The schools caretakers cottage is a neglected but interesting footnote in both architectural and social history. In terms of building type, of course it is a house, but it is always part of the larger school design. It stands alone as a home, but fits in the design of the rest of the school. The term cottage is generally used, despite usually being part of an urban school campus. Cottage reflects the origins of the idea of workers cottages on a country estate, something which may seem patrician now, but reflects a concern for employees living conditions which is lost to most modern businesses. Taking a look at these buildings shows us some interesting architectural and social changes.
The Middlesex County Council architects of the interwar years, W.T. Curtis and H.W. Burchett, built a swathe of schools throughout the county between the wars. They included a caretaker's house in their plans as standard, and often in the same Dudok inspired style as the school. Whereas their school designs varied to a certain extent, their caretakers cottage always appeared as a squat, flat roofed brick building on the edge of the school grounds, looking as intimidating and impassive as no doubt their occupants appeared to generations of school children. Many of their schools are still in use, and although the caretakers cottages have by and large been sold off, they are still found on the periphery of the schools grounds. Good examples of interwar MCC caretakers houses can be found at Broomfield School in Arnos Grove (1938), Copthall School in Mill Hill (1936) and Stag Lane School in Harrow (1937). Another good example from the interwar period is at Burlington Danes, Hammersmith (1936). Designed by the firm of Burnet Tait & Lorne, this caretaker's house reflects the campuses strong, moderne brick design, and is included in the Grade II listing for the site.
Curtis and Burchetts successors at the MCC, CG Stillman (1946-59) and H.J. Whitfield Lewis (1959-65) both included houses in their school plans, with more variation in design than Curtis and Burchett. An example of Stillman’s caretakers houses can be seen at Rokesly Junior School in Crouch End, a two storey flat roofed, brick building (1953). Whitfield-Lewis designed the U shaped brick bungalow in the grounds of the Harrow campus of the University of Westminster, built as Central London Polytechnic (1961).
In the post war period, the caretaker's cottage was often included in school designs as standard, a reflection of the political consensus that valued the contribution of every sector of society. Indeed, caretakers homes were often also included on housing estates, sports grounds and hospitals. Some architects included a flat as accommodation for caretakers rather than houses (eg. the Smithsons at Hunstanton and Leonard Manasseh at North Westminster Community College), but largely these were unpopular with their occupants who prefered the privacy and prestige of a house. The firm of Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall included a caretaker's bungalow in their design for The Barclay School in Stevenage (1949), and Slater, Uren and Pike included a very similar caretaker's house in the plans for Kidbrooke Comprehensive (1954), both being among the first groups of comprehensives built in Britain. A caretaker's house was even praised by Ian Nairn in his Modern Buildings in London. The house in question is part of Gospel Oak Primary (1952), designed by the London County Council Architects Department, and was built using prefabricated concrete panels. Nairn praised the sites “sense of serene strength” created by the arrangement and proportions of the house and the school block. The yellow brick house built for the early post war London County Council primary school at Woodberry Down (1945) by RH Matthew, is extant and included with the school campus as a whole in the Grade II listing, although the description notes the house is “not of special interest”.
The architect and school designer Richard Sheppard wrote an article for Architecture & Building News in February 1958 outlining the necessities in designing a school caretakers house. The article also shows examples of some houses and asks the opinions of the caretakers and their families what they like and dislike about their houses. The dislikes are mainly to due with the siting of the house and a lack of space for drying clothes. Among the houses included by Sheppard in his article are those by Architect Co-Partnership (Waltham Cross Secondary & Hurlfield Secondary Modern), Stillman & Eastwick-Field (Camden School for Girls), Denis Clarke Hall (Wycombe Girls School & Woodfield Secondary Modern) and Sheppard himself (Hurlingham Girls School, also mentioned by Nairn).
