A Survey of London – Between the Commons

Victorian suburban housing is one of the defining elements of Battersea’s character and nowhere is it found in a greater concentration than in the 280 acres covered by this chapter. From Bolingbroke Grove on the edge of Wandsworth Common, row after row of terraced houses, with a few detached and semi-detached neighbours, advance downhill to Northcote Road and then climb again towards Clapham Common where they are joined by reinforcements from the early years of the twentieth century. Occasionally a church or board school, or shopfronts break the ranks, sometimes small pockets of post-war rebuilding; but nonetheless this vast area is overwhelmingly residential, and overwhelmingly Victorian–Edwardian.

This dramatic and intensive growth began in the 1850s and 60s, the regular terraces supplanting an older, gentler landscape of gentlemen’s estates and villas that had prospered here for a hundred years . Within barely sixty years all but a handful of the estates had been redeveloped, until by the 1920s the district was almost entirely built over.

None of this post-1850s reconstruction was the work of indigenous landowners. Rather, the early stages were dominated by two Victorian freehold land companies, later phases by individual builder-developers and speculators, buying up the old villas as their residents died or left. Further sales brought greater subdivision to an already fragmented pattern of landownership, and so development was often bitty and disjointed.

What emerged was a large new dormitory of middle-class housing—the biggest in Battersea—but within its apparent homogeneity was much diversity in fabric and social character. The only discernible pattern was for bigger detached and semi-detached houses to be built early on, to the south and west, particularly along Bolingbroke Grove and in and around Nightingale Lane, which for a time held on to the area’s upper middle-class elite. Successful merchants and stockbrokers took to these houses that were still only a carriage or coach-ride from their place of work. Civil servants, bank clerks, legal clerks—clerks of every kind—brought their families and domestic servants to the more modest streets of housing laid out further into the hinterland in the 1880s and 90s. And as the century closed, the grids of tighter-packed terraces that sprang up towards Clapham Common added more tradespeople and others of the lower middle-classes to the mix.

As elsewhere in South London, decline set in either side of the Second World War, when the population contained a large proportion of poor but decent working-class tenants. Take for example Fred and Nellie Taylor, a plumber and factory girl living at 138 Bennerley Road, who during the war were offered the freehold to their house by their landlord for £220, a price well beyond their means.

Being far removed from Battersea’s industrial zone,  the area survived the war and its aftermath fairly intact, and by the 1970s the manageable size and affordability of its houses was tempting young married middle-class couples away from their flats in other parts of south-west London. Since then the trickle has become a flood and the area has undergone comprehensive gentrification. Its resident population today is visibly white, youthful and affluent, and consumption is conspicuous in the many cafés, bars and restaurants.

This chapter considers the Victorian and later speculative housing in topographical sections; the few estates of post-war public housing are grouped together and dealt with separately at the end.

Chatham Road

Chatham Road was where Victorian development between the commons began in the mid 1850s. It was in many respects an anomaly, an isolated venture by a land company before the railways had fully exerted their grip on Battersea and pulled lower middle-class London this far south-west. Its houses were small in size and low in cost.

The opportunity arose in 1852 with the death of Elizabeth Hoper,
owner of the middle of the Five Houses of Bolingbroke Grove (page ##), and
its sale by her relatives the following year. The new owner was the National
Freehold Land Society (NFLS), the most active of such societies south of the
Thames, whose purpose was to buy land for resale in small freeholds which
would guarantee purchasers the right to vote. By the late 1850s its landdealings
were in the hands of a specially formed subsidiary, the British Land
Company, with the NFLS supplying loans. As the laws changed and the
franchise widened, so the two organizations reverted to straightforward
property investment and finance.3
It is likely that the road was laid out by the NFLS before 1855 as neither
its name nor route was approved by the post-1855 authorities. Building began
in 1857 and continued at a slow but steady pace throughout the late 1850s and
60s, with some thirty-seven houses completed by 1861, most of them on the
north side, rising to about seventy by 1871.

To a large degree Chatham Road followed the freehold land
movement’s preferred model. Many early inhabitants bought small
individual plots and built single houses (or engaged tradesmen to do so for
them). As a result, owner-occupation was unusually high for this period and
class of housing. But speculation was not lacking, some developers acquiring
several plots and erecting houses for sale or to let. Charles Dungate, a
Clapham grocer, for example, built several houses on the north side of
Chatham Road and around the corner in a narrow side-street called Sydney
Court or Place (later widened to become part of Northcote Road); and
similarly Charles Stonell, a coal contractor, in 1866–7 built Stonell’s Place: five
houses on the south side, now 116–124 Chatham Road, and a further ten
round the corner in a narrow cul-de-sac, now 6–15 Stonell’s Road (Ill. 18.2, 3).5
Miss Hoper’s villa survived for a time beside the emerging new street,
latterly in the occupation and ownership of James Lord, barrister. By 1864
Lord, with the help of the auctioneer and surveyor George Todd, had
demolished it and engaged a builder to erect new houses. In 1866 Lord
bought another 3½ acres at this west end of the estate from the NFLS, for
which Todd prepared plans of new streets and began letting plots, but all
Lord’s builders went bankrupt, leaving house-carcasses unfinished, and by
1871 Lord himself had gone into liquidation (see also page ##). Some of his
houses were completed by others, but much of his land was acquired by the
Rev. J. Erskine Clarke for St Michael’s Church and Schools (1880–1), replacing
a temporary iron structure of 1872 (vol. 49).6 Clarke said that Lord had
mistakenly embarked on speculative building ‘before the district was ripe for
it’, whilst Todd thought his habit of charging large ground rents and high
interest rates for advances had contributed to his builders’ bankruptcies. Both
were probably correct, though Lord undoubtedly also suffered from the
dramatic decline in the building cycle at the time. A terrace of plain red-brick
houses at 157–173 Northcote Road, date from this period of Lord’s
involvement.

There was very little that was metropolitan about Chatham Road in its
early days. Rather it was a proto-suburban hamlet of mostly two-storey,
simple brick cottages on narrow plots, set amid empty fields. It was also a
working community, with shops, bakeries, smithies, laundries, beer-houses,
carpenters’ and builders’ yards. Several houses had side-passages or cartways
under their first-floor rooms leading to rear yards and outhouses; two of the
latter type survive at Nos 84 & 86, of c.1863–4. Others followed another
characteristic freehold land movement model in being set well back from the
road towards the rear of the plots, behind long gardens. Early residents
suggest a bucolic existence, with carpenters, agricultural labourers, gardeners,
even cow-keepers—precisely the type of semi-rural working people among
whom the NFLS hoped to spread the franchise.

More houses came in the 1870s–80s, including two new streets as
intended and possibly partly begun by Lord and Todd in the 1860s: Swaby
Road (later incorporated as part of Northcote Road), running south to the
estate boundary; and Darley Road (since obliterated), another east–west route
linking Swaby Road with Bolingbroke Grove. Henry B. Mitchell, surveyor to
the British Land Company, supervised the laying out of roads and sewers,
and several builders then went to work on the housing. Lord returned to
build more houses in Chatham Road and Bolingbroke Grove (e.g. Nos 50–55)
in the 1870s, and was also involved in the later stages of Darley Road’s
development in the 1880s.

By that time the area had its own factory (built c.1864 at the corner of
what became Webb’s Road by George Stiff as the printing works for his
magazine, The London Reader); an Anglican church (St Michael’s); an
independent chapel (built by the Rev. Spurgeon); several small shops; and
half-a-dozen public houses and beer-shops. The Bolingbroke Arms at 17
Chatham Road (later 2 Cobham Close, demolished) was the first, built in 1855 by John Stapleton, a Bedfordshire carpenter, and later extended by him into
three adjoining cottages. Today the only old pub left is the Eagle Tavern at
104–106 Chatham Road, rebuilt in 1890 by Holloway Brothers to designs by
Karslake & Mortimer.

Residents by then were firmly rooted in the capital’s low-grade service
sector, with labourers, laundresses and charwomen to the fore. Charles
Booth’s investigators found Chatham Road to be the only ‘poor’ road in an
‘otherwise well-to-do district’. Many houses were already in a bad condition
and readily dispensable. Several were demolished in the 1890s when Sydney
Place was widened to become part of Northcote Road, which was being
extended south through the adjoining estate; others on the north-west side of
the road came down for a new LCC fire station, erected in 1906.
Although there was bomb damage in Chatham Road it was not this but
general decline that made it the focus of the only substantial tranche of postwar
slum clearance between the commons. Cottages on its north-east side and
virtually all of Chatham and Darley Roads west of Northcote Road were
swept away for new housing developments.

Auckland and Buckmaster Roads

After Chatham Road, the next area of house-building was on Battersea Rise,
on land formerly belonging to the Bolingbroke Grove House estate, broken up
and sold at auction in 1858.12 Battersea Vestry acquired 8¼ acres at the corner
with Bolingbroke Grove for a parochial burial ground, which came into use in
1860 as St Mary’s Cemetery (vol. 49). By 1863 land to its east had been
purchased by Christopher William Todd for development with three short
rows of shops and houses on Battersea Rise, and three residential streets to
their south: Middleton (now Buckmaster) and Auckland Roads, both running
north–south, and Pelling Road running east–west at their base, along the
cemetery boundary. Todd later abandoned this last road, leaving only a 20ftwide
passage in its place as a link between the two other streets, which were
extended.

Work began in 1865, and then only on the main-road houses and shops
(Hopefield Terrace and Villas): of these, nine survive at 133–143 & 145–149
Battersea Rise. It was not until c.1867, after the change of plan, that houses
began to go up in the new streets. Middleton Road was completed c.1871,
Auckland Road by c.1873. Most prominent of several builders at work was
John Lane of Peckham, who also built The Invitation, Auckland Road’s oldfashioned
brick and stucco pub, of c.1868–70.14
These were simple, cheaply built terraces, of two storeys in Middleton
Road, with double-height canted bays, generally without basements. The
addition of basements and attics gave some Auckland Road houses four
stories, but otherwise they were similar. Auckland Road’s west side has the
greatest visual impact, with regular two-bay frontages and a roofline
punctuated by a long row of gabled attic storeys (Ill. 18.5). Middleton Road
was renamed in 1937 after J. C. Buckmaster, the prominent local resident who
campaigned tirelessly for the preservation of Wandsworth Common, and
ironically was highly critical of Todd’s development at Chivalry Road
(below).
Of early residents, about half could afford a live-in domestic servant.
Thomas Crapper, the sanitary engineer, and his wife Maria were the first
occupants of 1 Middleton (Buckmaster) Road c.1867–74. His family owned
most of the houses on the east side and were responsible for the construction
in 1873–4 of the superior-looking Italianate villas at Nos 8–10 (St Mark’s
Villas), with bowed ground-floor windows. John Cazenove, the political economist and elder brother of the stockbroker and philanthropist Philip
Cazenove, lived at 13 Middleton Road, where he died in 1879.15
For the Auckland Road Estate, see page ##.

