Who we are

A collection of short histories about some of our estates

Abbey Orchard Street Fulham Roscoe Street
Bethnal Green Hammersmith Rosendale Road
Blackfriars Herbrand Street Shadwell
Camberwell Green Islington Southwark Street
Carlton Square Lawrence Street Stamford Street
Chelsea Manor Street Marshalsea Tachbrook
Clapham/St John's Hill Nags Head Tottenham
Clerkenwell Palmer Vauxhall Bridge Road
Cleverly Parnell House Whitechapel
Cumberland Market Pimlico Wild Street
Dalgarno Gardens    

Abbey Orchard Street

Abbey Orchard estate in Westminster dates from 1882. In medieval times, the orchard of Westminster Abbey stood there, but by the late nineteenth century, the area was an unhealthy maze of narrow alleys and courtyards. Cottages were crammed together, alongside stables, cowsheds, coalyards, lodging houses, and a ragged school for pauper children. Small and poorly ventilated dwellings were severely overcrowded, crime was rife, and the police entered the area at their peril. The area acquired the nickname ‘The Devil’s Acre’, and was a haunt for prostitutes.

By 1876, 459 people were living in 18 lodging houses. Peabody bought the land under a slum clearance scheme, and had to re-house 1,700 people. We built the estate in 1882, adding Block Q in 1935, and St Ann’s Lane House in 1969.

Abbey Orchard estate is one of four Peabody estates with a memorial to the residents who died in active service during the First World War. The plaque is located on Block A.

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Bethnal Green


Before Peabody took over the Bethnal Green site it was occupied by 42 terraced houses, a two floor factory building, and a public house.

The Bethnal Green estate was built in 1910. The original estate consisted of blocks A–G designed by W E Wallis and built by William Cubitt & Co. The flats shared a central laundry and bathhouse but, unlike earlier Peabody estates, each had its own WC. Block H was added to the site in 1916 and the external design is visibly different from the earlier blocks. Other features of the estate included a coal store, which held 25 tons of coal, and 14 pram sheds. The average size of the living rooms was 156 square feet, and of the bedrooms 117 square feet.

Between the 1950s and 1970s blocks A-G were modernised. More recently block H was modernised to provide self-contained accommodation, although the basement of this block still contains the old workshops and a drying room for tenants’ laundry.

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The Blackfriars estate was built in 1871, on the former site of The Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes. The cost of purchase was covered by George Peabody’s original donation, and the estate was the sixth to be built by Peabody. Demand for homes in the area was high, and the estate was expanded from its original sixteen blocks to nineteen, providing 384 homes.

In 1871 the Architectural Journal praised the estate. Noting its spacious layout and surrounding trees, it considered Blackfriars to be ‘more home-like and less barracky’ than some of our early developments. In 1939 it was provided with underground air-raid shelters, but the buildings suffered damage from bombing in 1940, 1941 and 1944.

On 11th July 1962 HM Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother visited the estate (pictured above) and unveiled a plaque to mark the centenary of the founding of Peabody. Fifty years later it was the venue for a street party to celebrate Peabody’s latest great anniversary, which was attended by Simon Hughes MP.

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Camberwell Green


The design for Camberwell Green was the winning entry in an architectural competition arranged by the Governors of Peabody in 1909. The successful architect was Victor Wilkins, who would go on to work for Peabody for almost 40 years. The original nine block estate was built at a cost of £30,000 and was opened in 1911. It boasted a warm red brick exterior and Peabody’s first set of homes with entirely self-contained plumbing, meaning no shared sinks and lavatories.

In 1920 a further six blocks were added to Camberwell Green, in which only two flats opened onto each staircase instead of four as previously. The living rooms in these flats had glazed doors leading to small balconies. However, the estate suffered severely during the Second World War, with the top flats of blocks D and E being entirely gutted by firebombs.