More illustrious architects also included dwellings in the school designs. Erno Goldfinger designed three schools, two primaries (Westville and Brandelhow) and one Secondary (Haggerston School for Girls). His caretaker's cottage at Haggerston School (1965) in Hackney echoes Curtis and Burchett 1930’s designs, with its squat grey brick appearance, and exposed concrete roof slab. Of the two primary schools, both built using prefab concrete panels, neither caretaker's house exist in its original form, with the Brandelhow house being illegally demolished in 2006. However, Wandsworth Borough Council took the developers to court, with the result being that an exact replica in design and materials was rebuilt. H.T. Cadbury-Brown, who worked for Goldfinger after graduating, designed a caretaker's house as part of his plan for Ashmount Primary in Islington (1958). The school is no longer in use, and the cottage sold off, but the low brick bungalow is relatively unaltered from Cadbury-Brown's initial design. Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, designers of the Barbican, also designed a number of schools including Bousfield Primary in Kensington (1956) which a lovely caretaker's house in brick and glass with coloured window panels, built on the modular system, like the rest of the now Grade II listed school.
As the 1970’s wore on, and political and economic winds changed, the importance of providing accommodation for school caretakers waned. One of the last interesting designs was by Laurence King & Partners for St David and St Katherine’s school in Hornsey (1976), where the house mirrors the schools design in its use of red brick and a staircase tower. The next great school wave occurred after the election of Tony Blair in 1997, by this point however the tradition of caretakers houses had largely been forgotten (or ignored). One caretaker's house that has been built recently is at Phoenix High School in Hammersmith (originally called Hammersmith School and designed by Ted Hollamby). It is a two storey brick building with a butterfly roof, designed by Bond Bryan Architects in 2011.So the idea of a school caretaker's cottage has generally faded along with the post war welfare state ideal it epitomised. But there are still many examples surviving, some still part of the school grounds, some sold into private hands, a fascinating footnote of a passed architectural and social era.
Following on from our walking tour of Charles Holden’s eastern extension Piccadilly Line stations, we will be holding a walking tour of some of the western extension Piccadilly Line stations on Saturday July 9th. This will coincide with the 85th anniversary of the opening of the influential Sudbury Town station on Monday 4th July.
Starting at Rayners Lane and working our way along to Park Royal, we will be looking at some of Holden’s most iconic London Transport work. Taking in the stations of Rayners Lane, South Harrow, Sudbury Hill, Sudbury Town, Alperton and Park Royal, we will also visit the work of other modernist designers, such as Welch, Lander & Day, FE Bromige, Frederick Gibberd and Brian Lewis.
The tour will take place on Saturday July 9th at 11.00am, starting at Rayners Lane station. Tickets are £10 per person (plus booking fee), and can be booked here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/255333
The tour will be limited to 25 people, so book early! The route will be a mixture of walking and tube, so please bring a topped up Oyster card/contactless credit or debit card and a pair of comfortable walking shoes, plus any refreshments you may need. The tour should take approximately 2.5-3 hours.
UPDATE: Group discount now available. Buy 4 or more tickets and get 25% off!
If you have any questions about these tours please email firstname.lastname@example.org or use the reply form below.
Thank you to Blue Crow Media for sending us the wonderful Art Deco London and Brutalist London Maps ( £8 each or £14.50 for both, and available HERE). The just published, Art Deco map showcases a variety of beautiful 1920's and 30's buildings all over London, many of which are Modernism in Metro-Land favorites, from the Piccadilly Line stations we visited on our recent tour, to the factories of Wallis, Gilbert and Partners along the Golden Mile and Western Avenue, to RH Uren's Hornsey Town Hall. The map features an introduction by Henrietta Billings and photos by Simon Phipps.
The Brutalism map, published last year, again features writing by Henrietta Billings and photos by Simon Phipps (aka @new_brutalism). The buildings featured are the best of London's many Brutalist structures, such as the Alexandra Road Estate, Trellick Tower and Robin Hood Gardens, as well as lesser known buildings like Brian Housden's House in Hampstead and Hendon Hall Court by Owen Luder. The maps are a perfect double act to guide you around some of London's 20th Century architecture, (and if you need more buildings to see don't forget our digital map HERE).
An update to our blog post from last July Save St. George's
An application has been put in for local listing, hoping to buy some more time to save this unique 1970's church.
