Prime minster George of Ten Downing Street

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Bomb damage had worsened existing structural problems: the building was suffering from subsidence, sloping walls, twisting door frames and an enormous annual repair bill.

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The Ministry of Works carried out a survey in into the state of the structure. The report bounced from Winston Churchill to to Anthony Eden to to Harold Macmillan to as one Prime Minister followed the other.

Finally, a committee set up by Macmillan concluded that drastic action was required before the building fell or burnt down. The committee put forward a range of options, including the complete demolition of Number 10, 11 and 12 and their replacement with a new building.

That idea was rejected and it was decided that Number 12 should be rebuilt, and Numbers 10 and 11 should be strengthened and their historic features preserved. It ended up taking a year longer than planned and costing double the original estimate. The foundations proved to be so rotten that concrete underpinning was required on a massive scale.


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Number 10 was completely gutted. Walls, floors and even the columns in the Cabinet Room and Pillared Room proved to be rotten and had to be replaced. New features were added too, including a room facing onto Downing Street and a veranda at Number 11 for the Chancellor.

The blackened colour was a product of two centuries of severe pollution. To keep the familiar appearance, the newly cleaned yellow bricks were painted black to match their previous colour. Erith's work was completed in , but not long afterwards, dry rot became apparent and further repairs had to be undertaken. Margaret Thatcher to appointed architect Quinlan Terry to refurbish the state drawing rooms at the end of the s.

By , it was clear that the Downing Street complex was no longer able to support the business of the Prime Minister's Office reliably.

Take a rare glimpse inside 10 Downing Street

Independent surveys established that the building was no longer weather-tight, the heating system was failing, and the information and communications technology ICT network was at the limits of its operation. Power outages and water leaks were frequent occurrences and impacted significantly on the day-to-day operation of the Prime Minister's Office. In addition to deterioration through age, pressures on the buildings had increased dramatically over recent years, through an increase in occupancy stable at around 50 for many years to around In , Prime Minister Tony Blair to authorised a new programme of improvements, with the building remaining operational throughout.

Work was launched to address structural failure, renew the infrastructure, improve access and enhance the building's sustainability.


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  7. Structural issues were among the first to be tackled, and a phased exterior repair project was launched to address failing lead guttering, cracking brickwork and other structural issues. The distinctive black colourwash was also renewed, as it had faded away in many areas to reveal the yellow brickwork beneath. All work was carried out in consultation with English Heritage.

    Other projects have been undertaken to renew the building's ageing infrastructure and to replace many of the building's key services, including heating, fire protection and electrical power distribution.

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    Rainwater harvesting was introduced in , providing a sustainable source of water for the garden. Accessibility for disabled visitors has been significantly improved through the introduction of ramps and modernisation of lifts. Many of the public areas of the building have also been restored, including the front entrance hall, the state and small dining rooms and the study. It think [the cost rises] show what is wrong with this country.

    Papers reveal how close Downing Street came to being demolished - The Scotsman

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