Housing Schemes

Houses were built on a field between Devonshire Road and Chiswick Lane in 1891-1901. The names of the roads – Ashbourne Grove, Balfern Grove, Cornwall Grove, Dorchester Grove and Eastbury Grove – have led to this development being nicknamed the ABC estate. Three hundred and twenty seven houses were built, 80% as tenements which were intended for two or more families.

The arrival of the railways saw an explosion of new housing developments in London’s suburbs. Bedford Park was one such development, but it was one of the most innovative since, unlike most others, its houses were designed by well-known architects; its layout was informal and leafy and its public buildings and activities generated a strong sense of community. The red-brick avant garde architecture made a refreshing change from Gothic and stucco, and its semi-rural feel led to Bedford Park being acknowledged as the prototype of later garden suburbs.

Bedford Park was developed by Jonathan Carr as affordable housing for middle class people with a taste for art and interior decoration. The site’s location was determined by its proximity to Turnham Green Station (opened in 1869 and from which the City could be reached in 30 minutes), and by family ties – Carr’s father-in-law lived in Bedford House, South Parade. In 1875 Carr bought 24 acres of land (land belonging to his father-in-law and land surrounding Melbourne House and Sydney House), and rapidly acquired another 89 acres stretching north-south from Southfield Road to Acton Green and east-west from Abinger Road to Rusthall Avenue.

Carr’s intention was to build 900 houses in five years but, due to financial problems, he only eventually built 500 in nine years, and on only half the land acquired. The boundaries of the estate developed when Carr was in control are Marlborough Crescent/Blenheim Road to the north; South Parade/Flanders Road to the south; Abinger Road to Esmond Road, east-west.

Carr’s first architect was E W Godwin, the lover of actress Ellen Terry and an architect with good aesthetic credentials, but the houses built to his two designs came in for criticism and in 1877 Carr replaced him with the distinguished R Norman Shaw who is the architect really responsible for the character of Bedford Park. Shaw was succeeded by his assistant E J May in 1880. Other architects involved were the firm of Coe and Robinson, William Wilson and local resident Maurice B Adams.

The architectural style of the houses, built in red brick with tile hanging and lots of painted woodwork, is described as Queen Anne Revival but is actually derived from rural English architecture of the 17th century with elements of Dutch and Flemish architecture thrown in. One of the attractions of the estate was the presence in many houses of purpose-built studios for artists; another was the lack of basements (servants shouldn’t be obliged to work underground, claimed the reformists of the day) but there might have been a more practical reason, namely that the Stamford brook and its tributaries made the area wet and prone to flooding.

Carr’s vision for Bedford Park was the creation of a self-contained community. To this end he commissioned public buildings, viz the Bedford Park Club, St Michael and All Angels Church, the Chiswick School of Art and the Tabard Inn. Bedford Park also had its own stores, schools, its own magazine The Bedford Park Gazette, a voluntary fire brigade and a Vigilance Committee which negotiated matters with the local councils. A lively little community, with an air of ‘cozy comfort’ did indeed grow up in Bedford Park with social life centred on the Bedford Park Club. Bedford Park became noted for its free-thinking, ‘Bohemian’ inhabitants who were said to go around in carpet slippers and be partial to fancy dress balls.

In 1881, with the core of Bedford Park complete, Carr was planning new property ventures elsewhere and probably to raise money for these he formed a company, Bedford Park Limited, with himself as Managing Director, but, in 1886, the company collapsed with huge liabilities. The unbuilt land was sold off piecemeal and developed in various styles without any of the controls exercised by Carr.

By the middle of the 20th century the Bedford Park houses were becoming dilapidated, some had been unsuitably altered or converted into flats. Several important properties had been demolished and in an effort to prevent more houses disappearing and to preserve the character of the area the Bedford Park Society was formed in 1963. This achieved a statutory listing for 356 of the houses in 1967 and the declaration of Bedford Park as a conservation area by Ealing and Hounslow Councils in 1969/70.

This is the Chiswick village that might have been. On 19 April 1902 The Times newspaper reported that ‘an influential body of capitalists’ had negotiated successfully with the Duke of Devonshire for 330 acres of land for a building scheme to be called Burlingwick. The promoter, manager and developer of the scheme was to be Jonathan Carr who had developed Bedford Park.

The land in question stretched from Chiswick Station in Grove Park to the Pumping Station in Corney Reach, and extended from the Thames to Burlington Lane. The ambitious scheme planned to turn what was just meadowland and orchards into homes for up to 40,000 people (more than the then population of Chiswick), ‘a respectable-sized city’ according to the London Argus. Burlingwick was to be as self-contained as possible having its own market place, shops, streets, open squares and houses of all rateable values (the Duke of Devonshire had insisted that 12 acres be used for establishing ‘working men’s dwellings’). The river frontage, which was over a mile long, was planned as a riverside boulevard, provided the local authority and/or London County Council would make and maintain a roadway. A trackless tramway was mooted to run through the district and link it with the rest of Chiswick.