In 2007, the estate hosted celebrations for European Neighbours Day. This event was marked on the same day in 22 countries throughout Europe. Together with Stamford Street, the residents of Camberwell Green enjoyed food stalls, a bouncy castle and face-painting.

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Carlton Square

The site of Carlton Square was originally an open space known as Globe Fields. It was owned by the Pemberton-Barnes family, which was established around 1850 by the marriage of Ann Barnes and William Pemberton. On this site a special Settlement was established which provided for the couple’s eight children. Its continued management was handled by the Pemberton Barnes Estate Company, which was set up by William though Ann came to own most of the shares.  Some properties were destroyed or damaged during the Second World War, and when the war was over prefabricated homes were put up on the site. The Company continued to own the estate until Peabody purchased a small site for development, and then 196 properties in 1974. 

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Chelsea Manor Street


When Chelsea Manor Street was built in 1931 it consisted of eight blocks containing 111 flats designed by Victor Wilkins. By this time it was customary for flats to be self-contained with a WC and scullery (similar to a kitchen). However, due to the inter-war economic depression, savings had to be made on building costs. Therefore rather than a bathroom the flats had a bath in the scullery that could be covered with a working surface when not in use. When the estate opened, weekly rents ranged from 5 shillings for a one room flat to 13 shillings and 6 pence for a four room flat.

The Second World War had a significant impact on the lives of the residents of Chelsea Manor Street. A bomb hit the estate in September 1940 killing a woman and wounding several other residents.

When the war finished in 1945 a party was held at the estate. The residents also threw large parties to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935, the Coronation of King George VI in 1937, and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Modernisation work was undertaken in the 1970s, which included the provision of bathrooms in the flats. There are now 103 flats at the estate. 

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Clapham/St John's Hill


The Royal Masonic Institution for Girls School and two lodges used to occupy the site where the St John's Hill estate stands today. Most of the school buildings were demolished to make way for the construction of the estate however the two lodges still form part of the current estate.

The Peabody estate was built during the inter-war economic depression (in 1936). Therefore, to save money on building costs, these flats had a bath in the scullery that could be covered with a working surface when not in use. In 1936 weekly rents ranged from 5 shillings for a one-room flat to 16 shillings and sixpence for a four room flat.

Modernisation work was carried out in the 1960s and 1970s, which included creating a separate bathroom in each flat and installing lifts in some blocks. During this period, blocks M and P were converted to sheltered housing.

In 2011 the estate celebrated its 75th birthday by holding a community event.

In July 2012 Peabody obtained planning consent for the redevelopment of the entire estate. The redevelopment will increase the number of homes to 527. Some units will be for private sale or intermediate housing. There will also be a community ‘hub’, commercial units and a new public square.

Find out more about the redevelopment

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From 1875 onwards new housing legislation made London’s first slum clearance schemes possible. The Clerkenwell site was cleared and Peabody built the estate in 1884. The original estate consisted of 11 blocks, eight of which were arranged round a central courtyard. There was a laundry room on the top floor of each block but no communal bath house.

Read about Peabody’s role in clearing the London slums

In December 1940 a bomb fell on Blocks G and H killing 12 people. Block G was then demolished in 1964 due to subsidence and was replaced by a terrace of 5 houses. The estate was further modernised in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period the artist Sam Taylor-Wood is believed to have lived at the estate.
In more recent years, the Clerkenwell estate was chosen to feature in the 2009 Terry Gilliam film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The estate was chosen by Gilliam’s team because it offered the "perfect London atmosphere ".

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The Cleverly site was purchased in 1926 with money that Peabody received from an anonymous donor. The first 246 dwellings, designed by Victor Wilkins, were completed in 1929 and named after the banker William Cleverly Alexander. Cleverly set new standards for social housing because the estate was spacious, had separate bathrooms and a wired-in playground.

The estate suffered from considerable bomb damage in World War II. Notably, on 14 February 1945 a V2 rocket fell and killed 30 people on the estate. Later that year, a children’s party was held to celebrate the victory over Japan.

