North London Railway - Bethnal Green Boundary Estate

North London Railway
The Railway continues to run northwards
TQ 33614 82568

(For reasons of space – these very intensive inner city squares will be divided into quarters – another quarter to go with the previous two quarters for this square.)  This is the north east corner.

This is an inner city area around the amazing Boundary Road estate. There is much of interest - in particular the Mildmay Mission stands out as do some of the initiatives of Angela Burdett Coutts. This was an area of terrible poverty - the Old Nichol.

Post to the west Hoxton
Post to the north Haggerston
Post to the south Spitalfields

Arnold Circus
The Boundary Estate was the result of a major slum clearance of the 1890s. This area, called Friars Mount, was part of an area parcelled out in building leases in the early 19th and may have been named after a farmer called Fryer.  It had become an area of speculative building and absentee landlords.  Housing, originally cottages for weavers, had been crammed and infilled with badly built and ruinous dwellings with little drainage or water supply and grossly overcrowded inhabited by those barely able to make a living. One in every four children born here died in childhood. Its poverty and desperation drew philanthropists from the late 18th and reformers attempted to improve health and housing. The London County Council was instrumental in bringing about a change more than any other. The Boundary Estate is a milestone. The 1890 Housing of the Working Classes Act enabled the London County Council to develop a comprehensive plan of clearance and redevelopment for rehousing of 5,300 people. The plan was developed from 1893 under a Housing of the Working Classes Branch of the LCC’s Architect's Department had been set up under Owen Fleming. They planned the estate around a central circus with radiating tree-lined avenues. Two blocks were designed by Rowland Plumbe and the remaining nineteen buildings were undertaken by the council under their architect, W.E.Riley. Each block designed by a different architect while maintaining a unity through the use of common brick, and decoration. There were also 18 shops, a surgery, workshops, costermonger’s sheds, and a central laundry with bathrooms, two clubrooms, and two school sites. It was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1900.  
Circular Garden.  Streets radiate out from the central garden on the mound which is the focus of the estate. In the middle is a high terraced garden with a timber bandstand. The Site of the Mount has been said to be an ancient mound and ley line from St Martin in the Field. There is however no sign of a mound on older maps and the mound in fact consists of building rubble and domestic waste. The buildings around the circus set the tone and the building style for the estate. These gardens were built as the first where a social space, for public arts and cultural events was seen as a fundamental part of, and central to the design of a social housing.  In the early 21st a Friends Group has overseen restoration and enhancement work.   Iron Railings and overthrows with decorative panels.
Bandstand, this Forms a focal point visible from each of the radiating streets of the estate. It is Octagonal in Japanese style in wood with a tiled roof and a clapboard balustrade. It was erected in 1912,
Chertsey House. One of the five blocks around the circus.  It was designed by R. Minton Taylor built 1895-6. It is in red brick with pink banding to brickwork on the 2nd and 3rd floors. On the Ground floor is a central round arched door.
Hurley House.  Red brick glazed ground floor with stuccoed string course above
Sandford House.  Smaller, charming, with three-bay fronts, wider bands of pink and orange brick and windows framed by projecting vertical strips. Designed by R Minton Taylor and completed in 1895-6
Iffley House. Classically detailed and designed, 1896-8 by A.M. Phillips. The entrance is at the rear, leaving the facade free for a pair of broad windows to the ground floor in glazed brown brick.
Marlow House. Built in 1899 in red brick, there are contemporary shop fronts on the ground floor
Marlow Workshops. Behind Marlow House is a short row of two-storey workshops built behind by the LCC for small businesses displaced by the slum clearance in 1899. They are b Red brick,
Shiplake House. This flanks the opening to Arnold Circus. It was built in 1899 in red brick. The ground floor has contemporary shop fronts
Rochelle Primary School. This is a London School Board school of 1879 by E.R. Robson. The caretaker’s house is part of the site and was added in 1899 by T.J.Bailey. It is a half-octagon with a chimney with a plaque giving indicates the date of construction which shows it was built as part of the reconstruction of the Boundary Street area. Bailey also added the Infant School with its covered playground on the roof.  There is a brick wall surrounding the school and iron railings with urn finials. The buildings are now home to a community of graphic designers, architects, media companies, fashion brands and artists. The main school is now the Studio Block Home to a community of artists and creative industries housed in workspace studios in the old classrooms. There is a meeting room and two former school assembly halls also available. The infants’ school is now called Club Row offering flexible spaces for hire. The Rochelle Canteen is in part of the playground and the rest of the playground has been landscaped to provide a lawn, bicycle parking, outdoor eating area and allotments.