In 1906 the Chiswick Times writing about Burlingwick stated that ‘things seemed to be going backward instead of forward’ and that the scheme seemed to have ‘flickered out’. Perhaps it was the problem of putting the infrastructure in place, or perhaps the scheme was just too ambitious, but it died a death and the land was later developed on a piecemeal basis.

This was the first sizeable development in Chiswick, intended to provide homes for the burgeoning working population. It was built on former market gardens between Hogarth Lane (now the A4) on the south and Fraser Street on the north. The land was sold in 1821 probably to one William Bennett, and building began immediately. There were 52 houses by 1824 and by 1838 seven streets of mainly terraced cottages. The streets were called Devonshire Place, Devonshire Street, Providence Row, Furze Street, William Street, Bennett Street, James Street, and Wood Street. Another street, Hunt Street, was added in 1880. The chapel of St Mary Magdalene was put up in 1848 to serve this new community. Although not uniform in size most of the houses were small with front doors opening directly onto the roadway which was not made up until the 1880s.

The proposed building of a new road (the A4) linking Cromwell Road with the Great West Road sounded the death knell for the New Town. Houses along the line of the proposed road were acquired by the Ministry of Transport and the tenants rehoused. By the 1950s all the houses had been demolished and the flats known as the Hogarth estate erected in the streets not affected by the new road.

This housing development with its own marina was built in the 1970s. The marina was originally an ornamental lake in the grounds of Grove House which became a dock where concrete barges were constructed during World War I (used to transport ammunition to France) when it was known as Cubitts Yacht Basin. By 1926 it was occupied by a motor yacht club and later became a floating village of houseboats. According to one inhabitant it was an idyllic place to live: ‘perfect peace and quiet, wildfowl, and only 20 minutes from Waterloo station. But of course we are all mad.’ In 1969 the boat owners were forced to leave to make way for the new development. They resisted to the extent of calling in the Ombudsman. The designers of Chiswick Quay were Bernard Engle and Partners, the developers Kier Ltd. The houses were completed by 1976.

This estate of 69 town houses was completed in 1966 on land which, in the early 19th century, had been osier beds along the river’s edge but later became the houses and gardens numbered 1-15 Hartington Road. The architect of Chiswick Staithe was Edward Armitage in his capacity as a partner in the firm of Green, Lloyd and Sons of St James’s Street, SW1. Armitage was a local man who lived at Strand-on-the-Green.

The name of the development of four separate blocks containing 280 flats, built on land that was formerly orchards between Wellesley Road and the railway line. The flats, designed by Charles Evelyn Simmons and financed by the People’s Housing Corporation, were built in 1935-6. When the plans were displayed at the Royal Academy, the development was called Chiswick Court Gardens – a more appropriate name than ‘Chiswick Village’ with its connotations of a rural idyll. The 1937 edition of the official guide to Brentford and Chiswick, described Chiswick Village as ‘undoubtedly London’s most remarkable and praiseworthy housing venture’.

The present Georgian-style townhouses were built in the 1980s on land that had for many years been used for industrial purposes. Thornycroft & Co had its large shipbuilding works on Church Wharf between 1864 and 1909, and, after its departure, Church Wharf was occupied by other firms including Reckitt and Colman which had a large warehouse on the site (demolished 1980). Early illustrations show that in the early 19thc Church Wharf contained a number of small cottages when it was known as Slut’s Hole before being renamed Fisherman’s Place.

The present large housing development was built on the riverside area between Church Wharf and Pumping Station Road in the mid 1990s. The land was formerly the site of Corney House (demolished 1832) and its grounds, but it became an industrial area in the 19th century. The sewage works was put up in Pumping Station Road, LEP Transport Ltd had its main packing department at the wharves in Corney Reach and heating appliances manufacturer, Valor, had works on Corney Reach.

Prior to the building of the housing development an archaeological investigation was carried out on three adjoining areas of the site between 1989 and 1995. This revealed Neolithic flint and pottery, showing that people were living down there as early as six thousand or so years ago. Small quantities of Roman pottery and building material were also discovered which suggests the presence of a Roman building somewhere in the vicinity. There was also an isolated Saxon burial, perhaps a corpse washed up on the river bank, and a brick cellar and vaulted tunnel belonging to Corney House itself.