Chivalry Road area

Although not strictly located between the commons, this area is included here
as it forms part of the same story. C. W. Todd was again the chief developer,
acquiring the land at auction sales in 1863 and 1867 from the London Brighton
& South Coast Railway Company, whose New Wandsworth railway station
and coal depot stood at the north end of Wandsworth Common. Within a
month or two the builder Robert Hewitt had agreed to take land facing
Battersea Rise and had begun excavations.16
But local inhabitants, led by J. C. Buckmaster, balked at the idea of
common land being let for building. Meetings were held, Buckmaster on one
occasion addressing a crowd estimated at 4–5,000. Handbills and posters
decried the ‘filching’ and reselling of the common ‘at enormous profit’,
proclaiming ‘Cursed is he who removeth his neighbour’s Landmark’, before
urging local men to tear down Todd’s fences. In the end violence was
avoided, though Buckmaster himself was summoned to court in 1869 for
damaging Todd’s property; the case was dismissed. Hewitt seems to have
worked on regardless, finishing his plain three-storey houses and shops, now
153–167 Battersea Rise, around 1868–9.17
The protests may have delayed Todd’s development. Most of the
houses on Chivalry Road and the west side of Bolingbroke Grove date from
the 1870s, 1880s or later, the row at 1–4 Chivalry Road being the first built, in
1872–4. The biggest builders were Robert Dootson of Middleton Road, who
erected the fourteen two-storey houses with attics and basements at 5–18
Chivalry Road (Dootson’s Terrace, 1877–8); and Stephen Martin of Hackney,
with the nineteen smaller terraced cottages at 107–116 Bolingbroke Grove and
20–28 Chivalry Road (1882–4).18
Coal merchants and railway workers naturally found this a convenient
spot to live. Late nineteenth-century residents also included foremen,
bricklayers, shop assistants and junior clerks; servants were rare but not
unknown, and boarders popular. A few bigger and better houses went up at
the bottom end of Chivalry Road, facing the common, and round the corner in
Bolingbroke Grove, where Nos 103–106, of the late 1870s and 80s, enjoyed
long gardens reaching back to Chivalry Road.

In 1901–2 two blocks of red-brick flats were built at 116 & 117 Bolingroke Grove by Boynton, Pegram & Buckmaster, valuers and estate agents of Waltham Green. Quaintly eclectic and naively proportioned, these stunted versions of West End mansion flats were the work of the locally based architect Herbert Bignold. There were four apartments per block, each with three rooms, kitchen, scullery, bathroom and WC.

A synagogue, later the South West London Synagogue, was founded in 1915 at 104 Bolingbroke Grove, and greatly extended in 1927 when a purpose-built synagogue was erected on the vacant plot to its rear, facing Chivalry Road (designed by Charles Living junior of Stratford). The house then became a small hall. The synagogue closed in 1997 and has since been converted to flats. Several new buildings have been erected in the area in recent years, but the biggest change has been the development by Fairview Homes in the 1980s of the Arundel Close estate on the site of the defunct railway goods station, on the west side of Chivalry Road.

Northcote Road and vicinity

The area south of Battersea Rise centred on Northcote Road lies at the core of modern, upwardly mobile, child-rearing south Battersea. This is ‘Nappy Valley’, where the plentiful boutiques, restaurants and cafés cater as much for the booming infant population as for their affluent parents. Once part of an estate attached to Bolingbroke Grove House, on the site of the former Bolingbroke Hospital, it comprises about thirty-five acres bordering Wandsworth Common and is almost a suburb in itself. It was developed in phases, mostly in the 1870s–90s, under one of the freehold land societies with nigh on 600 houses, as well as shops, churches and schools.

It was the Conservative Land Society (CLS) which in 1868 acquired the undeveloped remnant of the Bolingbroke Grove House estate from Henry Wheeler, its last private owner. The CLS had been active in north Battersea since the 1850s, buying estates to increase Tory support among the working classes by selling small freehold plots for house-building that gave owners the right to vote. However, by the time the society offered the first 113 plots for sale on its Bolingbroke Park estate, as it became known, this political incentive had receded. Thenceforth the CLS and its subsidiary the United Land Company were fundamentally speculative land agents and developers, and it was in that spirit that they went about their business here.

The street layout for the first phase was the work of the society’s Glaswegian surveyor James Wylson.

He devised a simple rectilinear grid of mostly east–west streets (Abyssinia, Cairns, Shelgate, Mallinson, Bennerley and Salcott Roads), many of them running uphill either side of a central north–south spine road (Northcote Road) built over the Falcon brook. (This put Northcote Road in a similar line to the two side-streets, Sydney Place and Swaby Road, then being built on the Chatham Road estate to the south, which
enabled them to be joined together later as a single main road.) Mallinson, Bennerley and Salcott were the longest, running all the way from Wandsworth Common to the estate’s eastern boundary at Mud or Pope’s
Lane, now Webb’s Road. (These three roads, as well as Shelgate Road and the later Wakehurst Road, were to be extended beyond Webbs Road as part of the development of the adjoining West Side estate in the 1880s.)

Construction began in 1868 and continued piecemeal throughout the 1870s and into the 1880s. Most of the houses west of Northcote Road went up c.1869–75, any gaps being filled during the late 1870s—though a few plots, such as 2–4 Shelgate Road, remained undeveloped till the 1890s. A second batch of freeholds came on sale in 1872, a third in 1875, this last group relating to houses east of Northcote Road, which by and large were built in the later 1870s and early 80s.26 By then the population here was making good use of the rail link at Clapham Junction (opened 1863), as well as two new churches—St Mark’s, Battersea Rise, and St Michael’s, Chatham Road.

With the exception of the Northcote Hotel (c.1870) and a few shops, much of the earlier fabric built in Northcote Road in the late 1860s and 70s was, as in the side-streets, residential (e.g. the runs on the west side at Nos 32–40 and 70–86). But as building picked up here and on neighbouring estates, so this road, with its central position in the declivity of the Falcon brook, evolved into the district’s main shopping street. Many houses were converted to shops in the late 1870s and 1880s, and new commercial terraces erected (e.g. Nos 23–31 and 87–99).27 Most shops were small, catering for local domestic needs, especially food and clothing.

Costermongers’ stalls also appeared and eventually blossomed into a full-blown street market. The arrival of banks in the late 1920s added to the high street character: the Midland at No. 10, and the Westminster at Nos 35 & 37, the latter with a classical stone façade.

There is much variety to be found among the first houses built in these streets between 1869 and the mid-1870s. Wylson died in January 1870, when only a few had been begun, and neither he nor his successor, John Ashdown, exercised much control in terms of house size or elevational uniformity. Some of the first houses were tall and urban-looking, usually in an old-fashioned late-Georgian style; others were smaller, in two-storey terraces. Most were built in short runs, few builders taking on more than a handful of  houses at a time, and on the whole decoration was limited. Alfred Heaver’s first Battersea houses, built in 1869–70 at 2–12 Bennerley Road, in partnership with Edward Coates, were of this type, and it is instructive to compare them with those he built seven years later at Nos 58–72, by which time he was acting also as a developer. For by then a distinctive ‘villa’ style had evolved under Ashdown’s surveyorship that was to become the hallmark of the estate and of much of Heaver’s later work from the mid 1870s. This consisted of terraced or semi-detached houses tricked out in a livery of gault brick with banding and arches in a contrasting stock (or sometimes red) brick, interleaved with generous string-course ornaments—studs, nailheads and rosettes. Liberal over-painting has since exaggerated this gingerbread-house effect. (Heaver himself lived for a time at No. 72, which he dubbed ‘The Homeland’, the biggest and most finely detailed house in the row.)

The Bolingbroke Grove frontage, overlooking the common, attracted bigger, more valuable properties, generally similar in style, though there were some individualistic exceptions, of which the double-fronted, detached houses at Nos 92 & 93 stand out. The latter was erected in 1874 as Holly Lodge, extended in 1883 and 1894, and again in 1901 when it became the vicarage to St Michael’s Church. Its more heavily decorated neighbour dates from 1882–3. Both were built for Harry Nelson Bowman Spink, a chemist based in Westminster, who lived at No. 9.

Land at the southern end of the estate had remained vacant. In September 1875 Ashdown drew up plans for a continuation of Northcote Road and two further east–west streets leading off it (Wakehurst and Belleville Roads). Just over an acre facing Webbs Road was taken by the London School Board as the site for a school, and work then began on houses in the adjoining parts of the new streets, between Northcote Road and Webbs Road. These were semi-detached villas, on more generous plots than usual, of about 20–24ft frontage.

The final phase of house-building—the laying out of the western ends of Belleville Road and Wakehurst Road—took place in 1878–80 under Heaver, who cut his teeth as a developer here, buying all four acres from the CLS and leasing plots to investors or builders. Plans were provided by the architect William Clinch Poole (a resident of one of his ‘own’ houses in Belleville Road, the present No. 62), who following John Ashdown’s death in August 1878 became surveyor to the CLS and United Land Company, and thereafter was a regular associate of Heaver’s.31 The new roads just missed Bolingbroke Grove House, which was bought by the Rev. Erskine Clarke before it could be demolished and converted to a pay hospital and dispensary (later the Bolingbroke Hospital). Unlike the roomier plots east of Northcote Road, overlooking Belleville Road School, the two-storey houses here were smaller, and built as long terraces, though designed with recesses (where the servants’ doors were located) to give the impression of semi-detached pairs.

All were clothed in the by-now ubiquitous bay-windowed white-brick villa style. Similar though larger houses marked the ends of terraces, facing Bolingbroke Grove (e.g. Nos 80–81) and Northcote Road (Nos 108–118, originally Orlando Villas). In these later streets the presence of clerks and their families was more solid, as was the employment of resident servants.

Kelmscott and Bramfield Roads

In 1889 Henry Nicholas Corsellis, the Wandsworth solicitor and developer, bought Grove House, the last of the Five Houses in private use. Confronted with a rectangular plot sandwiched between the gridded streets of the Conservative Land Society’s estate and the Liberals’ Chatham Road development, Corsellis’s surveyor and builder William Stanbury followed suit, laying out two more east–west streets, with return frontages to Webb’s Road and Bolingbroke Grove, both of which were widened at this point. At the same time Stanbury took the opportunity to extend Northcote Road further south.

Around 300 houses went up in 1890–5. Other than some flats at the east end of Kelmscott Road (Nos 104–110 and 113), built in 1894–5 by J. B. R. Meyring of Earlsfield, nearly all were in standard two-storey redbrick terraces, with double canted bays, and rather plain. Those built by the Stanbury family (e.g. 1–23 Bramfield Road and 2–24 & 19–33 Kelmscott Road), were lifted above the norm by foliage decoration to the window surrounds and iron cresting above the doors. William Stanbury himself lived for a time at 2 Kelmscott Road, a rare double-fronted house at the end of the terrace.

Similar features reappeared in the two pairs they contributed (at Nos 72–75) to the rows of big, gabled three-storey houses built in 1890 facing the common, at 64–79 Bolingbroke Grove. (Those at Nos 76–79 were built by James George & Son of Clapham.)

