At the 2016 Amwell Society AGM Alex Smith from the Islington museum gave us a fascinating talk on Bevin Court, and the restoration of the Peter Yates mural ‘Day and Night, Winged Bulls’ which stands in the entrance hall.
Holford Square, built in 1841 with a bowling green in the central gardens, suffered major bomb damage in the second world war and was bought by Finsbury in 1948 to provide local housing. The commission went to Tecton Group architects and Berthold Lubetkin designed the building. Famous for the dramatic, single, central staircase which formed the social hub of the flats, with the Finsbury coat of arms proudly displayed at the top of the stair shaft, the original name was “Lenin court”, as Lenin lived in Holford Square in 1902.
The Peter Yates mural at the entrance represents an abstracted form of the Finsbury crest. Over time it suffered water damage, vandalism with graffiti and was repaired by overpainting on at least two occasions.
The restoration, funded by a lottery grant, is described in detail on the Bevin court website. The team used old photos taken before the building was opened – showing that at one stage the Bull had two wings! Painstaking work on paint samples has allowed the subtle, dusky 1950’s blue to shine again