Austin Street
Mildmay Mission and Hospice. Mildmay began in the 1860s and the work carried out by Rev Pennefather, vicar at St Jude’s, Mildmay Park. He developed projects known as Mildmay Institutions, giving spiritual guidance and care for the sick setting up a dispensary. They responded initially in 1866 to a cholera outbreak in some of the worst slums. The work of the deaconesses expanded and the first Mission Hospital was set up in an old warehouse near Shoreditch Church in 1890-2 built by the hospital specialist R.H. Hill with later additions. It had 27 beds and 1892 Mildmay Mission Hospital opened. It joined the National Health Service in 1948 but was regarded as uneconomic because of its size and was closed down in 1982. Its supporters began the fight for survival it reopened in 1988 as Europe’s first hospice for people with HIV/AIDS. As medication developed and need changed, Mildmay changed its focus from end of life care to specialised rehabilitation. Today Mildmay is at the forefront of specialist HIV service delivery and care and the the only evangelical mission hospital left in Britain.  Redeveloped in 2004 by Feilden Clegg Bradley.
Providence Chapel. This originally fronted onto to Austin Street but its replacement Tabernacle now fronts onto Hackney Road.  It’s burial-ground which opened in 1835 is now under low-rise flats facing onto Austin Street.

Baroness Road
Named after Angela Burdett-Coutts and covers some of the area of her Columbia Market.  It is now system built local authority housing.
St Thomas Church. This was built in 1848, designed by Lewis Vulliamy. And financed by William Cotton as a memorial to his son. The church was damaged during Second World War bombing and demolished.

Boundary Street
The road marked the division between the parishes of Shoreditch and Bethnal Green. By the end of the 19th it also marked the boundary between 'respectable' East London and the 'criminal' district.
Cleeve Workshops. Built 1895-8. By Reginald Minton Taylor of London County Council. In yellow brick and each workshop has a wide door planked with the upper part glazed units. An integral part of the Boundary Street Estate and still house small businesses.
William the Conqueror. Pub which has been derelict but may not be now.

Brick Lane
This end of Brick Lane was once known as Turk Street.
Weavers Community Trust offices

Calvert Avenue
This was the original main road leading from Shoreditch High Street to the area of the boundary estate. It was widened and extended to provide a grander entrance to the estate. The tree-lined Avenue was remodelled with shops facing the road and workshops behind. Some original shop fronts remain.
28 Boundary Estate Community Laundrette. In 1990 the Boundary Estate Tenants Association was approached by the Environment Trust with funding for a community enterprise. The launderette idea was formed, and it opened in 1992 as a not-for-profit community business
Cleeve House. Tenement block built in 1895-9 by Reginald Minton Taylor of London County Council Architects Department. It is in red brick with original shop fronts on the ground floor with plate glass windows in timber frames. It is an integral part of the Boundary Street Estate.

