CLIO mr brice - page 55

certainly responsible for the death and suffering
of millions of Russians, be they the nobility
attached to the Tsarist regime, or the Kulak
class, peasants who had prospered under the
agricultural developments under Stolypin from
Others have of course lived in this house on
Marchmont Street why were they not felt by the
Marchmont Association to deserve the accolade
of a small, but significant blue disc? From 1890
until 1911, Charles Goodwin Norton lived at
38 Marchmont Street. He was a lantern maker,
film maker and author. He published a book on
lantern projection in 1912 plainly titled ‘The
Lantern and How to Use it.’ Magic lanterns were
the precursor to modern projection techniques,
where slides were passed through a strong light
source to display an image. The passing of
the slides through the light source created
animation. At 14 Burton Street, one street
down fromMarchmont Street, lived Alexander
Gordon from 18291931. He was a civil
engineer who specialised in lighthouse design.
He designed the first cast iron lighthouses
including Morant Point Lighthouse that is still
in use in Jamaica. The archives are literally full
of fascinating and inspiring figures who have
in some way shaped this little area of London.
The question therefore remains Why remember
Lenin? What did he do for Britain?
Lenin has been held up as a beacon of progress
in London in previous years. He had lived from
19023 in what is now Bevin Court, Bloomsbury,
where he edited in exile, ‘Iskra’ or ‘The Spark’,
the Russian Revolutionary newspaper. Bevin
Court was the product of 1930s design, the
collaborative effort of the Georgian modernist
Berthold Lubetkin, and Francis Skinner and
Douglas Bailey. It was seen as a vision of the
future, a socialist utopian ideal, and therefore
plans were to name it after Lenin, as if to
celebrate his vision and ideology. Lubetkin had
even planned to include a memorial to Lenin in
his scheme. The plans for what was to be named
‘Lenin Court’ were abandoned however, deemed
too expensive and difficult as war broke out in 1939. The
project was only finished in 1954 and by this time the
world had changed. No longer was Lenin held in high
esteem. On the contrary, his one party state and
distaste for the individual over the
collective community were exactly
the areas that Cold War Britain
wanted no part in. It was therefore
decided that ‘Lenin Court’ should
be named ‘Bevin Court’ after the anti-Communist
foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin. The remains of Lenin’s
former dwelling were buriedinto the foundations of the
staircase and the memorial was no more.
The story of this building seems to suggest that there
are politics at play in remembering histories. Arguably,
we choose to study history that reaffirms our beliefs and
understandings of our choices in the world. I do
not know why Lenin was chosen in 2012 by the
Marchmont Association. It could be merely to mark the
place of a significant leader or a major European nation.
It could reflect that our society is ready to reengage
with the arguments that he so forcefully defended.
Perhaps these memorials are merely there to offer us some
paraphernalia to engage in on a Sunday stroll, and yet
there is great weight, worry and debate that goes
into the decision making behind them. To return to the
question What’s in a name? Arguably, everything.
Daniel Harbord
t in choosing
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