The estate was added to after the war with the completion of Blakenham Court (named after Lord Blakenham, a former Chair of the Governors).

In 2010 Cleverly was selected to participate in the Natural Estates project that aims to empower residents to actively shape and improve the green spaces on their doorstep. The whole estate has been designated a conservation area by the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. 

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Cumberland Market

Cumberland Market estate, near Regents Park in Camden, was designed by architect C E Varndell. It has nine blocks and the first to be built, Datchet House, was completed by The Crown Lands Commissioners – later to become the Crown Estate – in the late 1920s. A branch of the Regent’s Canal near the estate was filled in during the early stages of World War II and the area was turned over to allotments as part of the ‘Dig for Victory’ food programme. The allotments remain on the estate to this day.

Cumberland Market estate joined the Peabody portfolio in March 2011 when Peabody acquired it from The Crown Estate. There are 43 allotments on the estate, tended by residents who belong to the Cumberland Basin Horticultural Society. They grow a wide range of produce, shrubs, herbs and flowers on these allotments, the most central in London. A horticultural show is held on the estate each year and prizes are awarded for the best flowers and vegetables. The cups were previously donated by The Crown Estate Commissioners but these are now awarded by Peabody.

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Dalgarno Gardens


The site for Dalgarno Gardens was acquired in 1932 and its design was provided by architect Victor Wilkins. The lease granted to Peabody by the local authority will not expire until 2931.

The 24 blocks of the estate were built between 1934 and 1938 for a cost of just over £200,000. Despite suffering damage from a landmine in 1940 the estate was relatively fortunate during the devastation of the Second World War. Like other flats dating from the 1930s, there were no separate bathrooms and none were installed until renovations in the 1970s. It was during this time that some pairs of blocks were linked by extending the balconies, enabling these blocks to be provided with a lift. In 1981 Block T was converted to provide sheltered accommodation. 

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Fulham estate in Lillie Road was opened in 1912. Previously the land was occupied by Hermitage Lodge, a large house with extensive gardens once owned by Sir John Lillie. The estate provided 239 flats, with a separate bathhouse and a laundry building. The highest rent payable was seven shillings (35p) per week for a four room flat. Two rooms in the basement of one block were occupied by a social club, where residents could play billiards, darts, draughts and cards.

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Hammersmith estate, which opened in 1926, covers almost six acres of land. There are records going back to 1793 of the land being used for property. Peabody bought the site from a convent at a cost of £38,438. The nuns' burial ground is now a sunken garden at the centre of the estate.

The whole estate was designed by Victor Wilkins who was Peabody's architect from 1910 to 1947. The buildings cost £250,000 to construct, and consisted of 284 flats in 32 blocks, with 34 cottages. A house was provided for the Superintendent, as estate managers were called at that time. There were pramsheds, a coal store and a purpose-built laundry block with drying rooms. It was the last Peabody estate to be built with a separate bath-house, and a series of photographs taken in 1927 show how these buildings looked.

Hammersmith estate suffered badly during the Second World War, taking several direct hits from bombs and shells. In December 1940 twelve tenants were killed, and thirteen more in August 1944.

Post-war improvements provided each dwelling with a bathroom, and the bath-house was converted to form accommodation for elderly people. In 1992 the whole estate was designated a conservation area. 

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Herbrand Street

Herbrand Street estate in Bloomsbury opened in February 1885 and was originally known as the Little Coram Street Estate. It was built on land which previously belonged to the Foundling Hospital, a charity which cared for abandoned babies and orphaned children.

At the start of the nineteenth century several streets of houses stood on this land, and they were let by a Mr J Burton on 96 year leases. However, the ground floors of the houses were several feet below pavement level, and by 1876 the Medical Officer of Health was concerned about their unhealthy condition.