You can read and object on the planning application until Tuesday 3rd May HERE Enter P2015/5074/FUL
Please comment on the application if you would like to see the church saved and reused for the community, rather than be demolished for flats.
A great appraisal of the church by Ian Hunt can be read HERE
After the success of our Open House Stanmore tours last year, we will be holding a walking tour of some of Charles Holden’s Piccadilly Line stations on Saturday May 14th. Starting at Turnpike Lane and working our way up to the terminus at Cockfosters, we will be looking at some of Holden’s most iconic London Transport work. Taking in the stations of Turnpike Lane, Wood Green, Bounds Green, Arnos Grove, Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters, we will also note other modernist buildings along the way, such as Curtis and Burchett's work for Middlesex County Council.
To coincide with the anniversary of Charles Holden’s birth on May 12th, the tour will take place on Saturday May 14th at 10.30 AM.
Tickets are £10 per person (plus booking fee), and can be booked here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/242990 .
The tour will be limited to 25 people, so book early! The route will be a mixture of walking and tube, so please bring a topped up Oyster card/contactless credit or debit card and a pair of comfortable walking shoes, plus any refreshments you may need. The tour should take approximately 2.5-3 hours.
If there is sufficient interest in this tour, we will also host a visit to some of the western extension Piccadilly Line stations in July, to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the opening of Sudbury Town station. If you have any questions about these tours please email email@example.com or use the reply form below.
The career of Owen Williams took in both triumph and disaster, moving from purely functional engineering projects to more expressionist, proto-brutalist buildings. Williams would produce a huge range of buildings and constructions over his fifty year working period, producing motorways, factories, aircraft hangars, offices, apartment blocks, health centres and much much more. He was a driving force in the construction of twentieth century Britain, and a pioneer in the use of a material that would define the post war city, concrete.
Evan Owen Williams was born in Tottenham in 1890, to a Welsh mother and father who had moved to North London to open a grocers shop. While serving an apprenticeship at the Metropolitan Electric Tramways Company, Williams studied Engineering by night class, eventually earning first class honours, before going to work for two engineering firms, Indented Bar & Concrete Engineering and then Trussed Steel Engineering. It was at these companies that Williams got to use and experiment with reinforced concrete, and explore its architectural possibilities. The first known building he was involved with was the Gramophone Factory in Hayes in 1913. A functional, six storey building, it has none of the adornments of most factories of its era, and looks forward to the modernist factory of the twenties and thirties, and across to the pioneering European factories of Peter Behrens and Gropius & Meyer. The building is still standing and now Grade II listed.
Williams spent World War One designing experimental projects for the Admiralty, such flying boats and the use of concrete in ship building. After the war Williams set up his own company and became involved in a project that would end up gaining him a Knighthood, the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley. Designed to bring all corners of the Empire together and show the variety of its cultures and commerce, the Empire Exhibition was built on the site of Sir Edwin Watkins failed tower on the edge of north west London. Williams was chosen by the exhibition chief designer, Maxwell Ayrton, to assist in the creation of the Palaces of Industry, Engineering and Art. These buildings were not modernist in design, but were pioneering in terms of their concrete construction. The Palace of Engineering was the largest concrete building in the world at half a million square feet. The exhibition was a great success, with over 27 million visitors from its opening in 1924. However, very little remains of the site with all three Palaces now demolished.
Williams did design a nearby building that has stood the test of time, the Empire Pool, now known as Wembley Arena. It was completed in 1933 for the following years Commonwealth Games (and later used for the 1948 and 2012 Olympic Games). Williams used concrete fins on the exterior of the building to support the massive roof over the pool area, and these and the water towers in each corner and the unabashed use of concrete, lends the building a fortress-like air. At this stage in his career Williams was riding the crest of a wave, with his Daily Express buildings in London and Manchester and the Pioneer Health Centre in Peckham, seen as exemplary modern buildings, balancing form and function.