With retailing now firmly established on Northcote Road, the frontages there were lined with parades of shops and flats, their tall, canted corner bays crowned by little gables offering a contrast to the shop conversions further north. The shorter parades at either end share the same simple stock-and-redbrick livery; the longer central stretches, at Nos 133–145 and 128–140, have a regular rhythm of tripartite first-floor windows crowned by stone-framed pediments, infilled with brick panels (Ill. 18.9). All date from 1896  and were the work of the same builder, E. J. Golds. A similar process had already taken place on the Webb’s Road frontage, where in 1893–5 Meyring had erected plainer ranges of two- and three-storey shops with rooms above, at Nos 26–56.

Broomwood Road area

Broomwood (originally Broomfield) House, celebrated as William
Wilberforce’s residence at the height of his anti-slavery campaign, occupied a
central position between the commons, standing amid ‘charming wooded
meadows and shrubberies’.36 It was approached by a carriage-drive from
Clapham Common that was eventually widened to become the eastern end of
Broomwood Road and part of Kyrle Road. House-building on this large and
important estate began in 1880 but was neither rapid nor immediately
successful, occupying several developers for more than two decades. Yet it
was a turning point. It heralded the spread eastwards towards Clapham
Common in the late 1880s and 90s of yet more streets of housing on the sites
of old villas. For the sake of completeness those other estates are also covered
here (Ill. 18.10). Often more densely packed and homogeneous than hitherto,
the later streets were increasingly the work of larger-scale builders, and
brought to an end the golden era of detached mansions for wealthy residents
strung out along the common’s west side.
The process began in 1877 with the death of Sir Charles Forbes of
Broomwood House. Within three years his executors had sold his estate, then
known as Broomwood Park, along with part of the Dent’s House estate and
an adjoining house, The Elms, on Bolingbroke Grove, which Forbes had also
acquired, to John Cobeldick, a Cornish land agent and builder living in
Stockwell.37
Draft
Survey of London © English Heritage 2013 16
This was a big transaction for the time, Cobeldick paying £43,000 for
around 41 acres. Layout plans had already been prepared by the architects
Hammack & Lambert of Bishopsgate (Henry Hammack was one of
Cobeldick’s mortgagees). By 1881 builders were at work at the west ends of
Broomwood and Honeywell Roads, and also in Wroughton Road, a north–
south road linking up with Thurleigh Road on the Old Park estate. Small
frontages to Bolingbroke Grove and Webb’s Road were also included. Other
new streets—Kyrle, Hillier, Devereux, Gayville and Montholme Roads—were
laid out preparatory to building.38
The earliest houses—e.g. those of c.1881–3 in Broomwood Road built
by W. H. Steer at Nos 1–57 and Samuel Rashleigh at Nos 2–46, and in
Wroughton Road at Nos 1–11—illustrate well Cobeldick’s original vision.
These were good-sized two-storey houses on plots of over 20ft frontage, faced
in white and stock brick (or very occasionally in red), with double-height
canted bays, many of them arranged in semi-detached pairs and obviously
aimed at a solid middle-class market (Ill. 18.11). Bigger still were the early
houses of Honeywell Road, where among the semis were some large
detached, double-fronted residences of a more advanced architectural design,
with corbelled eaves, Gothic-style bargeboards, and carved heads to the doorsurround
pilasters. To begin with the families of clerks, government officials
and civil servants predominated here, about half of them keeping a resident
servant or two.

In all about 130 houses had risen by 1883, but only another forty or so
materialized over the next three years, Cobeldick’s plans having run into the
sand. In 1886 he sold most of his undeveloped land for £45,000 to Thomas
Ingram, Henry Bragg and James John Brown, three men well-versed in
speculative development locally.

Ingram and Bragg brought in new capital and building had resumed
by 1887, most of the work concentrating at first in plugging the gaps in
Broomwood, Honeywell and Wroughton Roads. The housing constructed
there to around 1889 followed the existing patterns—being mostly terraces (as
at 74–98 Broomwood Road and 2–28 Wroughton Road), or a mix of semidetached
and double-fronted (as at 77–95 Broomwood Road)—and much of it
may have been partly built before Cobeldick sold up, as many leases were
backdated to 1880.41 The architect William Newton Dunn, a frequent
collaborator with Ingram and Bragg, took over the surveyorship of the estate,
though his influence was probably minimal at first.
With these roads finally filling up, the new owners and their builders
turned their attention to those parts of the estate left unattended by
Cobeldick. Between 1889 and 1892 part of Kyrle Road and most of Hillier
Road were lined with terraces, John Smith being the prominent builder.
Devereux and Montholme Roads came next, in 1891–2, with Smith again
much in evidence, followed finally in 1893–4 by Gayville Road. Elevationally
there was little variety, the pale brick houses there resembling those already
built. Only Devereux Road stands out, the unusually wide double-fronted
houses on its west side, with frontages of 29–32ft, being generously decorated
around their doors and windows, many with large moulded terracotta panels.
Gayville Road, the last to be built, was faced entirely in red brick. By the close
of 1894 the tally of houses had risen beyond 500, the only undeveloped plot
left being the site of Broomwood House and its garden, which survived until
1904.

In 1889 Cobeldick offloaded another five acres of vacant ground to
Ingram, now apparently acting alone, for £7,520. This was at the eastern end
of the estate, and here more houses went up in 1892–4 on the south side of
Kyrle Road (Nos 2–20) and in a new north–south street called Ballingdon Road. All were built by Abel Playle of Clapham, and brought to an end this
prolonged first phase of development in the Broomwood Road area.42
There was little pause for breath before more housing followed. By
1888 Broadlands, a villa facing Clapham Common with grounds bordering
the carriage-drive to Broomwood House, had come into the hands of H. N.
Corsellis. As early as March 1888 the Stanbury family had prepared for him
a scheme for rows of houses along the north side of the drive, which was to be
widened, but no real progress was made until revised plans were accepted by
the LCC in 1895. In 1896–8 the Stanburys erected thirty-six terraced houses
(Nos 152–222, originally Broadlands Terrace) in an eastern addition to
Broomwood Road, which thus became the first of the area’s new streets to
extend fully from common to common. Most were similar to those built a few
years earlier in Bramfield and Kelmscott Roads. But the row at the far
east end (Nos 196–222, of 1896–7) was designed in an unusually exuberant
Gothic Revival style. This was probably the work of the builder
William Stanbury’s son, William Henry Stanbury, architect and surveyor,
who at the time had just been made an Associate of the RIBA. He was then
serving as a surveyor on the civil staff of the Royal Engineers, designing
buildings at home and abroad for the War Department, and eventually rose to
become an Inspector of Works and Lieutenant-Colonel. There are some vague
similarities to his only known major work, the garrison church of St George in
Tanglin, Singapore (1911).

Broadlands being the first of the old West Side villas to come down, the
Stanburys exploited its fine outlook with a range of larger, three-storey
houses near the corner with Broomwood Road, facing the common (now 61–
67 consec. Clapham Common West Side, 1895–6). Three acres of ground north
of Broomwood Road, formerly a meadow attached to Broadlands, appears to
have been part of Corsellis’s purchase but was left undeveloped until he
returned to the area later in the 1890s to buy up more land.