Columbia Road
Names after the bishopric of British Columbia founded by Angela Burdett Coutts in 1857.
In the 18th Shoreditch's began to expand along Columbia Road, then known as Crabtree Row and just a lane leading to the Nag's Head pub on Hackney Road.  The eastern end was called Birdcage Walk after 1760 and was part of the estate of the Jesus Hospital, Barnet founded by James Ravenscroft. By the 19th the area was full of workshops and poor quality housing.  
Leopold Buildings. Built in 1872 for Sydney Waterlow's Improved Industrial Dwellings Co. on land belonging to Angela Burdett Coutts. The blocks extended the possibilities of the flat prototype which had been developed by Waterlow's builder, Matthew Al1en, in the 1860s.  Most of the flats are within a large symmetrical terrace with open stairs and access balconies behind curly iron balustrades and with the company's usual decoration. They were refurbished in 1996 by Floyd Slaski Partnership for Ujima Housing who added new stair-towers at the rear while maintaining the integrity of the original façade.
Cuff Point. Tower block by the GLC Architects, 1972 on land previously a nursery adjacent to the market area. It is 14 storeys in brick
Columbia Market Nursery School. Founded in 1930 and built by the London County Council Architects' Department. It has a timer frame and is planned around a courtyard which was enclosed in 1935.  Nurseries in this era followed the principles of the Macmillan sisters in Greenwich. In 1928, the LCC resolved to build two experimental nurseries – this was one of them. The first head-teacher noted that of the first 88 children around 80 percent were inadequately nourished. Outside are Gothic railings and gate piers, the sole remnants of the Columbia Market 
27 Columbia Road Youth Project
Columbia Market. This failure was the gift of Angela Burdett-Coutts as an attempt to improve conditions in the east end. She hoped to provide a market place were traders could provide fresh and wholesome food.  Her architect was Henry Darbishire and it cost £200,000 to build.  It was erected on the site of a dust-heap, and had a Gothic hall, fifty feet high, with rich external decorations. It was also planned for a railway line to be built from the Dunloe Street area on the North London Railway to the market.   It was opened by the Prince of Wales in 1869.  It closed within six months.  It was reopened as a fish market but doomed through opposition from Billingsgate. It was then given to the City Corporation and three years later they gave it back. It reopened as a meat market, then as another fish market – In 1885 it finally closed. By 1905 it belonged to the London County Council and after bombing had been used as a depot. In the early 1960s preservation of a building was not considered and it was demolished in 1960
Columbia Buildings. Were built 1859 - 1862 by Angela Burdett-Coutts, who had bought up the densely-populated, slum Nova Scotia Gardens. Integrated with the market on four sides they were to be model dwellings for the working classes.  Henry Darbishire, later architect to Peabody, designed them. They provided 180 sets of rooms, which housed more than 1,000 people and also reading rooms and laundry facilities. They were demolished from the mid 1950s.
Newling Estate, including Old Market Square – this was built on the site of Columbia Market in 1963-4 by the London County Council. Newling was the name of a local street, now gone.
Sivill House - Flats on site of Columbia Dwellings. This is a brick double tower block by Skinner & Bailey, 1964-6. The two blocks are linked by a circular service tower with a dramatic internal spiral staircase. The geometric patterning of the elevations is y Lubetkin and are stylised versions of dragons on a rug from the Caucasus which hung on the wall of his studio. The block has 76 flats over 19 floors. Was named after Cllr. Sivill who was a Mayor of Bethnal Green.
42 Bird Cage pub.  Bird cages in the ceiling. Established in 1760 and recently renovated in ‘classic Truman pub style’
Flower Market. Successor to Columbia Market. This is a long-established Sunday flower market, one of the largest in London by 1900
73 Royal Oak Pub, designed in 1925 by Truman's architect A.E. Sewell, in a variation of his Anglo-Dutch style with curved faience-clad gables. Inside is an unusual glass ceiling.
Ravesnscroft Park. Neighbourhood park created from demolitions as new estates replaced old housing and factories in the 1960s.
Columbia Primary School. Opened in1875 as Barnet Street board and renamed as Columbia Road School in 1888

Diss Street
Vaughan Estate. A cluster of two-storey buildings, making up about 20 flats. Inset into the wall, is a stone plaque with details of the opening of the estate in 1922. It was named after Bethnal Green’s Mayor Joseph Vaughan and formed part of the Diss Street Re-Housing Scheme.
Dorset Library. Now out of use as a library which was a 1950s two storey circular building.  Its upper storey, for a community room, originally overhung the ground floor.
Dorset Estate. Built 1955-7 by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin. It has eight blocks, each named after one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Most of the flats are in a pair of eleven-storey Y-shaped blocks with patterned facades in reinforced concrete.

