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19. A SAD COMMENT FROM MODERN TIMES

On a recent visit to the Gas Board headquarters, officials looked perplexed when asked if their heating systems could do anything to counter condensation.

20. MORE ABOUT HOUSES

Although the villas had glass windows, tiled floors, baths and central heating, the humbler houses were without such amenities.

They were made of clay on a timber framework with thatched roofs and earth floors.

To give themselves the illusion of warmth in our cold winters, the poor painted their plaster walls in brilliant red and yellow.

21. CIVIC AMENITIES

But the poor enjoyed the town's amenities. Huge baths were opened to the public.

In the town centre would be a market square. On three sides were shops and on the fourth, the basilica.

The basilica was a sort of community centre with municipal offices. The Romans built tremendous ones. In the little town of Silchester with 2,000 people, the community centre could seat 4,000.

22. LONDON'S COMMUNITY CENTRE

London had a splendid community centre. To serve a population a sixth the size of Islington's, it had a floor area larger than St. Paul's Cathedral. It was the biggest public building in Northern Europe.

Never again in all its history was England to enjoy this sort of public provision for its townspeople.

23. ISLINGTON AND ROME

The citizens of Roman London looked on Islington as a holiday retreat.

In Roman Way, Islington, we have a new community centre. Very, very modest by the standards of 1,500 years ago, but bitterly attacked as an extravagance.

Roman Way probably followed the route from the two summer camps at Highbury and Barnsbury set up by the Romans in Islington.

 

24. BYE, BYE, ROME

In the 5th century, the Roman legions left Britain. And in came the Saxons, the Angles and the Jutes.

These were our ancestors. A savage lot. They hated towns. They burned and pillaged them.

They were more destructive than any of the hordes that rampaged on the continent. Across the channel, some cities survived, but very little remains of the Roman towns in Britain.

25. AND SO

And so London was to disappear from history for centuries.

Many of the amenities of town life were to be lost for ages.

Window glass was not to be seen again until the 16th century, central heating was only to reappear as a new fangled idea in the mid-20th century.

Never again was there to be civic building on the same scale as in Roman Britain.

And civic pride was to disappear - for how long?

26. INTO THE GLOOM

Nothing much emerges from English history from the next 500 years. Alfred burnt the cakes, started the British Navy and fought even more savage tribes from across the NorthSea.

Even the Irish took pity on our land and sent a mission to civilize the English. But the English were to stay in their mud huts, lost in the fogs of their climate and history. Until a Norman, William the Conqueror, came to organise them.

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