Dolphin Square was designed by the architect Gordon Jeeves and built between 1937-38. At the time it was built it was the largest block of flats in Europe. It was built on a 7.5 acre site and also provided recreation land on the river frontage side of Grosvenor Road.
It was planned as a “high class” modern residential complex in the 1930s, complete with shops and other facilities. There are thirteen wings mostly ten storeys high but only seven storeys high on the street frontage, grouped around a large internal courtyard. The architectural style is neo-classical in brown brick with stone dressings. The building dominates this riverside setting, and provides residents at the front with fine views up and down the Thames.
Views of the Thames can also be enjoyed from the riverside gardens, but access to the river is
restricted by some riverside development.
The area is predominantly residential.
The Conservation Area includes two distinct areas, Grosvenor Gardens and Victoria Square. The former was set out in the 1860’s by Thomas Cundy III. The latter developed circa 1840, by Matthew Wyatt.
The formal layout of public open space at Grosvenor Gardens is formed by two triangular gardens enclosed by four grand mid-Victorian, French Renaissance style terraces. There is a fifth terrace on Lower Grosvenor Place. The Victoria Square development is characterised by domestically scaled stuccoed terraces. In Lygon Place off Ebury Street there is a terrace of Queen Anne style houses, built circa 1900 (listed grade II). There are also three small mews, at the rear of the Grosvenor Gardens terraces.
Horseferry Road existed in medieval times as a route to the horseferry across the Thames. By the end of the 18th century it marked the edge of the built up area of the City of Westminster with a few houses in Horseferry Road and Medway Street. It was not until the early 19th century that this area was extensively developed with terraced housing. A few late Georgian buildings survive in the two street blocks bordered by Horseferry Road, Medway Street and Monck Street. The area comprised modest residential terraced housing of simple late Georgian vernacular, now interspersed with two post war churches, the Church of the Sacred Heart and the Horseferry Road Baptist Church, and a number of 20th century residential and commercial buildings.
The most notable feature of this area is the small scale and domestic character of the majority of the buildings. The scale of later development to the street block bounded by Medway Street, Arneway Street and Horseferry Road is similar to that of the late Georgian houses.
However, the block bounded by Medway Street, Monck Street, Horseferry Road and Arneway Street does not have the same cohesive scale, although the properties fronting onto Horseferry Road are domestic in scale if varied in design. Some of the post war redevelopment was a result of bomb damage.
The predominant use is residential with a small number of commercial uses, particularly to Horseferry Road, and some community uses linked to the two churches. Most of the buildings within the Conservation Area are of 3 storeys constructed in brown and red brick. The post war Church of the Sacred Heart and attached hostel is of similar sympathetic scale and materials to the older buildings. The two street blocks reflect the character of the early 19th century south part of Westminster.
The site was originally part of the Chelsea Waterworks but remained undeveloped under the ownership of the London, Dover and Continental Railway. Following financial problems the company sold the land to the Peabody Trust in 1874. H.A. Darbishire, the Trust’s architect from 1862 -1885, adapted his standard ‘formular’ tenement block design to this narrow, restrictive site. He created an avenue originally 280 metres long, the western range adjacent to the railway of 5 storeys, the eastern block of 4 storeys, with pitched and slated roofs. Work was completed by the late 1870s.
The three villa tenements of Peabody Close, between the Peabody Avenue and Grosvenor Road, were added as a separate phase of development in the 1880s.
Second World War bombing resulted in the loss of four blocks at the South end of Peabody Avenue and one
block in Peabody Close. The Avenue properties were not replaced and repairs were carried out in a simplified
contemporary style. The two building phases which make up the conservation area illustrate well how much social housing had evolved over such a short period of time.