Charles Brooking


Major Rescue, Coutts Bank, London

Charles Brooking is a fascinating and knowledgeable collector of architectural detail, The Brooking Collection of Architectural Detail, and as Surveyors we find his lifelong quest to collect British building details unique, informative and valuable and a collection that must be kept intact for years to come. If you need help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, dilapidations or any other property matters please free phone 0800 298 5424.

The following is one of a series of interviews with Charles Brooking, Historic and Listed Buildings Detail Expert, The Brooking Collection of Architectural Detail and a Surveyor where we have recorded his comments and various aspects that have affected windows and doors and other collectibles. The interviews outline how his collection started and built over the years and gives an insight into the amazing architectural features housed in his fine collection.

Surveyor: Did you rescue anything from the Coutts Bank site?

Charles Brooking : Yes. Windows, doors, fire grates, probably about twenty and a van full! It was a big deal because I was bringing it home and I remember the nervousness of bringing it to the house or back to the garage and trying to disguise it!


My parents would say that I was filling the place up again. They would tell me that you've got to stop this collecting, it can't go on you know it's not reasonable! They would retort that it's no museum, no one would be interested in this rubbish all of these windows and doors, nobody is interested in that. You want to go for something sensible, worth some money. They wanted me to sell it all and perhaps keep the odd piece of coloured glass, as they felt I was going too far. They knew I would not listen urging me to come in for a cup of tea and watch something sensible like Starsky and Hutch, as most young men watch that sort of thing rather than wind up back with all this Victorian rubbish.

That's the sort of thing that went on and one was very alone.


Rescue defined

Charles Brooking defines a rescue as saving a window or door or staircase that would be doomed.

Charles Brooking was a pioneer in the rescue of architectural detailing as many years ago it was very much considered a strange and an unusual past time to want to rescue old parts of buildings with everything new and shiny being so important.

Surveyor: Was there a Georgian society back then?

Charles Brooking : Georgian group, Victorian Society, SPAB and SAVE was just beginning. The architect Dan Cruikshank was just beginning his campaigns and the Architects Journal Salvo and he was beginning to fight for the Spitalfields Houses.

The Georgian Group

The Georgian Group is a charity dedicated to protecting and conversing Georgian buildings, monuments, parks and gardens.

Website: GeorgianGroup.Org.UK


The Victorian Society

The Victorian Society was founded in 1958 by Anne, Lady Rosse and a group of like minded friends to preserve Victorian architecture and art with poet John Betjeman its first secretary. During the society's early years there was a dislike for Victorian things with many Victorian buildings being demolished with the Victorian Society campaigning to keep threatened buildings.

The Victorian Society also campaigns to keep Edwardian buildings from destruction or disfigurement and helps to highlight interest in this era of building as well as educate owners how to look after them and how to adapt them if necessary.



SPAB is the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings formed back in 1877 by William Morris and other renowned members of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood to protect historic buildings. SPAB is concerned when historic buildings are restored or repaired as poor work can be destructive promoting skilful repair. The manifesto is to protect all times and styles of buildings with the society giving advice and training on all aspects of repair and maintenance for old buildings.


Website: SPAB.Org.UK

SAVE Britain 's Heritage

Created in 1975 by a group wishing to campaign publically for historic buildings that were in danger including architects, historians, planners and journalists. SAVE is an influential conservation group campaigning to save buildings as risk including railway stations, redundant churches and chapels, military buildings, cottages, town halls, country houses etc.

SAVE is sympathetic to the possibilities of using historic buildings for alternative uses often being at the forefront of giving buildings under threat a new lease of life.

The President of SAVE is Marcus Binney CBE the architectural historian and author.

Website: SaveBritainsHeritage.Org


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