For this reason the Metropolitan Board of Works used compulsory purchase powers to buy the houses. The site was sold to Peabody for the construction of the new estate. Four pairs of blocks were built round a central courtyard, and originally they contained 205 dwellings, with a total of 450 rooms. Some dwellings consisted of a single room, and before 1900 the average wage of tenants in these single rooms was less than £1 per week.

Early records show that in the 1880s most tenants worked within walking distance of their homes. Department stores on Tottenham Court Road, the British Museum, Crosse and Blackwell's in Soho Square and the Meux Brewery all employed several residents from the estate.

In 1935 the residents marked the Silver Jubilee of King George V by holding a celebration at the estate.

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Islington estate was built in 1865, on a site that was reputed to have once been the home of Sir Robert Duce, a Lord Mayor of London in the seventeenth century. It was only the second estate built by Peabody, and is the oldest still in its ownership. Designed by Henry Astley Darbishire, Peabody architect until 1885, the first four blocks were built at a cost of just over £40,000. By 1965 the estate had grown to ten blocks.

An annual report in 1866 praised the estate for its ‘good order and contentment’ as well as the ‘health and morality of the children’. In 1883 the land was mortgaged to Rothschilds in one of the Trustees' earliest borrowing exercises. During the Second World War the Islington estate suffered damage from incendiary and flying bombs.
In 1996 major portions of the estate – namely Peabody House, the 12 workshops in Peabody Yard, and Blocks A to D – were all designated Grade II listed buildings by the Department of National Heritage because of their significance in the history of housing provision for the working classes.

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Lawrence Street


The land for Lawrence Street was acquired by Peabody in 1863 for just under £5,000. When it was built in 1870 it was known as the Chelsea estate, and kept this name until the 1930s when it was renamed to avoid confusion with the new Chelsea Manor Street estate. Costing £10,000 to build, it was the fifth estate built by Peabody and was designed by Henry Darbishire, architect to Peabody across three decades.

In 1966 the estate featured in an essay on Peabody’s early history by Professor J. N. Tarn. The essay noted that to begin with the four blocks of the estate were more tightly packed than Peabody’s previous developments. This did not prevent the children of the estate from leading an active life outside, under the watchful eye of the estate porter.

A few years before Professor Tarn’s history was written the South Block at Lawrence Street was demolished to provide a better environment and outlook for the remaining three. In 1998 the garage adjoining West Block, which had originally held fifteen tons of coal for the estate, was sold to a private purchaser.

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Marshalsea estate in Southwark consists of three blocks on separate sites. They are called Douglas, Ilfracombe and Monarch Flats, and at first glance they look like typical nineteenth century Peabody blocks. However, they were built by different organisations and have only belonged to us for about forty years.

The Improved Industrial Dwellings Company (IIDC) built Douglas Flats in 1886 as part of a slum clearance scheme. The company was founded in 1863 by Sydney Waterlow, a stationer and printer. Like George Peabody he moved into banking and became interested in philanthropy. Waterlow was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1872, and also became a Member of Parliament.

The IIDC built dwellings which were self-contained, unlike the earliest Peabody flats, and their rents were slightly higher than Peabody's. When the building was new Douglas Flats housed 400 people in 144 dwellings. We acquired it in 1964. Other former IIDC properties now owned by Peabody include Bricklayers Arms, Ebury estate and Chelsea Gardens.

Ilfracombe Flats and Monarch Flats stand on sites which are triangular in shape. Both blocks were built in 1888 by James Hartnoll, who was born in Southwark in 1853 and died at the age of 46. By then he had made a fortune building working-class housing all over London. He seems to have done this for commercial reasons rather than charitable ones. These flats were acquired by Peabody in 1970, along with Ipsden Buildings and Pilton Place which had also been built by Hartnoll. 

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Nags Head

The Nags Head estate was built by the Nags Head Housing Society Ltd between 1933 and 1947. The estate was purchased by Peabody in 1956, when it consisted of 179 flats and 4 shops.