By advancing Broomwood Road eastwards to Clapham Common,
Corsellis cleaved open the fields and gardens to either side for further
development. Those to the south went first. In 1896 Thomas Ingram returned
to augment his earlier work, buying the four villas and sixteen acres of
grounds facing the common south of Broomwood Road—The Grange,
Leveson Lodge, Broxash and a fourth unnamed house, formerly the residence
of a Captain Percy Brown (old 31 West Side). W. N. Dunn once more served
as planner, extending Kyrle Road to the common, accompanied by two more
long east–west roads to its south (Broxash and Manchuria), and a short north–
south stub (Amner Road) that took a 90-degree turn westwards to join up
with Ingram’s Broomwood Park estate at Ballingdon and Wroughton Roads.
(This return leg was later renamed as the western arm of Roseneath Road.)
Also, the vacant south-eastern stretch of Broomwood Road was completed
with the construction in 1898–1900 of more terraces (Nos 155–223); and, under
some pressure from the LCC, Ingram and Dunn extended the improved
roadway at Clapham Common West Side a little further south than originally
intended, to their estate’s southern boundary, erecting further ranges of threestorey
houses (Nos 46–60). The biggest builders were John Smith and Henry
Bragg & Son.46
The reduced scale of the housing built in this phase in 1897–1904
suggests that change had come between the commons, both architecturally
and demographically. Though well-built, there was little to inspire in the
long, monotonous red-brick terraces of Kyrle (c.1897–1901), Broxash (c.1900–2)
and Manchuria (c.1902–4) Roads. Ingram and Dunn seem now to have been
bent on maximizing the income from ground-rents, the housing density
here—at twenty-four per acre—being by far the highest in the area at the
time.47 It was only in some of the shorter rows of bigger houses overlooking
the common—such as 54–60 Clapham Common West Side, designed and
built by the Stanburys—that any variety of style crept in. Charles Booth’s
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investigators in 1899 found the houses at this end of Broomwood Road ‘not so
good as the old’, judging the new district’s inhabitants to range from the
moderately poor to the fairly comfortable. Tradesmen and shopkeepers came
here in greater numbers, heads of household of the early 1900s including
joiners and carpenters, grocers and tailors, even a dairyman and fruit
salesman.48
Ingram died in 1901, before completing the estate, and later leases were
issued by his wife Matilda and son Thomas. Another son, William, trained as
an architect and surveyor, and may have been responsible for the ground
plans and possibly elevations to some of the houses.49
Building on the estate was essentially finished by 1904, though the
eastern arm of Roseneath Road, beyond Amner Road, was not built up with
housing until the eve of war in 1913–14. Though the houses of the north side
(Nos 3–41) were designed by different architects (Chapple & Utting) to those
on the south (Nos 52–88, by J. J. Freeland), all share similar features, such as
shaped door panels, good-quality stained-glass and pretty Art Nouveau
wooden porches (Ill. 18.13).50
Meanwhile, by 1898 Corsellis had reappeared, with the Stanburys
again in tow, when he acquired Beechwood, the former residence of Sir
George Pollock. In development terms this was a small plot, of about 1½
acres, allowing room for no more than half-a-dozen three-storey houses
facing the common (75–76 & 77–80 Clapham Common West Side) framing the
entrance to a short stub of a side street, where twenty-one terraced houses
were built in 1900–1 by William Henry George, another of Corsellis’s
favourite builders, as Culmstock Road (now Nos 1–19 and 2–22). At the same
time Corsellis laid out a second, longer road (Winsham Grove) on the threeacre
field to the south, where George in 1898–1900 erected a further sixty or so
houses, as well as more at 68–70 & 71–74 Clapham Common West Side. Two
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more occupied the east side of a short link road (1 & 3 Adderley Grove). Most
were red-brick terraces which, though monotonous in such large numbers,
were of George’s usual good quality, redeemed by foliage decoration to the
door and window surrounds, and stained-glass door panels.51
Finally, in 1904, Broomwood House was demolished and a lease of its
ground agreed with John Smith for thirty of his trademark red-brick houses—
nine on the south side of Broomwood Road (Nos 97–111), and eleven each at
61–81 Hillier Road and 62–82 Wroughton Road. By and large his work was
completed during 1905. These had a standard Victorian plan of two rooms per
floor, with a two-storey back addition containing a kitchen, scullery and WC
on the ground floor, a third bedroom, bathroom and second WC above. No.
111 Broomwood Road was the only exception, having a slightly wider
frontage than the rest, a larger than usual kitchen and a tiled scullery, having
been built by Smith ‘specially’ for its owner, Miss Florence G. E. Higgins,
professor of music at Trinity College. It was whilst Smith was building these
houses that the LCC decided to honour Wilberforce with a commemorative
plaque in the flank wall of No. 111 (Ill. 18.14).52
Nightingale Lane
to Bolingbroke Grove
Thurleigh Road–Nightingale Lane area
Until the late 1860s the area north of Nightingale Lane today bounded by
Thurleigh Avenue and Rusham Road was an estate of fields attached to the
mansion known as Old Park. In contrast to the closely packed streets of
terraced houses that grew up to its north, this area’s Victorian development
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was characterized by substantial houses in generous grounds—a direct result
of the estate owners’ strict leasing and selling policy, which prescribed only
detached or semi-detached houses and stables.53 Despite later infill and
rebuilding, the area is still distinguished from its close neighbours by some
unusually large properties.
In February 1866 the Old Park estate was purchased by J. J. Welch and
H. P. Hughes, a City warehouse manager and wool-broker respectively, who
within a month had mortgaged it to the auctioneers Debenham, Tewson &
Farmer, and commissioned a simple street layout from the architects Wimble
& Taylor. This comprised four new roads—Thurleigh, Sudbrooke, Westerdale
(now Ramsden) and Winchelsea (now Rusham)—and a widened Nightingale
Lane. That April, Welch and Hughes tried but failed to sell at auction the only
real plum—the old house and its grounds—and so in 1868 agreed instead to
its purchase by Edward Tewson, one of their mortgagees. Thereafter the
mansion remained in separate ownership and was let to tenants for the
remaining twenty-five years of its life.54
Welch and Hughes then began auctioning off freehold plots for housebuilding.
This began in two phases in 1867 and 1869 with the sale of ground
fronting Nightingale Lane—a main route where large mansions were already
in existence on the opposite (Balham) side, where more were going up: such
as Ferndale, of 1865–6, home of the sanitary-ware manufacturer George
Jennings; and Helensburgh, built around 1864 by William Higgs for the
Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon, replacing an earlier house of the same
name. Spurgeon had been drawn by the area’s ‘secludedness’, but this was
fast disappearing as builders continued to make inroads; adverts for the Old
Park estate sales stressed the ‘great demand’ now for high-class housing ‘in
this favourite neighbourhood’.55
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The first houses built on the Battersea side c.1868–72 were big detached
or semi-detached villas, in the pale brick and stucco neo-Italianate style that
had populated so much of London’s environs in recent years. Nos 42–44, 46–
48 and 50, built and developed by Higgs, and No. 74, designed by Rowland
Plumbe for a wealthy jeweller (covered separately below), are the best
survivors from this first phase (Ill. 18.15). Also of note was Dudley House at
No. 56, the first of several speculative houses built in the area for John King
Farlow, a City solicitor (also discussed below). One other large house of the
period, now long gone, was Beecholme, set well back from the road (on the
site of the present Holmside Road), built around 1870 for the banker and
economist William Newmarch.56
Further development was steady but slow, confidence having been
knocked by the recession of the late 1860s. More good-sized Italianate semis
went up in the mid-to-late 1870s, at Nos 78–84 and 90–96. Active in the area at
this time was the Kingsland builder Stephen Hayworth, who in 1875–7
erected two more large detached houses on Nightingale Lane (Nos 86 & 88,
now demolished), and several big semis round the corner in Rusham Road, at
Nos 11–19, 23 & 25 (demolished), and 22 & 24. All were built for J. K. Farlow.57
These houses were popular with merchants, for whom large families and two
or three domestic servants were the norm.58 All were probably the work of the
architect Robert Pledge Notley, to whom Farlow was related, or his younger
brother Frederick Charles Notley; the latter designed another pair of similar
houses in Rusham Road for Farlow in 1878 (Nos 12 & 14). Their father John H.
Notley, a builder, also erected several of Farlow’s houses.59 Roomy gardens
allowed for later additions, such as billiard rooms, which were a popular lateVictorian
embellishment in the area, and indicative of its social composition.
Building continued throughout the 1880s and 90s. James Holloway
erected a fine white-brick double-fronted cottage in 1881 on the east side of
Rusham Road (Ivy Dene, No. 16), designed by the architect Edward Witts for James H. Bartlett, a lamp and lustre maker. A few years later some 1,000ft of
frontage on the north side of Thurleigh Road was taken by Charles Edward
Smith, a Pimlico land agent, who in 1885–7 embarked upon a series of large
detached houses in spacious plots (of which Nos 87, 89 and 117 survive), as
well as semi-detached houses on narrower plots (Nos 95–103).60 Generally
these were of good-quality red brick, if rather plain except for hood-moulded
lancet doorway arches. His biggest house, The Priory, was demolished in the
1930s for 105–115 Thurleigh Road (below).
Other houses of this period include the pair of red brick and stone
semis at 68 & 70 Nightingale Lane, built in 1885 by William Smith, each with a
first-floor billiard room; and Parkhurst, at 25 Sudbrooke Road, an attractive
design of 1888–9 in red-brick and tile by the architect Frederick Wheeler for
William Henry Cressy Hammond, a lithographer. Also in the area in the
1890s were the Stanbury family, who in 1896 erected one of their
characteristically stylish rows of tall houses at 67–77 Thurleigh Road.61 But the
major development in the area at this time was the creation of Old Park
Avenue.
Old Park Avenue. Increasingly hemmed in by new building, Old Park House
and its grounds finally fell in the early 1890s, to be replaced by a new sidestreet
of good-class houses linking Nightingale Lane with Ramsden Road. In
this case the developers were the solicitor-partners William White Palmer and
Reuben Winder. They bought the house in December 1889 from Edward H.
Thompson, a Clapham land agent who had been submitting plans for a new
road here since March 1888.
About thirty tall and generously accommodated three-storey houses
were jammed into a relatively narrow curving road. A few were
detached, but most were terraced, though planned to look from the street like semi-detached villas. This layout, and the liberal use of red brick and hung
tiles, gave Old Park Avenue a whiff of Bedford Park, which blossomed into a
more full-blown Queen Anne Revival in the five freer stock-brick houses built
at its southern end, facing Nightingale Lane (Nos 32–40, Ill. 18.17). Detailed
layout designs were provided by the architects N. S. Joseph & Smithem (later
involved with Winder at Winders Road), and the good-quality elevations here
are probably their handiwork.
The builders of Old Park Avenue were Robert Francis Saker of
Kennington, who began first, building Nos 1–7 and 2–12 at its south end in
1889–93; and David Kettle, of Vardens Road, Battersea, who between c.1894
and 1900 put up Nos 14–36 and 9–23 (17 & 19 have since been demolished).
Early residents followed the usual pattern, with the families of stockbrokers,
bank mangers, civil servants and engineers to the fore, all with one or two
domestic servants. A Blue Plaque at 40 Nightingale Lane commemorates the
humourist and cartoonist H. M. Bateman, who moved here from Clapham
with his parents in 1910, at the age of 23. The area provided rich pickings for
his satirical exposés of middle-class suburban manners.64
Later developments, from the 1890s. While Old Park Avenue was going up
there were still large gaps on the estate. The swathe of land between
Sudbrooke and Thurleigh Roads, for instance, though it had houses at its west
end, facing Rusham Road, was still mostly open ground, turned over to
allotments.65 But from about 1900 local house-builders gradually filled the
gaps, and in so doing brought a variety of neo-Tudor architecture to the area
more usually associated with the capital’s outer suburbs. Some of the
Metroland-style semis of the late 1920s and 30s still look a little out of place;
but the better-quality houses of twenty years earlier sit well with their
Victorian neighbours, and with the generous gardens and planting lend the
district much of its agreeable character.
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Firstly, houses were built on virgin sites, such as the allotments, which
began to fill up from the early 1900s. Then ‘garden-building’ took off,
particularly on the south side of Sudbrooke Road, which hitherto had been
taken up mostly by grounds belonging to the detached mansions of
Nightingale Lane. Later, as the out-of-fashion Victorian properties came on
the market, second-generation development also became a factor.
Houses from the turn of the century include the well-proportioned redbrick
and tile vicarage for St Luke’s Church at 192 Ramsden Road, designed
by John S. Quilter and built in 1901 by Lathey Brothers; and 57–61 Thurleigh
Road, a nice trio in red brick and white stucco with cast-iron balconettes,
designed by the local architect Henry Branch and built in 1902 by John Nicks,
who was also responsible for the adjoining semis at Nos 63 & 65, as well as a
rare block of flats at Nos 31–33 (Thurleigh Mansions), of 1899, where Nicks
himself lived.66
Thurleigh Road is also rich in some quirky late-Victorian and
Edwardian houses designed by the Norfolk-born architect Herbert Bignold,
who was based in Battersea in the 1890s and early 1900s. These range from
rows of lively semis built in 1903–4 at 11–24 Sudbrooke Road and 40–66
Thurleigh Road, to the big, detached neo-Tudor houses at 86 and 123
Thurleigh Road, of 1897–8. Of red brick, with large half-timbered gables
projecting on corbels, the latter recall the vernacular architecture of Bignold’s
native East Anglia (Ill. 18.18). Each also has its own date or name plaque.
These and other characteristic features recur on a reduced scale at 76
Thurleigh Road, of 1902, which therefore must also be by Bignold, as
probably is the adjoining pair of semis at 78 & 80, built at the same time and
by the same builder. But Bignold’s major work here is the large red-brick and
stucco Art Nouveau house at No. 68 (originally Kenmara), built in 1901–2 for
Sidney Joe Tavener, of the family who ran the Falcon Tavern at Clapham
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Junction (Ill. 18.19). The prominent corner tower is apparently a later
addition, of 1906. Bignold also designed two smaller houses in a similar style
in 1906 for plots on the north side of the road, at Nos 87A & 89A.67
By 1911 Edwin Evans & Sons had bought up six acres on Sudbrooke
Road, where in 1912 three pairs of large semis were erected at Nos 1–6,
followed in 1915 by Sudbrooke Lodge (now 185 Ramsden Road), a large
detached house, of red and brown brick in a neo-Georgian manner, designed
by Edgar J. George.68
After the First World War infill and redevelopment continued. Houses
of the 1920s include semis at 7–10A Sudbrooke Road (1923), and 32 & 33
(1925), the latter pair designed by the Balham architect Albert G. Hastilow. On
