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Sue Donnelly

July 1st, 2015

Going high rise at Clare Market


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Sue Donnelly

July 1st, 2015

Going high rise at Clare Market


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

When the Clare Market building (1968-2015) opened it marked the culmination of an ambition, beginning with William Beveridge in the 1930s, to extend LSE along Houghton Street. LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly introduces the history of an ambition that took over 30 years to come to fruition. 

1930s – War service

In 1932 LSE took over the leases of both 17 Houghton Street, occupied by a bookshop, Messrs McLeish, and the public house on the corner of Houghton Street and Clement’s Inn Passage, The Three Tuns. After the completion of the East Building in 1938 further work was put on hold when the government requisitioned LSE’s buildings for war service by the Ministry of Economic Warfare, led by former LSE lecturer Hugh Dalton, and later the Ministry of Aviation.

The Three Tuns, at the corner of Clare Market and Houghton St. Credit: LSE Library
The Three Tuns, the corner of  Clare Market and Houghton St. Credit: LSE Library

1940s – Negotiations for Houghton Street

A further obstacle to development was the presence of St Clement Danes Holborn Estates Charity offices sitting between the East Building and future development. From 1947 the School tried to move the offices, offering to buy the building, find the charity alternative accommodation in London or re-house them in LSE property. In 1949 a London County Council attempt at compulsory purchase was rejected by the Parliamentary Select Committee on the advice of the Attorney General that the Council could not purchase on behalf of a body with no statutory powers. The charity eventually sold the offices to the School in 1956 and plans could go ahead.

1960s – Design and build

The first design for a project linking the east side of Houghton Street to the St Clement’s Building was drawn up the School architect, RC White-Cooper, who was working on the redevelopment of St Clement’s. However in 1964 Sidney Cusdin of Easton and Robertson, Cusdin, Preston and Smith was appointed as architect – the firm worked widely in the university sector including designing the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge. Building work began in 1966 funded by the University Grants Council and the University of London.

St Clement's Press, Houghton St, 1960
St Clement’s Press, Houghton St, 1960. Credit: LSE Library

The plan was to produce two linked towers on either side of Clement’s Inn Passage intended to house departmental offices and the Language Centre. One oddity was a requirement from Westminster Council to provide a car park for 64 cars. The School eventually provided a car park for 18 cars on the corner of Houghton Street and Clement’s Inn Passage. A distinctive feature of the building was the paternoster lift, a continuous chain of open compartments moving in a loop up and down the building which survived until 1991.

The New Language Laboratory, Clare Market, 1970
The New Language Laboratory, Clare Market, 1970. Credit: LSE Library

In March 1968 it was decided not to name the building after a significant LSE figure so the building took its name from the local area, named after the street market established by the Earl of Clare in the sixteenth century and known for its butchers.

1980s – the new Three Tuns

The Student’s Union moved into Clare Market and the East Building in 1980 and the new student bar revived the pub name – The Three Tuns. Clare Market was never a greatly loved or popular building although the upper floors were light filled and had good views and the student bar was a popular meeting place.

Three Tuns, 2010
The Three Tuns Bar in the LSE Students Union in Clare Market Building, 2010. Credit: LSE

2010s – Normaland Wall

Another highlight was the Normaland Wall produced in 2010 and stretching over two floors of the Language Centre – the striking frieze used words and images to illustrate the reinterpretation of the political slogans of 1968 by LSE language students.

Language Centre Normaland Wall cartoon
A cartoon from the Normaland Wall 2010 by the artist Michel Herreria. Credit: LSE

2015 – Demolition

However the limitations of the budget meant that Clare Market soon looked more than ‘”lived” in. Demolition work began in June 2015 and so we look forward to a more exciting building in the future.

Clare Market building
Clare Market building entrance. Credit: LSE
Clare Market
Clare Market building towers. Credit: LSE


This post was published during LSE’s 120th anniversary celebrations

LSE 120th anniversary

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About the author

Sue Donnelly. Credit: Nigel Stead/LSE

Sue Donnelly

Sue Donnelly is formerly LSE's Archivist, where she specialised in the history of the School.

Posted In: Places