In the late nineteenth century, Grove Road was a typical row of terraced houses of the kind built throughout the East End of London. Some of the road was destroyed in the Second World War and by the 1950s the area was covered with temporary housing. As new tower blocks were built the prefabs were removed.
By the early 1990s the terrace was no more - the final houses were demolished in early 1993. From the interior of the last remaining house, Rachel Whiteread made an extraordinary sculpture.
Completed in autumn of 1993 and demolished in January 1994, House attracted tens of thousands of visitors and generated impassioned debate, in the local streets, the national press and in the House of Commons.
It began, an idea without a name, in the quiet of Rachel Whiteread's studio in East London. And it ended several years later, a sculpture called House, demolished in the full glare of the world's media. House always had the potential to be a contentious work of art. But in my first conversations with Rachel Whiteread in the summer of 1991, it was impossible to imagine that it would be quite as exposed, quite as contentious as things turned out; and that its transition from private projection to public phenomenon would be so dramatic and so quick.
House could have been made elsewhere, in a different place, at a different time; perhaps with another cast list and chorus. Indeed, Whiteread and I had looked at several other terraced houses in North and East London through 1992 without success.
'What did your street look like in the past?'
One of the more useful ephemerals of the heritage industry is the Godfrey Edition of Old Ordnance Survey Maps: a largely Victorian patchwork intended for those 'who wish to explore London and its history'.
A canny piece of merchandizing to set alongside the repair and enlargement, in authentic sepia, of retrieved family photographs (not necessarily your own family); a painless method of acquiring a fraudulent pedigree, of airbrushing the warts of history and providing the hard evidence of a past that never existed. The folded scarlet repro featuring Bethnal Green & Bow (1894) nominates, as its cover illustration, a postcard of the Royal Hotel, Grove Road.