The outside is very striking in a highly inventive free Gothic-Art Nouveau manner, in white flints with red Costessy Ware (terra-cotta) dressings from Norwich, clearly designed to catch the eye but also selected to withstand the grime of the urban situation.

The Later Development of the Churches

As church congregations have fallen over the years, various denominations have combined to create the United Reform Church. Here various denominations worship together, so creating a surplus of buildings for which there is no further use as churches. The buildings can either be converted to new uses, redeveloped, or left to rot. The Broadway Church was last used as a church in 1973 and the Hall behind last used in 1976. The congregation had been told that the building, and especially the roof, needed expensive repair. There was some doubt about this, but on this basis the congregation was persuaded to leave the building, which was much loved, and move to the church at the top of Tetherdown.

Immediately plans were announced to demolish the Broadway Church and redevelop the site as a modern block to hose a supermarket.

This was greeted with alarm by a wide range of people who saw it as an attack on the Edwardian facades of Muswell Hill. Indeed The Broadway Church was the jewel in the crown. Remove what was undoubtedly the finest building in the facade and the rest would crumble. We had already seen the effect of what can only be called the 'Sainsbury disaster', where the Athenaeum, which had been designed as the end-stop to a splendid array of shops, had been replaced by a characterless Sainsbury block. Another faceless slab would destroy the Broadway.

The Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association decided this was such an imprtant issue for Muswell Hill that a sub-committee should be formed to deal with it. The Association formed BROACH Broadway Church Action Group, which would campaign for the retention of the Church building, and raise funds and place the building in Trust. The Trust would maintain the building and establish appropriate community uses for the premises. A concert hall, rehearsal studios, or a recording studio seemed possible. This BROACH sub-committee became autonomous. Nearly all the members of Broach were members of the Association, which strongly supported the long campaign to save the building.


The BROACH logo.

Support came in from all sides - amenity groups; the Chamber of Commerce, who said that shops and offices were empty in the Broadway and they did not want more; eminent art historians and musicians; and ordinary people who had been brought up with the church and could not contemplate the destruction of an old friend. Broach asked everyone to protest against the demolition and letters came flooding in.

Sir John Summerson, the great art historian wrote:

'It is an interesting and eloquent piece of architecture --- characteristic of a period when the Nonconformist Churches were trying to 'modernize' the Gothic Revival while retaining its most romantic features.' ----

'It is full of daring strokes carried out in rather unusual combinations of materials and with Craftsmanship of a kind now exceedingly rare and enormously expensive. To destroy this kind of work is horribly wasteful.'

`And in suburban London we desperately need to keep the inherited landmarks. These give character and quality to an area which no modern building can. It is very much part of Muswell Hill and I sincerely hope that local feeling and effort will succeed in saving it.'

 

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The BROACH file, Haringey Archives, Bruce Castle

 

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