Robert Dolan House, 9 Alie Street

1987, neo-Georgian offices, EPR Architects

9 Alie Street (Robert Dolan House)
Contributed by Survey of London on May 6, 2020

Between the former Goodman’s Fields Theatre and Half Moon Passage eight houses at least partially built by William Kirkham in the 1730s replaced earlier front and back buildings. These had a 3:2:3 arrangement to the street, the houses punctuated by narrow passages for access to the tenements of Cleaver’s Court and Cleaver’s Rents, probably built by Thomas Cleaver, a bricklayer who was one of Kirkham’s executors in 1740. By the end of the eighteenth century, most of these houses were connected with a large sugar refinery behind. Sometime soon after 1819, the courts were replaced with four two-storey houses, parcelled as property pertaining to the sugarhouse on Half Moon Passage. In 1851, James William Bowman (1820–1857), who owned the sugarhouse, was recorded as resident in the westernmost of these houses which in general accommodated around a quarter of his 170 employees, including a manager, clerk, foreman, servants, and thirty-one German labourers. From the 1870s the houses came to be associated with Browne & Eagle and the Barnett gun factory on the northerly sugarhouse site. After the First World War there was use by boot repairers, grocers and small manufacturers and the houses were demolished around 1970. In their place a six-storey, four-bay office block designed by EPR Architects was erected in 1987. This has an absurdly gestural neo-Georgian elevation comprising a two-storey rusticated ‘basement’ below plain brick cladding and an attic. The block has passed into use as headquarters for the East London NHS Foundation Trust, which renamed the building Robert Dolan House in 2018 after its former Chief Executive.1

  1. Toewr Hamlets Local History Library and Archives, P/MIS/431/1/1; P/MIS/434/1/1/2: London Metropolitan Archives, MDR1739/2/493–4: The National Archives, PROB11/703/331: Census: Post Office Directories: Ordnance Survey maps: Tower Hamlets planning applications online: HQ-Named-in-Honour-of-CEO-Dr-Robert-Dolan