Probably William's greatest achievement is his work on the Boots Factory in Beeston. Built between 1930 and 1938, this factory complex is an integrated site that can be rearranged or extended as needed. It incorporates “Wet” and “Dry” areas as well as packing areas, offices, canteens and laboratories. Williams expressive use of concrete, as well as steel framed glazing, again pointed forward to the buildings of the post war period. The site is now Grade I listed and seen a masterpiece of the modern movement. However, not everything Williams touched turned to gold. His design for the Dollis Hill Synagogue (1938) was not well received by the congregation, and he was forced to return part of his fee. The building is one of Williams most stylised in design, the point at which he goes from being an engineer to an architect. Nevertheless, this reinforced concrete building is now Grade II listed and used as a primary school.
Williams career never picked up the same momentum of the early thirties, although two of his greatest buildings would be built after the Second War War, the BOAC Maintenance HQ (1955) and the Daily Mirror building (1961). The BOAC building saw Williams using the skill he had deployed on the Boots factory, producing a complex consisting of four aircraft hangars, each measuring 102 metres by 43. Williams used his expertise with concrete construction to produce a building that is still in use at Heathrow 60 years later. The Daily Mirror was built at Holborn Circus in collaboration with Anderson, Foster and Wilcox,with Williams overseeing the engineering and construction, and the partnership designing the exterior and interiors. The finished building housed offices and printing presses and was the heart of the newspapers operations until 1994, when they moved to Canary Wharf. The building was demolished not long afterwards.
Over his fifty year career, Owen Williams moved from being an engineer to the architect of some of Britains best modernist buildings. At his best he combined structural robustness and expressive design using just concrete and glass. The tension between engineering and architectural design was perfectly balanced in his best buildings, and it is only when he tried a more artistic style that he faltered. However he will be remembered as pioneer in the use of concrete and set a template for the way buildings would be built for the rest of the 20th century.
This article first appeared in The Modernist issue #14 ENGINEER
I thought I would write a quick post to round up a number interesting exhibitions in London that are open, opening are coming soon... First up, Concrete and Controversy: The Architecture of Connell, Ward and Lucas at the Paul Mellon Centre closes this week(on Jan 29th) http://www.paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk/whats-on/forthcoming/concrete-controversy Focusing on some of the controversial CW&L house designs such as High and Over in Amersham and 66 Frognal in Hampstead, the exhibtion closes on Friday. More on Connell, Ward and Lucas HERE
In the same street (Bedford Square, WC1B) is Walters Way- The Self Build Revolution at the AA School of Architecture, http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/PUBLIC/WHATSON/exhibitions.php, looking at the legacy of architect and writer Walter Segal. This exhibition has been extended until March 24th. Read more on Walter Segal HERE
Opening next week (Feb 2nd) at Somerset House as part of the Utopia season is Out There: Our Post-War Public Art http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/out-there The first major exhibition by Historic England looking at the rich seam of public murals, sculptures, reliefs and other public artworks produced after 1945. The exhibition will also focus on the works of public art that have been destroyed or gone missing recently. To coincide with the opening of the exhibition we will be tweeting some or our favorite public art works.
Finally, opening tomorrow (Jan 26th) at the Royal Academy of Arts is Mavericks-Breaking the mould of British architecture https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/mavericks-breaking-the-mould-of-british-architecture, featuring among others Charles Holden and James Stirling. Whichever you go to, we hope you enjoy it!
Stanley Heaps (1880–1962) was the Chief Architect for London Transport and its forerunner, the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, and designed a large number of stations still in use today, and yet he remains an uncelebrated figure. This is mainly because he is overshadowed by the giants of tube station design Leslie Green, Charles Holden and Frank Pick. Heaps was assistant to Green, who held the position of Chief Architect from 1903 until his death in 1908. Heaps then took over Green’s role and remained in the position until the Second World War. But even as the overseer of station design he was overshadowed by Charles Holden. Holden was bought as consultant architect to UERL by Frank Pick, the company's Assistant Managing Director, who wanted a more modern style for the company's stations. Despite this slight, Heaps continued the produce station designs by himself and in collaboration with Holden and other architects
Heaps began his career working under Green for UERL, and assisting him in the design of stations like Belsize Park and Chalk Farm (both 1907) Green’s stations are identifiable for their exteriors of oxblood red tiling and semi circular windows. These design features were used by Heaps in two of the first stations he designed after the death of Green, Kilburn Park and Maida Vale, part of the Bakerloo Line extension. Heaps next major project came after World War I with the design of stations for the expansion of the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway (now part of the Northern Line). Heaps designed five stations, Brent Cross, Colindale, Hendon Central, Edgware and Burnt Oak, that unlike his previous work, would be situated in the leafy North London suburbs. To fit in with these surroundings Heaps, with assistant Thomas Bilbow, designed the stations in a more suburban style. The stations were built in brick, with tiled roofs and colonnades on the exterior. These stations have now succumbed to the suburban sprawl they helped to create, with Hendon surrounded by additional buildings. Colindale was hit by a bomb in 1940 and was eventually replaced in 1962.
