Humdrum Tasks of the Salaried Men: Edwin Williams a LCC architect at war

Beech, N. 2015. Humdrum Tasks of the Salaried Men: Edwin Williams a LCC architect at war. Footprint. 17, pp. 9-26. https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.9.2.864

TitleHumdrum Tasks of the Salaried Men: Edwin Williams a LCC architect at war
TypeJournal article
AuthorsBeech, N.
Abstract

Working at the London County Council Architect’s Department through the 1930s to 1950s, known (if at all) as a member of the design team for the Royal Festival Hall, Edwin Williams is usually presented as a regressive figure, his design work marked by his beaux-arts training. Using archival evidence and histories of the construction industry, this paper sets out Williams’s role in the organisation of rescue and recovery services in London during the Second World War. The paper argues that, through his development of training schools and curricula for Rescue Service personnel, Williams played a key role in the formation of a skilled, mechanised, modern demolition industry. Operating complex emergency projects under extreme conditions, the same contractors and building operatives trained in Williams’s programme were later responsible for the clearance of bomb damaged sites and slums. This paper suggests that certain developments in modern architecture can be considered as contingent upon practices of the demolition industry as developed by Williams. By concentrating on the ‘organisation’ and ‘progress’ of production that architects engaged with during the Second World War and after, new configurations of continuity and change emerge in which the ‘humdrum tasks’ of ‘salaried-men’ appear crucial.

KeywordsLondon County Council, Second World War, British modernism, demolition, industry, architectural epistemology
JournalFootprint
Journal citation17, pp. 9-26
ISSN1875-1490
Year2015
PublisherTechnische Universiteit Delft
Publisher's version
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.9.2.864
Web address (URL)https://doi.org/10.7480/footprint.9.2.864
Publication dates
Published20 Dec 2015
LicenseCC BY 4.0

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