Severus Road, SW11

In 1885, the area which became Severus Road and other local streets consisted of meadowland and gardens. In that year and for the following four years, builder Alfred Heaver and architect C. J.Bentley went to work. Having paid £16 000 for the land, Heaver named the area St John’s Park and proceeded to build 225 houses on five streets.

Most of the land was acquired from the Whiting family. Also included was George Alder’s former house on St John’s Hill, which gave main-road access from the north. The area was bounded on the east by St John’s Road and to the south by Battersea Rise.

Alfred Heaver suggested names for the new roads: Markfield Road, Winton Road, Manbury Road and Danehurst Road. Boutflower Road already existed as a lane. The Metropolitan Board of Works rejected the new road names as ’unsuitable’ and suggested instead, rather exotically, Aliwal Road, Comyn Road, Eckstein Road and Severus Road. Boutflower Road, for the existing lane, was a local choice, commemorating the late Henry Boutflower Verdon, first vicar-designate of St Mark’s Church.

By October 1885 roads, sewers and some houses were under construction. Heaver leased and mortgaged plots to a variety of builders.

Severus Road, being a link to St John’s Hill, gained shops on that corner. Otherwise it became residential.

The small bends in the plans for other roads – Eckstein Road and Comyn Road – were put in place to skirt land that Heaver had sold to the Masonic School for its new Alexandra Wing and Centenary Hall. Aliwal Road and Comyn Roads were built up between 1885 and 1887.

The original ambitions had been solidly middle class but many of the houses were turned into flats. Given the proximity to Clapham Junction station, many clerks and others employed in the City moved in. In other houses, building workers came to live. There were also many dressmakers and milliners working at home.

Towards the St John’s Hill end of Severus Road, there were also musicians, actors and picture-palace attendants by 1910.

The expansion of shops along St John’s Road caused the loss or incorporation of houses on the east ends of the streets.

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