Pick had begun his overhaul of the networks visual identity before World War I, finding new artists to produce a range of eye catching promotional posters, and choosing Edward Johnston to create his now iconic typeface. In the mid-1920’s Pick turned his attention to the design of the stations. Wanting to bring a Modernist style to the network, Pick employed Charles Holden as a consultant. Pick wanted stations designed in a contemporary style, and that were well lit and welcoming to passengers, acting as advertisements for the network. Heaps carried on designing stations, as well as train depots and bus garages for the newly integrated transport network. Throught the 1930’s, Heaps and his assistant and Holden and his firm of Adams, Holden & Pearson worked together to change the face of London Transport buildings. It is rather difficult to define exactly who designed each station, as the working relationship was quite tangled. Often, Holden or one of his assistants such as Felix Lander or Charles Hutton, would provide a street elevation of a potential building and leave Heaps’ group to flesh out the working drawings and details like platforms and access to them. Also Heaps was often the supervising architect on site, where again he would be involved with ironing out the nitty gritty of the Holden produced designs.
Heaps acted as supervising architect on the building of Ealing Common and Hounslow West, both built in 1931 and designed by Holden with heptagonal ticket halls clad in Portland stone. Heaps then co-designed with Holden two projects that went beyond just a station. At Northfields, a ticket hall and train depot were built (1932), with Heaps all supervising on site, and at Alperton (1932), a ticket hall was created on an awkward site (the street was below the tracks) with an adjoining bus garage (completed 1939). Further along the Piccadilly line extension, Heaps team was part of the design of the new station at Osterley (1934). Heaps and Holdens teams both created designs, with Holden’s design (with Charles Hutton) featuring a concrete obelisk, winning out. Heaps again did design much of the infrastructure for the finished building. Rayners Lane (1938) was again a result of collaboration between the two camps, with the design being passed back and forth between Heaps and Holden and Reginald Uren.
Heaps and his team did design a few stations independently of Holden. A new streamline moderne style entrance on Warwick Road was added to Earls Court in 1937. The new entrance was redesigned to allow better access to the recently opened exhibition centre, and has been amended with a control centre added in the 1970’s. Hammersmith station was given new platforms and waiting rooms as part of the Piccadilly line extension in 1930, with a new entrance by Holden. Harrow-on-the-Hill station was built in 1938, despite the protestations of the private schools board to serve the Metropolitan line. The station was built in a moderne style, with some typically Holdenesque platform canopies. Unfortunately it is now hard to get an idea of the outside of the station as it has been gradually surrounded by successive developments. A similar fate has befallen St Johns Wood (1939), built in a moderne style again with a wonderful escalator design being the highlight of the station.
Stanley Heaps served the various iterations of London Transport for most of the first half of the 20th Century. He helped design a wealth of tube stations, bus stations, depots, garages and various other buildings essential to the running of the company. He worked with a variety of designers, architects and managers to create a transport network that was pleasurable to use and look at and was envied throughout the world. He is name isn't placed alongside of those like Holden, Green and Pick, but it is worth remembering the part Heaps played to help create it.
