. If the museum were nearby, I’d be willing to staff it at times, too, but I’m sad to say, I don’t have the money to visit the UK periodically. (Wish I could! And by the way, the new photo of the beautiful rainbow over Bath’s Abbey is simply exquisite–Bath is one of the very few places in the UK I’ve been lucky enough to visit!) Enough rambling. I think that preserving the plaque and the heritage of Luke Howard’s love of the sky and clouds is worthy, even if buying and restoring the house isn’t economically feasible. Someone else questioned the availability of parking, and we wouldn’t have any idea of how many people would even be interested in visiting the museum, not to mention acquiring funding. But having benches distributed about the city or even the country (plus Wales and Scotland?), with a plaque by each honoring Mr. Howard’s contribution, should certainly be feasible to undertake. Agreed, it would be really cool to have a dedicated museum to display many of the gorgeous cloud photos we have on file as well as scientific exhibits on clouds, but perhaps that could be done anyway as a traveling exhibit in regular museums? I’ll be following this with interest!

  • whitehead1972 avatar

    whitehead1972

    March 10, 2016at1:39 pm

    Some very good ideas here, including John and Elliot’s.
    You could also combine it with a heritage walk along the River Lea that so obviously inspired Luke Howard to ‘look up’ in the first place. It is about 7 miles to his old factory on the canal near the Olympic park where his company made quinine – I think some of the old buildings are still there. From here you can walk on to the site of his first home in the area, Chesterton House in Plaistow.
    Howard recorded the solar eclipse of 1820 on one of these walks.

    https://wansteadmeteo.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/luke-howards-solar-eclipse-of-1820/

    I wrote another blog on 7 Bruce Grove earlier this year.

    https://wansteadmeteo.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/luke-howards-old-house-needs-saving/

  • whitehead1972 avatar

    whitehead1972

    March 10, 2016at1:47 pm

    And just to add that I think it is very important that this building is saved from the fate of Luke Howard’s first home in Plaistow which was demolished in the 1960s for an ambulance station. Only the perimeter walls now survive.

  • Julie Rice avatar

    Julie

    March 13, 2016at11:37 am

    There is a petition to try to save the building (OK it will be flats not a museum but it does preserve the building) on https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-7-bruce-grove-tottenham if every member signed it it might put some pressure on the developers. I don’t think we’d ever get enough money together to buy it – flats in Bruce Grove are on sale for more than £400,000 each and the planning application is for 13 units on the site – so I think it’s way out of our league!

  • Nicola Wearmouth avatar

    Nicola Wearmouth

    March 13, 2016at3:31 pm

    I would be happy to contribute to a fund for purchasing the building. I agree with the ideas about a museum etc and I am really impressed with all of the imaginative and informed suggestions made here. Who is in charge of listed buildings? Could they be approached about the state of disrepair of the building to stop it deteriorating any further for now? I’m thinking about forcing the owners to make immediate and necessary repairs. Naturally, I would prefer it to be put to some cloud-related use, though, instead of a block of flats. It would be really good for the local area too. Culture always draws people in.

  • 1234mackies avatar

    1234mackies

    March 20, 2016at1:37 pm

    You can count on our support. Suggest setting up crowdfunding site and informing the media of it. If Private Eye or something like the Daily Mail website (very popular here in the U.S. – sometimes for the unintentional humor) publish the funding site address you are likely to get all the money you need. You have all the ingredients for a successful viral campaign. Just joined your organization today after reading about you in Private Eye.

  • Carol McCumber avatar

    Carol

    April 11, 2016at10:41 pm

    I fully support the idea of buying and restoring the home of Luke Howard and I sincerely hope it is possible to do so. Someone mentioned having it be part museum/part visitor and education center and that seems more dynamic than strictly a museum. Perhaps it could be a tourist destination and bring the town some income. Though I live in the U.S., I will support it in any way I can. I did a quick check of grants, funding, etc. and saw the Lottery Fund people mentioned and also this:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LtSGB8aLJAxHGklNqBTFCHq-E8iVmcx3GbJFPHNsY_s/edit

    The financial assistance would be a much smaller amount than the Lottery Fund if granted, but every bit counts!

    If the home is purchased and the final result is anything like last year’s annual conference, it would be A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. That was the most well-run, varied, fun, and interesting conference I’ve ever attended — in large part because of Gavin P-P.

  • Fiona Clarke avatar

    Fiona

    April 17, 2016at9:41 am

    Could English Heritage become the official owners if we raised the money to purchase it? Have we had any feedback from the current owners, i.e. are they even willing to consider selling??
    I am sure the money could be raised if the building was independently valued, taking into account the state it has been left to get in?

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