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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

21 Prescot Street blog

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12/12/2013 14:47:11

The story of RCPsych's big move

Thursday, 12 December 2013

It is just over two months since the College moved in to 21 Prescot Street - and it already feels like home. The building has played host to countless meetings and events for our members. We have also opened our doors to 400 secondary school pupils from the Greater London area, who attended the College's annual Christmas Debate on 9 December, and yesterday evening we held the first of our Prestigious Evening Lectures in the spacious new conference area - a fascinating account of Jack the Ripper's psychiatrist by Honorary Archivist Dr Fiona Subotsky.

Regular readers of this blog will have seen our three update films charting progress with the building work. A couple of weeks ago, film company Postcard Productions returned to 21 Prescot Street for a final day of filming. This short film tells the story of our big move from the very beginning, and shows how the building was transformed during our ambitious 24-week refurbishment project.



So far, feedback from our members has been very positive. Many have commented on the building's light and spacious feel, and they are benefitting from our vastly improved member facilities including new tele- and video-conferencing facilities.

If you've visited 21 Prescot Street, please let us know what you think by sending a comment to the Website Manager below. 

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


04/11/2013 11:29:06

A song for 21 Prescot Street

Monday, 4 November

The College has been based at its new east London headquarters for a month. Over the last few weeks, the new building has hosted many large meetings - including the London Division's Academic Event and AGM - and we are delighted with the positive feedback we've received from members.

Indeed, some members have been so enthused by the College's big move from Belgrave Square to Prescot Street that they were inspired to write a song - which we're delighted to share with you below.

Drs Theodoros Bargiotas (piano), Phil Davison, Chris Fear and David McDonald comprise 'Sang Freud' - a four-piece band that got together as a result of “entertainments” that were put on after the Divisional Chairs and Managers meeting at the International Congress each summer. They arrange existing songs to provide a comic and off-beat take on topical issues in psychiatry and the College. 

In summer 2013, Sang Freud were invited to perform at the conference dinner during the International Congress in Edinburgh. They penned the lyrics to this song, 'A College of Delights', and set it to 'A Transport of Delight' by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.



The song was a great hit at the Congress and in this video (produced and directed by Bethan Fear),  Sang Freud perform their song again for our enjoyment. If you haven't visited 21 Prescot Street yet, please pop in - we hope you agree with Sang Freud that it is a "second home" and an excellent place to "rest your weary feet".

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


08/10/2013 11:14:43

A landmark day

Tuesday, 8 October 2013


Yesterday, after months of preparation, the College finally moved into its new headquarters at 21 Prescot Street. In this special blog entry our President, Professor Sue Bailey, tells us her thoughts on RCPsych's Big Move:


"I believe myself to be a fairly calm and pragmatic individual – but I have to admit that yesterday was an emotional day for me. Being able to welcome 150 College staff into their new home at Prescot Street was an experience I will never forget.

"There was hesitation and expectation as I waited for the first staff to arrive. Then, as they streamed into the building, and started exploring and finding their desks, their buzz and energy made the empty offices really come to life.

"Change is never easy, and I cannot thank our Chief Executive, Vanessa Cameron, and staff across our Facilities, IT and Finance departments enough for the absolute dedication they have shown over the last few months. Their hard work has made the transition from two buildings – in Belgrave Square and Mansell Street – to one building in Prescot Street – appear seamless.


Dr Ian Soosay, Chair of the West Pacific Division, visits the College


"Yesterday, I was also thrilled to welcome the very first College members to the building.

"They were our RCPsych Research Fellow in Sustainability, Dr Daniel Maughan, and the Chair of our Western Pacific International Division, Dr Ian Soosay (see photo left, which shows Ian in front of our elegant new reception desk).

"I should point out that Ian hadn’t made the trip from New Zealand specifically to see our new building – he was actually en route from Lisbon back home to New Zealand!

"But of course it was very exciting to have the opportunity to show him his College’s new home.


"On the lower ground floor, we have a fantastic new restaurant – Café 21. It is a great place to eat and meet, and the members’ area is just waiting for you to come and relax, work and network in. Don’t forget that we are offering all members one free lunch (up to the value of £5) in Café 21. Please book in advance by emailing our Reception Desk, quoting your membership number or name. You can pick up your voucher from Reception on arrival. 

Members are invited to visit Café 21 to enjoy a free lunch. The restaurant, run by caterers Artizian, offers a wide range of hot and cold meals, drinks and snacks


Café 21

“On the ground floor, the beautiful Antiquarian Room is publicly displaying our collection of rare psychiatric books and dissertations for the very first time in the College’s history. The ground floor is also where we have our library and members’ area (see photo below). Those people who had visited our old offices at 17 Belgrave Square will recognise many familiar objects including our Presidential portraits, sculptures and busts.


The spacious members area, with Antiquarian Room behind and Library to the right

The members area offers ample space for members to work, network and relax. The beautiful new Antiquarian Room is behind, and the Library to the right-hand side. 

"And, of course, the stunning chandelier which dominated the reception area at Belgrave Square can now be seen – in all its delicate beauty – in Prescot Street’s spacious, double-height atrium (see photo below). It really is the perfect blend of old and new, hanging alongside three brand-new video screens showing video art works. 