The Buildings of England- London 3: North West by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
The Buildings of England- London 4: North by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
Bright Underground Spaces: The Railway Stations of Charles Holden by David Lawrence
These are the notes for the Modernism in Metroland Open House London tour of Stanmore on Saturday Sept 19th. Thank you to all those who attended. We had almost double the max of 25 on each tour, but I hope you enjoyed it! I have to say a big thank you to Ian & Cherrill Scheer who very generously opened their home, No.16 Kerry Avenue, to us. I think it was the highlight of both tours, although the Spitfires that flew over Fallowfield in the afternoon were pretty special too! If the tour stimulated your interest in the kind of houses we saw on Saturday, please take a look around the inter war & post war homes section on this website, you may find somewhere else to explore.
Metro-Land was created by the extension of the Metropolitan Railway out of London into Middlesex and the home counties. Land leftover from the construction of the new line was used for speculative housing, and formerly sleepy towns and villages like Wembley, Harrow, Pinner and Ruislip experienced a population boom in the first half of the 20th century. For example the population of nearby Harrow Weald went from 1,500 in 1901 to 11,000 in 1931.
The default architectural style of these new leafy suburbs was Tudorbethan, a mix of traditional styles on the exterior, matched by the comforts of modernity inside. Modernism was the upcoming style of the era, spreading to Britain from Europe, and examples can be found throughout Metroland; in Pinner, with house designs by Connell, Ward & Lucas and Ealing by Welch, Lander & Day. These buildings, as well as Charles Holden’s tube stations and George Coles’ cinemas, all added art deco and international style modernism to the growing suburbs, including here in Stanmore.
Stanmore also underwent a growth spurt after the new Metropolitan Underground (now Jubilee Line) terminus, designed by Charles W. Clark, was built in 1932. This area we are now in was part of the Warren House estate, founded by the first Duke of Chandos. In 1922 the house was inherited by Sir John Fitzgerald, and he decided to sell parcels of the land off for the development. The company initially given the rights folded without building anything, so construction did not take place until the 1930’s.
The Valencia Road section was developed by Douglas Wood Architects. Although they were granted permission for development in 1931, the houses were not built until 1935. Nos. 2-10 (even) were designed by the firm in the international style with plain rendered walls, central staircase towers and sun decks. The houses have an obvious vertical emphasis, with the staircase towers, vertical window strips and sun decks adding the bulk of the buildings, already emphasized by their position on a slope. The large windows and sun decks came from the growing awareness and fashionability of the health benefits of sun light and sun bathing.
The houses are constructed of brick, and finished in snowcrete, which is a white cement used for rendering, to give the impression of concrete. Building the houses in brick may have happened because there was a shortage of building firms who had expertise in constructing in reinforced concrete in the 1930’s. Nos 4&6 were built as a symmetrical pair, and have rounded central towers staircases. Nos 8 and 10 are also very similar to each other, whilst not quite being identical, composed of all straight lines. No.2 is the slightly odd one out of the five houses, sitting alone on the corner site where Valencia Road and Kerry Avenue meet.
Architect Gerald Lacoste was given the commission to build 6 houses on Kerry Avenue. These designs were intended to be part of larger modernist style estate, but these 6 where the extent of the plan. Lacoste had previously been assistant to architects Edwin Lutyens and Oswald Milne, and was only 27 at the time of the Kerry Avenue commissions. He had also previously designed a house for Gracie Fields in Frognal, Hampstead. His six houses share many similar features with the Valencia Rd buildings, flat roofs, rounded staircase towers, etc, but are more circumspect in appearance. The Kerry Ave houses have a more horizontal emphasis than there neighbours, with long windows and two storeys instead of three.. The houses as a group are designed to be similar but not monotonous, using the same elements but in differing arrangements. Like the Douglas Wood houses, the Kerry Ave buildings are also constructed of brick, but have a mixture of exposed brick and snowcrete finishes. These houses were completed in 1937.
14 & 16 Kerry Avenue
At the northern end of Kerry Avenue are two individual modernist houses, No.14 designed by RH Uren for himself in 1937, and its neighbour No.16 designed by Gerd Kaufmann in 1968. No.14 is built in yellow brick in an international style similar to the other houses in the area. Uren was a New Zealand born architect. who moved to Britain in 1930. His big break was his winning design for Hornsey Town Hall in 1933. He designed a number of other buildings in Britain, including Rayners Lane Tube station (1938) and the Granada Woolwich cinema (1937), all three of which can be visited on Open House weekend.