On 11th July 1960 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother paid a visit. As Patron of The London Gardens Society she was touring gardens in the Bethnal Green area, including one at a ground floor flat in Shipton House. The Queen Mother met the tenants John and Nellie Nicholls and their two children. After seeing the garden she unexpectedly asked to look inside the flat as well. 

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There is some uncertainty about the origins of Palmer. It was probably known in the nineteenth century as ‘Holloway estate’, but was renamed in honour of a seventeenth century clergyman who had donated the land. Its new owners, the Charity for the Relief of Poor Widows and the Children of Clergymen (later The Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy) sold the estate to Peabody in 1972.

Some of the homes were in a state of disrepair and were demolished, with new ones being built in the 1970s and early 1980s. 

Over the years Peabody has worked to encourage a sense of community at Palmer. The residents have described it as safe and friendly, a place where people ‘say hello’. Among the people who’ve lived at Palmer is Jan Tucker, who became one of Peabody’s Resident Board Members in 2011.

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Parnell House


Parnell House was built in 1850 by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes (SICLC). The land, owned by the Duke of Bedford, was leased for 99 years. In 1965 Peabody took over the former SICLC and all of its remaining London properties. Parnell had played an important role for Peabody long before that: Peabody’s 1964 Annual Report described the development ‘a shining example of good design’ from the 1850s and stated that ‘it was visited by Mr Peabody and may well have influenced him in the manner of his gift to the London poor’.

Peabody purchased the freehold of the property from Holiday Inns UK in 1994. A Grade II Listed Building, a picture of Parnell’s exterior features on the dust jacket of the 1983 biography of its architect, Henry Roberts.

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Pimlico is one of our oldest estates. The first 26 blocks date from 1876 – and we can learn about the early tenants from the national census taken every 10 years. In 1881 around 2,000 people lived there, many of them working in the nearby Chelsea Barracks. There were also lamplighters, messengers, charwomen, policemen and plumbers, while Charles Sutton, who lived in C Block, was employed as a porter at Buckingham Palace.

Pimlico is one of four of our estates to have a plaque commemorating those who died on active service in the First World War. In November 2005 a Channel 4 TV series, entitled Not Forgotten, featured the war memorial. Presenter Ian Hislop interviewed the granddaughter of William Buckland, the first man on the estate to be killed.

During the Second World War, the estate received a visit from Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who came to see the damage caused by an air raid.

New blocks were built on the Pimlico estate in 2011. They were officially opened by HRH the Duke of York in November 2012.

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Roscoe Street


Roscoe Street estate today looks very different from its original appearance. It was one of the ten estates that we built in Victorian times as part of official slum clearance schemes.

Eleven blocks of typical Peabody flats were opened in 1883. There was a laundry room in each block, but the estate did not have a bathhouse. The coal store was large enough to hold 20 tons of coal, and there were 32 pramsheds.

The estate suffered severely during the Second World War. Six blocks were burnt out as a result of an air raid in December 1940, and two more blocks were badly damaged in 1941.

When the war ended it was decided not to rebuild the original blocks, but to demolish the ruins and start again. The area was enlarged by acquiring the site of a church which had also suffered war damage. Two closed burial grounds were incorporated into the site after the removal of the human remains.

The first of the new buildings opened in 1957 and included two blocks each 13 storeys high. It has sometimes been said that they were London's first tower blocks. This is incorrect as some tower blocks had already been built by public authorities. However, they were the first multi-storey blocks which were allowed to be built without a second staircase. St Mary's Tower is named after the demolished church.

Eventually the last four Victorian blocks were also demolished so that Banner House could be built in 1972. 

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Rosendale Road


Rosendale Road consists of a mixture of flats and cottages, built between 1902 and 1908. The community hall was added in 1913. A “Jubilee concert” took place there in March 1914 to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Peabody estate in Spitalfields.