Visitors to 21 Prescot Street enter a spacious reception area. They can look up into a double-height atrium, lit by the stunning English crystal chandelier that was gifted to the College in 1976. 

The old is cleverly blended with the new - including a trio of video screens displaying video art works exploring the theme of mental health.

A glass staircase leads visitors up to the first floor, which houses our new conference area - capable of holding events for up to 250 delegates.

The new double-height reception area


"I cannot praise highly enough all the countless workmen who have played their part in delivering this fabulous building to us on time and within budget. Project management company Watts Group PLC really have done a great job in managing this. I would also like to thank everyone from Area Sq, our design and build contractors, who have created such beautiful spaces. Taking advice from our Members’ Advisory Committee, they really have understood the essence of who the College is and what we do.

"I am in no doubt that yesterday will stay with me as a kaleidoscope of memories. I look forward to seeing many of you in your new College very soon."

23/09/2013 14:07:03

Two weeks to go

Monday, 23 September 2013

In two weeks time, we will be busy settling in to our new home in Prescot Street. Design and build contractors Area Sq, and project management company Watts Group are busy putting the finishing touches for the building, ready to hand over to us in time for the big move.


Inspecting the double-height atrium


Our chief executive, Vanessa Cameron, and other senior members of staff visited 21 Prescot Street last Friday to inspect progress. They were impressed to see the glass-lined walkway installed in the double-height atrium (see above), allowing light to flood in from the first floor conference area to the large reception space below.


The office areas on the second and third floors are almost finished. The desk frames, chairs and pedestals are in place (see below), ready for the computers and telephones to be moved over on Friday, 4 October.


"The office areas, with their brightly coloured pedestals, are almost complete"


Offices on the second floor

Our new offices have excellent transport links, and we have cycle stands for those who are planning to reach us by bike. If you're planning a visit, take a look at this information and map to help plot your route.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
16/09/2013 11:42:37

The final countdown film

Monday, 16 September 2013

As we reported last week, a crew from Postcard Productions returned to 21 Prescot Street to film progress with the building work. With just three weeks to go until the big move, this short film shows how the new offices are shaping up.



Richard Love, Director at Watts Group PLC, takes our Chief Executive on a tour of the building, while Head of Facilities Lesley Cawthra talks about the final preparations. The new building will bring staff from the College's two London buildings (Belgrave Square and Standon House) together under one roof for the very first time. Also in this film, Peter Thompson from the College Centre for Quality Improvement and Bronwyn Harrison from the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, talk about the benefits of uniting the two offices and of their personal hopes for the new building.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


09/09/2013 14:18:30

More filming at Prescot Street

Monday, 9 September 2013

Last week, film company Postcard Productions returned to Prescot Street to check on progress. Regular readers of this blog will know that the College is working with Postcard Productions to document our move to the new offices.

The morning kicked off with a site meeting, chaired by Richard Love of project management company Watts Group. The College's Chief Executive, Vanessa Cameron, was also in attendance, along with Head of Facilities Lesley Cawthra and Head of IT Gordon Malcolm, and representatives from design and build company Area Sq.

Filming the site meeting


The meeting was held on the third floor which is rapidly taking shape. As the above photograph shows, the carpets have been laid and the partition walls for offices installed. Storage units and window blinds are also being fitted. 

And good progress is being made on the other floors, too. On the ground floor, the beautiful walnut units that will line the walls of the Antiquarian Room are being installed, and alcoves and shelves are going in to the library.

In the entrance hall, the wide staircase that will lead up to the first floor conference suite is now in place (below) and is waiting to be clad in stone and glass. With its double height ceiling, the main reception area will be a truly spectacular space.

"The reception area - with its new, double height ceiling - is being transformed in to a light, bright and airy space"


The reception area is being transformed

As well as filming progress with the refurbishment work, Postcard Productions also paid a visit to Standon House, the College's other London offices on Mansell Street. These offices accommodate staff working for the College's London and Eastern Divisions, the College Centre for Quality Improvement (CCQI) and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health (NCCMH).

Staff at Standon House - like those at Belgrave Square - are busy disposing of papers and work that is no longer needed, and packing for the big move. Bronwyn Harrison, of the NCCMH, and Peter Thompson, of the CCQI, took time out to be filmed and talk about their teams' hopes for the new building.

Postcard Productions are now editing the footage they recorded last week – check back soon to see another short film clip.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
16/08/2013 12:01:25

50 days to go (well, nearly)...

Friday, 16 August 2013

On Sunday there will be 50 days to go until we move to 21 Prescot Street and things are really hotting up.  We are still on target to move in on Monday, 7 October and we are still within budget - though we are at the upper limit. 


Vanessa Cameron, our Chief Executive, reports that the building has been transformed over the summer: "The new stone and glass staircase, from the reception to the first floor, has been made off site and will be delivered and installed next week. The office furniture will be delivered on 9 September, followed by the rest of the furniture on 16 September. Carpets have been laid on the second and third floor. Three artists have been selected to produce video art for the video installation in the Reception area, and the building is beginning to feel like our new home. 


21 Prescot Street exterior


Vanessa continues: "We have approved the design of the dining area on the lower ground floor and this is going to be a great area for us to meet together with good food and excellent coffee. It will be open throughout the working day. We have short-listed two catering companies, both excellent, and will be making the final decision at the end of August."


