Shaftesbury Park Estate

Estate in/near Lavender Hill, existing between 1872 and now

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Estate · Lavender Hill · SW11 ·
The 42 and a half acre Shaftesbury Park Estate was promoted as the Workmen’s City - widely seen as demonstrating a credible solution to the urban housing problem.

Shaftersbury Park Estate (2014)
Shaftesbury Park was built between 1872 and 1877. It was the first major development of the Artizans’, Labourers’, & General Dwellings Company, founded by a band of working men in 1866–7.

Through ‘industrial partnership’ and a unique financial model it could build better houses for less than the speculative builder, pay its workmen more than standard wages, sell or let its houses below the market level, and yet produce a return on capital of six per cent. It offered its inhabitants not only a healthy home environment but the benefits of community living, underpinned by co-operation and self-help.

The estate occupies a flat area of land at the edge of the River Thames flood plain just north of the slope rising to Clapham Common. Historically the area was occupied by Battersea Fields, the poorly drained common land covering the area as far as the river. The Heathwall Ditch ran along the foot of the slope and drained into the River Effra and Falcon Brook, making Battersea an island; present day Heathwall Street marks the line of this water course. A stream crossed the area on the line of present day Grayshott Road.

The land for the Battersea estate was purchased in 1872. The original concept was to combine new housing of various classes with social facilities such as meeting rooms, school rooms, a wash house and baths.. One facility certainly not to be provided on the estate was a public house, which was an attempt by the reformers behind the scheme to avoid the social problems of cheap alcohol.

The houses were generally well built and well-appointed by the standards of the day. They incorporated a few minor technical advances over much speculative housing of this class, notably built-in ventilation and an improved system of drainage. Effort was made to bring architectural variety and interest to the terrace fronts through simple decorative features.

The Artizans’ Company embarked upon three more estates on the same basic pattern: Queen’s Park in Kensal New Town in 1876; Noel Park in Hornsey, begun in 1881; and Leigham Court in Streatham, begun in 1889.

In 1877, with the estate not quite complete and only part of Queen’s Park built, the leading figures were ousted on charges of mismanagement and corruption. The entire board of directors was replaced.

In the years that followed, Shaftesbury Park faded from the wider public consciousness. It may have contributed to the thinking behind the London County Council’s Edwardian cottage estates. But its special sense of community is more prophetic of certain middle-class developments, notably Bedford Park and the garden cities.

The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

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Lavender Hill

Lavender Hill is an area based around a hill near Clapham Junction in South London.

The geographical feature is named Lavender Hill due to the commercial cultivation of lavender there in the pre-industrial era. Several other smaller streets including Lavender Gardens and Lavender Sweep (Lavender Gardens was the former home of Sarah, Duchess of York where she lived in a flat before her marriage) also bear the reference and can be seen on 18th century maps as being largely farmland, with the earliest reference to the still-existing Falcon public house at the west end of the street in 1767.

The opening of Clapham Junction railway station in 1863 led to rapid residential and commercial development along the street and by 1885 it was such a busy commercial district that Arding and Hobbs (now Debenhams), the largest department store south of the River Thames, was built. The street also features the imposing Church of the Ascension, built in 1883 to cater to the growing population of the neighbouring Shaftesbury Estate, as well as a Welsh Methodist chapel (on Beauchamp Road) reflecting what was once a significant Welsh population.

The street is known in popular culture thanks to the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob (so-named because the lead character lived in a seedy boarding house on the street). It is also featured with a chapter of its own in the historical novel London by Edward Rutherfurd, with descriptions of it in the 18th century from the pre-industrial era. English group The Kinks made a song entitled Lavender Hill, which appeared on several collections of material not from albums including The Great Lost Kinks Album.

Lavender Hill has featured as a site location for many British TV shows, including ’On The Buses’ and ’The Sweeney’, in the 1970s.

Lavender Hill is now principally a shopping street along much of its length, starting from the landmark Arding and Hobbs building (now part of Debenhams), a number of specialist food and music outlets, a large supermarket, many estate agents. There is a larger concentration of restaurants and bars along the flatter section atop the hill, where Lavender Hill police station and the Battersea Arts Centre are to be found and towards the eastern end of the street.
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