Friday 13th January sees the 45th anniversary of the UK theatrical release of Stanley Kubrick’s film “ A Clockwork Orange”. Based on Anthony Burgess’ 1962 novel, the film was largely a box office and critical success. However, after being linked to two assaults and a rape, Kubrick asked Warner Brothers to withdraw the from from circulation in Britain. The film was only available through bootleg copies until Kubrick's death in 1999, when it was reissued. Burgess set his novel in a near future dystopian England, and to recreate this Kubrick made use of contemporary British architecture in all its modern Brutalist glory.
The most famous setting in the film is probably the Thamesmead Estate in Bexley, where the main character Alex is shown throwing two of his droogs into the lake. The estate was designed and built by the Greater London Council’s Architects Department to house 60,000 people and incorporate homes, schools, factories, shops, health centres and more. As with many grand housing projects of the era, the reality fell short of the original vision. Only around 43,000 people settled there and much of the plan was unbuilt. Building took place in two phases, from 1967-72, the section that Kubrick used, and then from 1974-78. The first section was designed with a mixture of housing; town houses, and medium rise and twelve storey blocks; with car free pedestrian walkways connecting everything. Due to a combination of the oil crisis and a backlash against the gigantic megastructure projects Thamesmead personified, much of the second phase, which included a swimming pool, library and a town centre, was not built. The housing that was built for the second phase was low rise and some of it in brick. The estate is currently being redeveloped with much of the starkest original design being demolished.
A building of the same era and style that also featured in the film, has enjoyed a better reputation. Featured in the film as the Ludovico Medical Clinic where Alex is brainwashed, the Lecture Theatre at Brunel University in Uxbridge is now Grade II listed. Designed by John Heywood of Richard Sheppard, Robson and Partners and completed in 1966, the lecture theatre was part of the expansion of the university campus, which also included buildings by Stillman & Eastwick-Field. The structure is built from reinforced concrete, with projecting box shaped lecture theatres, finished in board marked concrete. These are held up by concrete piers and a first floor of prefabricated concrete panels. The building was listed in June 2011, and has become part of the British university brutalist canon, including buildings like Stirling & Gowan’s Engineering Building in Leicester and Denys Lasdun’s student residences at the University of East Anglia. Other parts of the campus are featured in the film, with scenes in a police interrogation room, Alex’s hospital bed and his apartment block lobby filmed in Tower D and the John Crank building on the campus.
Another famous scene takes place at a record shop, where Alex meets two young women. The location for this was the Chelsea Drugstore, a pharmacy cum bar and hangout arranged over three floors, famously referred to in the Rollings Stones song “You Can't Always Get What You Want”. It was designed by Garnett, Cloughley & Blakemore, who are also known for designs such as the revolving restaurant on the Post Office Tower and Scratchwood services on the M1. Opening in 1968, and finished in glass and aluminium, the shop quickly became a place to be seen in swinging London. The shop is now a McDonalds, having also been a wine bar, meaning you can have a Big Mac in the same place Alex browses for records. A more sedate building you can visit to retrace Alex’s steps is Nettlefold Hall, part of West Norwood Library. In the film it is used as the location for a presentation to the media on Alex’s cure. In real life it was designed and built by Lambeth Architects Department, led by Ted Hollamby, in 1969. The hall is a large circular meeting space next to the library. The hall and library have now been closed and there are plans to open a cinema and library on the same space.
Two post war houses were used for the home of the writer played by Patrick Magee. For the exterior and garden shots, Kubrick used New House in Shipton-Under-Wychwood. Designed by Stout and Litchfield for prominent London barrister Milton Grundy in 1964, New House has an interesting composition of five linked pavilions with monopitch roofs, and a Japanese gravel garden. The house, constructed of local Cotswold stone, was Grade II listed in 1998. The interior used for this house in the film was Skybreak House in Radlett, Hertfordshire, designed by Team 4 and completed in 1966. Team 4 consisted of Norman Foster, Wendy Cheeseman, Richard Rogers and Su Brumwell, and they designed a house in brick which sloped down a hill with long slanted glass windows for entrepreneur Tony Jaffe. Apparently Kubrick had wanted to use a different house for the interior shots, 1 Aylmer Close in Stanmore was designed by Edward Samuel for Ernest Shelton, as a long low bungalow clad in timber. Shelton, one of the founders of the Dixons retail chain, it seems turned down Kubrick. The house in now Grade II listed.
