The IHR Blog |

The crisis of 1926

by

In 1926 the government proposed to sell back to the original vendors, the Bedford trustees, the entire Bloomsbury site which had been set aside for a range of new University of London buildings. The IHR was given notice to quit and a vigorous press campaign followed. The Council of the Historical Association, for example, ‘passed a resolution declaring that the destruction of the Institute of Historical Research by the demolition of its buildings and the dispersal of its library, which is threatened by the decision of the Government to return the Bloomsbury site to the Duke of Bedford, would be a national calamity’ (Daily Telegraph, 2 June 1926). At one stage, the Institute’s Director, A.F. Pollard, admitted that ‘the legal position was practically hopeless. All they could do was to try to bring influence to bear on the Government to approach the Duke to see if he would consider representations on the matter of the Institute … He did not see what they could do if they lost the present building, as the University had not a foot of Land anywhere’ (The Times, 1 June 1926).

The IHR was ultimately reprieved when the University took the decision to purchase the whole site instead. The Birmingham Post (2 February 1927) reported a degree ‘of satisfied relief’ in the IHR’s annual report and noted that ‘The danger has not been without compensations. It has drawn from historians at home and abroad ready testimony to the value of the work the Institute has done, and the necessity for its continuance’.