A resident in Fitzrovia is leading a campaign to create a statue of an 18th century social reformer to be placed outside a block of flats named after him.

Oil painting of Thomas Holcroft
Thomas Holcroft by John Opie oil on canvas, circa 1804. NPG 512, National Portrait Gallery, London.

Denise Julien wants to see a likeness of Thomas Holcroft outside the Holcroft Court housing estate.

She told Fitzrovia News: “I want to ask postgraduate art students to make the statue based on the only existing painting of him and research the attire of the age to complete the body.”

The statue would go on permanent display outside the nursery on Carburton Street. “It would greatly improve the appearance of Holcroft Court,” she says.

Thomas Holcroft (1745-1809) was born in London and came to live in Clipstone Street in 1778. He worked as a stable boy, shoemaker, and tutor before achieving fame as an actor, playwright and poet.

A political radical and friend of Thomas Paine and William Godwin, he championed the cause of the poor, and his activities with the Society of Constitutional Reform led to his arrest in 1794 on a charge of treason. Although he was later acquitted his brief imprisonment ended his career and left him in poverty. His daughter Fanny Holcroft wrote the anti-slavery poem “The Negro”.

The Holcroft Court housing estate was designed by Micheal Gold for Frederick MacManus and Partners and built between 1966 and 1971 as part of an urban renewal scheme that replaced slum housing in what was the northern part of Hanson Street. Originally intended as a private housing development it was later bought by Westminster City Council. Today it is home to around 800 residents who are a mix of tenants and leaseholders.

“Darren of Brodies on Cleveland Street has very kindly offered to make the plaque for the statue. I would like to invite other business to meet with me for further input, to make this a Fitzrovia community project.” Contact: denise.julien@btinternet.com