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London Open House attracts record number of visitors

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Attendances at last weekend's London Open House reached half a million, according to preliminary assessments. 'We feel that we doubled the number of visits across the board compared to last year,' said projects director Victoria Thornton. In 1997 there were 250,000 visits to buildings.

Among the most popular sites were St Pancras Chambers, with 6059 visitors; the Lloyds building, with more than 8000; and the Prudential Assurance building, with 4000. Nearly 2000 went to the Imagination building, and more than 600 to the Great Court at the British Museum. Also popular were private houses: the Orleston Mews houses for Peter St John and Marcus Lee in Islington; Wendy da Silva and Stephen Chance's Venus House, and Paxton Locher's house in Clerkenwell. The latter was only open on Saturday morning and, with queues snaking around the block, 'we had to take people through faster and faster', said Heidi Locher.

Richard Burton's house in Camden, which formed part of the passport scheme for children, was open all day Saturday and had more than 650 visitors. 'It was great,' said Burton; 'everybody was so interested.'

Thornton was delighted by the level of public interest. She said: 'There is more and more encouragement from people being more open to ideas and suggestions.'

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