The College will be closed on Friday, 4 October to allow us time to move over the weekend. Vanessa says: "One of the biggest challenges will be ensuring that all our IT systems are up and running on 7 October, so our Head of IT, Gordon Malcolm, and other members of his team  will be working all weekend. I must also thank our Head of Facilities, Lesley Cawthra, and her team who are working incredibly hard to ensure that we have a smooth departure from our current offices in Belgrave Square and Mansell Street."


With only 50 days to go, the 21 Prescot Street Project Management Team are now meeting daily to oversee all the arrangements. The countdown to our new home really has now begun.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
12/08/2013 13:07:30

Psychiatric trainees talk about our big move

Monday, 12 August

While we’re all looking forward to October, when we finally move into 21 Prescot Street, the Psychiatric Trainees Committee (PTC) are perhaps more excited than most.

In this short film, psychiatric trainees talk about what RCPsych’s big move means to them. PTC Chair Dr Muj Husain and PTC Vice-Chair Dr Hannah Cappleman are pleased that the new building will offer more space for trainees to meet and network, and believe being in a modern, 21st century building will make their committee more effective.

Dr Kamran Ahmed, Founder of the medical film festival Medfest, and Dr Marisa Dias, President of the European Federation of Psychiatric Trainees, also talk about using 21 Prescot Street as a venue to hold more trainee events.



If you haven’t seen our first update film showing progress with the building work, take a look.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


09/08/2013 10:22:48

The scaffolding comes down

Friday, 9 August 2013

The scaffolding that has encased 21 Prescot Street for the last few months is finally coming down – revealing our brand new windows and freshly-cleaned building.

The scaffolding on 21 Prescot Street comes down

And plenty of progress is being made inside as well. Carpets have been laid on the third floor, which is one of two floors that have been allocated as office space for our College staff. The third floor will be home to the Chief Executive’s and President’s office, as well as our Membership Relations department, Communications and Policy department, HR department, Finance department, and the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health.

The second floor will accommodate our Publications department, more staff from the Membership Relations department, and staff from the College Centre for Quality Improvement. This floor will also have a number of meeting rooms.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
05/08/2013 11:11:48

Take a video tour of Prescot Street

Monday, 5 August

As we reported last month, a crew from Postcard Productions visited 21 Prescot Street to film progress with the building work. 

In this short video, Mark Sheerman, of design and build contractor Area Sq, takes us on a tour of the space and offers us glimpses of what the new interior will look like. Adam Wlodarczyk-Black, chartered building surveyor at Watts Group, also talks about some of the challenges of bringing such an ambitious project in on time.




Next week we'll bring you another short film, in which some of our psychiatric trainees talk about what the move means to them.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


24/07/2013 14:52:53

Everybody needs good neighbours

Wednesday, 24 July 2013


We are currently 15 weeks into the 24 week construction project at 21 Prescot Street. Last week, we caught up with Site Manager Steve Herron, from our design and build contractor Area Sq, who updated us on progress.

"This is a big project and we are working to a very tight timescale,” Steve says. “But we have about 50-60 operatives on site each day, working seven days a week, so we can bring the project in on time." 

With so much to co-ordinate, Steve is currently living on site so he can respond immediately to any issues that arise – either with the construction project itself or with our new neighbours. Steve says: "21 Prescot Street is on the very edge of the City of London. As with any building project in the middle of a city, there are huge challenges in terms of access, safety, and ensuring we maintain good relationships with our next-door neighbours, who include two hotels."

Area Sq has ensured the 21 Prescot Street site is registered under the Considerate Constructors scheme, a national initiative set up by the construction industry to improve its image. This means the site is monitored against a five-point Code of Considerate Practice, designed to encourage performance beyond statutory requirements under five different sections:

  • Enhancing the appearance
  • Respecting the community
  • Protecting the environment
  • Securing everyone’s safety
  • Caring for the workforce

We have recently been audited against the requirements of the scheme and have received a grading of ‘Performance Beyond Compliance’, which means that the project is over-exceeding on the best practice criteria measured by the scheme.


21 Prescot Street displays its Considerate Constructors poster at the site entrance

"We display our Considerate Constructors posters at the site entrance to promote our registration with the scheme," Steve explains. "My name and phone number is clearly displayed, so that anyone who has any concerns can raise them with me immediately. I’ve also set up a dedicated email address for the project, and have regular meetings with people in our neighbouring properties."

But although we are doing our best to forge good relationships in E1, we have fallen foul of the local parking wardens. Prescot Street is a designated red route, and the double red lines mean no stopping or parking is allowed at any time.

Steve says: “It took us three weeks to erect scaffolding around the whole building. As we weren’t allowed to park on the street, our lorries had to pull up and offload the scaffolding poles and planks as quickly as possible. But however quick they were, the parking wardens were always lying in wait – meaning we clocked up a parking ticket every single day.”

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.

19/07/2013 11:40:13

Filming at Prescot Street

Friday, 19 July 2013


Earlier this week Liz Leicester, from the College’s Communications Department, accompanied film company Postcard Productions to 21 Prescot Street. The College is working with Postcard Productions to document our move to the new offices, and the crew were on site to film progress with the construction work.


