Thursday, 15 February 2018


Every Fascist leader needs a downtown HQ in their favourite colour(1). Herr Hitler started the trend with his infamous "Brown House" in Munich:

The Brown House, Munich
only to be quickly copied by Sir Oswald Mosley with his London "Black House", complete with Blackshirt "sentries" :

The BUF "Black House" situated at the Sloane Square end of the Kings Road
while Hereford's own Captain Arrowsmith, never one to miss a trend, soon requisitioned his own HQ in Central Hereford, the well known Residence Hotel:
The Residence Hotel before the VBCW, now requisitioned by the BUF.
Situated on the corner of Broad Street and King Street, both hard by the County Library and Museum and opposite the Cathedral Precinct itself, Hereford's own "Black House" soon acquired a notorious reputation, not only as Captain Arrowsmith's luxurious living quarters, but also as HQ of his plain-clothed "Special Investigation Directorate" (with accompanying heavily padded "interrogation suites" in the cellars):

The original view of the Cathedral from Captain Arrowsmith's office windows in the Hereford "Black House",
 formerly the Residence Hotel.

The reverse view. King Street can be seen on the left of the photograph, while the County
Library and Museum can be seen on the right.
With his ambitious plans to convert the now disused Cathedral(2) into a "People's Palace" (devoted to displays of Hereford's agricultural tradition and growing arms industries, together with his own glorification), Captain Arrowsmith moved quickly to improve his view, dynamiting the terrace of shops and houses that stood between his office windows and the Cathedral itself.
Fascist Town Planning  in action : the Terrace is no more.  Although by no means the only example of his notoriously destructive attitude to architecture, some eighty years on, locals still say that the open approach to
 Hereford Cathedral remains Captain Arrowsmith's chief legacy in the City.
Shortly after the completion of these works of "improvement", however, Captain Arrowsmith abruptly absented himself from his new "Black House". Quite why he chose to do so remains, to historians, one of the enduring mysteries of Hereford's VBCW. The traditional view, namely that Arrowsmith enriched himself at the Bank of England's expense, causing it's collapse and a hasty flight abroad for Hereford's fascist leader, had been subject to sharp criticism in both fact and fiction from the so-called "revisionist school" (see e,g, - "Arrowsmith : A Man Maligned?" ed. Putin & Trump, Pan Books [paperback, remaindered] "My Perfick Country Captain" ed Cartland, Mills&Boon). What is known, of course, is that the worldwide "Arrowsmith Hunt" became one of the great newspaper features of 1938.....


(1). That said - neither Mussolini nor Franco appear to have indulged. Perhaps their many palazzos proved sufficient for their needs.

(2). The Bishop of Hereford fell into captivity at the outbreak of the Hereford VBCW. The Dean & Chapter sought sanctuary in Ludlow. With the Government at war with the Anglicans (amongst many others), the Cathedral has been declared "closed for the duration" as a place of worship. 

(3).  Future timeline note..Modern day visitors to Hereford will search in vain for the Residence Hotel. In circumstances to be detailed in future posts, the building "met its end" before the conclusion of the VBCW, and the site is now occupied by a hastily built post war office block. Many thanks to the editor of "Hereford VBCW : Then and Now" for identifying the site and providing this up to date comparison image:

The site of the Residence Hotel as redeveloped. The City Library & Museum still stands in the centre of
this photograph, but substantial post VBCW development has taken place on either side. Still on the corner of
Broad Street and King Street, the place of the former "BUF Black House" has  now been taken by a rather
unprepossessing  and flat roofed office and shop complex. Nothing now remains to remind Herefordians
of Captain Arrowsmith's brief "reign" within their city. 

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