the south side of the road, Nos 29–30 and No. 27 were added in 1926 and 1929
respectively in the former back gardens of mansions in Nightingale Lane.69
Perhaps the best example of second-generation development is the
small group of houses at the south end of Rusham Road. Those on the west
side, at 1–7 Rusham Road, were built in 1934–6 for Glassner & Glassner to
designs by Cecil Codrington in an imaginative Arts & Crafts neo-Tudor style,
with plentiful half-timbering (Ill. 18.20). Though they have the appearance of
small, intimate dwellings, these were four-bedroom houses, with the fourth
bedroom tucked away in a rear attic, facing the garden, and rear drawingrooms
with French doors. The similar pairs on the east side (Nos 2–10A) and
the adjoining house at 88 Nightingale Lane were built slightly later, in 1936–7,
by Fawcett & Co. Ltd of Spencer Park, Wandsworth, on the site of one of J. K.
Farlow’s big houses of the 1870s. Fawcett & Co. were also responsible for the
similar-looking houses at 60–61 Sudbrooke Road, of 1937, and a year later
converted Wheeler’s house at 25 Sudbrooke Road to flats, at the same time
building a small three-bedroom house adjoining in its grounds, at No. 25A,
complete with a maid’s room and integral garage.70
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Mention should also be made of the moderne semis of 1934–6 at 105–115
Thurleigh Road, with curving brick-and-render façades and Crittall windows;
and also of the fine red-brick house at 59 Sudbrooke Road, designed by Ley,
Colbeck & Partners on part of the rear garden of Dudley House, 56
Nightingale Lane. This combines an old-fashioned neo-Georgian style with
modern Crittall type windows, and included a roomy lounge, dining room
and entrance hall on the ground floor, as well as a built-in garage.71
Infill and redevelopment has continued in Sudbrooke Road since the
war, more than on the other streets of the former Old Park estate, bringing a
rare variety in date, size and style to its housing (see also page ##).
56 Nightingale Lane and the Coach House. Originally known as Dudley
House, 56 Nightingale Lane is a good-sized three-storey and basement villa of
1869–70, of pale gault brick with stock and red brick dressings, designed for
the developer John King Farlow, probably by Robert Pledge Notley, a relation
(Ill. 18.21). The name was popular with the Notley family. Robert’s father, the
builder J. H. Notley, lived and worked in what appears to have been one of
his own speculations called Dudley Place and Villas on the Clapham Road,
Stockwell, so it seems likely that he also built Dudley House. Its first owner,
Henry Clifford Green, a wine merchant, added to it immediately,
commissioning Notley to design detached stables and coach-house wings in a
similar style for vacant land next to the house, with a covered yard between
them.72 Though long converted to other uses, the stable block retains several
of its original fittings: tongue-and-groove panelled and honeycomb-tiled
walls, patterned cast-iron columns and a tiled floor with cast-iron drainage
channels.
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Around 1886 the house was purchased by James O’Connor, a well-off
Irish commission agent and horse-trainer with a business in Blackfriars (later
at Piccadilly) as well as a racing stables, The Commons, near Cashel in
County Tipperary. O’Connor renamed Dudley House as Mount Cashel and
lived there with his wife and an orphaned nephew, James Ryan, also from the
Cashel district of Tipperary, where the O’Connor and Ryan families were
closely linked. Ryan followed his uncle into the bookmaking business and by
1891 had taken his surname, becoming James Ryan O’Connor.73
James O’Connor died at Nightingale Lane in 1897, leaving a personal
fortune of over £120,000 in addition to his London and Irish properties, which
were inherited by James Ryan O’Connor, who by then had married and
moved to Putney. He took control of his uncle’s betting and stables empire,
and with his new-found wealth in 1898 commissioned a marble altar for the
recently built chapel at Rockwell College in Cashel in memory of his parents.74
He also moved into Mount Cashel at Nightingale Lane and immediately set
about improvements there. Between 1898 and 1900 several additions were
made to the house, including extensions to the side and rear, the latter
originally including a private dynamo house to furnish electric light. But it is
the top-lit billiard room he added above the stable-block, formerly linked to
the dining room in the main house, that stands out; the high quality and
exceptional lavishness of its interior has recently earned it listed building
status. The identities of J. R. O’Connor’s architect and decorators are not
known, though it is evident that the billiard room was built in 1898–9 by the
well-known contractor (Sir) James Carmichael (d.1934), then based near by in
Trinity Road.75
The stable block’s modified exterior was embellished with soft redbrick
dressings and a terracotta frieze incorporating swag motifs above the
billiard room’s south-facing windows (Ill. 18.21). But these give little
indication of the opulent Baroque decor within. Ionic pilasters support a
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cornice, above which sits a high coved ceiling rising to a central lantern light,
set with stained glass depicting, among other things, saddles, horses’ heads,
and putti playing billiards. All is a riot of heavy rococo fibrous plasterwork,
including, in the ceiling, painted relief roundels of what appears to be
O’Connor himself in various sporting guises (Ills 18.22a–f). An arched
inglenook at the north end contains a fireplace (with a replacement surround).
This was more than just a private billiard room, and presumably was
intended by O’Connor for entertaining and impressing his wealthy clientele.
Some of the spaces between the pilasters are filled with large, well-executed
wall-paintings of hunting, equestrian and coaching scenes, most of them
again featuring O’Connor and his family, in settings reminiscent of the flat
landscape around the village of Rosegreen, outside Cashel, where he kept a
holiday home, near to The Commons stables. This was also the new name he
gave to his improved house (sometimes Roes-green) in 1899. The paintings
may have been added at a later date: one has a carriage with young girls,
possibly O’Connor’s daughters, but if so must have been painted nearer to the
family’s departure from Nightingale Lane in 1908.
In that year O’Connor sold up to John Scott, secretary to a railway
contracting company, whose family remained at the house until the 1930s.
Later in life O’Connor returned to Cashel, where he died in 1929 worth only
around £300, after a lifetime of gambling.76
The house later became a day nursery and remained so until 1982
when it was converted to flats, and four new dwellings were erected to its
rear (Earlthorpe Mews). The coachman’s house became a separate dwelling
and the stable-block and billiard room were made into a private home, now
known as the Coach House.77
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Broomwood Hall School for Girls, 74 Nightingale Lane. Broomwood Hall is
one of several institutions to have made a home among the large private
mansions of the 1860s that constituted the earliest phase of building
development on Nightingale Lane. Still recognizable within its greatly
extended frontage is the original house, a rare survival of the private domestic
work of the architect Rowland Plumbe, better known today for his
commercial and public buildings, and blocks of philanthropic housing.
Plumbe designed the house in 1869 for Joseph Lindner, a Viennese
jeweller and goldsmith based in Berwick Street, Soho. Far from the first rank
of his profession, Lindner could only have afforded such a commission
through the inheritance of his wife Ann, a daughter of John Inderwick, the
wealthy tobacco merchant, importer, and developer of (among other things)
the Inderwick Estate in Kensington New Town. The chronology itself is
suggestive: John Inderwick died in 1867 with an estate valued at nearly
£100,000; Lindner married Ann the following year; in 1869 he applied for
naturalization, a prerequisite to owning freehold property in England; and
the house was built for him by J. J. Wilson c.1870–3. The construction costs
alone were over £3,000.78
The style employed by Plumbe was a pale, gault-brick Italian Gothic,
with a prominent eye-catcher of a tower (Ills 18.23, 24), entirely in keeping
with the big houses already going up on Nightingale Lane. There is much
fine-quality High Victorian decoration, notably in the carved stone window
and door arches, and also the polished granite columns and piers
incorporated into the porch and window-surrounds. The style is also
reminiscent of East Coast America, where Plumbe had been assistant to
Frederick C. Withers, an English émigré architect in New York, before
returning to England and private practice in 1860.79
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Known from the first as Fairseat, the house was comfortable but not
excessive, with four reception rooms, two of which opened on to a rear
garden terrace, four family and guest bedrooms, and a top-lit billiard room
and servants’ rooms in an attic storey. Joseph and Ann Lindner were the sole
occupants, generally with no more than two resident servants; and this
impression of a quiet, withdrawn lifestyle is emphasized by the extraordinary
sham medieval boundary walls that Lindner built around the house to thwart
prying eyes, and which must have severely impaired the light to the house
built next door (at No. 78) in 1879–80. Lindner died in 1889, and his widow
stayed on at Fairseat until her death in 1902. The house then passed to her
nephew, Edward Inderwick, who resided there from 1905 until 1918, when it
was sold at auction.80
Empty by about 1930, it has been in institutional use ever since. In
1932–6 it was home to the BBC’s Research Department, then, from 1940, to the
National Union of Printers, who made the first of many additions, erecting a
two-storey and basement extension at the east end of the house.81 Subsequent
alterations when in office use in the 1970s included an unsympathetic third
storey (which destroyed the original roof line), a further eastern extension
wing, and the removal of nearly all the internal walls—though none of this
was considered destructive enough to prevent the building being listed in
1983. Conversion to a private girls’ school came in 1987–8, and since then
building work has been more sensitive, and confined mostly to the rear and
basement. In 2008–10 a large theatre and assembly hall was constructed across
the upper floor to designs by James Dinwiddie, of Dinwiddie MacLaren
Architects. Its principal feature is a curved timber and stainless steel roof,
largely hidden from street view behind the existing parapet.82 The school’s
success has seen it expand into other neighbouring former houses, at 68–70
and 50 Nightingale Lane, and St Luke’s Vicarage on Ramsden Road.
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Houses by E. R. Robson in Bolingbroke Grove & Blenkarne Road
Today four large, detached Queen Anne Revival houses overlook
Wandsworth Common at 23–26 Bolingbroke Grove, complemented by two
more stock-and-red-brick mansions round the corner at 5 & 7 Blenkarne
Road. All were part of a rare sortie into the planning of superior estate
housing by the architect E. R. Robson at a time in the mid 1870s when he was
busy in his role as architect to the School Board for London.
Robson’s work here was formerly greater in extent (Ill. 18.25). He was
responsible for two other large houses south of Blenkarne Road, both since
demolished; and further down Bolingbroke Grove at No. 8 is a detached
house set well back from the roadway which, despite standing so far apart,
belongs to the same group. Built at the same time and in the same materials, it
shows clear signs of Robson’s handiwork.
Robson’s involvement at what seems an inopportune time is explained
by his relationship with the developer, Charles Edward Appleby.83 Described
variously as a coal-master or mining engineer, Appleby came from the
Yorkshire family of coalmen and ironfounders who owned Renishaw Colliery
in Derbyshire, where he himself worked for a time. His immediate family
hailed from the same district of Sheffield as another big iron-and-coal
dynasty, the Longdens, to whom they were connected by marriage. Robson,
himself a Yorkshireman, became part of this extended family in 1861 when he
married Mary Ann Longden (thereafter Marian or Marianne). The ties must
have run deep: Marianne Robson’s sister Amelia had the middle name
Appleby, as did Robson’s own son, the architect Philip A. Robson.
By 1872 Appleby had come south to London and set up in business as a
civil engineer, apparently sharing Robson’s office at 20 Great George Street,
Westminster. In August 1875 he launched himself into speculative
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development with the purchase at nearly £18,000 of twenty-one acres of the
former Dent estate, between the Falcon Brook and Wandsworth Common.
The land was mostly empty fields, with a farm (Dent’s Farm) in its south-west
corner, and had good frontages to both Nightingale Lane and Bolingbroke
Grove, the latter running for about a quarter of a mile alongside the
common.84
Shortly before the sale, Robson produced a basic street-plan with a
single new road leading eastwards off Bolingbroke Grove then taking a curve
in the form of a small crescent before heading south to join Nightingale Lane.
There were no subsidiary roads. The MBW approved of this, but changed
Robson’s suggested name for the new road, Nightingale Grove, to Blenkarne
Road. By November 1875 Robson had populated the plan with sixteen
detached residences on Bolingbroke Grove, and thirty-six pairs of semidetached
houses along the other frontages, all on generous plots.85
Before building got under way, Appleby sold a large plot on
Bolingbroke Grove of 100ft frontage to Marjory Jane Peddie, a wealthy
spinster and retired headmistress, for whom Robson designed the biggest of
all his houses here (now No. 26). Appleby offset the £900 purchase price
against his mortgage debts of £10,000, and Robson had a perspective view
and a puff published in the Building News, which the two men must have
hoped would excite interest. Miss Peddie’s house was described as the ‘first of
a series of houses in the old English Style, somewhat incorrectly called
“Queen Anne”’.86
Christened Linden Lodge by Miss Peddie, the house was set back
elegantly some 120ft from the roadway behind a carriage drive, and enjoyed
over an acre and a half of garden and grounds (Ill. 18.26).87 Inside, her
accommodation included, on the ground floor, a library, dining-room and
large L-shaped drawing-room with a bay window; upstairs were four
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bedrooms, a dressing-room and bathroom, with further rooms on a smaller
second floor. Kitchen facilities and servants’ quarters were provided by
Robson in what was essentially a separate two-storey cottage attached to the
west wall of the main three-storey house.
With this plot gone, Robson revised his street plan, moving the
entrance to Blenkarne Road 100ft further south, and, perhaps encouraged by
the sale of Miss Peddie’s house, increased the size of the nearby plots to
accommodate similarly large properties. Three were planned between
Blenkarne Road and Miss Peddie’s (now 23–25 Bolingbroke Grove), with
frontages of about 65–70ft, and two more tucked behind them in Blenkarne
Road itself (now Nos 5 & 7). A sixth and seventh stood south of Blenkarne
Road: Haresfield, in a contrasting half-timbered ‘Early English’ style (see Ill.
18.27), and Elmhurst (both are now demolished).88 Another site, south of
Elmhurst, seems also to have been reserved for sale to a private owner, but
was to remain vacant throughout the time that Appleby and Robson were
connected with the estate. (It was later sold to Edmund John Spiers, who built
a very large house here called Westwood Tower, 19 Bolingbroke Grove, in
1883–4, by which time Roy Road, now part of Thurleigh Road, had been
planned to run along its southern flank.) At this stage only a single house, a
double-fronted one called The Cottage (the present 8 Bolingbroke Grove), had
been designed by Robson for the estate’s southern reaches.89

