The Campaign to Save Finsbury Health Centre is supported by Islington Unison, Islington Trades Council, The Islington Society, The Pioneer Residents Association, former Head of Conservation and Design at Islington Council Alec Forshaw, Emily Thornberry MP, Islington South (see letter at the end), Jeremy Corbyn MP, Islington North, Berthold Lubetkin’s daughter Sasha Lubetkin, Wendy Savage, writer and comedian Alexei Sayle, writer Ian Sinclair, writer Patrick Wright, artist Bobby Baker, architect and BBC presenter Maxwell Hutchinson.Finsbury Health Centre is Britain’s leading 1930s exemplar of Modern architecture – a synthesis of social commitment, technical progress and radical design. Rational, classless, benign – it represents the key ideals of public service. Its loss would be a shocking testament to our society’s abandonment of these values.
Dr John Allan, Avanti Architects, friend and biographer of Berthold Lubetkin I want to give my strong support to your campaign. Finsbury Health Centre was the very first purpose-built health centre in the country. It has served the people of Clerkenwell and Finsbury well over many years since. The idea of destroying the building, and even more of shipping services that are needed by local people miles away, is simply unacceptable. You have my very best wishes for the battles ahead!
Lord Chris Smith of Finsbury
This centre used to be the pride of the borough and could easily be so again. The building is an important part of working class history and a beautiful building in its own right. It should be restored and kept. Otherwise something unique will be lost for the sake of another empty economy measure. Alexei Sayle
We’ve had further messages of support from our petition:
Finsbury Health Centre should be saved and re-used for its original purpose. Quite apart from important considerations of architectural heritage, it is greatly valued by the community, and the proposed replacements, scattered as they would be, would make life difficult for users of the medical provision.
Considerations of community and sustainability clearly indicate that the Centre should be kept in its present building and its present use. Sasha Lubetkin
This is a of great historic value by a great architect and it should be kept in the public domain !! Cath Pater, London
Please protect this beautiful building. Camilla Stoddart, London N1
This is the finest building in this area of London, and is a pleasure to use and to visit. It is scandalous that the NHS have not developed measures of value that enable them to see it as a resource rather than a problem.
Robert Sakula, London WC1
It was always a pleasure to visit. Jo Murray, London N1
This site should remain as it is and not be used for the council to sell off and build homes on the site and land around it. It was built to provide a pleasant environment for the sick. Please don’t take that away. Also the extra services are very good for this local area. Most gp surgeries are cramped and horrible. This has the potential for a polyclinic. Don’t let local politics dictate what should happen. Keep our health centre as it is. Helen Durnan, London EC1
Restore the Centre faithfully to Lubetkin’s design please; perhaps with the guidance of the C20th society. It is fantastic and architecturally significant building which is deteriorating and in dire need of restoration.
Mary-Pat Sheahan, London N1
I have been a patient at the Finsbury Health Centre for 16 years and continue to be thrilled and delighted with both the architecture and service offered there. It would be a travesty to loose this glorious building and facility.
Nicole Gordon, London EC1
This building is an icon and CAN be refurbished into a state of the Art health centre (trust me I have worked 4 years on this project and demonstrated it). Bring the finance necessary for working in the context of a Grade I listed structure and it is job done. Joel Kuenzi, London
I urge you to find a way to fund the refurbishment of this important building and to continue using it as a health centre. By doing this you will respect the idealogical roots of the NHS and reinforce them for today. David Boniface, London N5
The UK government seem to know the cost, but not the value, of everything. Culturally vacant mindless short-sighted ignoramuses obsessed with money one way or the other – ‘saving it’ (through selling something off) or getting it (through more taxation).This health centre is a Grade 1 listed building, for goodness sake, a Modernist classic. It should be refurbished and updated as much as the listing allows, to accommodate the wishes and needs of the local community.
Ian Lee, Birmingham
What a shock to see the possibility of this important part of British history under the hammer, a loss not only to architectural, but social history, as well. Any plans for a sell off should be stopped immediately and all options for the building’s preservation in public use and ownership explored. Edward Copeland, London WC1
Those behind the sell-off idea need to take a step back and reconnect with what’s really important.
We should be restoring the health centre properly so it can continue to fulfil the function it was originally intended for…
At the heart to of the community, sensitively remodelled to be fully accessible and secure for another fifty years at least.
