Amazing & Extraordinary Facts - Prime Ministers

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10 Downing Street - Wikipedia

Remove From Wishlist Cancel. Of the 31 First Lords from to , only 16 including Walpole lived in Number One reason many First Lords chose not to live in Number 10 was that most owned London town houses superior in size and quality. To them, Number 10 was unimpressive. Their possession of the house, albeit temporary, was a perquisite they could bestow as a political reward.

Most lent it to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, others to lesser officials or to friends and relatives. Another reason for its unpopularity was that Number 10 was a hazardous place in which to live. Prone to sinking because it was built on soft soil and a shallow foundation, floors buckled and walls and chimneys cracked. It became unsafe and frequently required repairs. In , for example, Charles Townshend , Chancellor of the Exchequer, pointed out that the house was in a dilapidated condition.

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His architect's letter to the Treasury stated: " A note from Lord North to the Office of Works, dated September , asks that the work on the front of the house, "which was begun by a Warrant from the Treasury dated 9 August ", [45] should be finished. See Kent's Treasury and No. Treasury officials complained that the building was costing too much to maintain; some suggested that it should be razed and a new house constructed on the site or elsewhere. In the Board of Works reporting on "the dangerous state of the old part of the House", stated that "no time be lost in taking down said building".

A committee found that the money spent so far was insufficient. So much has this extraordinary edifice cost the country — For one moiety of the sum a much better dwelling might have been purchased! A few Prime Ministers however did enjoy living in Number Lord North , who conducted the war against the American Revolution , lived there happily with his family from to William Pitt the Younger , who made it his home for twenty years longer than any First Lord before or since from to and from to , referred to it as "My vast, awkward house".

Fredrick Robinson, Lord Goderich took a special liking to the house in the late s and spent state funds lavishly remodelling the interior. Nevertheless, for 70 years following Pitt's death in , Number 10 was rarely used as the First Lord's residence. From to , it was either vacant or used only for offices and meetings. Downing Street declined at the turn of the 19th century, becoming surrounded with run-down buildings, dark alleys, the scene of crime and prostitution. Earlier, the government had taken over the other Downing Street houses: the Colonial Office occupied Number 14 in ; the Foreign Office was at Number 16 and the houses on either side; the West India Department was in Number 18; and the Tithe Commissioners in Number The houses deteriorated from neglect, became unsafe, and one by one were demolished.

By Downing Street's townhouses were all gone except for Number 10, Number 11 customarily the Chancellor of the Exchequer's residence , and Number 12 used as offices for Government Whips. In a fire destroyed the upper floors of Number 12; it was renovated but only as a single-storey structure. It was an easy transition: he was already First Lord of the Treasury and Leader of the House of Commons, and he was already living in Number It has remained the custom since.

However, there have been numerous times when prime ministers have unofficially lived elsewhere out of necessity or preference. For most of his premiership, Tony Blair lived in the more spacious residence above Number 11 to accommodate his large family. In May , it was reported that David Cameron would also take up actual residence above Number 11, and his Chancellor, George Osborne , above Number Despite these exceptions, Number 10 has been known as the Prime Minister's official home for over one hundred years.

By the turn of the 20th century, photography and the penny press had linked Number 10 in the public mind with the premiership. The introduction of films and television would strengthen this association. Pictures of prime ministers with distinguished guests at the door became commonplace. With or without the Prime Minister present, visitors had their picture taken. Suffragettes posed in front of the door when they petitioned H. Asquith for women's rights in , a picture that became famous and was circulated around the world. In , Mohandas Gandhi , wearing the traditional homespun dhoti , posed leaving Number 10 after meeting with Ramsay MacDonald to discuss India's independence.

The freedom fighters could see their leader had been received in the Prime Minister's home. Couse's elegant, understated door—stark black, framed in cream white with a bold white "10" clearly visible—was the perfect backdrop to record such events. Prime Ministers made historic announcements from the front step. The symbol of British government, Number 10 became a gathering place for protesters.


