Northcote Road, SW11

Road in/near Earlsfield, existing between 1868 and now

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(51.45685 -0.16553) 

Northcote Road, SW11

MAP YEAR:1750180018301860190019502020Remove markers
Road · Earlsfield · SW11 ·
August
24
2018

Northcote Road is a shopping street between Clapham and Battersea, which stretches over half a mile.

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 Road, Cairns Road, Shelgate Road, Mallinson Road, Bennerley Road and Salcott Road), 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 Webb’s 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.

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.

Northcote Road has an historic food market which dates back to the 1860s, and now has the indoor Northcote Road Antiques Market. As with the vast majority of street markets, Northcote Road is a mere shadow of itself, being much smaller size, and more specialised in what its stalls offer.


Citation information: A Survey of London – Between the Commons – The Under
Further citations and sources




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Limburg Road, SW11 Limburg Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
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Mayford Close, SW12 A street within the SW12 postcode
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McDermott Close, SW11 McDermott Close is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Molasses Row, SW11 Molasses Row is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Monarch Square, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Montholme Road, SW11 Montholme Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Morella Road, SW11 Morella Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
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Mysore Road, SW11 Mysore Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Nepaul Road, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
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Nottingham Road, SW17 Nottingham Road is one of the streets of London in the SW17 postal area.
Ouseley Road, SW12 Ouseley Road is one of the streets of London in the SW12 postal area.
Parma Cres, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Parma Crescent, SW11 Parma Crescent is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Patience Road, SW11 Patience Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Patten Road, SW18 Patten Road is a road in the SW18 postcode area
Peabody Estate, SW11 Peabody Estate is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Plantation Wharf, SW11 Plantation Wharf is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Poyntz Road, SW11 Poyntz Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Prested Road, SW11 Prested Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Railway Arches, SW11 Railway Arches is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Rainham Close, SW11 Rainham Close is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Ravenslea Road, SW12 Ravenslea Road is one of the streets of London in the SW12 postal area.
Riverside Albert Wharf, SW11 Riverside Albert Wharf is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Routh Road, SW18 Routh Road is one of the streets of London in the SW18 postal area.
Rowan Court, SW11 Rowan Court is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Rowena Crescent, SW11 Rowena Crescent was once called Zulu Crescent.
Rusham Road, SW12 Rusham Road is a road in the SW12 postcode area
Saint John’s Road, SW11 Saint John’s Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Salcott Road, SW11 Salcott Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Sandgate Lane, SW18 This is a street in the SW18 postcode area
Severus Road, SW11 Severus Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Sheepcote Lane, SW11 Sheepcote Lane is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Shelgate Road, SW11 Shelgate Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Shellgate Road, SW11 Shellgate Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Shellwood Road, SW11 Shellwood Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Sherwood Court, SW11 Sherwood Court is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Signalling Centre, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Sisters Avenue, SW11 Sisters Avenue is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
South Bank Business Centre, SW11 South Bank Business Centre is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Southbank Business Centre, SW11 Southbank Business Centre is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Spice Court, SW11 Spice Court is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
St Johns Road, SW11 St Johns Road, formerly a main road, is now pedestrianised.
St Johns Roadclapham, SW11 St Johns Roadclapham is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
St. John’s Hill, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
St. John’s Road, SW11 St. John’s Road is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Stonells Road, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Strath Terrace, SW11 Strath Terrace is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Street John’s Hill, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Street Johns Hill, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Sullivan Close, SW11 Sullivan Close is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Takhar Mews, SW11 Takhar Mews is a road in the SW11 postcode area
The Arches, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
The Bakehouse, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
The Bakehouse, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
The Junction Centre, SW11 The Junction Centre is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
The Junction Shopping Centre, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
The Old Laundry Alexander Studios, SW11 The Old Laundry Alexander Studios is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
The Raven, SW11 The Raven is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
The School, SW11 The School is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Theatre Street, SW11 Theatre Street is a road in the SW11 postcode area
Town Hall Road, SW11 This is a street in the SW11 postcode area
Turner Place, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Tyneham Close, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Wakehurst Road, SW11 Wakehurst Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Wakehurst Road, SW4 Wakehurst Road is a road in the SW4 postcode area
Wakehurstreet Road, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Wandsworth Common Railway Station, SW12 A street within the SW12 postcode
Wandsworth Common, SW12 A street within the SW12 postcode
Wandsworth Common, SW18 Wandsworth Common is one of the streets of London in the SW18 postal area.
Wayford Street, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Webb’s Road, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Webbs Road, SW11 Webbs Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Wellington Court, SW11 Wellington Court is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Wexford Road, SW12 Wexford Road is one of the streets of London in the SW12 postal area.
Wiseton Road, SW17 Wiseton Road is one of the streets of London in the SW17 postal area.
Wisley Road, SW11 Wisley Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Worcester Gardens, SW11 A street within the SW11 postcode
Wroughton Road, SW11 Wroughton Road is one of the streets of London in the SW11 postal area.
Zulu Mews, SW11 Zulu Mews lies within the curve of a Battersea railway.


Earlsfield

Earlsfield gets its name from a long-demolished 1860s mansion called 'Earlsfield' just south of Allfarthing Lane.

In the 1860s, the whole area was an uninhabited stretch of open country, apart from the hamlet of Garratt to the south, famous in the eighteenth century for the bizarre political burlesque of the Election of the Mayor of Garratt which took place near the Leather Bottle.

Earlsfield finally started growing in the 1880s. The railway came in 1884, and in 1885 a vast workhouse was established on Swaffield Road. By 1900 developers had covered practically the whole area north of the station with terraced housing. In the years just after the First World War, Wandsworth Borough Council created the Magdalen Park Estate between Swaby Road and Openview.

Nowadays, Earlsfield is a commuter suburb with little industry.
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