British expats in Bangkok furious over demolition of historic Thailand embassy

Published:  14 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Thailand, England
The imposing architectural treasure which was once the British Embassy in Thailand is now a heap of rubble after its demolition to make way for yet another Bangkok shopping mall.

UK expats living and working in Thailand's capital city reacted negatively to the announcement that their ambassadorial representation in Thailand was to be downgraded and its landmark embassy building sold off, but no-one at the time mentioned its eventual fate – to be trashed in order to make way for yet another shopping mall. Once described by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office as ‘one of Britain’s most spectacular overseas properties’, the imposing building and its land was sold last year for £426 million, a deal described by the Home Office as the largest in the history of Bangkok.

Before its total destruction, the embassy held the Ambassadorial residence, staff living quarters, offices, a swimming pool, lush tropical gardens and tennis courts. As well as the mansion itself, two historical buildings on the site were also trashed as they ‘interfered’ with plans for the site. When contacted about their destruction, the Thai Department of Fine Art’s reply was that, as the buildings were not listed, they could do whatever they wanted with them.

Also under threat were two historic monuments, with the first a tribute to Britons living in Thailand who’d died during WWI and the second a large bronze statue of Queen Victoria. The monument has been saved and is now reconstructed at the British Club, but the proposed fate of Queen Victoria is to be used as a centrepiece in the planned shopping mall, even although expats from the British Club pointed out the bronze statue had been paid for by their founder members.

Infuriated expats are may well be wondering what the Thai government would have done if one of their historic buildings and its contents had been treated in a similar manner, especially if a statue of a highly-respected and much-loved monarch had been used as a display in a shopping mall. As for the Embassy’s fate, one of its officials is bleating about its possible reconstruction stone by stone in another area by its new owners, and Boris Johnson is all in favour of its ultra-modern replacement in an anonymous downtown office block.
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