Learn more about our founder George Peabody and how he shaped our pioneering history

rosendale-cottages

Social visionary

George Peabody was a social visionary, with views far ahead of his time. He was one of a circle of reformers; his contemporaries included Lord Shaftesbury, William Cobbett, Angela Burdett-Coutts and Charles Dickens.

He was inspired by what he saw around him and his own life experiences. For example, horrified by the devastation caused by the American Civil War, he set up a fund to establish a public education system in the Southern states. Then, living in his adopted home of London, he wanted to tackle the poverty he saw around him. 

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Pioneering history

That vision and sense of social justice has shaped us. We pioneered social housing with such unheard-of luxuries as separate laundry rooms and space for children to play at a time when the capital had some of the most horrific slums in Europe.

Our first estate, in Spitalfields, was opened in 1864. Since then, we have grown to house more than 70,000 people and continue to build on our pioneering history, adapting to the changing needs of Londoners with innovations in affordable, sustainable housing.

Discover the rich history of our estates

We were incorporated by a private Act of Parliament in 1948 and are a charity registered with the Charity Commissioners. We are also a member of the National Housing Federation.

Read more about our history