All of Robson’s houses were built in 1876–8, mostly by Samuel J.
Jerrard of Lewisham, a contractor with whom Robson had established a good
relationship in his work for the School Board. Only 23 Bolingbroke Grove, the
last of the houses to be constructed, was by another builder, Joseph
Thompson of Camberwell Green. While the houses were going up, Appleby
took the opportunity to borrow more money, extending his mortgage debts to
£14,000.90
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Such houses were well suited for the era’s upper middle classes but
perhaps Wandsworth Common was a step too far. For other than Miss
Peddie’s, none seems to have taken immediately. And when she died in 1879
her house was bought not by a private owner but by a school for the blind
(later Linden Lodge School); it has been in educational use ever since. Its first
neighbours in 1880 were the Misses Cazenove at Elmhurst, Archibald Stuart
Wortley (presumably the painter of that name, d.1905) at Haresfield, who was
keen to sell his lease; and Horace Mann in Blenkarne Road.91 With four of
these six big properties still vacant in May 1881, Appleby cut his losses and
tried to dispose of everything in two auction sales: one for the existing houses,
a second for the remaining vacant land. But only one house took—24
Bolingbroke Grove, for £2,000—and so more sales were required.92
Eventually, in June 1882, Appleby sold the remaining undeveloped
thirteen acres or so for £19,710 to Thomas Ingram, Henry Bragg and Frederick
Snelling. About half of the purchase money was used to pay off Appleby’s
mortgage debts. Ingram and Bragg went on to finish Blenkarne Road and
develop the rest of the estate in the later 1880s with new streets of smaller
houses (see Gorst and Morella Roads, below). Appleby stayed on in London as a
civil engineer for a while, but also became the owner of the Tamar Firebrick &
Clay Company, in Calstock, Cornwall, where he died in 1890, aged 55.93
As for the later history of the Robson houses, by and large they
eventually achieved their intended status as single family residences, and
held on to it for a time. No. 8 Bolingbroke Grove (by then known as Rockfield)
was bought in 1885 by the architect J. T. Wimperis, who divided his home life
between this house and another in Sackville Street, Westminster. Residents of
the bigger houses at 23–25 Bolingbroke Grove in the 1890s and early 1900s
included Thomas Berry, a land agent, and Albert Puckle, a stockbroker’s
agent; those in Blenkarne Road were in the occupation of a drug merchant
and a wealthy South Australian.94
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Since then such extensive properties have lent themselves to
institutional use or subdivision as flats. Westwood Tower at No. 19 and
Elmhurst at No. 20 were used for a time in the 1910s as retreats for alcoholics.
Both were purchased in 1920 by Battersea Borough Council and converted to
a maternity home, the Battersea Maternity Home or Hospital. Having
suffered blast damage during the war, they were demolished around 1948
and the flats of Lane Court built on their sites.95
Today only 5 Blenkarne Road and 26 Bolingbroke Grove remain
undivided, the latter as Northcote Lodge Preparatory School for Boys. Both
still convey a sense of the high quality of housing that Appleby and Robson
intended to bring to the area. Since 1966 the pair at 23 & 24 Bolingbroke Grove
have been maintained as flats for Christian Scientists by the Bow Housing
Society; Nos 8 and 25 are now also split into flats. Robson’s influence is still
felt also in Nightingale Park Crescent, for although he built no houses here,
the feature of the crescent itself—the only real piece of what might be termed
town planning in the area between the commons—was central to his first
plans of July 1875.96
The present 1 & 3 Blenkarne Road, two large detached houses of c.1925
in a colonial neo-Georgian idiom, were developed as a piece of infill on part
of the long rear garden of 23 Bolingbroke Grove. The plans were provided by
Robins & Hine, a firm of Westminster auctioneers.97
Gorst and Morella Roads area
In the early 1880s more land with frontages overlooking Wandsworth
Common, once part of the Dent family’s holdings, was covered with housing.