One last building to mention is the most obscure on the list. Canterbury House in Borehamwood was used as the building for Alex’s flat. It is an 18 storey tower block designed by Herts County Council in 1968, and built by Wimpey Construction. In typical Kubrickian fashion, the director spent £5,000 redecorating the flat for filming and then putting it back to its original state, only to decide he needed a couple more shots a few weeks later and do it all again. A plaque on the outside of the building now commemorates the event.
The film version of A Clockwork Orange is remembered for many reasons, the outrage and controversy, Kubrick’s visual mastery, the music by Walter/Wendy Carlos, the iconic uniform of the droogs and much more. As we have seen, it is also an interesting snapshot of contemporary architecture, from brutalism and municipal high rise, to pop art hang outs and stylish houses. It is worth noting that these 1960’s designs, so divisive in the decades that followed, all survive, unlike many other earlier buildings from the film like the 1912 Karsino hotel in Kingston, so they cant be that baddiwad can they droogies?
London 2: South by Bridget Cherry, Nikolaus Pevsner
A Clockwork Orange Locations http://www.movie-locations.com/movies/c/clockwork.html#.WGTeW9KLTcs
Historic England https://www.historicengland.org.uk/
“The most remarkable show of its kind that you have ever seen! All the wonders of modern home planning, building, furnishing, decoration- brought together into one fascinating full scale exhibition”- Newspaper adverts for the 1934 Gidea Park Exhibition
Out in Zone 6, east of London in the borough of Havering, is a collection of modernist houses unlike any other in the country. Around a few streets in Gidea Park are 35 houses, all built as part of the 1934 Modern Homes Exhibition. Originally created as Romford Garden Suburb in 1911, Gidea Park already boasted 100 individually designed houses by architects such as Parker & Unwin, W. Curtis Green and C.M. Crickmer. Other architects who designed houses in Gidea Park at the time include Herbert A. Welch, who would go on to form the partnership of Welch, Lander & Day, and A.P. Starkey, designer of modernist cinemas. These first houses were firmly in the Arts and Crafts tradition of the early garden suburbs and cities, as seen in Hampstead and Letchworth.
25 years later with modernism and art deco spreading its influence from mainland Europe, another set of houses were built. Like the previous exhibition, there were competition categories, with 5 groups by price in 1934. The new houses were constructed to the north of the existing suburbs and grouped around 3 roads; Heath Drive, Brook Road and Eastern Avenue. From nearly 500 entries around 35 houses, in a variety of inter war styles were built along these three roads.There are examples of international style modernism, art deco and more intermediate styles that mix modernism and traditional English house forms.
The best example of the austere international modernist style is 64 Heath Drive by Tecton. This pioneering modernist firm was formed in 1932, and contained among its members the likes of Berthold Lubetkin, Denys Lasdun, Francis Skinner and Godfrey Samuel. It was Skinner who was the principal designer of 64 Heath Drive, and he was only 26 when it was completed. The house is constructed of reinforced concrete and set in a L Plan with a roof terrace. The original intention was for this design to be part of a terrace, producing the effect of a long white wall. It won first prize in Category E of the competition, and is now Grade II listed having been restored inside and out.
Another pair of modernist style houses in the suburb are 320 & 322 East Avenue by Holford, Stevenson & Yorke. The Yorke being FRS Yorke, designer of Torilla Nash, Hatfield and Sea Lane House, Angmering-on-Sea, as well as being a founder member of the post war firm YRM. These were his first house designs, and he designed them in an austere modernist style, with flat roofs, plain rendered walls and minimal windows at the front. Unfortunately, one of the pair has not been kept very well and looks rather dilapidated. Rather more art deco in character is 62 Heath Drive by John Leech, with its white walls, ornate window frames and stepped door entrance.
Most of the other 1935 houses are more of a compromise between modernist ideals and traditional comforts. Winner of the C Class Category was 15 Brook Road by J.R. Moore-Simpson. This house features a flat roof, brick walls and steel Critall windows, but none of the austerity or sophistication of the the houses already mentioned. The other 31 houses largely follow this template, “Modern” enough to be different from their 1911 predecessors, but not too radical to be frightening to the stockbroker belt. Almost all of the houses have been added to over the years, with tudorbethan embellishments and disfiguring extensions widespread. However many houses have been taken back to their original states, the best example being Tecton’s 64 Heath Drive, which has had its interior purged of fake beams, oak panelling and Spanish tiles amongst much else!
Other modernist housing estates were built in the 1930’s. For some only a fraction of the planned houses were completed (Pinnerwood Park by Connell, Ward & Lucas, Warren Estate by Gerald Lacoste) or had a large number built like Frinton (still not all that were planned) but largely by a couple of architects, in this case Oliver Hill and J.T. Shenton. The 1935 Gidea Park Estate stands in contrast to these as a completed project by a variety of different designers. Although the Tecton house overshadows the other designs, the estate forms an interesting window on interwar house design and the compromise between Continental modernism and British traditionalism.