The Postcard Productions film crew on site at 21 Prescot Street

Liz, Sam, Matt and Natasha arrived on site at 8am for a safety induction from design and build company Area Sq.


They were issued with high-visibility vests, hard hats and steel-toe boots so they could move around the site safely  – though unfortunately it wasn't the most comfortable clothing to wear on one of the hottest days of the year!

After receiving a guided tour of all six floors of the building from Area Sq Site Manager Steve Herron, the team started filming. The first floor was full of activity, with operatives busy working on what will become the new conference and events space. The elevated stage area at the front of the room is starting to take shape, and the walls are being prepared for the large folding partitions that will be installed  – allowing the space to be configured for both large events and smaller meetings.

The refurbishment project includes replacing all the windows in the building (below left). The old, dark green frames have been removed and replaced with smart new ones – grey on the outside and white on the inside – that are transforming the space and making it feel brighter and lighter.

Replacing the windows at 21 Prescot Street

In the afternoon, Postcard Productions interviewed Mark Sheerman, of Area Sq, who is the Principal Designer for 21 Prescot Street. Mark talked about creating the vision for the College's new HQ, and how the refurbishment project is bringing the building - which had become somewhat dishevelled - firmly back to life.

Finally, it was the turn of Adam Wlodarczyk-Black, MRICS, Chartered Building Surveyor with Watts Group, to take a turn in front of the camera. He described some of the challenges associated with bringing such a large project in on time - but reassured us that the 24-week building project is currently on schedule.

Postcard Productions are now editing the footage  – check back soon to watch their short film.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
10/07/2013 12:01:22

Inside the new building

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


At last week’s RCPsych International Congress in Edinburgh, delegates who visited the College Stand got a preview of what the inside of 21 Prescot Street is likely to look like. Area Sq, our design and build contractors, have created some stunning designs and we're delighted to share these images with you.


The Antiquarian room


The above image shows the plan for the Antiquarian Room where - for the very first time - we will publicly display the College's valuable antiquarian collection. The collection contains over 1,000 rare psychiatric books and dissertations, with the oldest book dating back to 1483.


Although the building is modern, and the the furnishings will be modern in style, Area Sq's clever designs will incorporate key items from the College's history - such as the marble statue of Sigmund Freud, which can be seen to the right-hand side of the picture.


The work, by Oscar Nemon, was presented to the College by Margaret Torrie in memory of her husband and consultant psychiatrist Dr Alfred Torrie, M.A., M.B., Ch.B, D.P.M., F.B.Ps.S (Brig. Ret'd) (1898-1972). Margaret Torrie, a social worker, founded the Cruse Organisation for Widowed Families in 1959. The organisation is now known as Cruse Bereavement Care and is the largest bereavement charity in the UK.


"The first floor will be a large, flexible events space - big enough to accommodate meetings and events for up to 250 people."


The 21 Prescot Street events space

Area Sq has also designed a large, airy events space on the first floor. The image above gives a feel of what it will look like when set up for a conference. On this floor there will also be a media suite, with big screen facilities to show films and hold arts events. Our current buildings (17 Belgrave Square and Standon House) lack space to hold large meetings, so we are very excited at the prospect of holding more events on site.


Let us know what you think of the designs for 21 Prescot Street by emailing the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload your comments.
28/06/2013 12:29:34

The countdown begins...

Friday, 28 June 2013

There are just over 100 days to go until our proposed move to 21 Prescot Steet.

Our chief executive, Vanessa Cameron, reports: "I have returned from a site visit this morning and things are really gathering pace. We are still on target (and on budget)  for everyone to move into Prescot St on Monday 7 October. We aim to close our two London offices, Belgrave Square and Standon House, on Thursday 3 October to allow us time to prepare No.21 for staff to arrive on Monday morning."

Earlier this week, members of the new building team visited showrooms to choose office desks and chairs, meeting room furniture and soft furnishings. Final selections will be made shortly.

Staff have recently had a glimpse of what the inside of the building will look like. This image shows the proposed design and layout of the entrance hall. The double height ceiling will provide plenty of light and space - and provide the perfect new home for our much-treasured English crystal chandelier which we blogged about in March.

21 Prescot Street - proposed design for new entrance hall

Those of you who are attending our International Congress 2013 in Edinburgh next week can see more images of the inside of the building in our special exhibition on the College Stand in the main Exhibition Hall. Members of College staff will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about the move.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
05/06/2013 10:00:20

Our Chief Executive checks progress

Wednesday, 5 June 2013


Earlier this week our Chief Executive, Vanessa Cameron, visited 21 Prescot Street to see how work is progressing. Donning her hard hat and fluorescent jacket, she was given a tour of the site by project management company Watts and design and fit-out company Area Sq.


Vanessa Cameron on site at 21 Prescot Street

Vanessa described her visit as “hugely exciting” and was delighted to how quickly the work is proceeding.


"I haven’t been to Prescot Street since February and was amazed at the changes I saw,” Vanessa said. "The building is clad in scaffolding which is covered up neatly. The poky little reception area is now a wide space, and the beginnings of a beautiful staircase rising from the reception to the first floor can be seen."


Vanessa continued: "The front of the building is being changed so that there will be seating areas for visitors on the ground and first floors. All the existing partitions have been taken down to reveal huge spaces – which we shall quickly fill up! And the office partitions on the second and third floor are starting to go up."