No.16 is a much later building, designed and built in 1968 by the architect Gerd Kaufmann for Cherrill & Ian Scheer. Cherrill Scheer, heir to the Hille Furniture family, grew up at No.14. Like its neighbours, it is constructed of brick, with large windows to create differing light levels in each room. Kaufmann is known mainly for his suburban houses, there are examples here in Stanmore, as well as Mill Hill and Hampstead. Of course, the Hille company have another modernist architectural link, their headquarters in Watford was designed by Erno Goldfinger.
Unrecognisable today, these twin apartment blocks were designed by architect and engineer Owen Williams and built in 1936. Designed in an austere fashion and built in concrete, the buildings have undergone successive refurbishments and extensions. Williams is not known for his domestic designs so it is a shame these buildings have ended up as they have.
Nos 1 & 2 Halsbury Close were designed by emigre architect Rudolf Frankel, who fled to Britain from Germany via Romania in 1933 No.1, built in 1938 for Frankel's sister, is made up of two brick cubes, one for a garage and one for the main house. The house features a cut away corner that opens out onto the garden. No.2, built for himself also in 1938, is a simple box form finished in render and with tile hanging on the second floor. Frankel mainly produced industrial buildings in Britain, designing factories in London and Cheshire before moving to America in 1950.
This close on the private Aylmer Road estate features a couple of interesting post war houses. No.1, designed by Edward Samuel in 1963, is a long low bungalow, built of brick and wood. According to Wikipedia, Stanley Kubrick wanted to use the house in A Clockwork Orange.The owner, Ernest Shelton refused, and Kubrick instead used Team 4’s Skybreak House in Radlett. Samuel. who trained under Sir Basil Spence, was known for his bungalow designs, as well as his work on the townscape in Highgate. No. 2 is a brutalist style concrete house, designed by Gerd Kaufmann in 1967, designer of No.16 Kerry Avenue, and it echoes in its design the 1930’s houses of Kerry Ave & Valencia Rd, which its circular staircase tower and flat roof.
Further up Stanmore Hill, cul de sacs such as Spring Lake, Pine Close and Fallowfield were built from the 1960’s onwards, and show an abundance of mid century housing styles. These houses were often specially built for their first owners, in contrast to the houses on Kerry Ave & Valencia Road which are part of a speculative development. Fallowfield is home to a number of interesting houses, not many of which I have any information about. No.11 was designed for himself by Hubert Lidbetter, a renowned architect of Quaker meeting houses. He was assisted by his son and partner H. Martin Lidbetter, and Richard Seifert. Seifert of course is better known for his skyscraper designs, such as Centrepoint and Tower 42. The house was built between 1955 and 1971.
A link to a Google map of the tour route, for those who didn't make it all the way around or who want to recreate it,
Elsewhere in Stanmore
Elsewhere around Stanmore there are plenty of interesting inter and post war houses of all styles.
Cedar House, Common Lane (1938) Designed by architect and planner Max Lock for Miss M. Welsford
44 & 45 Little Common (1970) A pair of monopitch roofed houses by Harrow Borough architect J. Redman.
Tremar, Green Lane (1935) by A.L. Abbott. An asymmetrical Art Deco style house.
Eden Lodge, Stanmore Hill (1935) by H. Hobson Hill. A colonial style house, with Dutch gables and green tiled roof, similar in design to No.116 opposite.
51 Dennis Lane (1936) Also known as the Garden House, designed by architect, landscape designer and planner Geoffrey Jellicoe.
The Buildings of England- London 3: North West by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner
The English Semi-Detached House by Finn Jensen
Stanmore Hill- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Old Church Lane- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Kerry Avenue- Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy by Harrow Council
Its that time of year again when the great and good buildings of London open their doors for he architecturally minded to nose about. Open House London Weekend is this weekend 19th and 20th September. For those of a modernist persuasion there is more than ever too see. All the usual big names are open; Highpoint, Willow Road, Senate House, Alexandra Road, Daimler Garage, Finsbury Health Centre, Priory Green, Trellick Tower etc.