The blocks of flats resemble earlier Peabody estates, except that red brick was used instead of yellow. Block F included a communal bathhouse.

For the final phase of building a new architect was selected to design 64 of the cottages. He was Victor Wilkins, who remained as Peabody’s architect until his retirement in 1948.

In recent years we have enhanced outdoor spaces on the estate through the IMPROVE project. This has included improvements to pavements, roadways, lighting, communal spaces, fencing, entrances, drainage and water provision. Bushes and hedges around the estate have been replaced with a more variable planting scheme and the communal area contains ‘playable’ boulders, timber poles and logs. 

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Shadwell was one of the earliest Peabody estates – the original estate was built in 1866. It consisted of four blocks; North, South, East and West. The site cost the Peabody Trustees £4,300 and the four blocks housed 195 families. At the time, Shadwell was a poor area and experienced higher than average levels of unemployment. It therefore proved harder than expected to let the rooms on the estate.

During the Second World War, the estate was hit by two high explosive bombs damaging the east side of the estate and the bath house.

Read more about how the war affected Peabody

The Shadwell estate is now listed Grade II by English Heritage because of its significance in the early history of philanthropic housing.

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Southwark Street


Southwark Street estate was opened in 1876. Originally there were 12 blocks, with 22 flats in each one. In the 1960s two blocks in the centre of the estate were demolished as part of a modernisation programme, which created a space for the construction of a children’s play area. In the 1990s a block near the estate boundary was pulled down, and some adjoining land was purchased. This enabled the building of new blocks with a frontage to Great Guildford Street, which include some shop units.

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Stamford Street


Built in the nineteenth century, the original Stamford Street estate was densely populated and provided 352 dwellings. As the foundations were being dug, a 30ft long barge and several smaller boats were found, suggesting that the site had once been a river bed. Four more blocks were added in the 1890s.

Notable residents in the early years of the estate included Mary Ann Nichols, the first murder victim of “Jack the Ripper”. Mary lived in Block D of Stamford Street with her husband William Nichols and their children. Following the couple's separation, Mary moved to the Whitechapel area where she was murdered in 1888.

At around this time George Brown was born in Block I, and at the age of six months he moved with his family to the Blackfriars estate. George went on to become deputy leader of the Labour Party and eventually received a peerage. He recalls his early years as a Peabody resident in his autobiography “In My Way.”

Modernisation of the flats took place in the 1970s when four blocks were demolished to reduce the density of the dwellings. An extensive environmental programme on the estate took place in the late 1990s. Works included the cleaning of the brickwork, installation of entryphone systems, the landscaping of the grounds, extensive planting of garden areas and the provision of a children’s play area. The estate now enjoys space for community events. 

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In the early 1930s the Westminster Housing Trust (WHT) was set up to build affordable rented flats. The local council helped by providing the site at below market value. Fundraising schemes were started to meet building costs and several members of the Royal family donated money. Famous authors, including H G Wells and A A Milne, also gave signed books and manuscripts to be sold at a charity auction to help raise funds. Queen Mary contributed pieces of lace, a Chinese box, a set of decanters and a miniature dinner service.

The first seven blocks were opened by the Duke of Kent (the present Duke's father) in 1935. They were the first working class flats in London to have "self-operated electric lifts." Two years later the Duke's wife opened the social centre.

The Second World War delayed plans to build more blocks, but in 1949 Queen Elizabeth, later the Queen Mother, opened Malcolmson House. Princess Margaret visited the estate in 1953 to mark the completion of building work, which included a nursery school.

In 1972 WHT transferred Tachbrook to Peabody. Some tenants still remember Miss Wright, who was secretary to WHT for many years. After her death the Trust received her collection of photos of Tachbrook. These include pictures of construction work, the builders, Royal visits, and the parties held by tenants to celebrate King George V's Silver Jubilee and the present Queen's Coronation. 