This enclave of Victorian cottages bounded by Duke Road, Devonshire Road, Glebe Street and Fraser Street is known as the Glebe Estate since the field on which it was built was formerly ‘glebe land’ – land which had been assigned to the local church as part of the incumbent’s benefice. In 1869 the church decided to lease the land for development. An indenture drawn up on the first day of May 1869 shows that the Reverend Lawford William Torriano Dale, vicar of St Nicholas Church, acting as lessor (with consent from the land’s owners, the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and St Paul’s Cathedral), assigned the lease on the field to Alexander Fraser, George Reckitt, Joseph Quick and his son, also called Joseph. Fraser Street, Reckitt Road and Quick Road take their names from these developers.

Building work started in 1871 and by 1901 a total of 470 houses had been built. They were all leased out on 99 year leases, some to their occupiers but the majority to landlords for renting out – many houses were divided into two or even three tenements. The Glebe Estate was quite self contained. It had shops in most roads (usually in the corner properties) its own public house, the Bolton Hotel (now 81 Duke Road, a private house), its own school opened in 1877 between Glebe Street and Binns Road (Binns Terrace and Glebe Terrace occupy its site) and a mews for stabling horses (although some costermongers preferred to keep their animals in the back garden).

The people who moved into the Glebe Estate initially were mainly skilled or semi skilled workers – carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, plasterers, policemen etc. Later, many Glebe residents were employees of large local firms such as Fullers Brewery, Cherry Blossom and Hogarth Laundry.

In the 1950s the Ecclesiastical Commissioners began selling off its freeholds all over London and tenants on the Glebe Estate were given the right to buy their houses which those who could afford to did. In the early 1970s, when the 99 year leases expired, freehold houses on the Glebe began to come on to the open market and the potential of these pretty, but often now dilapidated, cottages attracted a new clientele, the young and upwardly mobile who added bathrooms and generally renovated the properties.

This is the name now commonly used to describe the area of Chiswick south of the A4, bounded on the west by Strand-on-the-Green and on the east by the A316. The name originates from the large mansion with extensive grounds, known as Grove House, which was not demolished until 1928.

In 1867 plans were published to build a housing estate for prosperous middle class residents between the railway line and the river, promoting the attractions of the new railway station and the sporting facilities afforded by the Thames.

Apart from the Grove Park Hotel no buildings were erected on this new estate until 1871, and then it was developed on a much more piecemeal basis than envisaged in the original plan. The roads that were developed were Grove Park Road, Grove Park Gardens, Hartington Road, Spencer and Bolton roads. St Paul’s church was put up to serve the new estate in 1872. Many of the large detached houses built on the estate have now been demolished and replaced, but some examples still survive, notably in Grove Park Road.

The remainder of what we call Grove Park today was developed by different people at different times in different styles. The large Gothic houses by Strand-on-the-Green were built in the 1870s by William Sargeant, the Riverview Estate was developed in 1904 by the firm of McKintosh and Newman, houses in Kinnaird Avenue, many in Hartington Road and Devonshire Gardens were built by the Kinnaird Park Estate in the 1930s.

This Art Deco block of 56 flats in Hartington Road was put up in 1938. It replaced a grand house called Grove End ‘a fantastic red brick structure with tall capped towers’ which was built in 1861 by John Pullman, a chamois leather merchant for his own occupation.

Middle class families in England were slow to embrace the Continental fashion for flatted-living. However, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, large solidly-built red brick blocks of flats began to spring up in the London area. These blocks are usually called ‘mansion blocks’.

These are some of the mansion blocks in and around Chiswick: Arlington Park Mansions facing Turnham Green were first occupied in 1906. A famous tenant of Arlington Park Mansions was E M Forster. Bedford Park Mansions, off The Orchard were first occupied in 1901; Esmond Gardens, on the corner of Esmond Road and South Parade, designed by Henry G Brace and first occupied in late 1903; Fairlawn Court, occupied by 1902; Fauconberg Mansions by 1905; Flanders Mansions in Flanders Road by early 1902; Hauteville Court Gardens on the corner of Stamford Brook Avenue and South Side were built 1903; Linkenholt Mansions, Stamford Brook Avenue, built 1902-3; Prebend Mansions in Chiswick High Road were first occupied in 1906. Ranelagh Gardens, Stamford Brook Avenue were built 1903-4; Rusthall Mansions on the corner of Rusthall Avenue and South Parade were built on land acquired in 1901 by a builder named Edward Halliday and the first occupants moved in during 1906. Stamford Brook Mansions in Goldhawk Road were built 1901; Stile Hall Mansions first occupied 1900; Sutton Court Mansions in Grove Park Terrace 1902 and the large block called Sutton Court in 1905. Sydney House, Woodstock Road was completed 1906.

A development of maisonettes in Hartington Road first occupied in 1956. The land was formerly a gravel pit, providing gravel for the concrete barges constructed at Cubitts Yacht Basin. After the gravel pit was filled in the land became a site for caravans.

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