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The Larkhall Estate

A Grade II Listed Building in Lambeth, London

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Latitude: 51.4691 / 51°28'8"N

Longitude: -0.1355 / 0°8'7"W

OS Eastings: 529600

OS Northings: 176111

OS Grid: TQ296761

Mapcode National: GBR FW.RJ

Mapcode Global: VHGR5.LBQL

Entry Name: The Larkhall Estate

Listing Date: 6 December 2002

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1096015

English Heritage Legacy ID: 489905

Location: Lambeth, London, SW8

County: London

District: Lambeth

Electoral Ward/Division: Larkhall

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Lambeth

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: Clapham Christ Church with St John

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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Listing Text


The Larkhall Estate

Sixteen blocks of flats laid out in five linked quadrangles. Built 1926-9 and 1929-31 by architects Louis de Soissons and G Grey Wornum for Larkhall Estate Ltd. Neo-Georgian style. Red brown brick laid in English bond, with some red dressings and rubbed arches; stucco surrouonds to entrance doorways and archways and to feature windows, weatherboarded spandrels to projecting bay windows; plain gambrel roofs with casement dormers, brick chimneystacks and flat parapeted roofs.

Sixteen blocks linked around quadrangles, each block containing a mixture of flats and maisonettes; the third floor balcony provides access to the upper maisonettes on several of the blocks. Accommodation varies from one to three bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen and bathroom.

EXTERIOR: Blocks of four storeys and attics, linked by three storey flat-roofed blocks, the latter to obviate the difficulties of the roofs meeting at differing levels on the falling site. The inclusion of long projecting access balconies, and the blocky massing of the links brings hints of a more fundamental modernism, but the detail is characteristic of de Soissons's inventive, and sometimes idiosyncratic approach to Georgian (seen at its most extensive in Welwyn Garden City). Wooden sash windows, with exposed boxes and small panes form the main element, and their spacing, in juxtaposition with more positive accents provided by canted sash-bays with weatherboarded spandels, a few triple 'Serliana' sashes with Gothick tracery of the central arched upper light, and occasional oculi, provided the variations which prevent monotony. The main through archways and entrances have Gibbs surrounds, and doors to individual maisonettes have moulded architrave surrounds and traceried fanlights, those for the upper maisonettes having concave metal hoods. Attic dormers have double and triple light wooden casements with glazing bars. The main access through the courtyards is highlighted by windows and doors with architrave surrounds and pediments, above which are relief sculpture panels by Gilbert Ledward. Iron railings to external balcony fronts, internal stairways and external steps are of simplified traceried designs with hints of Art Deco.

HISTORY: The Larkhall estate was part of an ambitious but never completed venture promoted by Larkhall Estate Ltd., a private company constituted as a Public Utility Society, and registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Acts, with dividends limited to six per cent. This was a revival of the development process which had produced the charitable trust housing of the Peabody estates of the late C19. However, the new company co-existed alongside local authorities embarking on public financed schemes with exchequer subsidies under the Housing Acts, to fulfil their statutory duty to provide working-class housing. The company envisages development of a 30 acre site of the Whidborne family estate in 1925, and Louis de Soissons and Grey Wornum were appointed to prepare an overall master plan, based on a quadrangle layout. It was claimed that the completion of the development would provide housing for 4500 in 1118 homes (against the original 1600 population).

Thirty seven houses on the first six acres were acquired and building commenced in 1926. The LCC provided loans on each block for 40 years, equivalent to 90% of the value of the flats, but no subsidy was obtained. The cost of the first phase was assessed as ?240,000, working out at £800 for each self-contained dwelling, a high figure, and rents were set at £70-£100 per annum, inclusive of maintenance of common areas, hot water supply, garden maintenance and porters. Writing in 1929, Sir Theodore Chambers (Chairman of Welwyn Garden City Ltd 1920-48, and probably responsible for de Soissons' appointment at Larkhall) claimed that the housing was 'within the range of a very large class of people in London for whom little or nothing has been done since the war, and consequently the demand is very keen' AR, July 1929 p 7). This was on completion of the first three quadrangles, opened in July 1929 by Neville Chamberlain. The financial crisis provoked by the Wall Street Crash of October 1929 and the subsequent World crisis of 1931, was to affect completion. It was intended to complete the first five quadrangles in 1930, and then proceed with the remainder of the scheme as demand arose. Although the completion was written up in Spring 1931, the remainder of the land was not developed. The LCC allowed a rent reduction of £15 p.a. to assist letting but there was increasing deficit. In November 1935 the LCC took over the liability, and in 1941 acquired the assets of the estate. They compulsorily purchased the remaining Whidborne land in 1936, developed 1935-55 as the Springfield Estate. Lambeth Borough Council took ownership on dissolution of the GLC in the 1980s.

The architects Louis de Soissons (1890-1962) and George Grey Wornum (1888-1957) worked together on several interwar housing projects including Haig Memorial Housing at Morden, Liverpool, Sheffield, Warrington and Penzance. De Soissons is best remembered for his Master Plan of Welwyn Garden City (1920) and most of its interwar development included the Shredded Wheat Factory (1925). The design of Newquay House, Newburn Street on the Duchy of Cornwall Estate (1934) listed grade II appears to indicate that de Soissons was the dominant designer at Larkhall. Grey Wornum had a varied careeer, with involvement in several key interwar housing schemes including Kensal Hoouse. The competition winning RIBA Building in Portland Place 1932-34 is his best known building.

[Larkhall Estate Ltd "Brochure" (1929)
"Architects' Journal" July 1929, pp 7-16;
"Architects and Building News" 10/04/31 pp 41-5;
"AD profiles 24 "Britain in the Thirties", pp 64-5;
"Thirties Society" Notes 28/10/89.]

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

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