View all newsletters
Have the short, sharp Spear's newsletter delivered to your inbox each week
  1. Wealth
May 1, 2013

Adam Dant enters the battle to save the Marquis of Lansdowne from the Geffrye Museum

By Spear's

The pomposity, the arrogance of museum director David Dewing is astonishing. First, there’s the mere phrase, ‘the Labouring Classes’, as de-haut-en-bas as you can imagine

There was a storm in an antique teacup recently when the director of the Geffrye Museum, a Shoreditch institution which recreates the living rooms of the middle classes through the ages, justified the demolition of a 19th century pub to make way for an expansion of his museum thus: ‘I have no interest in the culture of the Labouring Classes.’ Unsurprisingly, this did not go down well, provoking several on Twitter, including me:

Content from our partners
How Flygreen is ascending into the future of private aviation
Stoneweg, Icona, and CBH Strengthen Partnership with Cromwell Acquisition, Adding €4 Billion AUM to Stoneweg
Why investors should consider investing in nature

The Marquis of Lansdowne, for the record, was built in 1839 and is ‘the only old building left on Cremer Street’. ‘It contains the history of the people who have been here for the last two centuries, their culture, their society and their industry,’ writes the respected Spitalfields Life blogger. It could certainly do with restoring to its former glory – no-one is saying it’s in pristine condition – but that’s no reason simply to replace it with a concrete box.

Pompous and arrogant

The pomposity, the arrogance of museum director David Dewing is astonishing. First, there’s the mere phrase, ‘the Labouring Classes’, as de-haut-en-bas as you can imagine.

Second, there’s the complete hypocrisy of wanting to protect one part of local history and being quite happy to demolish another, all for a shiny David Chipperfield building.

Now local artist – and long-time Spear’s cover artistAdam Dant has struck back. His new drawing In Celebration of the Culture of the Labouring Classes, printed on a rather smart tea towel, is ‘a satire fashioned in the National Trust style, upon our national obsession with class stereotypes, and printed to the highest standards on linen by craftsmen in Bethnal Green’.

By playing with the patronising, Daily-Mail-ish perceptions of the ‘Labouring Classes’ – all they care about is darts, bulldogs and stealing – Adam turns fire back on David Dewing: he takes the piss out of his pretensions in a style familiar from his giftshop.


It’s also worth reading Spitalfields Life’s latest post, because today is D-Day for the Marquis of Lansdowne: the Hackney Council Planning Committee is meeting at 6.30pm. As the author puts it, ‘How can it be that a museum which exists to protect our heritage wants to use public funds to destroy an historic building?’

And more: ‘David Dewing’s avowed concern is to furnish a fancy concrete box as a terrace where visitors to his new restaurant can sip a glass of chardonnay, he shudders at the very thought of restoring an East End pub and serving pints.’

David Dewing has proved himself a philistine, a hypocrite and a snob; let’s hope that Hackney Council see through him to the real history of Hackney.

You can buy Adam’s tea towel (in a limited edition of 100) for £10 here

Read more from Josh Spero


Don’t miss out on the best of Spear’s articles – sign up to the Spear’s weekly newsletter


Select and enter your email address The short, sharp email newsletter from Spear’s
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network