The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
The estate was built to rehouse those poor who were not being served by the LCC’s new suburban estates, and was significantly denser to suit the urban site. It was located on the site of the Somers Town slum, between Euston and St Pancras
stations. The original proposal made in 1925 was for 9-storey blocks on the American model, which would have required lifts, and with more expensive flats for private tenants on the highest floors. This was rejected and the height reduced to a maximum of 7 storeys, with fewer lifts and no private flats. The provision of central heating was also eliminated, but the buildings were unusual in providing electricity from the start, and Levita House had the first central heating system installed by the LCC.
The design, by G. Topham Forrest, chief architect of the LCC, and his assistants R. Minton Taylor and E.H. Parkes, was influenced by Viennese modernist public housing such as Karl Marx-Hof, which Forrest had visited. The estate consists of blocks grouped around three courtyards, and small greens, reached by archways from Ossulston and Chalton Street
s; some of the original plantings survive. The buildings have some neo-Georgian features in the treatment of roofs and windows, but are modernist in being of steel-frame construction with unornamented roughcast walls, the facades instead enlivened by spatial features such as the archways in front of the balconies which lead to the individual flats.
Chamberlain House, three blocks of flats, was built in 1927–29; Levita House, south of it and named for Cecil Levita, who was chairman of the LCC’s Housing Committee in the 1920s, was built in 1930–31 and consists of the 7-storey section and wings enclosing a grand courtyard which was originally intended to lead to the premium flats. Walker House was begun in 1929–30, but the other side of the courtyard was completed in 1936–37 with more traditional brick 6-storey buildings. The total number of flats was 310. Chamberlain House, Levita House, the southern part of Walker House and the associated shops and The Cock Tavern
public house are all Grade II listed buildings.
In 2004–07, Levita House was extensively refurbished by Sprunt Architects, which included creating larger flats, external refurbishment of the fabric and transformation of the courtyard areas.
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Ossulston Estate The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931. Rhodes Farm Rhodes Farm was situated on Hampstead Road. Somers Town Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. St. James Gardens St. James Gardens were used as a burial ground between 1790 and 1853. Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire. Denton Street, N1C Denton Street disappeared under the construction of St Pancras station. Dukes Road, WC1H Dukes Road is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area. Judd Street, WC1H Judd Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area. Medburn Street, NW1 Medburn Street is named after a farm between Elstree and Radlett in Hertfordshire. The Polygon The Polygon was a housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses. Watford Street, NW1 Watford Street was cleared away in the 1860s to make way to St Pancras station. Wilsted Street, NW1 Wilsted Street was the original name for the lower end of Ossulston Street.
Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Road
s, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road
, Euston Road
and Eversholt Street
Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1725–1806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (1651–1716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.
In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court
deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.
When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street
with an entrance in Ossulston Street
. The school accommodated about six hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children’s play area and sports court.
Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road
and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.
During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Street
s was a centre for the squatting movement.
In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.
Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.
Land at Brill Place
, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.