View from the first floor, looking down to the ground floor. The old, reception area was small, but it is being transformed into a wide, bright and light new space to welcome visitors to 21 Prescot Street


View from first floor down to the ground floor entrance area

Vanessa praised everyone who is working on site. "The progress to date is fantastic and it is really exciting to think that in less than five months we shall be in our new home," she added.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
03/06/2013 14:00:04

Filming our move

Monday, 3 June 2013

Relocating the College’s HQ from Belgrave Square to Prescot Street will be a momentous event in the College’s history – and one that we are eager to document. That’s why we are working with production company Postcard Productions to create a film of the move. The College has worked with Postcard Productions before, on a film to encourage people to back the Mental Health (Discrimination) Bill (now Act), and we are delighted to be working with them again.

The first of five days of filming took place last month at 17 Belgrave Square. A number of people were interviewed, including President Professor Sue Bailey, Chief Executive Vanessa Cameron, Chair of RCPsych in Scotland Dr Peter Rice, Director of Conferences Dr Helen Miller and Chair of the Psychiatric Trainees Committee Dr Muj Husain. And, of course, we filmed inside and outside the building – a wonderful record of the space for the College’s archives.

Two members of the Psychiatric Trainees Committee, Dr Howard Ryland and Dr Danica Ralevic, have been involved in the filming project – and on 3 May they were on hand with their own video camera to turn the tables on Postcard Productions and film them at work.

The result is a short 'filming-of-the-filming of' video, that Howard and Danica have called RCPsych: The Making of the Move Movie. Take a look below.




Our next filming day will be at 21 Prescot Street, when the Postcard Productions crew will be donning their hard hats and going inside the building to document how the refurbishment project is progressing. In the coming few months we’ll bring you a series of ‘update clips’ produced by Postcard Productions, with the final film available at the end of the year.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


10/05/2013 10:01:32

Hard hats and hard work

Friday, 10 May 2013


With work progressing so quickly on 21 Prescot Street, it's vital to keep on top of developments. Chief Executive Vanessa Cameron, Director of Finance Paddy Padmanathan, and Head of Facilities Lesley Cawthra are meeting almost every morning to discuss progress, and co-ordinate the major works programme. Members of the College's Finance and Operations team are also paying regular visits.

Staff from the College's Finance and Operations Department pay a visit to 21 Prescot Street to see how work is progressing on the second floor

The hard hat brigade

On Wednesday (8 May), the design team for the new building met to discuss the first visuals for the ground floor and reception area. These designs have been well-received, and the final plans for these areas are likely to be approved by College Officers and the Members' Advisory Group next week.

The design for the kitchen area has now been agreed, though the canteen area has yet to be designed and agreed. The College will be going out to tender very shortly for catering services for the new building.

Work on the 1st floor

As we announced earlier this week on Twitter, scaffolding has been erected at the front of the building, and the rest of the scaffolding will be erected next week.


Work on the inside of the building started two weeks ahead of schedule, so we are still on course for moving in at the beginning of October.


Partitions are being constructed between areas, and on the first floor (pictured left), workmen have been busy lowering the raised floor to increase the head height and bring it in line with the other floors in the building.


With so many contractors on site, work is progressing very rapidly - and we'll use this blog to keep you updated every step of the way.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
02/05/2013 08:58:19

Building work begins

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Although we haven’t blogged recently, a huge amount of work has been going on at 21 Prescot Street.

As we reported a few weeks ago, we have appointed Area Sq as our design and build contractors. We invited thirteen companies to tender for the contract and we shortlisted four.  We were very impressed by the enthusiasm and track record of Area Sq, and you can see the kind of work they undertake on the gallery of images on their website.

Area Sq are already on site at Prescot Street – starting two weeks earlier than scheduled. The whole building is now a "hard hat" area and access is under their control. The photo below shows how work is progressing on the fourth floor. Scaffolding is being erected on the outside of the building, which will allow work to begin on the windows and the exterior. 

The building is now a "hard hat" area and work has begun on the fourth floor



Work begins on fourth floor

We are in the midst of a series of intensive meetings with Area Sq while they finalise the designs for the whole building. During this process, the Building Steering Group has met with the Members’ Advisory Group to discuss the ground and first floors, and the Staff Advisory Group to discuss the office accommodation.

It is important that the new building meets our needs, so a detailed audit of our storage needs at both Belgrave Square and Standon House has been carried out by a contractor. The results of this audit will help inform the design and layout of the new building.

We are also very excited to have appointed an art consultant, David Gryn. He will be advising on which works of art already in the College should go to Prescot Street, and whether we need to acquire any new forms of art. 

02/04/2013 14:47:43

Prescot Street - far more important than it looks

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

In our second 21 Prescot Street blog entry, we talked about some of the history of Prescot Street - including the fact that it was one of the first London streets in which the houses were given numbers instead of names.

Over the Easter weekend Neil Balmer, one of the @rcpsych's Twitter followers, sent us a link to this interesting blog post by Mark Pack. Titled 'Prescot Street: far more important than it looks', Mark's blog entry shares some additional information about numbering as well as some nice photographs of the street.

Mark describes Prescot Street as "a fairly bland, unexceptional street", with "plenty of office architecture that could be from just about anywhere in the UK".