Firstly Dent’s House and its five-acre garden, south of Broomwood
Road, was acquired in 1881 by James Walker Everidge, a Kennington builder,
who with the help of the architect Charles Bentley laid out on its site a single,
U-shaped side-road, doubling back on itself to re-emerge further down
Bolingbroke Grove. All was to have been called Dent’s Road, but in 1883 the
MBW insisted that the northern stretch and eastern curve be separately
named Gorst Road (after the house’s last resident, John Eldon Gorst).
Construction took place in 1882–4, Everidge building several houses himself,
including 1–10 Dent’s Road and nine more facing the common at 27–35
Bolingbroke Grove. The biggest builders, however, were John Smith of
Stockwell and James King of Plough Lane.

The characteristic house-type here was the good-sized two-storey semidetached
‘villa’, usually with a third storey in a gable above the double canted
bays (Ill. 18.29). Most had carved-leaf decoration to their door and window
surrounds, ornamental Gothick bargeboards and other touches, though with
enough variation to suggest that the builders, or their architects, had some
freedom under Bentley’s overall control. In addition, at the east end of Gorst
Road are some standard two-storey terraced and semi-detached houses (Nos
29–59).

The Nightingale Park estate was the name given to the fourteen acres
left vacant from C. E. Appleby’s unfinished development in and around
Bolingbroke Grove. It was acquired in 1882 by Thomas Ingram and Henry
Bragg, on this occasion acting, at least initially, in partnership with another
South London builder, Frederick Snelling. As in Dent’s Road, designs were
supplied by Bentley, and there are similarities between the estates.
Bentley modified the layout plan devised by E. R. Robson for Appleby,
making room for smaller houses in greater numbers by reducing Blenkarne
Road’s southern arm to a stump, off-setting a new north–south link road
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(Estcourt Road, since 1912 known as Hendrick Avenue) further east, closer to
the estate boundary, and introducing three new east–west roads connecting
with Bolingbroke Grove—Granard, Morella and Roy Roads (see Ill. 18.25).
The last was in line with Thurleigh Road (on the Old Park estate), but was
originally planned to curve south into Hendrick Avenue, with houses cutting
across the west end of Thurleigh Road. At the last minute the vicar of
Battersea, J. Erskine Clarke, paid £100 for these house-plots, enabling Roy and
Thurleigh Roads to run in continuation as one and so allow easier access to
the new St Luke’s Church from the western parts of its district. (The houses
built as Roy Road are now 1–29 and 2–30 Thurleigh Road.) The derivation of
the street-names, suggested by Henry Bragg, is unknown other than for
Morella Road, which commemorates Marianne Richards, a descendant of an
owner of one of the Five Houses, who in 1850 married a controversial Carlist
general, Field-Marshal Don Ramón Cabrera, Count de Morella.99
Construction began in 1882 in Granard Road, where all the houses
were built by Thomas Robertson of Upper Tooting; these were mostly
terraced on the north side but semi-detached on the south, where they
resemble those built under Bentley in Gorst Road and Dent’s Road. Those at
the west end (Nos 2–20), of white brick faced with stocks or red brick faced
with gaults, have fine features—iron cresting, urns, decorative bargeboards,
and verandas of zinc supported on slender cast-iron columns. Similar houses
started going up in Morella and Estcourt Roads by 1883, but eventually more
builders brought greater variety. Most were big, three-storey houses with a
smattering of Queen Anne Revival detailing. Robertson was also responsible
in 1883–5 for the red-brick semis with stock brick dressings and decorative
date swags on Nightingale Lane, of which Nos 118–130 survive today. And
contemporary with these is the generously decorated terrace around the
corner at 1–7 Bolingbroke Grove built by John Miller of Clapham, with hung
tiles to the attic gables, panels of moulded brick, coloured glass, and little
gables to the door porches (Ill. 18.30).100
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For once Ingram and Bragg may have overstretched, for in 1885 they
sold off some land to their own builders. David Kettle acquired a strip on the
north side of Roy Road, where in 1886–7 he built seven large detached houses
(now 1–13 Thurleigh Road), in a stock-and-red brick Queen Anne style, with
very fine quality red-brick porches. Early plans for these were provided by
James Andrew, architect. Kettle also took the remaining frontage on
Bolingbroke Grove, where he was already erecting some of the area’s best
houses, in two groups of detached and semi-detached villas at Nos 9–13 & 14–
18 (Ill. 18.31).101
The double-fronted example at 9 Bolingbroke Grove (Elstree), with a
large terracotta date-plaque to its return front, was designed for the solicitor
Reuben Winder, who had lent money to Ingram and Bragg, and who was
later involved with Kettle at Old Park Avenue (above). It was built first, in
1882–3, when, as Winder later recalled, no other houses were in ‘close
proximity’.102 Kettle hung fire till he could ‘ascertain which class of property is
most desirable’—i.e., detached or semi-detached houses. For this was all the
choice he had. When Appleby sold the estate he inserted a covenant to
prevent anything else being built on Bolingbroke Grove in the gap between
his Robson-designed houses at Nos 8 and 23–26 (above). Hence the unusually
large size and fine quality of Kettle’s houses, of 1883–7; their spirited
Domestic Revival idiom, with tall chimneys, stepped gables, and plentiful
terracotta decoration, blends well with Robson’s architecture of the preceding
decade, and recalls the work of N. S. Joseph & Smithem, who were engaged
by Winder at Old Park Avenue and Winders Road. Land adjoining, on the
south side of Roy (now Thurleigh) Road, was bought by John Miller, who
built the terrace of gabled houses at Nos 2–30 in 1885–7.103
Other plots around Blenkarne Road went to James Robertson, who in
1885–6 built all the houses in the semi-circle of Nightingale Park Crescent
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(now Nos 9–31). The curve in the road gave the present No. 21, a semidetached
house near the centre, an unusually wide and deep garden. Nos 33–
39 (Harefield Villas), erected in 1886 immediately south of the crescent in a
similar style, were the work of Walter Harmer, a builder of Salcott Road.
Company directors, wine merchants, clerks and lecturers featured among the
early residents, nearly all having one or two domestic servants.104
Around Clapham Common
and Battersea Rise
Almeric and Lindore Roads
These two streets and the adjoining parts of Battersea Rise constitute the first
foray into building development in the parish by Thomas Ingram, the most
prolific of all Battersea’s Victorian developers.
The site was that of the former mansion of the Ashness family, set
amid 3½ acres of pleasure grounds, acquired at auction in 1875 by Ingram
with two partners—James John Brown, a timber merchant (Brixton-based, like
Ingram), and George Powell, a City lawyer. Among several plans for two new
roads leading off Battersea Rise to join with the Conservative Land Society’s
estate at Shelgate Road was one by W. H. Rawlings, a Lambeth architect, who
may also have designed the generally uniform house-fronts.105
These were big three-storey residences of about eleven rooms each,
built in terraces, and faced in grey-white gault bricks, with some courses of
red brick and canted bays of stone with incised decoration. Despite the
apparent uniformity, several builders were at work in 1876–9: John Miller of
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Clapham built most of Almeric Road; Alexander Bryce, John Price, and David
Kettle were all active in Lindore Road. Seventeen taller houses, made up to
four storeys by the addition of basements, also went up in three ranges at 39–
71 Battersea Rise (known originally as 1–17 Clapham Common Gardens), the
builder on this occasion being James Duncanson, another Brixtonite.106 A little
more decoration went into these ‘high street’ rows, in the form of additional
string-courses and door and window-heads in contrasting red brick.
Leathwaite Road and vicinity
While John Cobeldick’s builders were getting under way in Broomwood Road
in the early 1880s (above), two other big estates further north were being
snapped up and primed for housing. These were West Side (or Webb’s) estate
and Chatto’s, adjoining properties at the junction of Clapham Common with
Battersea Rise, each with its own villa, gardens and meadows, together
amounting to some thirty-two acres. Construction here was overseen by
Thomas Ingram and Henry Bragg, and was carried out expeditiously, most of
the 720-odd houses reaching completion by 1886, allowing the pair to move
south to Broomwood Road where Cobeldick had come unstuck.
West Side was acquired in 1881. W. N. Dunn, recently the provider of
designs for the same partnership at Lavender Sweep, again took charge of
planning. This being a long, narrow plot, Dunn simply extended the east–
west streets of the neighbouring Conservative Land Society estate—Shelgate,
Mallinson, Bennerley, Salcott and Wakehurst Roads—east of Webb’s Road to
run for a final short stretch as far as Leathwaite Road, a new north–south road
ranged along the estate’s eastern boundary. By 1884, with building going
well, Dunn had decided to add two more short streets at either end of the
estate—now Keildon and Berber Roads.107
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In the side-streets, the two-storey terrace-house with canted bays again
reigned supreme; nearly all date from the years c.1884–7. White and stock
brick still predominated, though one of the more pleasing rows, built by Peter
Duplock at 140–154 Bennerley Road, with decorated window piers and male
and female heads, was faced in red brick. Parts of Webb’s Road were made
use of as shopping parades.108
There were variants, notably some large three-storey houses in a
Queen Anne Revival style at 53–65 Shelgate Road and, immediately behind,
at 31–35 Keildon Road, erected in 1884–5 by Alfred Wing & Company. Sideentrances
for servants suggest they hoped to draw a slightly better class of
resident than the neighbouring houses, which they did, but only initially.109
Leathwaite Road followed suit, with long two-storey terraces, but also
some taller, three-storey Queen Anne-style rows at its north end, such as Nos
1–7, built in 1883 by John B. Gerrans of Lee in Kent (Ill. 18.32). These may
have been the work of the south London architect Frederick Lea, who
designed 94–100 Shelgate Road for Gerrans in 1885. Elsewhere, Dunn
probably designed the long symmetrical parade built in 1886–7 as the public
face of the estate on the ‘high street’ frontage at 1–37 Battersea Rise.110
With West Side filling up by the mid-1880s, Ingram and Bragg moved
on to Chatto’s estate. Unusually, this had been acquired for development in
1881 by Alfred Heaver, but then quickly dropped by him and sold on;
perhaps like others he suffered from the glut in the suburban housing market.
Plans had been prepared for Heaver by W. C. Poole; and essentially it was
Poole’s layout that re-appeared under the pen of Dunn, acting for Ingram and
Bragg, bringing into being Burland, Chatto, Dulka and Grandison Roads, as
well as extensions to Leathwaite and Wakehurst Roads.111
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Between 1885 and 1888, another 270-odd houses were added in these
streets to the 450 or so already going up on West Side, to which it was
connected, most of them two-storey terraces in gault brick.112 Only 1–19
Burland Road, with their bargeboarded gables, and 116–122 Grandison Road,
tricked out with red-brick window arches and corbelled porches, broke the
mould to any degree.
West of Clapham Common
The final burst of house-building between the commons began in 1905 with
the development of the garden of Heathfield (now 21 Clapham Common
West Side), a house of the early 1800s. In 1902 John Cobeldick bought
Heathfield, where he was based for a time. Though he spared the house, he
agreed with John Smith for the erection of forty-four houses in a new road
called Sumburgh Road and continuations of Thurleigh Road (Nos 127–149 &
130–140) and Clapham Common West Side (Nos 14–20 & 22–24) on its
garden. All were built in 1905–8.113 A mix of red-brick terraces and semis,
these represent the acme of the suburban style Smith had been honing for
twenty years between the commons, with double-height bays, terrazzo
forecourts, stained-glass doors, and Smith’s trademark terracotta panels of
swag decoration beneath the first-floor windows.
Immediately to the north of these houses stands Walsingham Place and
25–32 Clapham Common West Side, a late 1990s estate by Rialto Homes on
the site of Walsingham (formerly Marianne Thornton) School. In places its
four-storey houses with integral garages mimic their Victorian neighbours
with some unconvincing canted bays and moulded decorations.114
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Battersea Rise House estate. In 1907 the famous old house and its neighbours
(Maisonette and Glenelg) were acquired by (Sir) Edwin Evans, of Evans &
Sons, the Lavender Hill auctioneers, estate agents, surveyors and developers.
In this instance Evans was not acting alone, but as the active member of a
consortium of local businessmen, alongside H. N. Corsellis, his partner
George Francis Berney, and Percival A. Watney, of the Wandsworth
distillery.115
Evans’s plan, approved in 1908, was to build around 475 houses in five
new north–south roads—Alfriston, Muncaster, Canford, Bowood and
Wisley—as well as in extensions to Wakehurst and Culmstock Roads and
Clapham Common West Side. A handful more were planned for the estate’s
fringes, in Chatto, Broomwood and Grandison Roads. A plot at the corner of
Alfriston and Culmstock Roads was reserved for a church, to have been
designed by John S. Quilter & Son, but this never materialized; another small
portion of the estate, at its south end, facing Broomwood Road, had already
been reserved for the LCC’s Clapham County Secondary School for Girls
(1908–9).116
House-construction began in 1908 near the common, mostly north of
Wakehurst Road, and progressed well, the whole corner block bounded by
Wakehurst and Muncaster Roads, including the houses at 86–122 Clapham
Common West Side, being erected in 1908–11, as were the north-west section
of Alfriston and other parts of Canford and Culmstock Roads. W. H. George
and Samuel Rashleigh were the biggest builders here. Muncaster Road and
most of the rest of the estate south of Wakehurst Road followed in the next
few years, leaving only about sixty or so plots unfilled when war brought
work to a halt in 1915.117
Most of the pre-war houses were in typical two-storey Edwardian
terraces, and largely designed in-house, perhaps by the young E. Dudley
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Evans, one of Edwin Evans’s sons and partners, who by this date was
increasingly involved with the firm’s work. However, the somewhat finer
houses at the north end of Muncaster Road (at Nos 1–27 & 2–30, of 1911–14),
built by W. H. George, were the work of another emerging young architect,
his son Edgar J. George (Ills 18.34, 35). He was responsible too for other
livelier than usual rows built at this time by his father, as at 69–83 Muncaster
Road, and 37–67 & 62–88 Alfriston Road, as well as the exceptional house at
90 Alfriston Road (Ills 18.36, 37).118 This house was, and still is, despite later
alterations, unlike any other in Battersea. Its rakish sloping gable, deeply
overhanging eaves, quasi-rustic window-shutters, pale-painted roughcast and
thin, contrasting stringcourses of red tile—all express an interest in C. F. A.
Voysey’s oeuvre of the 1890s and early 1900s. The Cottage, as it was called,
was designed as a family home for George and his new wife, Maggie Miriam
George, the freehold possibly a wedding gift from his father. Several welldesigned
fittings illustrate E. J. George’s eye for style and detail, which
continued inside the house in the entrance hall, staircase and fireplace
surrounds. Sadly, he had little time to enjoy his new home—he was killed in
action on the Somme in September 1916. His widow lived on there, latterly remarried,
till c.1930.119
Work on the estate resumed in the early 1920s, most of the gaps in
Clapham Common West Side (at Nos 123–125, 128–134), Alfriston (69–87, 92–
120), Muncaster (73–81), and Culmstock Roads (30–36), as well as the east side
of Wisley Road, being completed in 1922–3. The last row to go up was 42–52
Culmstock Road, erected by Bessard Brown Ltd in 1929. Also, a gap left by
the builders of Grandison Road nearly forty years earlier for a possible future
extension of Burland Road was plugged with two new houses, numbered
103A and 105A.120
Once again Evans & Sons supplied most of the designs, offering three
or four types of four-bedroom semi, usually in a repetitive cut-price Arts &
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Crafts style, with roughcast upper stories, bowed windows and a little
coloured glazing. Occasionally a more streamlined garden suburb look crept
in, as at 73–81 Muncaster Road. One row, at 79–87 Alfriston Road, of 1922,
was designed by John S. Quilter & Son; here the central pair of houses break
forward in brick-fronted gables, in a distinctive cottage estate style. Nos 92–
120, opposite, in the same style, are doubtless by the same architects.121
Other than a few pockets of bomb-damage replacement, the estate
remains much as when first laid out.
Holmside Road area. A short coda to the story of redevelopment on the sites
of older, larger houses is provided by Holmside Road and parts of the
adjoining streets, developed with suburban semis in the 1920s and 30s.
Firstly Courtlands, an 11-bedroom Victorian residence at the junction
of Nightingale Lane and Ramsden Road, was acquired by Edwin Evans &
Sons. In 1924–5 twelve houses were built there for Evans by H. & E. Wooding,
comprising two pairs of semis each in Nightingale Lane (52–54A), Ramsden
Road (177–183) and Sudbrooke Road (62–65). All were standard two-storey
units, in stock and red brick and roughcast, with tiny garages, their outersuburban
look accentuated by oak boundary lych gates, a late addition to the
design by Evans & Sons.122
The redevelopment of Beecholme a few years later was a bigger
enterprise. One of the largest Victorian mansions hereabouts, its extensive
wooded grounds would have been coveted by early twentieth-century
speculators, when precious little building land remained. Three other houses
to its east, either side of present-day Thurleigh Avenue, were acquired at the
same time, allowing the developers a little more elbow room.
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The developers in question were F. T. Wooding & Sons, a Streatham
building firm. They acquired the Beecholme estate by 1926, when plans for 70-
odd new houses were prepared for them by John S. Quilter & Son. Twelve
were built in Nightingale Lane (Nos 8–30, of 1927–31), eighteen in Thurleigh
Avenue (7–21 & 2–20, of c.1931), and sixteen in Thurleigh Road (88–118, of
1927–30), as well as a further twenty-eight in a new road. Intended to be
known as Beecholme Road, its name was later changed to Holmside, and its
houses were among the last to be built, in 1929–31. All were of two storeys,
mostly semi-detached, and dressed in a similar humble suburban style to
those by Evans & Son, but of slightly better quality.123
Hightrees House. The only progressive design among inter-war
developments on the west side of Clapham Common is this smart apartment
block, at the corner with Nightingale Lane (Ills 18.38, 39). It was erected in
1938 for the Central London Property Trust Ltd, and was the last big private
building project in the area, partly occupying the site of an old mansion of the
same name. It was also a rare London commission for the architect Richard
William Herbert Jones (d.1965), better known for his hotels and other Decostyle
seaside commissions at Saltdean and Rottingdean for the Saltdean
Estate, in particular the streamlined Saltdean Lido (1937–8).124 In plan the
block comprised a double ‘E’ shape, with the shorter arms turned to face
Nightingale Lane, the longer ones at the rear, running alongside Clapham
Common. The main decorative elements to the brick façades are the whitepainted
cement or concrete curved balconies that occupy the centre and ends
of the blocks, and which taper as they rise towards the upper storeys.
Inside were 110 flats, arranged off central corridors. Some had only one
bedsitting room, with a separate bathroom and kitchen, others had four
rooms and the same facilites; but the majority were three-room apartments. In
keeping with the modernizing spirit of the age every sitting-room had an eye-
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catching central ‘feature’ of electric heater, radio and clock as a substitute for
the more traditional fireplace surround. Communal basement facilities
included a restaurant, bar and swimming pool, and storage units for deckchairs
were provided on the large open flat roof.
But so close to the outbreak of war, residents at first did not come in
large numbers. As a result, the head lessees, a specially formed subsidiary
(High Trees House Ltd), asked for and received a reduction in ground rent in
1941. After the war, when the block was fully occupied, the landlords took
legal action to retrieve lost rent. The resultant court case, presided over by
Judge (later Lord) Denning, proved to be a landmark in contract law, Denning
arguing that the wartime agreement made the landlords’ legal rights
unenforceable, and in so doing introduced the modern legal principle of
promissory estoppel.125
Post-war public housing
Of the various public housing developments in the area, the larger Auckland
Road and Chatham Road estates are noticed separately below. These
paragraphs deal with medium-sized projects, chiefly along Bolingbroke
Grove and in and close to Nightingale Lane. Smaller or individual instances
of post-war replacement or infill have not been noted. Perhaps the first postwar
housing built by Battersea Council was on a badly bombed site between
Honeywell and Broomwood Roads, where the formally arranged Honeywell
Road Estate arose in 1946–8. It consists of five blocks of flats, three facing
Broomwood Road and two Honeywell Road. They are of three storeys with
hipped roofs; balcony access is from the rear, where a bare open court is
centred on an old-fashioned drying ground.126
Draft
Survey of London © English Heritage 2013 50
Bolingbroke Grove attracted two developments of balcony-access flats
in the immediate post-war years, both designed by in-house architects under
Battersea’s Borough Engineer, and both planned in L-shaped format with
open gardens to their south and west next to road junctions. The threestoreyed
Lane Court at Nos 19–20, built by the Council’s Works Department,
replaced two lightly damaged villas next to the corner of Thurleigh Road in
1948–9. Its original brick access balconies along the backs have been replaced
by metal and glass ones.127 More ambitious is Stephen Sanders Court
overlooking Wakehurst Road, built in 1949–51 by Gorham Ltd (Ill. 18.40).
Here, on a severely bombed site, the development rises to five storeys in one
wing and four in the other. The architectural treatment is firmer; the
individual concrete balconies towards the garden bear the imprint of the
Festival Hall, while the access balconies at the back, visible along Salcott
Road, have a horizontal severity. The development is named after a Battersea
socialist and MP.

