“Ripe Plums Are Falling”*

*from the Chinese Book of Songs

On his website, Ralph Mills writes of The archaeology of the Plumtree Court mantelpiece:

“Were you to seek out Plumtree Court, off Shoe Lane, Holborn, in Google StreetView today, you would find yourself in one of those melancholy urban non-streets…

Until recently, the south side of the Court was occupied by the Evening Standard‘s Fleet House, but by 2015 this had vanished, to be replaced by the new headquarters of Goldman Sachs. The north side is dominated by the forbidding brick cliff that is the rear elevation of the City Temple of 1874, destroyed in the second World War and rebuilt in the 1950s.

Before the nineteenth century, Plumtree Court was a narrow alley amongst other narrow alleys that had escaped the Fire of London…Though it now physically leads nowhere (at least for vehicles) Plumtree Court nevertheless leads to the heart of this project.

Early maps show an area crammed with small dwellings, all no doubt influenced by the noxious, malodorous proximity of the Fleet River or Fleet Ditch…

It was this area in decline, soon to be demolished, that (George) Godwin was exploring in the 1850s. Armed with his “manifesto” of “Drain the Swamps and Build the Bridges” he was gathering evidence for his campaign to improve the housing conditions and thus drain the “swamps”, the “social pathologies” of the poor, and establish “bridges”, “institutional infrastructures” such as education and healthcare.

In Plumtree Court, Godwin was to find an example of the “love of art”; a phenomenon he was convinced would build one of his social bridges. On the one hand, in number 9 Plumtree Court, he found 67 people crammed into fifteen rooms, and in number 24, some 40 — 18 adults and 22 children — squeezed into just four rooms (Godwin 1856, 305). On the other hand, he was able to find something “agreeable and cheering” in plaster casts of spotted cats and painted parrots…”

Lucy Tobin wrote for the Evening Standard of 28.6.19:

“Goldman Sachs’s new £1 billion London headquarters is full of family-friendly features, including lactation suites for new mothers, a nursery with pet fish and a climbing wall, and “resting rooms” for tired bankers.

The Evening Standard can reveal that the US investment bank’s European HQ in the Square Mile has a string of innovations for its 6,000 UK staff, known for working punishing hours in return for multi-million-pound pay packets.

The 10-storey office, known as Plumtree Court (Shortlisted in the Working category, New London Awards 2020), is bigger than 26 football pitches and has the largest trading floor in London.

When staff begin to move in next weekend, they will be able to sign their babies and pre-school children up to a 7,000 square-foot nursery and play centre, which includes a water play area, technology classroom with a wifi-connected smartboard, trikes, a play kitchen, two napping rooms and an “art gallery’” for tots’ drawings…

…Other features include “contemplation rooms” for quiet time, therapy rooms for offering sports massages and acupuncture and “resting rooms” for those feeling unwell.

Another suite is reserved for “group prayer” and for choir practice, while a health centre includes a GP and nurses, psychiatry, psychology and physiotherapy services.

A gym has 60 treadmills, bikes and cross-trainers, a yoga and reformer pilates studio, steam rooms, plus “all gender changing and shower facilities”.

A 60-space car park for top executives has been replaced with a bike park for 455 cycles, complete with showers and changing rooms.

The bank’s new site also boasts eco-credentials, with a roof garden and LED lighting to help bring about a 25 per cent reduction in the building’s annual CO2 emissions.

Richard Gnodde, chief executive of Goldman’s European business, said: “We are delighted to have built a world-class office for our people, enabling them to collaborate and serve clients in an efficient and attractive space.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s