Modernist Semis and Terraces in England by Finn Jensen
London: East by Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner
Thank you to everybody who came along to the two tours of Stanmore's modernist homes on Saturday, it was great to see so many of you. As promised here are the full notes of the tour plus all the interesting photos mentioned.
Metro-Land was created by the extension of the Metropolitan Railway out of London and 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 as seen at nearby Canons Park, 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 Ruislip 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 Railway 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 part of the estate we will look at is the junction of two roads, Valencia Road and Kerry Avenue.
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 houses as a group are designed to be similar but not monotonous, using the same elements but in differing arrangements. The Kerry Ave buildings are constructed of brick, but have a mixture of exposed brick and snowcrete finishes. 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. These houses were completed in 1937, and are now part of the Kerry Avenue conservation area.
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 sunlight and sun bathing.
The houses are constructed of brick, and finished in snowcrete, like the Kerry Ave houses. Nos 4&6 were built as a symmetrical pair, and have rounded tower 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 most altered of the five houses, having originally looked like its immediate neighbour, without the tower staircase. The Valencia Road houses are also now part of the conservation area.
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 Gerard Kauffman in 1968. No.14 is built in yellow brick in the 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).
No.16 is a much later building, designed and built in 1968 by the architect Gerd Kauffman 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.
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. It was apparently altered in the 1970’s to fit in with the new houses built behind it. 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.
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 split pitched 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.
Open House London is here again this weekend, opening the doors of hundreds of buildings across London’s boroughs. Here is our annual guide to the best art deco, modernist and brutalist buildings on the programme.
You can visit four estates from the Camden Architects Department under Sydney Cook. Alexandra Road (Neave Brown), Dunboyne Road (Neave Brown again), Stoneleigh Terrace (Peter Tabori) and Mansfield Road (Benson & Forsyth) are all available for visitors. There are plenty other post war estates if that's your thing. Robin Hood Gardens, Worlds End Estate, Dawson's Heights, Cressingham Gardens and Central Hill are open for viewing. Another set of post war estates on show are Berthold Lubetkin and Tectons work for Finsbury at Priory Green and Bevin Court, and their Cranbrook estate in Tower Hamlets.
Erno Goldfinger only designed three schools in his career and they can all be seen this weekend, Haggerston Girls School in Hackney, Brandlehow in Wandsworth, and Greenside in Hammersmith. You can also visit Goldfinger's own house, 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, as well as his Trellick Tower in North Kensington. Two more post war schools can be seen, Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park by HKPA, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and Hugh Myddleton School in Finsbury designed by Julian Sofaer.
There are also a few interesting post war churches to see. St Paul's, Bow Common by Maguire and Murray, voted Britain's best post war church, St Paul's in Lorrimore Square by Woodroofe Buchanan & Coulter and St Boniface’s in Whitechapel by Donald Plaskett Marshall & Partners.
If the interwar period is more your era, then there is plenty of art deco and international style modernism to see. Pullman Court in Streatham by Frederick Gibberd, the Isokon flats by Wells Coates, the Daimler Hire Garage by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, Senate House and 55 Broadway by Charles Holden, the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square should keep you busy all weekend. There are also two tube station tours this year. The modernist Piccadilly Line stations of Charles Holden can be visited starting at Cockfosters. As can the earlier more Arts and Crafts influenced station on Northern Line Edgware extension by Stanley Heaps.
Of course we think that the more interesting buildings can be found beyond Zones 1 & 2, out in the suburbs. Three great examples of post war housing are open, Langham House Close flats by Stirling & Gowan in Richmond, and the St Bernard's houses in Croydon by Swiss firm Atelier 5. As last year there are two Walter Segal streets to see, Walters Way and Segal Close will showcase his influential self build house philosophy in Lewisham.
In Enfield there is the moderne QEII Stadium designed in 1939 by Frank Lee, with its distinctive drum staircase. Also designed in 1939 is the Church of the Holy Cross in Greenford by Albert Richardson. The new church is situated alongside its 15th century namesake and celebrates the 75th anniversary of its consecration this year.
Another building celebrating an anniversary this year is the Rayners Lane Grosvenor Cinema (now a Zoroastrian Centre) Designed by FE Bromige and opened in 1936, this art deco wonder is worth a trip out to Harrow. Other cinemas open include Bromige’s Rio cinema in Dalston, the Phoenix in East Finchley and the former Granada Cinema in Tooting with its wondrous Theodore Komisarjevsky interior. Two suburban libraries offer an interesting contrast The post war Fullwell Cross Library by Frederick Gibberd in Barkingside and Kenton Library in Harrow, designed by the Middlesex County Council architects Curtis and Burchett.
