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Russell Square

Russell Square is a large garden square in Bloomsbury, in the London Borough of Camden. It is near the University of London's main buildings and the British Museum. To the north is Woburn Place and to the south-east is Southampton Row. Russell Square tube station is nearby to the north-east.

Contents

History

Hotel Russell, at 1–8 Russell Square

The square is named after the surname of the Earls and Dukes of Bedford, who developed the family's London landholdings in the 17th and 18th centuries, beginning with Covent Garden (Bedford Street). Russell Square was formed when new streets were laid out by the Duke on the site of the gardens of his former home Bedford House, their London house. Other local street names relating to the Duke of Bedford include Bedford Square, Bedford Place, Bedford Avenue, Bedford Row and Bedford Way; Woburn Square and Woburn Place (from Woburn Abbey); Tavistock Square, Tavistock Place and Tavistock Street (Marquess of Tavistock), and Thornhaugh Street (after a subsidiary title Baron of Thornhaugh). The street lamps around this area carry the Bedford Arms.

The square contained large terraced houses aimed mainly at upper middle class families. A number of the original houses survive, especially on the southern and western sides. Those to the west are occupied by the University of London, and there is a blue plaque on one at the north west corner commemorating that T. S. Eliot worked there for many years when he was poetry editor of Faber & Faber: a building now used by the School of Oriental and African Studies (a college of the University of London). Thomas Lawrence had a studio at number 67 (1805–1830). On the eastern side the imposing Hotel Russell, built in 1898, dominates (its builders were connected with the company which created RMS Titanic and some of that tragic ship's magnificence can be seen in the impressive ballroom); sadly the sixties-built President Hotel is completely out of keeping. Other past residents include the famous 19th Century architectural partnership of father and son, Philip and Philip Charles Hardwick who lived at number 60. Since 2004, the two buildings on the southern side, at numbers 46 and 47, are occupied by the Huron University USA in London.

In 1998, the London Mathematical Society moved from rooms in Burlington House to De Morgan House, at 57–58 Russell Square, in order to accommodate staff expansion.

Russell square fountain 2009-11-26 1334.ogv
The fountain installed in the 2002 re-landscaping, on 26 November 2009. (8 seconds)

In 2002, the square was re-landscaped in a style based on the original early 19th century layout by Humphry Repton (1752–1818), and the café in the square was redeveloped. The centrepiece of the new design is a fountain with jets playing directly from the pavement, which have become popular with children in the summer. Managed by London Borough of Camden the freehold of the square remains with the Bedford Estate. The square is now locked at night to prevent what London Borough of Camden described as "other undesirables", a cloaked reference to gay men, who used the area to cruise for casual sex.

Cabman's Shelter

Russell Square cabmen's shelter

The Cabmen's Shelter Fund was established in London in 1875 to run shelters for the drivers of hansom cabs and later hackney carriages (taxicabs).[1]

The Russell Square shelter is one of the thirteen shelters that still exist. All are now Grade II listed buildings.

7 July 2005 bombings

'London Social Centre'[2], a squatting action by anarchists in Russell Square.

The square has become the focus of tourism interest since the bombings of 7 July 2005. One of the bombings was on a London Underground train from King's Cross St Pancras tube station to Russell Square tube station, and another was on a bus on Tavistock Square, in proximity to Russell Square. There is now a memorial south of the cafe located in the square dedicated to those who lost their lives in the bombings.

See also

Other squares of the Bedford Estate in Bloomsbury included:

References

Coordinates: 51°31′18″N 0°7′34″W / 51.52167°N 0.12611°W / 51.52167; -0.12611

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