Rosenau Road was named after Schloss Rosenau, the birthplace and boyhood home of
of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who became the consort of Queen Victoria.
After the opening of Albert Bridge
in 1873 offered the prospect of easy access to Chelsea and the West End, development along its approach road became more attractive. Hedworth Williamson, a speculator then acting as building contractor for the bridge, saw the potential. A cousin of his better-known namesake, the diplomat Sir Hedworth Williamson, he had a somewhat doubtful record in property speculation. A warrant for his arrest issued in 1865 over a questionable sale of shares described him as ‘5ft 6in high, of florid complexion, and very stout face, with projecting front teeth; wears no whiskers or moustache’.
He employed as his architect and surveyor John Robinson. Robinson drew up the initial plans for Williamson, writing in November 1871 to the Commissioners:
At the present moment I think it cannot be denied that the Locality has a bad
name, but, as most of the Building Ground surrounding the Park is still unlet
and as it is in most parts of considerable width, the opportunity I think
presents itself of raising the character of the neighbourhood by limiting the
number of houses to be erected and by requiring those to be erected to be of a
On these lines, Williamson agreed to take most of the ground on the west side of the park (about twelve acres) at £80 per annum per acre, promising to build five detached or ten semi-detached villas facing Albert Bridge
Road by 1874–5, with terraces behind, and to repeat this rate of building annually until there were 16 detached or 32 semi-detached houses and a further 65 houses in the hinterland.
Robinson devised two new roads behind Albert Bridge
Road (Rosenau and Anhalt Road
s) to be lined with terraces. In addition, Petworth Street
was extended to its east, but plans to straighten out Marsh Lane (later Ethelburga Street
) and create a new park entrance opposite came to nothing. Among the first houses on Albert Bridge
Road was Park House (demolished), built in 1873 at the north corner of Ethelburga Street
for Benjamin Cooke, a former Lincolnshire farmer turned builder, who also took other plots near by.
A century later, a scheme came before the London County Council in November 1960. A mixed development on a site of some 14 acres, it comprised 578 dwellings distributed between one 23-storey block (the highest yet mooted in Battersea), three blocks of seven-storey flats, and a multitude of lower groups. The main element delayed was the future Ethelburga Tower, to whose height local residents had objected. A tribunal upheld their case, forcing the LCC to lop off six storeys. Otherwise the construction phase seems to have gone well, most of the estate being occupied in 1965.