And to finish off, once again this year we will be hosting out Modernism in Metroland walking tour of Stanmore’s Art Deco and Modernist houses on Saturday. The tours take place at 10am and 2pm and we will be exploring houses by architects like Douglas Wood, Gerald Lacoste, Owen WillIams, Reginald Uren, Gerd Kaufmann and more. For more details see HERE.
If you can't wait for Open House London on the 17th & 18th September for your architectural tour fix, why not try the Essex Architectural Weekend on the 10th & 11th? There are a host of modernist and art deco buildings to see, throughout the county. The weekend will see talks, walks, film screenings and exhibitions based around the modernist estates of Silver End, Frinton-on-Sea and Bata East Tilbury.
Buildings that are opening their doors include Tecton’s 64 Heath Drive, Gidea Park, the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club by Joseph Emberton, the University of Essex in Colchester, the Bishopsfield Estate in Harlow and many more. There will also be a film screening and Q&A with Jonathan Meades on Saturday at the Silver End Village Hall.
Check the full programme and book your places HERE.
Once again we have been asked to host an Open House London tour. On Saturday 17th September we will be guiding two walking tours, looking at Stanmore's Interwar and Post War houses. Beginning on the Warren Estate, featuring a host of interwar Art Deco and Streamline Moderne houses by Gerard Lacoste and Douglas Wood Architects, the walking tours will also explore other dwellings by the likes of RH Uren, Owen Williams, Gerard Kaufman, Rudolf Frankel and others. We will see how the expansion of rail and road links fuelled the rise of Metro-Land, and how architects bought modernism to sit amongst the prevalent suburban tudorbeathen style. The Open House London page for the tour is HERE Hopefully we will have wonderful weather just like last year!
IMPORTANT INFO: The tours will be on Saturday 19th September ONLY. There will be a two tours, the first at 10am, the second at 2pm. The meeting place for the tours will be opposite Stanmore Tube station. The tours will last between 1.5-2 hours and will include a steep climb at points, please bring protective clothing and suitable footwear. We look forward to seeing you there!
Time for another post rounding up the ongoing and upcoming events that modernists may be interested in....
First of all, our friends in the north, the Manchester Modernist Society are holding their Making Post-War Manchester exhibition at the Manchester Technology Centre until Thursday June 23rd http://www.modernist-society.org/events/making-mcrwww.modernist-society.org/events/making-mcr It focuses on the Manchester that never was, revealing the plans that were never made reality.
Also open now, is the Designology exhibition at the London Transport Museum. exploring the way design is used on London's transport network in the past, present and future. Artist such as Harry Beck, Edward Johnston and Alan Rogers have created pieces of design to make passengers days easier and brighter as they commute around the city. Details on the exhibition and other events HERE
Opening on Saturday June 18th at the V&A is Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/engineering-the-world Looking at the career of engineer, designer and architect Ove Arup and the firm he founded, Arup Associates. The exhibition looks at some of their diverse output such as Highpoint, the Sydney Opera House, the penguin pool at London Zoo and Centre Pompidou. Arup studied philosophy before turning to engineering, but the concept of a methodical system of exploring the world never left his mind and greatly influenced his work throughout his career.
Open until October is the Isokon Gallery, situated in the wonderful Isokon building in Lawn Road, Hampstead. Designed by Wells Coates and opened in 1934, the modernist Isokon building was intended as "an experiment in new ways of urban living", and the exhibtion tells the story of how it was built and its return to glory after being neglected in the 1980's and 90's http://isokongallery.co.uk/
Finally to round things off a couple of walking tours. Stevenage Museum is putting on a tour of the new towns pubs and ale houses with local historian Hugh Madgin http://www.stevenage.gov.uk/news-and-events/events/161548/ Stevenage has recently lost two fine examples of the post war pub; The Twin Foxes by Halliday, Vincent and Carey and The King Pin by Martin Preistmann, but the tour will visit those remaining.
And last but not least is our own walking tour of the western Piccadilly Line stations on Saturday July 9th, starting at Rayners Lane and finishing up at Park Royal. We will also be visiting the wonderful Sudbury Town station in the week of its 85th birthday! As well as tube stations we will also see art deco cinemas, post war flats, modernist churches and the interwar Hanger hill estate, please come and join us! More details HERE.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you enjoy it!
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).