Sir John Betjeman wrote:-

'The church is to Muswell Hill Broadway rather what St Martin's-in-the-Fields is to Trafalgar Square, or St Paul 's to the City. By its outline and distinctive style it gives an identity to the district. 'Muswell Hill without the Broadway Church would not be Muswell Hill, but some soulless suburb.'

Julian Barnard, the art historian, 37 wrote:-

'The style is reminiscent of the work of the Glasgow designer Charles Rennie Macintosh and has the same sparkling 'jewel-like' quality as his work. The main structural lines of the church are in red terra-cotta while the infil panels are faced with cut flint, an unusual and particularly attractive combination of materials that does so much to brighten and enhance the street.

The Ancient Monuments Society wrote:-

'The Muswell Hill Church is in the Nonconformist tradition epitomised in the Octagon chapels of Norwich and Wisbech and the Union Chapel in Compton Terrace, Islington. We would like to reassert our view that it is a building of character, quality and of individuality and we cannot believe that the Minister will allow its destruction.'

As a result of all this protest, the Department of the Environment responded to the public snood by listing the Church Grade 2 as 'being of special architectural and historic merit.' This listing was for the outside of the building only. Unfortunately for the later story of the building, nobody noticed at the time that the inside, which was outstanding, was not separately listed. This was a fatal mistake which was to have very serious effects later and lost to Muswell Hill, among other things, an organ worth £50,000 at 1976 prices. Haringey Planning Department rejected the application to demolish and redevelop. The exterior of the Church was safe and with it the integrity of the Broadway shopping facade. BROACH had won the first battle, but victory was not yet secure.

In February 1977 the Church appealed against the rejection, despite the fact that the building was now listed. BROACH opposed as strongly as before and circulated all previous supporters, asking them to protest once again. The Planning Corrumilittee, strengthened by the listing, rejected the application once again. The building appeared to be saved so BROACH concentrated on the future.

 

Alternative Uses of the Building

Nonconformist churches were often designed for singing and music and The Broadway Church was famous for its sound. Felix Aprahamium, the music critic for the Sunday Times, had lived in Muswell Hill all his life and knew the church well. He wrote:

'It seems to me utterly incredible that so well preserved a gem as the United Reform Church in Muswell Hill should be subject to commercial whims. I have heard music making there and I know the acoustics are ideal for this purpose as well as the spoken word. I will help in any way I can to keep the building intact for cultural purposes. I believe that posterity will judge very harshly those who today oppose or hinder its retention.'

The Presbyterian Church organ, which was known for its high quality, was still in place.

 

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The Decorative Tradition, by Julian Barnard, 1973

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