John Paul Thurlow, London EC1
Born in 1948 I used this centre from childhood. Given the current growing economic pressures on the population of Finsbury/Islington which will have negative impacts on health and wellbeing. Sustaining a range of services on a local and trusted site is an imperative. Ann Davis, Birmingham
This constant disregard of public wishes not just by a few Islington PCT committee members on this issue but other PCTs across the country is disgraceful. Charles Lindon, London WC1
This is an unique and seminal building and a priceless heritage for Islington. As an Access Consultant, and knowing the building, it is already accessible, and any necessary adjustments can made. It must be saved andn kept within the NHS.
Abe Hayeem, RIBA, NRAC Consultant, Edgeware
One of Lubetkin’s grandest buildings in Clerkenwell. Dr Margaret Boerner, London WC1
Why can’t the NHS use the money that was made available for a partial reburbishment. I know it’s not enough but it would be a start! Or has the money been fraudulently spent on something else? Venetia Phillips, London N1
This is an extremely useful local resource which should be protected for a number of reasons. Phil Webster London WC1
This clinic provides indispensible services and should be left intact. Ruth Tredinnick London WC1
This is a magnificent and important building that is rightly listed Grade 1. The monies have to be found to restore it anyway so why doesn’t Islington PCT join forces with EH, 20th C. society etc to lobby for funds (lottery?). If it is restored then why move? David Richmond, London EC1
[...] This is an important and beautiful building which has been too long neglected. It was designed to be flexible. A careful restoration and refurbishment would be able to retain its integrity and the Lubetkin’s original intention. Anonymous
As architecturally and socially the most important precursor of the National Health Service, this building should remain in use as the Health Centre for local people that Berthold Lubetkin designed it to be. For many years I had a GP whose surgery was in this building, and I do not believe its facilities cannot be brought up to date at a lower cost than erecting a new building nearby. John Collins, London EC1
As a local resident, I use this iconic building. When I moved here, 27 years ago, I was delighted to register at the GP service in this wonderful building, and have since also used the physiotherapy, when I had a torn hamstring. Being told that I could travel to North Islington – when at the point of needing treatment I could barely walk on crutches to this local service, is an insult. I could neither use the tube (too many stairs), nor buses. Save this health centre – It belongs to Finsbury. Rosy Martin, London EC1
We must keep it! It is a vital local facility, a space which can be simply rearranged when necessary and part of our heritage. Any sort of replacement would be less on all the above counts. Change for the sake of change is an expensive non-necessity. Do those in favour have the relevant qualifications to make such a judgement? Adele Leffman, London N1
It’s a stunning building – by all means modernise it, but let the people keep it. A local iconic treasure. It always feels good going in there. Adeline O’Keefe, EC1
It is outrageous that you want to sell this fine building. You should be proud to inhabit it. Keep it, restore it, let it be an emblem of the borough and the care that you provide for your residents. Francesca Morrison, WC1
As the granddaughter of Alderman Harold Riley who first helped instigate the building it is a travesty to destroy not only a facility to help the recovery from illness as it was built for but also a piece of history. This is the start of what later became the National Health Service, maybe this will also be sold of to make way for Private Healthcare which working class people can ill afford!! Tracy Riley, Staines
We don’t have many buildings let alone health buildings as good as this one. It needs to stay public and open as a community clinic. Cany Ash, London EC1
First Finsbury Town Hall was sold off – now they’re trying to flog this. Don’t the council understand these historical buildings belong to US – the local people! Paula Jones, London
It would be a crime to sell or lose this building. Jerry Tate, London E8
This building of outstanding architectural interest should be retained for the use, and for the community, for which it was designed. Anonymous, Islington
To destroy the centre would be vandalism and greed (but who gains?). Like the harlot, the council knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing (apologies to all harlots). Anonymous, London EC1
Islington PCT do not seem to have thought this project through properly but as usual with bureaucracies they seem unwilling to admit this and resort to the usual halftruths etc to bolster their unconvincing case. Let them give the building to a trust and rent it for less than they say they are paying for upkeep now. The services are needed where they are and using developers is sure to be more expensive see the whole PFI scandal. Listen to the people please.
Dr Wendy Savage, London N1
Plans made to sell Finsbury Health Centre, the lack of consultation (the decision about FHC was made for us!) and the deliberate neglect of the building are another example of PFI madness. It has been left to the local voluntary campaign and to the Health and Wellbeing Review Committee to take an holistic approach to the health centre. Let’s all get behind the effort to keep this important building true to its original purpose. Anne Hewitson, London EC1
My grandfather, Alderman Harold Riley, was one of the driving forces behind setting up the Finsbury Health Centre. I am sure that he would be delighted that so many people clearly care about the Centre. Good luck with the campaign.