Emmeline Pankhurst and other suffragette leaders stormed Downing Street in ; [63] anti— Vietnam War protestors marched there in the s, as did anti-Iraq and Afghanistan War protestors in the s. Number 10 became an obligatory stop in every tourist's sightseeing trip to London. Ordinary people, not only British but foreign tourists, posed smiling and laughing in front of its famous door. By the middle of the 20th century, Number 10 was falling apart again. The deterioration had been obvious for some time. The number of people allowed in the upper floors was limited for fear the bearing walls would collapse.

The staircase had sunk several inches; some steps were buckled and the balustrade was out of alignment. Dry rot was widespread throughout. The interior wood in the Cabinet Room's double columns was like sawdust. Skirting boards, doors, sills and other woodwork were riddled and weakened with disease. After reconstruction had begun, miners dug down into the foundations and found that the huge wooden beams supporting the house had decayed. In , a committee under the chairmanship of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres was appointed by Harold Macmillan to investigate the condition of the house and make recommendations.

In the committee's report there was some discussion of tearing down the building and constructing an entirely new residence. But because the Prime Minister's home had become an icon of British architecture like Windsor Castle , Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament, the committee recommended that Number 10 and Numbers 11 and 12 should be rebuilt using as much of the original materials as possible. A new foundation with deep pilings would be laid and the original buildings reassembled on top of it, allowing for much needed expansion and modernisation.

This was a formidable undertaking: the three buildings contained over rooms spread out over five floors. There were also delays when archaeological excavations uncovered important artefacts dating from Roman, Saxon and medieval times. The new foundation was made of steel-reinforced concrete with pilings sunk 6 to 18 feet 1. Many rooms and sections of the new building were reconstructed exactly as they were in the old Number These included: the garden floor, the door and entrance foyer, the stairway, the hallway to the Cabinet Room, the Cabinet Room, the garden and terrace, the Small and Large State Rooms and the three reception rooms.

The staircase, however, was rebuilt and simplified. Steel was hidden inside the columns in the Pillared Drawing Room to support the floor above. The upper floors were modernised and the third floor extended over Numbers 11 and 12 to allow more living space. As many as 40 coats of paint were stripped from the elaborate cornices in the main rooms revealing details unseen for almost years in some cases. The black appearance was the product of two centuries of pollution.

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To preserve the 'traditional' look of recent times, the newly cleaned yellow bricks were painted black to resemble their well-known appearance. Although the reconstruction was generally considered an architectural triumph, Erith was disappointed. He complained openly during and after the project that the government had altered his design to save money. Erith described the numbers on the front, intended to be based on historical models, as 'a mess' and 'completely wrong' to a fellow historian. The Ministry of Works has insisted on economy after economy.

I am bitterly disappointed with what has happened". Erith's concerns proved justified. Within a few years, dry rot was discovered, especially in the main rooms due to inadequate waterproofing and a broken water pipe. Extensive reconstruction again had to be undertaken in the late s to resolve these problems. The work done by Erith and Terry in the s and s represent the most extensive remodelling of Number 10 in recent times. Since when the Terry reconstruction was completed, repairing, redecorating, remodelling, and updating the house has been ongoing as needed.

The IRA mortar attack in February led to extensive work being done to repair the damage mostly to the garden and exterior walls and to improve security. In the summer of windows were rebuilt and in computer cables installed. In , the building was remodelled to provide extra space for the Prime Minister's greatly increased staff. In , the Camerons completely modernised the year-old private kitchen in Number It also houses the Prime Minister's executive Office which deals with logistics and diplomacy concerning the government of the United Kingdom.

Number 10's door is the product of the renovations Charles Townshend ordered in ; it was probably not completed until Executed in the Georgian style by the architect Kenton Couse , it is unassuming and narrow, consisting of a single white stone step leading to a modest brick front.

The small, six-panelled door, originally made of black oak, is surrounded by cream-coloured casing and adorned with a semicircular fanlight window. Painted in white, between the top and middle sets of panels, is the number "10". One theory is that this is in fact a capital 'O' as found in the Roman's Trajan alphabet that was used by the Ministry of Works at the time. The doorbell is inscribed with "PUSH" although is rarely used in practice. A black ironwork fence with spiked newel posts runs along the front of the house and up each side of the step to the door.

