In 1864, our first homes were completed

Today marks 150 years to the day since our first homes were completed, heralding the birth of large-scale social housing in England.  

The first Peabody estate opened on 29 Feb 1864, on Commercial Street, Spitalfields, east London. The estate pioneered unheard-of (at the time) luxuries such as separate laundry rooms and space for children to play, at a time when London had some of the most horrific slums in Europe. 

Spitalfields oldSpitalfields, 1864

The size of the gift by our founder, George Peabody, which launched the Peabody Donation Fund, meant that for the first time the labouring poor of London had access to a good home, a real sense of purpose, and a strong feeling of belonging.

Our Chief Executive, Stephen Howlett, says: 

“It is 150 years ago today since the birth of social housing at scale, conceived by George Peabody to 'ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy of the great metropolis' of London.

"One hundred and fifty years later we have extended this enduring mission; providing a good home, a real sense of purpose and a strong feeling of belonging to over 70,000 Londoners.  In the midst of austerity and an affordable housing crisis in the capital, this work has never been more important.” 

Spitalfields newSpitalfields, 2014

The Commercial Street building is no longer a Peabody building; it is now a private residential block

For more Peabody history, please visit our 150th anniversary website, launched in 2012 to commemorate 150 years since our founder set up the Peabody Donation Fund.