Peter Sowray, Hammersmith
Councilors should be working to help the council not disband it’s services for ‘quick-time profit.
George Feltham-Parish, London WC1
The Finsbury Health Centre is far too important and in a very accessible area for local residents and so should not be closed down. Anonymous, London EC1
Please keep this beautiful building to provide medical services to those of us who live locally.
John and Janet Chapman, London EC1
I have lived in Islington for 11 years and used the Finsbury Health Centre for my GP during my first six years. It is an excellent and uplifting building and an architectural landmark that adds a vibrant character to the area it is located in. It is precisely the sort of building that one wishes to retain.
Stephen Perkins, London N1
Finsbury Health Centre provides good value. Stop this sell-off. Mike Hadi, London EC1
This is a unique, trailblaizing health facility for local people, purpose designed and built. It continues to serve the local residents as it has for decades. It should be refurbished and kept for our use by the health authority which is there to serve our needs above all other considerations. It is also an aesthetic delight which enhances the often drab physical environment of much of London, especially the most recent “social housing” and speculative developments. Preserve good architecture. Sue Eadon, London EC1
Lubetkin’s Finsbury Health Centre is a beautiful building and a purposeful one. Please save it for future generations. My husband works for an architectural company who bought a Lubetkin building near London. It has now been economically restored and given a new lease of life. Francesca Azzi, London
In favour of keeping this beautiful building within the local community and most of all vital for the wellbeing of it.
Andrea Denti, London EC1
I have lived in Finsbury all my life, and still use the health centre, it is all under one roof it would be a shame to lose it
Patrick Driscoll, London EC1
South Islington needs a health centre – what other options locally do we have ? The answer is none unless you want to travel a long way. So much for local health care ! And we pay a fortune in this area in Council Tax. Finally, this is a growing area, with new developments opening up all over. Richard McCarthy, London EC1
Nah people, we can’t take this building out of the role it was built for. That’s the point of it, the point is in the building. I suppose you can do all this, but it’s not a good thing to do, history will surely judge you badly, ’cause it already looks like a bad idea to do this. Peeps need to check their modernist social theory, ’cause it reveals a lot about why places like this got built, and also, what you think you’re doing today… Felix Waterhouse, London E1
This is one of our modern day icons, give it the respect it deserves and leave it alone. It is the symbol of British benevolence and equality that preceded the NHS, don’t sell it because you’re greedy and have no imagination.
Theodore Games Petrohilos, London
This building is a landmark of modernist architecture, an asset to the Islington community providing health services in a potentially wonderful environment. David Thompson, Port Melbourne, Australia
It is a travesty that this beautiful building, built to provide health care for the local community is just seen as a cash cow by the Islington PCT etc. “Nothing is too good for ordinary people” Unless you can make a quick buck eh?
Emma Quinn, London EC1
This is my doctors and it’s the best I’ve ever had ever. Sitting in a waiting room here is actually a pleasure.
The whole point of the place originally was to bring fabulous design to the public and it does that brilliantly so please please keep it for the public.
Ally Payne, London EC1
The building should remain in the ownership of the NHS. It should be refurbished, well maintained and used as an NHS health centre to benefit the people of south Islington. Thomas Devine, London
The Finsbury health centre is a functioning iconic building- it was designed to house a medical centre- to remove the purpose of this building would reduce the building to mere decoration. The centre offers outstanding services to the local community. Housing different services under one roof builds patient’s confidence- my children happily follow up their care programmes (asthma checks, doctor’s visits, dental treatments, speech therapy, vaccination programmes) at the centre.
Catherine Ingram, London EC1
The Finsbury Health Centre is not only an exceptional building that is in need of sympathetic refurbishment but is well placed to offer health services to the dense local population. It is a disgrace that Islington PCT are putting their out-of-touch business ideas before the needs of its patients who rely on the concentration of services provided by the Finsbury Health Centre. Try listening to patients, this might just improve NHS services. Jenny Parker, London EC1
I am registered with Clerkenwell Medical Practice GPs at Finsbury Health Centre. I appreciate the range of services offered at the health centre and that the services are offered in an iconic building that was designed for the very function providing a range of health services. Gail Wagstaff, London EC1
This building and everything it stands for is too important to lose. Sir Peter Dixon, London N1
Historically and architecturally interesting, [this] health centre preceded creation of NHS by 10 years.
Angela Sinclair-Loutit, N5 Islington Pensioners Forum
Refurbishment is needed for continued use as a health centre as it was intended; for the benefit of the community and not for the profit of developers.
