Pimlico is the triangular area of land bounded by Vauxhall Bridge Road, the Thames and the railway into Victoria Station. The first recorded use of the name was in 1626 when it referred to a group of mean cottages called Neat Houses around Ranelagh Gardens. When the nearby Buckingham House had been sold to George III the low lying land of Pimlico had been little developed apart from a brewery which was to become Watney’s Stag Brewery. So it remained until the middle of the 1830s when Thomas Cubitt obtained leases from the Grosvenor Estate, into whose hands much of the land had passed, and began to build here in the same style as he had done in Belgravia, though in a less grand way. Like Belgravia the area was developed with stucco-fronted terraces of mid-19th century classical design built along straight streets and around three squares. The largest and most opulent houses were built along St George’s Drive and Belgrave Road, the two principal streets, and in Eccleston, Warwick and St George’s Squares. A number of churches were also constructed such as St Saviours (1863-4) and St Gabriels (1853) (Thomas Cundy Junior) in St George’s Square and Warwick Square respectively. A newspaper article in 1877 described Pimlico or ‘South Belgravia’ as ‘genteel, sacred to professional men… not rich enough to luxuriate in Belgravia proper, but rich enough to live in private houses – for this is a retired suburb’. Its inhabitants were ‘more lively than in Kensington… and yet a cut above Chelsea, which is only commercial.’ The status of Pimlico as a residential area declined in the late 19th century and the 20th century up to the last decade. Although it has been redeveloped around the edges with modern housing estates, much of the original 19th century core of Pimlico still remains.
The area was originally developed during the early 19th century as a mixed industrial and residential area on the banks of the Thames. It was completely redeveloped after world war II, with the exception of a terrace of early 19th century houses to Grosvenor Road and two late Victorian public houses.
The redevelopment, to provide Council housing and associated facilities, took place between 1946-62 to a design by Powell and Moya. In all 1600 homes in 36 blocks, local shops and a school to Lupus Street, plus primary health care facilities, were built in 4 phases stretching over 16 years.
The Churchill Gardens Estate comprises 36 blocks, the tallest of which at ten to eleven storeys is set at right angles to Lupus Street, with lower blocks positioned between and two terraces of three storeys facing onto Grosvenor Road.
The most prominent feature is the glass faced polygonal tower, built to store hot water for the whole Estate. The skilful arrangement of the blocks allows for a feeling of openness and light design, despite a residential density of 200 persons per acre. Although the detailed design of the blocks varied from phase to phase, the Estate achieves an overall integrity of design which is uncompromisingly modern for its time.
The first blocks of the scheme were awarded the R.I.B.A. London Architectural Bronze Medal in 1950.
The Estate also won a Civic Trust Award. The predominant use in the area is residential with supporting health, educational, social and shopping facilities. The Conservation Area also includes the stretch of the river frontage opposite the Estate.
This area was originally developed in the 19th century. By 1870 it comprised of small scale terraced housing which was redeveloped during the first forty years of the 20th century. This last phase of development remains substantially intact; it comprises a mixture of speculatively built residential blocks of flats and small scale commercial buildings. It is characteristic of early 20th century residential development in south Westminster.