Focus on our centenary: #UCEM100 blog catch-up. Iconic structures

Posted on: 2019-08-28

We return to our #UCEM100 blog this month which focuses on our three themes which are: iconic structures; inspiring women in the Built Environment; and the World Wars. So far, we’ve looked at an alumnus’s involvement with the Crossrail project; the story of the UK’s first female Chartered Surveyor; and a Programme Leader’s involvement in the complex construction of the National Museum of Qatar.


This month, we are publishing two blogs – one telling the story of an inspiring female alumna and the first concerning two structures which hold special value to UCEM; namely, the UCEM lamp and our first home – 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

UCEM lamp

The following is an extract from our forthcoming history book detailing the first 100 years of UCEM and explains why a lamp holds so much significance for the institution…

An image showing the UCEM lamp outside the entrance to our first home at 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields in London

An image of the UCEM lamp in its current guise on the patio outside our Horizons HQ in Reading

Then and now: The UCEM lamp outside the entrance of our first home at Lincoln’s Inn Fields and the very same lamp at our current Horizons home in Reading.

One item of great symbolism and significance that did come with UCEM to Horizons from the Whiteknights Campus is the lamp that stood outside the entrance to the URS Building and which has been in situ outside each of the institution’s main permanent offices since 1919.

A brass plaque accompanying the lamp reads:

‘This lamp was originally situated outside 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, the first permanent home of the College of Estate Management.

‘Later it was erected at the entrance to the College’s post-war premises in St Alban’s Grove, Kensington, London, and was subsequently transferred in 1972 to the new College and Faculty building, at the University of Reading, Whiteknights, Reading.

‘Finally, in 2016, it was transferred to Horizons, 60 Queen’s Road, Reading, the new permanent home of the now University College of Estate Management, where it stands proudly in the outside decking area as a reminder of our heritage.’

The lamp is a permanent reminder of our past and the journey the institution has been on to date and is iconic in the eyes of UCEM.


35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

The College of Estate Management’s first permanent home was at 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which CEM inhabited from its purchase in 1921 until the Second World War.

An image of the drawing of the facade of 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields which appeared in The Times in 1943 An image of the drawing of the entrance to 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields. The drawing shows a black and white checkered marble floor with a carpet reading 'College of Estate Management' in a stone hallway

Drawings of the facade and entrance to 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

Lincoln’s Inn Field was an 18th-century house built in 1754 and designed by the renowned architect, Sir Robert Taylor. It had been the residence of a succession of distinguished lawyers and required a lot of money to restore the premises and adapt them to the needs of the College.

The number of students CEM had in 1921-22 was: Full-time – 11; Evening class – 184; and Postal courses – 615. As the number of full-time and evening class students grew, CEM extended the premises at the rear of 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields to provide additional lecture halls and administrative offices.

Upon the outbreak of war, attempts were made to carry on with day and evening classes at Lincoln’s Inn Fields but these had to be abandoned with the main work of the College confined to postal tuition. Sadly, 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields was lost by enemy action after, first, suffering damage in the autumn of 1940 and then being hit by incendiary bombs in the spring of 1941.

An image of the postal room at 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields displaying neatly stacked bookshelves containing reams of documents An image showing the post room after the raid in 1941 with documents strewn on the floor and the bookshelves bare

Before and after: The postal room at 35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields before the 1941 raid and after.

A photo showing the outside of 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields - essentially a shell of a building following incendiary bombing during the Second World War Another post-war photo of 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields showing the damage done to the external of the building though with the lamp intact

35 Lincoln’s Inn Fields after the 1941 raid

In 1943, Lincoln’s Inn Fields was sold to the Royal College of Surgeons.

Wrought iron staircase

Upon purchasing the property, CEM needed to remodel the interior in order to make the building suitable for its new educational purpose. This included removing an exquisite wrought iron staircase and balustrade, made in 1754 or earlier, in an intricate style akin to famous French Huguenot ironworker Jean Tijou.

Photo showing the wrought iron staircase from 35 Lincoln's Inn Fields

In order to preserve the staircase, The College of Estate Management gifted it to the nation. On February 25th 1921, the piece was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it has been on display ever since.

To this day, you can view this artefact in room 54 of the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington.

We will be returning (almost!) to our first home next month when we host our exclusive student and alumni centenary event at Lincoln’s Inn. The venue is just a stone’s throw away from our former home and, as such, a perfect location to celebrate our centenary. If you are a student or alumni who has yet to sign up to attend and would like to do so, head to our Projects for Good event page to secure your place.