Charlotte Hopkins, London
The FHC is one of the most important piece of post war moden architecture in England.
It should be kept as a health center and the design actually allows the building to be updated to today’s requirment. I am sure many people will make a donation towards refurbishing the building. George Woo, London
As an Islington resident and a user of the health centre I do not wish to see the NHS spend un-necessarily to ‘improve’ this service. I do not expect luxury from the NHS, rather prudent spending and efficient healthcare. Catriona Duncan, London
Stop the Sell-Off of Lubetkin’s Finsbury Health Centre AND Guarantee that all services currently available at the Finsbury Health Centre will remain where they are. Tony Fitzpatrick, London EC1
I use this centre as it houses my GP and it is simply ideal for its purpose and should continue in public use. If the preservation laws require such extraordinarily high expenditure that it has to be sold – then there is something desperately wrong with the preservation laws. Elisabeth Airey, London
The centre is a monument to the pioneering spirit of the Welfare State and to the architectural genius of Lubetkin. If it is feasible, which it seems to be, to maintain it for its original purpose, it should be. And any necessary adaptations and improvements that can be made without destroying the original character should be done. David Emmott, Liverpool
The principles upon which this centre was designed are still true today in my opinion. Frank Little, Neath
The UK is not rich enough now to knock down perfectly good buildings to give developers some sport. This building should be maintained in the spirit in which it was built. Alan White, Whitely Bay
An ideal candidate for conversion to a polyclinic, I would have thought. Roger Nuttall, London SW19
A model for health centres, of international significance, which has proved its worth and must be saved as it is. Victor Simms, Bromley
A pioneering historical building which must be retained for its local communities. Simon Fancourt, Portsmouth
The building is not only of architectural merit but was at the forefront of social medicine which has vastly improved the lives of the people of Britain through the NHS.
The Finsbury Health Centre has over 60 years continued to serve the people of Islington, the spaces within are flexible and have been adjusted to changing use and can still do so to meet future developments. It has also been a compulsory visit for Architectural Students, Lubetkin being so highly regarded by his profession.
Brian Johnson, London N1
I think the health centre needs re-vamping not pulling down! It covers a wide area and many people use the centre where are we all going to be seen now?
Joanne Saunders, London EC1
Tony Hoolaghan of Islington PCT claims in the local press that the trust is consulting on the future of FHC. This is disingenuous. The consultation is not about whether to keep the health-centre but about to where its current services should be transferred.
I agree with those who state that the apparent loss of a previous 2003 consultation, at a cost to the taxpayer of £50k, shows its lack of commitment to the future of FHC.
Of course the centre should remain, and be refurbished.
Meg Howarth, London N7
I value the Podiatry service at the FHC. The site is easy for me to reach. The PCT seems to be acting in a perverse way with its plans to install a narrow GP service on the site and transfer the health centre itself elsewhere to a site less accessible to patients.
Mary Rutter, London N1
As an architect [I feel] it is vital that this building is given a health check – surgery if necessary – and brought back to life! It is much loved and it would be a waste to abandon it.
James Soane, London EC1
Not only is this building distinguished architecturally, it is a monument to the development of health care in Britain. It can still serve as a health centre for the local community if up-dated. And isn’t it best to continue using or re-use an old building than to build a new one?
Robert O’Dell, London N1, Islington Society
The FHC symbolises what the NHS should be about. It is the sort of resource that any Labour government (New or Old) should be proud to maintain and support.
Jeff Pike, London N1
Lubetkin’s 1938 health centre is a national treasure and must not be sold off to private sector asset strippers.
Anonymous, London N1
Why is the PCT proposing to sell this historic national treasure (to our social and medical history what the Houses of Parliament are to our political history) into a crashing commercial property market when the NHS is £1.65bn in surplus? Where is the logic? Stop the stripping of publicly owned and funded assets now!
Anonymous, London EC1
This needs the attention of Lord Ara Darzi as he is wanting to set up exactly this type of clinic. It is madness to be closing something that clearly works so well. English Heritage need to be lobbied to facilitate alterations and modernisation in the spirit in which it was first built.
Mrs Maggie Gormley & Mrs Ann Eady, London N1
This centre provides a multiplicity of services in the way currently envisaged for Poly clinics. To remove this and provide limited GP services in cramped setting and remove the other community services to Hornsey would negate the ethos of community care.
Angela Wedgwood, London N1
The Finsbury Health Centre is more than just a building and architectural monument. It has a much greater significance for us all, representing progress in health provision for the people of North London. It can still represent this, given the necessary will.