Of course you wish to venture further afield and see some of suburbia modernist and art deco delights. Again there are plenty of hidden gems to keep your Oyster card topped up for. If the golden age of the silver screen is your thing you can visit the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, Muswell Hill Odeon, Tooting Granada, Kilburn Gaumont State or the Woolwich Granada. If you feel like going back to school you can take your pencil case to Drake & Lasdun’s Hallfield Primary, Hugh Myddleton School by Julian Soafer, Erno Goldfinger’s Greenside Primary or the moderne Uphall Primary in Ilford. More learning can be had at Basil Spence’s Swiss Cottage Library or Fullwell Cross Library by Frederick Gibberd. Another library on a smaller scale but no less heroic, is Verity-Jane Keefe’s Mobile Museum celebrating Barking’s housing estates.
For the more religious minded there are plenty of options. Opening to view are Mitcham Methodist by E.D. Mills, the Wanstead Quaker meeting house by Norman Frith or Mcguire & Murray’s St Paul's Bow Common, recently voted the best post war church in Britain. Of course it is Open “House” weekend and there are plenty of homes to go snooping through. In terms of social housing, apart from the examples listed earlier, there is Peter Tabori’s Stoneleigh Terrace in Camden or Eric Lyon’s World's End estate in Chelsea. For private housing you can see Pullman Court by Gibberd, 31b St Marys Road by Foggo & Thomas, Geoffrey Darke’s Darke House or St Bernards Houses in Croydon by Swiss post war architects Atelier 5. If self building is your thing there you can visit Segal Close and Walters Way, projects designed by and named after Walter Segal, or the Segal influenced Greenstreet housing in Lewisham.
If you dont want to fit into any of these preconceived boxes, there are a few buildings that may suit you. Harefield Hospital in Hillingdon by WT Curtis contains a curved moderne TB sanatorium from 1937. The iconic 1931 art deco Walthamstow Stadium is due to be redeveloped soon, so catch it while you can. Another building being redeveloped is Charles Holden’s 55 Broadway, originally built as London Underground's HQ and soon to be turned into apartments. It probably won't quite be warm enough for a dip, but you can see Uxbridge Lido in its refurbished glory. Originally built in an art deco style in 1935, it was reopened in 2010. For those who prefer a bit a of brutalism, the Embassy of the Slovak Republic designed by Czech architects Jan Sramek, Jan Bocan and Karel Stepansky in 1965,may be of interest.
This year sees the return of Harrow to Open House London, as there are a number of interesting buildings to see in the home of Metro-Land. There is an opportunity to explore two great buildings right next to each other in Rayners Lane, the Tube Station by Charles Holden and Reginald Uren, and opposite the Grosvenor Cinema by FE Bromige (now The Zoroastrian Centre.). Kenton Library by the MCC architects Curtis and Burchett will be open on Saturday for those wanting to see a great example of Middlesex interwar modernism. For those who want see to see Metro-Lands mix of Art Deco and Tudorbeathen, the Canons Park Estate tour on Sunday is for you. Two post war projects we mentioned in our overview of the boroughs architects department recently (In House Part 2) can be seen, the Grange Farm Estate and Harrow Civic Centre.
And last but not least, our own walking tour, of Stanmore’s art deco and modernist houses featuring buildings by Gerald Lacoste, Douglas Wood, Owen Williams, Rudolf Frankel and more, will take place on Saturday. There will be two tours, at 10am and 2pm, on a first come basis. More details here.
A special mention goes to architect Reginald Uren. Not as feted as his contemporaries like Charles Holden and George Coles, nevertheless the New Zealand born architect has 4 buildings on show this year. Aside from the already mentioned Woolwich Granada and Rayners Lane Station, you can visit his Hornsey Town Hall and his house in Stanmore. Don’t forget that some of the buildings mentioned may need pre booking, so please check before you go. Wherever you end up, we hope you enjoy visiting some of London’s modernist marvels!