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Along with Rosendale Road, the Tottenham estate marked a new departure for Peabody. These were the first estates where Peabody built cottages; earlier estates had consisted solely of flats.

The land on which Tottenham estate stands had once been open fields, and later part of it was occupied by White Hart Nursery. Old maps show several glasshouses where plants would have been cultivated. We bought the site in 1903, and in a separate deal with the London County Council agreed to straighten out the western boundary which originally followed the path of a stream.

In 1905, the Peabody Trustees commissioned builders to construct 154 cottages at a total cost of £63,795. Improved public transport meant it was no longer essential for tenants to live close to their workplaces, so estates could be built further from the centre of London. The estate was opened in 1907.

In October 1940, nine cottages were destroyed by bombing and four tenants were killed. A later raid caused further damage and the death of another resident. Almost all the estate’s children were evacuated to the country at the start of the war, but by September 1942 they had all returned and 138 children below the age of 15 were living on the estate.

After the war, new homes replaced the ones that had been destroyed and prefabricated bathrooms were added to most of the original cottages.

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Vauxhall Bridge Road


Built in 1912, Vauxhall Bridge Road estate can be found near Victoria Station. The land had previously been occupied by terraced houses dating from the 1840s.

When the estate opened the demand for accommodation was over three times the number of available dwellings. There were originally 11 blocks containing 202 dwellings, but the demolition of Block E and the amalgamation of smaller flats have since reduced the number to 132.

In 1913, Peabody’s Governors visited the estate. An information brochure was prepared for their benefit and included a drawing of the estate that had been shown at the previous year’s Royal Academy Exhibition. A description of the dwellings stated that every flat was self-contained with its own WC and scullery (similar to a kitchen). Each living room had a dresser, a ventilated meat-larder and a self-filling boiler. A sink, draining board, coal bunker, washing copper and gas stove were provided in every scullery.

A communal bathhouse and a steam-heated laundry were both available to the tenants free of charge, and there was a constant supply of hot water from a tap in the courtyard. A charge of a penny a week was made for the use of pramsheds and bicycle sheds. Gas was used for lighting the courtyard and the flats, while the laundry and baths were lit by electricity controlled by the Superintendent.

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The Whitechapel estate in east London was the first of ten estates which Peabody built as part of London's earliest slum clearance programme. In 1875 the Metropolitan Board of Works, the forerunner of the LCC and the GLC, was given compulsory purchase powers by Parliament. It looked for organisations which could replace the slums with model dwellings, and Peabody was among those chosen.

Old maps show that the site of the estate had previously been a maze of narrow courtyards filled with cramped and unhealthy houses. Peabody’s architect, Henry Darbishire, designed eleven blocks to be built on the cleared land. The estate opened in 1881 and provided 286 flats. Within months it was visited by members of a Select Committee on Housing, who wanted to see the results of the 1875 legislation.

Weekly rents started at three shillings (15p) for a one room flat and went up to six shillings (30p) for three rooms. In 1910 more land was acquired and Block L was added.

On 8th September 1940 Block K was destroyed in an air raid and nearly 80 people were killed. It was the worst disaster to hit any Peabody estate in the Second World War. The block was not rebuilt, and Block D was demolished as it had been badly damaged. In 1995 a memorial was unveiled at the estate. It lists the names of the people known to have died in the tragedy. 

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Wild Street


Wild Street estate, in Drury Lane, opened in 1881 as part of Peabody’s effort to clear London’s slums. So many people needed re-housing that the Trustees built 13 six-storey blocks on the site.

Information about residents’ occupations appears in the 1901 census. This shows that West End theatres, restaurants, Covent Garden Market, the newspaper trade and Government offices were good sources of employment for those living on the estate.

As a result of war damage in 1941 and 1944 two blocks in the centre of the estate were later demolished. The remaining flats were modernised in the 1960s to make them self-contained. 

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