Ebor Street
The back of Lipton's block of 1933 by Hal Williams & Co.,
No doubt expensive graffiti

Equity Square
New housing on the site of an old Quaker burial ground. Previously called The Quaker Square. In use from 1792 until 1855 as the grounds of a Congregational chapel. 

Ezra Street
1 a large warehouse by WA. Finch, 1894, converted and reconstructed for industrial units and residential studios in 1991 by Hunt Thompson Associates. Now includes a furniture maker.

Gascoigne Place
Dunmore Point. Built in 1966 tower block with 14 floors.

Gibraltar Walk
1-9 two storey workshops previously known as Quaker Square workshops
Gibraltar Chapel was said to be congregational chapel, and also said to be Wesleyan. In addition the burial ground is said to be Quaker (see above)

Goresuch Street
Workshops converted into housing

Gosset Street
Bethnal Green Academy. Formerly known as Daneford and Bethnal Green High School and Bethnal Green Technology College. It became co-educational in 1997. Daniel Secondary school had been opened by the School Board for London in 1900 in new buildings. After the Second World War it was reorganised and was a secondary modern school from 1955. It was amalgamated with Mansford Secondary school to form Daneford in 1959. Its most famous alumni are the Kray twins. 

Hackney Road
Mildmay Mission Hospital.  The main building now fronts on Austin Street. An extension faced Hackney Road built in 1964-5 and has been replaced. Clinic by Powell Moya Partnership, 1994 with bedrooms on the upper floors with balconies overlooking Hackney Road.
11a Printing House Yard
18-20 Shoreditch Tabernacle. This was originally Providence chapel and began with a group associated with ragged schools in the area in the 1830s.They acquired a site in Austin Street in 1835 for a chapel for Particular or Calvinistic Baptist and a new schoolroom was added in 1844. The building was in a simple classical style. By the congregation was working-class and social work was increasingly important. The building was neglected and damaged by bombing in 1944, and was demolished in 1960. A new brick chapel opened in 1963.
Recreation  Ground. Open area with big trees and a table tennis table. This is the former graveyard of  St.Leonard's Church which closed for burials in 1857. Shoreditch Council took it over soon after and levelled it as a playground - with a forma layout. Later there was a tennis court added.
69 Ye Olde Axe. Tiled pub front, fruity swags, and corner turrets said to be mirrors and booths inside. The pub dates from the mid 19th and is said to be haunted.  Now a night club with strippers.
79 Welsh Chapel. This is now a new build Tesco

Hocker Street
Virginia School boundary wall. This is in stock brick with red and blue brick and stone. There are entrances and wrought iron gates.
Sunbury Workshops are two-storey in eight units, of four workshops each, with central recessed entrance, loading door and hoist jib, very large cast-iron windows, and a north-light roof. Designed by C.C. Winmill 1894

Horatio Street
32 Nelson’s Head.Pub

Kirton Gardens
Low rise 1960s local authority housing

Long Street
Area of industrial units. The County of London Plan of 1943 had recommended new flatted factory areas for clothing, furniture and related industries. A scheme here in Long Street was the first undertaken by the London County Council and many of the first tenants had been displaced due to public housing programmes in Bethnal Green.

Factories designed in 1955 by LCC Architect, Hubert Bennett and constructed in pre-cast concrete. There are three main blocks, providing a total of 56 workshops on four floors.  Another block was built further down the street. Behind the blocks, by the railway viaduct, were lock-up storage units and parking spaces.

A smaller factory block was built on the south side of the street
Montclare Street
Cookham House. This is a contrast with the early residential blocks nearby. Said to be in a mature style and built in 1897 by R. Minton Taylor. The wall plane is broken with tall, projecting bays and two-storey gables.  It is in red brick
Porters’ House. This is the old laundry. The absence of washing facilities within the blocks mean a communal laundry was needed although no bath-house was provided. Built in 1894-6 by William Hynam.