Hopefully the Royal College of Psychiatrists will bring a little more character to the neighbourhood when we finish our refurbishment of number 21 and move in to the building in October!

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
28/03/2013 12:25:34

Design & build company appointed

Thursday, 28 March 2013


The Project Group met yesterday to review the four tenders received from Design and Build companies towards the refurbishment of 21 Prescot Street. The companies were invited to price discrete parts of the project such as design, demolition, partitioning, audio-visual equipment, as well as come up with ideas for the redesign of the reception area and front of the building. These tenders were scrutinised in great detail by the Project Management company, Watts, and each submission went through a very thorough comparison and analysis.


Prescot Street E1


There were two close contenders, however the Project Group was particularly impressed by the experience, resources and team structure, the proposed methodology and approach to Health and Safety of one organisation, Area Sq.


The Project Group met the team from Area Sq yesterday and they were delighted to take on this major and exciting project. Area Sq’s team will be meeting with our project management team from Watts early next week to start working on plans and planning permission for the project.


The next few weeks will be a busy time for the Project Group, College Officers and for the College members and staff who sit on our consultive groups. Major decisions will need to be made promptly on the design of the building, surface finishes and decorations, including the more major structural and architectural works such as the new windows and reception area.

25/03/2013 16:03:19

Furniture ideas

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Last week, our Chief Executive, our Head of Facilities and members of the 21 Prescot Street staff representative committee visited a furniture showroom for a taster of what our new offices might look like. Although we may not be getting the exact items we saw, it was still exciting to see the latest in office solutions.


 Staff try out new office chairs for size

The team particularly enjoyed trying out the office chairs, which are now so ergonomically advanced that a technician is available to make sure each chair is individually adjusted to its new user when it is delivered.

This is particularly important for staff who spend a lot of the day sat at their desks – in the new building we will all be models of good posture!.


The new building will also include small, informal breakout areas, and the possibilities for more casual seating in these areas seem endless. We quickly learnt that looks and comfort do not always go hand-in-hand. For example, something that looked suspiciously like a large grey brick was surprisingly comfortable to sit in. But a stylishly curved and visually very attractive chair forced the user to sprawl backwards in a manner reminiscent of Henry VIII, in his later years, at his most regal.


We also saw some 'pebbles' for informal perching in lime green - pictured below in a more discreet grey.  We weren't sure about these but will keep an open mind , and await the designers' suggestions. And of course all chairs recommended by the office designers will get a thorough testing before the College buys them. 


There are lots of different options for informal seating - including these 'pebbles'



Informal 'pebble' seating

21 Prescot Street, with its large open spaces, will be a very different environment to the smaller, more enclosed office spaces at Belgrave Square. The furniture showroom demonstrated clearly how open spaces can be visually coherent, as well as quiet and comfortable. Working areas can be partitioned by means as simple as having different coloured dividers between desks, or by using different coloured flooring to distinguish between the main thoroughfares and departmental areas.


Ideas gained from the showroom will be fed into the detailed design plans for the new building – which we will share with you when they’re available.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
14/03/2013 17:30:32

Reflecting on Belgrave Square - our HQ for 39 years

Thursday, 14 March 2013


In our last blog, we reported that we’ve gone out to tender with four design and build contractors. While we are waiting for the next phase to begin, it seems like a good time to pause and think about the building that has been our HQ for the last 39 years – 17 Belgrave Square.


17 Belgrave Square

For those who haven't visited Number 17, it is a stucco-fronted Regency house built in the early 1830s (see left).

The area we know today as Belgravia started being developed by the Grosvenor family in the early 19th century.

Previously, it had been a rural area between Westminster and the village of Knightsbridge, but it soon turned into a high-class residential area.

Today, the building is owned by The Grosvenor Estate, a portfolio of businesses, rural estates and other assets owned by trusts on behalf of the 6th Duke of Westminster and his family.

According to the archives, Number 17 was first tenanted in 1839 by Sir Ralph Howard, a Whig MP for Wicklow. In the 1841 census he was living here with his wife, seven female servants and four male servants. The next tenant was Pandeli Ralli. He too was an MP, a Liberal who represented Bridport and then Wallingford.


The third tenant was Leontine, Lady Sassoon, who lived here from 1929 to 1942, but retained the tenancy until 1955. She is said to have kept an open house for soldiers during the Second World War, and used part of the property as a Red Cross supply depot.  


Number 17 was taken over by the Institute of Metals in 1956, before the College bought the leasehold for £725,000 in 1974. Thus, in the 174 years since it was first occupied, 17 Belgrave Square has only had five different tenants.


Many visitors to the College are impressed by the beautiful period detail of our formal rooms – the Council Room, Library, Members’ Room and Dining Room. These rooms, with their high ceilings, marble fireplaces and elegant wood paneling, were sympathetically refurbished in the late 1990s.


The crowning glory of our entrance hall is a stunning English crystal chandelier, dating back to the 1890s (see photo below). It was donated to the College in 1976 by The Priory Hospital and  Dr Wilfrid Warren, who was Vice President of the College at the time, thanked the Board of Directors for their generosity and kindness.  We are busy thinking about how the chandelier, along with our collection of portraits, paintings, busts and antiques, can be incorporated into the new building.


