From the archive: May 6, 1865
The Solicitors' Journal - May 6, 1865
At length the profession will be gratified by the announcement that the Courts of Justice Building Bill, and the Courts of Justice Concentration (Site) Bill, have passed through Committee of the House of Lords and may be considered as law.
The opposition, which has for so many years stood in the way of the much needed improvement which this legislation will effect, has gradually dwindled down till, from being formidable, it has become inappreciable, and the opponents of the measure have been compelled to content themselves with expressing their dissentient opinions by way of protest, without attempting, except at the last stage, a division in either House.
The result of that solitary division, the details of which will be found in our Parliamentary columns, has been conclusive in favour of the scheme. And now that the matter has proceeded thus far, the site having been decided on and the ways and means provided, we may venture to express a hope that immediate steps will be taken for the commencement of this great work. Dimidium facti qui coepit habet.
Although nothing ought to be done hurriedly, it cannot be forgotten that the evils to be remedied are existing and increasing day by day, and that the construction of a building of the magnitude required must necessarily be a slow operation, and will probably occupy several years in its completion. And if a space of five years (by no means too much time) is to be taken up in providing this accommodation, it is desirable to look ahead a little further still and to estimate what will be the probable wants of the country, existing and prospective, at the end of that five years.
All the judges and officers of the several courts have, we understand, been applied to for estimates of the space they will require, and the majority, if not all, have returned answers. These replies, together with all the other requisite information, should be submitted to a proper working committee for immediate consideration and report. Bis dat qui cito dat.
We have no pet plan of our own to advance, but desire to call attention to the consideration that if the building is commenced on too narrow a scale it will be difficult to add to it after completion, and expensive to do so during its erection. Another part of the scheme, and a very essential part, is the means of approach.
At present the only leading thoroughfare which would afford suitable access for the public is the Strand, a street already liable to be blocked by the immense amount of traffic passing through it, and, although, judging from appearances, one might be led to suppose there is a present intention to widen Carey-street at the Chancery-lane end, there is nothing, that we know of, to give us any security that even that little benefit will be finally secured, and such as it is, it will be rendered almost useless by the narrowness of Chancery-lane.
A thoroughfare through Lincoln's-inn-fields from the north is imperatively called for, and this can, we think, be most conveniently made through one of the turnstiles. This is a very essential part of the scheme, and only second in importance to the plan of the building itself.
On the other hand the requirements of the profession must not be overlooked, and for their benefit there ought to be easy means of access for foot passengers from north and south: northward from Bedford-row, Gray's-inn, Chancery-lane, Lincoln's-inn-fields, and Lincoln's-inn; and southwards, from the Temple, Somerset House, and its adjuncts.
The necessity of crossing the great thoroughfares of Holborn and the Strand will be found a serious drawback in this point of view, and we trust that the commissioners will take care, whatever they may do with Carey-street and Serle-street, not to increase this difficulty without providing a remedy.