Nightingale Lane likewise has two early post-war blocks of flats, some
distance apart. First-built was Holmside Court at No. 6 (1948–50), yet again
an L-shaped, three-storeyed development, though here the two wings are
separated, the access is from stairs, and the tight villa site entailed a narrower
garden. Abbott House followed in 1949–51, further west on a bomb site at
the corner of Hendrick Avenue. It was started by H. T. Jones & Co., but taken
over by Wates Ltd.130 Once again its architecture, rising in parts to four
storeys, is strong. The main road front has an almost monumental brick
character, articulated by long staircase windows and framing devices
enclosing deeply recessed balconies.
Later council housing in this area is rare. An exception is Malins
Court, a four-storey maisonette building at 58 Nightingale Lane, backing on
to a three-storey block at 38–43 Sudbrooke Road. These were erected by
Battersea’s Works Department to designs supplied by the Borough Engineer in 1962–4. They have stylish external concrete stairs for access to the upper floors. Further east, the Council’s attempt to demolish and build on the sites
of 1–3 Thurleigh Avenue having failed, it had to be content with building on
the back garden of No. 1 the four houses now numbered 120–128 Thurleigh
Road (c.1957–8), possibly designed by Sir Guy Dawber, Fox & Robinson.132
Also in Thurleigh Road and certainly these architects’ work is Elizabeth
Cooper House, built in about 1965–7 by Allan Fairhead Ltd for Battersea Old
People’s Housing Ltd, sponsored by Battersea (succeeded by Wandsworth)
Council.133 Its lower-rise neighbour at No. 93 is Ivor Mayor Lodge.

Chatham Road

Chatham Road is the only area between the commons to have a conspicuous
presence of public housing, reflecting its different—and anterior—history to
its wider environs (Ills 18.42, 43). Built between 1966 and 1973, it falls into two
distinct linear entities, east and west of Northcote Road.

Chatham Road East goes back to 1964, when Battersea Council
considered plans for redeveloping the north side of the road on either side of
the Gardener’s Arms, which was probably rebuilt at the same time. The
architects chosen were Emberton, Tardrew & Partners, already working for
Battersea at Southlands, while Joseph Capo-Bianco was named as structural
consultant. That pairing was to become notorious as designers of the
Doddington Estate, but no hint of trouble is recorded at Chatham Road.
Building took place in 1966–7 after the change to Wandsworth Council, the
contractors being Joseph Cartwright Ltd.

The development divides into two blocks east of the public house, Nos
121–133, arranged in an L with open ground in front, and the tougher-looking
Chatham Court at Nos 83–117, to the pub’s west and also L-shaped, but this
time with the open space behind. The blocks take cognizance of the slope in
the road and are built in load-bearing brick with brown facers. At the bottom
is the Northcote Road Library, designed by Wandsworth’s in-house architects

The larger Chatham Road West scheme followed on from 1967, when
Wandsworth Council proposed to buy up around seven acres all the way
from Northcote Road to Bolingbroke Grove, including the whole of Darley
Road and much of Chatham Road. The immediate environs of St Michael’s
Church were excluded, as was the nearby Bolingbroke pub. By the time the
worked-up scheme reached the Housing Committee in 1969, Wandsworth’s
approach to public housing had changed. It was the Borough Architect who
brought forward the low-key scheme. This consisted of 89 houses and 52 flats,
mostly arranged round intimate U-shaped courts, with vehicle access,
Radburn-fashion, from the rear. There was still some thought of using an
industrialized system for the development, as elsewhere in Wandsworth (at
Bedford Hill and Merton Road). That option did not prevail, and the design
was duly built in load-bearing brickwork by E. Clarke & Sons in 1971–3.135
The focus of the estate is a formal path along the old line of Chatham
Road, renamed Halston Close (all new names were taken from places in
Kent). This leads westwards up the slope from Northcote Road, with two
narrow courts on its south side and a third to its north. Taller monopitch roofs
and boxy wooden porches give pep to the pale-brick, two-storey houses. This
scale works well along the pathway, but the back roads (Darley Road and
Rainham Close) feel empty. Cobham Close, the westernmost portion of the
development stretching up to Bolingbroke Grove, includes a wide-open space
behind St Michael’s that aggrandizes the look of this low-rise church. The
Bolingbroke pub survived here till 2008, but has since been replaced.

Auckland Road Estate

This close-packed council estate was shoehorned into a two-acre back area between Northcote Road and Battersea Rise in the years after 1976. It covered properties on the east side of Auckland Road and the north side of Cairns Road. Abyssinia Road behind them was wiped out by the scheme, but its line is partly retained in the new access road christened Abyssinia Close.

Wandsworth Council’s Housing Committee suggested this area for compulsory purchase in 1973, claiming that the old houses were substandard, though by no means slums. The Director of Development hoped to build fifty five replacement dwellings, a figure later raised to fifty-nine. Work was due to start in 1975 but postponed for a year. The buildings, presumably designed in-house, are quiet, two- and three-storey affairs of brick with pitched roofs. The only touch of adventure is along Auckland Road, where the sloping ground is dug out and bridges reach across to the front doors of the upper units. A pathway through the estate leads to an open space, north of which is an old people’s home in the same brick idiom, 14 Abyssinia Close.


From a Survey of London © English Heritage 2013 – Chapter 18

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/research/survey-london/battersea



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