Dr Linda Clarke, London N7
We need to decentralise these services. the key motivation for all PCT’s should be to make services more accessible not less. A journey from Clerkenwell to Hornsey would be extremely inconvenient for many people. It is a minimum 60 minute round trip on the bus. This in my view is far too long and would deter many people from making let alone keeping their appointments. It is financially shortsighted too. Ensuring the health of the community at their convenience cuts long term health costs.
Sean Wood, London EC1
The wishes and needs of the local community would be well served and an historic building kept in control of local authority.
Michael Crowe, London N1
It is so important to save this icon of Twentieth century functional social building.
Andrew Lloyd Da Sylva, London EC1
When I was living in Islington and became ill the Finsbury Health Centre gave me immense help and support. I hope it might continue to so for others.
Paul Green, Longwick
I used Finsbury Health Centre as a Kings Cross squatter in 1981. They opened on Christmas day to give me intensive antibiotic treatment. I still have my hearing thanks to this NHS service.
Catriona Blanchard, Brighton
I am fully in support of NOT replacing the current building. It is a vital resource and is also a national treasure. The current building is an architectural gem full of history and is a snapshot of an era passed, quite simply it is unreplaceable.
David Sorkin, London WC1
Finsbury Health Centre is a unique building of great aesthetic value and uniqueness. It enriches the area and provides a welcome respite from the short termist architectural banality all too common in central London. As a local resident I also highly value the services it offers.
Anonymous, London WC1
I am registered with Finsbury Health Centre and I do not want to see a change of location nor a reduction in the current service.
Nadia Holmes, London WC1
The Pioneer Centre Residents Association supports the campaign. We are in one of the other 1930’s groundbreaking London health centres – the ‘Peckham Experiment’, sold off to developers in 2000 and renovated on the cheap. Though the building survives, it’s integrity is compromised because it’s function has changed.
With the thrust towards polyclinics in the Darzi report it’s crazy to be thinking of selling off the original prototype. Keep it for the purpose it was designed for – local healthcare.
Lynette Savings SE15
From local MP Emily Thornberry:
I was shocked when I was told earlier this year that the PCT had abandoned plans to renovate Finsbury Health Centre. I had seen last year’s Conservation Management Plan, and I had assumed that the Health Centre could be repaired and improved so that it could continue providing health care for the people of Finsbury.
“However, the Chair and Chief Executive of the PCT told me that Finsbury Health Centre could not be brought up to modern standards for an affordable cost, and the only option was to sell it, move community services elsewhere, and build a new GP practice on adjacent land.
“I protested – Finsbury Health Centre was ahead of its time as centre for all-round health care for the people of Finsbury, it was built by Finsbury Council as a public asset, it was designed by an architect who cared about making top class design available to deprived communities, and it is an internationally renowned Grade I listed building.
“It seemed to me that we should make every effort to keep this precious public asset delivering free health care for local people – and that would mean finding the resources to repair and improve the Centre.
I contacted English Heritage, to see whether the planning constraints made this impossible, and I was told that they are keen to see the Health Centre continue to perform its vital public function. I had a meeting with the Heritage Lottery Fund, to ask them about funding, and I arranged a meeting between English Heritage, the Primary Care Trust and Islington Council’s conservation department to discuss what could be done. At that meeting, the PCT told me that no final decision had been made. All present agreed to look further into the issue, and the PCT agreed to continuing discussions with English Heritage.
“I can understand the PCT’s point of view – they want to spend every penny they can on health care, and they want brand new top class doctors’ surgeries for all the people of Islington. I don’t think any of us would disagree with these priorities, and that is why a creative solution which looks outside the PCT’s current funding arrangements will probably be needed. I hope everyone at this meeting will respond to the current consultation on community health provision with positive suggestions – including possible sources of additional funds.
“I will be discussing Finsbury Health Centre with the Secretary of State for Health – although decisions of this kind should be taken locally without the involvement of Ministers, there are some public buildings which have a special place in all our hearts, and I want the Secretary of State to be aware of how strongly we all feel about Finsbury Health Centre.
“We are right to be proud of Finsbury Health Centre. I am very pleased to see that local residents are getting together to look for a solution and you can rely on me to give the campaign every support. It is particularly important to protect Finsbury Health Centre after Islington’s LibDem Council gave away Finsbury Town Hall. It was the first publicly funded comprehensive health centre, and it showed the way forward for our National Health Service. Every effort must be made to keep this precious asset delivering free health care for the residents of Finsbury – it is a Palace for the People.”
Emily Thornberry MP, Islington South