It is with a sense of some apprehension that any cricket lover worldwide should approach the news that Lord’s are to develop the historic home of the game in London’s St John’s Wood.
What should send shivers down the spine is the phrase “masterplan” used by the MCC – those typical stiff-lipped Poms who wear those silly cheese and tomato blazers and hatbands on their battered panamas – who own the venerable area and voted this week for a £194 million upgrade funded by the MCC’s own resources, that will expand the overall capacity to around 32 000.
Thankfully, the idea of hiving off part of the Nursery Ground to build two blocks of flats was given the deep six.
Can you imagine two tower blocks – and they would have to be tall for the developer to turn a profit in one of the most desired areas of London – in the middle of Lord’s? No way.
At least the members – and a staggering 90.5% of them voted for the upgrade – had the sense to turn that down, though you must feel that a sense of the ground being invaded by outsiders had far more to do with the latter decision than any real reliance on maintaining the overall aesthetics of the place.
If you don’t swallow that, take another look at the visual monstrosity that is the new media centre commissioned in time for the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
On the inside it is modern and comfortable and extremely functional. But from the outside, the edifice perched incongruously between the Warner and Compton stands looks uncannily like the world’s largest, non-operative bedside alarm clock.
It is an eyesore that should never have been allowed in a ground with a 203-year history. Billed as the world’s first all-aluminium, semi-monocoque building in the world, it was built and fitted out in two boatyards, using boat-building technology.
The centre stands 15m above the ground and its sole support comes from the structure around its two lift shafts— it is about the same height as the Pavilion directly opposite it on the other side of the ground.
It might be functional even at a ground renowned for odd quirks – the severe slope of the pitch being just one of these – but what Lord’s needs is some restraint from the architects.