The fence rises above the step into a double-swirled archway, supporting an iron gas lamp surmounted by a crown. After the IRA mortar attack in , the original black oak door was replaced by a blast-proof steel one. Regularly removed for refurbishment and replaced with a replica, it is so heavy that it takes eight men to lift it. The brass letterbox still bears the legend "First Lord of the Treasury".

The door cannot be opened from the outside; there is always someone inside to unlock the door. Beyond the door, Couse installed black and white marble tiles in the entrance hall that are still in use. A guard's chair designed by Chippendale sits in one corner. Once used when policemen sat on watch outside in the street, it has an unusual "hood" designed to protect them from the wind and cold and a drawer underneath where hot coals were placed to provide warmth.

Scratches on the right arm were caused by their pistols rubbing up against the leather. Couse also added a bow front to the small cottage—formerly Mr. Chicken's house—incorporated into Number 10 in Walpole's time. When William Kent rebuilt the interior between and , his craftsmen created a stone triple staircase.

Amazing & Extraordinary Facts - Prime Ministers

The main section had no visible supports. With a wrought iron balustrade, embellished with a scroll design, and mahogany handrail, it rises from the garden floor to the third floor.

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Kent's staircase is the first architectural feature visitors see as they enter Number Black and white engravings and photographs of all the past Prime Ministers decorate the wall. They are rearranged slightly to make room for a photograph of each new Prime Minister. There is one exception. Winston Churchill is represented in two photographs. Pt4: The Staircase [96]. In Kent's design for the enlarged Number 10, the Cabinet Room was a simple rectangular space with enormous windows. As part of the renovations begun in , it was extended, giving the space its modern appearance.

Probably not completed until , [99] this alteration was achieved by removing the east wall and rebuilding it several feet inside the adjoining secretaries' room. At the entrance, a screen of two pairs of Corinthian columns was erected to carry the extra span of the ceiling supporting a moulded entablature that wraps around the room. Robert Taylor, the architect who executed this concept, was knighted on its completion. Hendrick Danckerts ' painting "The Palace of Whitehall" shown at the beginning of this article usually hangs in the ante-room. Although Kent intended the First Lord to use this space as his study, it has rarely served that purpose; it has almost always been the Cabinet room.

There have been a few exceptions. Stanley Baldwin used the Cabinet Room as his office. Painted off-white with large floor to ceiling windows along one of the long walls, the room is light and airy. Three brass chandeliers hang from the high ceiling. The Cabinet table, purchased during the Gladstone era, dominates the room.

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  5. The modern boat-shaped top, introduced by Harold Macmillan in the late s, is supported by huge original oak legs. The table is surrounded by carved, solid mahogany chairs that also date from the Gladstone era. The Prime Minister's chair, the only one with arms, is situated midway along one side in front of the marble fireplace, facing the windows; when not in use, it is positioned at an angle for easy access. Blotters inscribed with their titles mark their places.

    The First Lord has no designated office space in Number 10; each has chosen one of the adjoining rooms as his or her private office. See the three state drawing rooms. This page has been archived on the Web. In a democracy, government isn't something that a small group of people do to everybody else, it's not even something they do for everybody else, it should be something they do with everybody else. However, like other new prime ministers inheriting a long term of office, she was unable to shake off an unhappy legacy.

    As did Tupper, Meighen and Turner, Campbell led Canada for only a brief period before going down to electoral defeat. Her parents moved to Vancouver soon after she was born, where her father studied law at the University of British Columbia.

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    The marriage was not a happy one; her mother left the family when Campbell was only twelve years old. It was at this point that she changed her name to Kim. Despite the family distress, Campbell did well in high school and involved herself in politics at an early age, running for and winning the presidency of her student's council. In , she went to U. Here again, Campbell met with political success and was elected the first female freshman president. After graduation, she took some graduate courses at the Institute of International Relations, before winning a scholarship to the London School of Economics.

    At the L. She returned to Vancouver in , her thesis unfinished, and began lecturing part-time at U. In , she returned to U. Campbell was elected to the Vancouver School Board and served for four years. Her platform of fiscal restraint caught the attention of the governing Social Credit party and she was asked to run as a Socred candidate in the provincial election. Although she lost the seat, Campbell was offered a job as a policy advisor to B.