Navarre Street
Wargrave House. Built 1897 and designed by William Hynam
Hedsor House, one of four designs by C.C. Winmill 1898
Abingdon House, 1896-8 by A.M. Phillips, a conical tiled roof above the corner with Boundary Street

Padbury Court
16-30 two storey workshops previously known as Quaker Square workshops

Palissy Street
Taplow House. Built 1894-6 by C. C. Winmill

Pelter Street
Medical Centre. Built in 1993 by Stock Woolstencroft, in stripy brick with a projecting glazed upper floor over the entrance.

Ravenscroft Street
4 Ravenscroft pub. This was the Royal Victoria designed by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin. In matching style to the estate
51-61 four terraced houses and a postmodern block of flats designed by Hunt Thompson Associates.

Rochelle Street
Culham House, 1894-6 by C. C. Winmill. It is between Hurley and Sonning Houses in yellow stock bricks with red brick dressings
Shacklewell Street
A narrow cobbled street, one of the remaining original lanes.
25-35 two storey workshops previously known as Quaker Square workshops
Ball games area

Shipton Street
2-14 Neo-Georgian cottage flats of 1939 by Ian B. Hamilton with large sashes and bracketed hoods to the doors,
Cottages.  Short terrace of Victorian workers' cottages with wide arched ground-floor windows.
William Fenn House is a terrace by Skinner, Bailey & Lubetkin in the brick and concrete livery of the Dorset Estate.
Sundial Centre – community and day centre.

Swanfield Street
74 weaver's house. This is probably 18th.
Streatley Buildings.  The LCC's first dwellings for the Boundary Estate were on the east side. Erected 1893-4. Demolished 1971. They were thought to be too Spartan in appearance and too generous in the number of self-contained flats per floor
Henley House. By Roland Plumbe 1894,
Sonning House built 1894-6 by C. C. Winmill
Sunbury House built 1894-6 by C. C. Winmill.

Virginia Road
The road name dares from before 1746 when it was in open country; the road was an eastward extension of Castle Street and had houses by 1682.
Virginia Primary School.  London School Board of 1875 with later alterations.  A classic Robson three-decker.
57 Three Loggerheads. Watney pub converted to flats.    The pub was there in 1722 when it was called the Two Loggerheads.  In 1990 it was renamed Turtles and closed in 1999  
Virginia Gardens – small park

Waterson Street
Flatted factory units built by the London County Council in 1955

Bird Cage. Web site
Blue Plaque Guide, English Heritage
British History Online. Bethnal Green. Web site.
City and East London Beer Guide
Clunn. London Marches On.
Clunn. The Face of London
Columbia Market. Web site
Columbia School, Web site
English Heritage. Web site
Field. London Place Names
GLIAS Newsletter
Greater London Council.  Home Sweet Home
Hackney Society. Web site
Healey. Lady Unknown
London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Web site
London Borough of Hackney. Web site
London Encyclopaedia
London Gardens Online. Web site
London Railway Record
Lost Pubs Project. Web site
Martin.  London Industry in the Nineteenth Century
Mildmay. Web site
Mitchell and Smith. North London Line
National Archives. Web site
Pastscape. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry. London East
Robbins. The North London Railway
Rochelle School. Web site
TBAOG, A Survey of Industrial Monuments of Greater London


Anonymous said…
my grandparents lived in sivil house colubia road , 1965.1977 I can remember going to local pubs and one day on my own from flat to pub,to meet parents I was only six or seven would not be able to do that today,have been reading up on sivill house and ,watched a beating g of local Italian tourist ,one of the atackers got 6 years and lived in sivill house , all the attackers were of mixed race ,sad to see how things have changed ,hope not a sign of worse to come ,was telling kids where family lived and saying I will take them there and showtime the area, stay in car and lock doors me thinks

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