This beautiful English crystal chandelier, made in the 1890s, currently takes pride of place in the entrance hall of 17 Belgrave Square. A new home will need to be found for it after the move.



With the move to east London later this year, the College is about to start a new chapter in its long history. And so, too, will 17 Belgrave Square, as it prepares to welcome a new tenant.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
01/03/2013 14:34:21

Video-conferencing comes to the College

Friday 1 March, 2013


The first phase of the relocation project is now complete. Space plans for all six floors have been finalised, and included in the tender documents that have been sent out to four design and build contactors. The contractors have been given four weeks to respond, after which a final decision will be made.


Members of College Council discussed the building project in detail at their last meeting on Friday 22 February. At this meeting, Council approved the budget for the refurbishment work, which will include installing a new air conditioning system and replacing the existing windows (see picture below), for which we have submitted a planning application.


Out with the old... Council has approved the budget for the refurbishment work, which will include replacing the building's existing windows



Windows on the side of 21 Prescot Street

Members of our IT department, headed by Gordon Malcolm, have been working hard to identify our IT requirements in the new building. We are very pleased to report that 21 Prescot Street will have video conferencing equipment in four meeting rooms,  including the Council Room. The necessary cabling will also be installed in other meeting rooms, which will allow us to extend our video conferencing facilities in the future if needed.


Many members have made requests for video-conferencing facilities over the years, but unfortunately we have not been able to provide these at Belgrave Square or Standon House and have instead relied on telephone conferencing. This really is a very exciting development for the College, and we hope that it will allow many more members to get involved in College activities without the need to travel to our London HQ.


The refurbishment project is currently on schedule, and we are working towards a moving date in the first week of October. Check back soon for further updates.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
18/02/2013 15:12:14

Plans for the ground floor

Monday, 18 February 2013


Plans for 21 Prescot Street are steadily taking shape. Major surveys and inspections of the building have now been completed, which will give us a clearer idea of what work needs to be carried out during the renovation process. This week, we’ll be going out to tender to some ‘design and build’ firms, to find the company who will turn our many ideas for the new building into reality.


21 Prescot Street ground floor

One of the most important floors will be the ground floor – which at the moment comprises a relatively plain marble-clad entrance hall and one large open-plan space (see left).


 We plan to remodel the hall to create a more welcoming environment, and one that leads into a modern, flexible space for our members and visitors.



Although the floorplans are still under discussion and not yet been finalised, we hope to provide a comfortable lounge and members’ area with tea and coffee facilities. The Library is likely to occupy a large space in the centre of the ground floor, with plenty of seating and workspace. Designing a new library space from scratch is an exciting opportunity and the College’s two Librarians, Beverley Berry and Shaun Kennedy, have been visiting library services in other organisations to pick up ideas.


Beverley says: "In the new building we are planning to have more of a 3D Library, with book promotions on free-standing shelves, arranged by subject or decade.  All College publications will be available for reference, and leaflets and reports will be more accessible. We felt that the Information Centre at the Kings Fund Library was a potential model for our services, and the Heritage Centre at the Royal Society of Medicine is a good model for our Heritage and Archives section. Services at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales were also excellent."

We also hope that the the College’s valuable Antiquarian Collection, which contains over 1,000 rare psychiatric books and dissertations (see below), will benefit from its own dedicated space on the ground floor. At the moment the collection is stored in cupboards in a front room at 17 Belgrave Square, and sadly hidden from public view. In the new building, we aim to have a special exhibition space where we can display items of interest from our archives and Antiquarian Collection for everyone to see.

"We plan to have a special exhibition area at 21 Prescot Street, where we can display items of interest from our Antiquarian Collection of over 1,000 rare psychiatric books and dissertations"


Example of dissertation from Antiquarian Collection


The ground floor is also likely to feature a number of meeting rooms of varying sizes, as well as one large room big enough to accommodate our regular Council Meetings and occasional dining.


Do let us know if you have any thoughts about what you would like to see in the 21 Prescot Street members' and Library area – you can email your ideas to the Website Manager, who will be happy to upload them to this blog.

05/02/2013 16:35:43

Taking a tour of the new building

Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Today, staff from Belgrave Square and from Standon House visited 21 Prescot Street for their first glimpse of the new building.


Our archivist, Francis Maunze, explores the new building

They had a tour of all six floors, taking the opportunity to see how the space is laid out and where they will be working after the renovation work is complete.

Our archivist, Francis Maunze, was delighted to find rows of mobile shelving located in the basement of the building - and a quick test (see left) was enough to show they are in good working order.

Currently, at 17 Belgrave Square, we have very limited storage space - and although a dedicated, climate-controlled archive room was built a few years ago, it is already full.  Francis hopes that these existing mobile shelves can be refurbished to provide improved repository space for our extensive archives and records collection.

Work on the building is progressing apace. We are delighted to be working with Watts Group PLC, who have been engaged by the College to manage the project for us. Richard Love is our Project Manager, ably assisted by James Pilborough. Mechanical and electrical surveys have been conducted, and we are planning to commission consultants to advise us on IT solutions and infrastructures.


A New Building Steering Group has been set up to review and oversee the project's progress. Initial floor plans showing the layout of office space, meeting rooms and member facilities have been drawn up, and will be finalised very shortly.


Staff from the Publications Department try out the second floor for size



Staff try out the second floor for size

Thanks to everyone who got in touch about our last blog on the history of the area. Someone rightly observed that we missed out another aspect of the area's history - the infamous Whitechapel murders. The last of the 11 Whitechapel murders, that of 25-year-old Frances Coles, took place on 13 February 1891 and her body was discovered at Swallow Gardens, a passageway running under a railway arch just behind Prescot Street. Today, the railway arches house rows of garages, while the busy DLR line into nearby Tower Gateway station runs along the top.


If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.
22/01/2013 14:12:49

The history of Prescot Street

Thursday, 24 January 2013


In the last blog entry, we promised to share with you the history of our new building – which at first glance appears quite short. Built in 1988, the building is only just celebrating its 25th birthday. But delve a little deeper and we uncover a fascinating past that reveals we are certainly not the first medical establishment to occupy the site.


As London’s population grew in the 18th century, the city expanded rapidly. Once known as Great Prescott Street, Prescot Street was one of the first London streets in which the houses were given numbers instead of names.


In 1741, the single house at Number 21 became the site of the 24-bed London Infirmary – later known as the Royal London Hospital. The Infirmary was funded by wealthy businessmen and philanthropists to care for ‘sick and diseased manufacturers, seamen in the merchant service and their wives and families’ from the East End of London.


According to The Royal London Hospital archives, the house was rented fMagdalen Passage as it looks todayor 24 guineas a year. But soon the Infirmary needed to expand and took out leases on another four adjoining houses. By the mid 1740s, the row of five houses was becoming increasingly run-down and in 1757, just 16 years after it arrived, the Infirmary relocated to a new purpose-built hospital in Mount Field, Whitechapel.


New tenants were sought for the Prescot Street site and, in 1758, the Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes moved in. The hospital took a seven-year lease on the building, pledging ‘to provide for women and girls on the streets a safe, desirable, and happy retreat from their wretched and distressful circumstances'.


A decade later the Magdalen Hospital made plans to move south of the river, and the only reminder of the hospital is the narrow Magdalen Passage which runs down the side of Number 21 (see photo).

"In the 18th century, the Prescot Street area had a shady reputation ... Today, we enjoy the company of altogether more polite neighbours."

Over the years, the houses on the site on 21 Prescot Street received a succession of different occupants, including the National Cigar Makers & Tobacco Workers Union.


In the Blitz, the buildings were badly damaged. They stood derelict until the 1970s, when they were demolished and the current 21 Prescot Street building was erected on the site.


In the 18th century, the Prescot Street area had a shady reputation – notorious for its bawdy brothels and troublesome taverns. Today, we enjoy the company of altogether more polite neighbours. The 5-star Grange Tower Bridge Hotel is directly opposite, while the Premier Inn London City (Tower Hill)  is at Number 24. Just down the road, at Number 9, are based a number of corporate departments of Barts Health NHS Trust.


But don’t despair. For those yearning for a taste of traditional Victorian London, a trip to the historic Princess of Prussia pub at Number 15 may help.

If you would like to post a comment on the Prescot Street blog, please email the Website Manager, who'll be happy to upload it for you.


17/01/2013 15:06:45

Introducing 21 Prescot Street

Thursday, 17 January 2013


Welcome to the 21 Prescot Street blog – a regular update on the building that will become the College’s new headquarters this autumn.


The College has resided at its current HQ, 17 Belgrave Square, since 1974 when the leasehold to the building was purchased for just £725,000. Over the years, the College has expanded its operations so much that we outgrew Belgrave Square – spilling out our exams operations into number 15, and leasing a building in Aldgate to house our Centre for Quality Improvement. With the lease on number 17 due to expire in 2034, last year saw the hunt for new premises begin – with the aim of finding a building large enough to bring all our staff together under one roof.


Prescot Street exterior


After visiting many buildings, College Officers finally alighted on 21 Prescot Street in E1 – a stone’s throw from the city of London.

Boasting an impressive 50,000 sq ft of space spread over six floors, the new building offers all the space we need to provide enhanced facilities for our members, trainees and visitors.


Until the end of 2012, the building was occupied by Santander, one of the world’s largest banks. Walking through the building today, it’s hard to imagine that just a few weeks ago the building was operating as a busy call centre, the floors abuzz with around 600 staff.


There is certainly a lot of work needed to turn this empty shell into a medical royal college fit for the future. That’s why the College is gearing up for an ambitious refurbishment programme, and we’ll use this blog to update you every step of the way.


Much still has to be decided – including the design and layout of a dedicated members’ area and information service on the ground floor. Do let us know if you have any thoughts about what you would like to see in this area – you can share your ideas using the comments form below. 

"A lot of work is needed to turn this empty shell into a medical royal college fit for the future."



21 Prescot Street - ground floor


The 21 Prescot Street site, and the local area, has a fascinating history. Check back soon for our next blog on the history of the road, steeped in tales of taverns and brothels – and a bit of medicine, too...

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About this blog


21 Prescot Street is a regular blog charting the refurbishment of the College's new headquarters, located in London E1, near Tower Hill.

21 Prescot Street


The College bought the freehold of 21 Prescot Street in January 2013, and aims to move in to the building in the autumn.