Between The Commons

 

Before the mid 1850s there were just a few country lanes in this area, and as late as the 1880s it was principally farmland with some large country houses and gardens. These include Broomwood, Battersea Rise and Glenelg, homes of members of the Clapham Sect, (a group of influential like-minded Church of England social reformers based in Clapham at the beginning of the 19th century. They were described by the well known historian Stephen Tomkins as "a network of friends and families in England, with William Wilberforce at its centre, who were powerfully bound together by their shared moral and spiritual values, also by their religious mission and social activism, by their love for each other, and by marriage). The most important geographical feature, then as now, was the valley along which the Falcon Brook meandered, through a series  of ponds and waterfalls towards the Thames. It was a beautiful spot, where kingfishers, barn owls, hawk moths and all the creatures of virgin countryside could be found. In 1865-66 the brook was covered and turned into an underground storm sewer, allowing the buildings of Northcote Road over the top of it. The first new road in the area, Chatham Road, had been laid out in 1855 by the National Freehold Land Company. The small cottages, quite unlike the later housing between the Commons, were built over several years.

 

At the junction of Bolingbroke Grove and Battersea Rise the cemetery established in 1859-60 contains some fine old trees. Beside it, Buckmaster Road and Auckland Road, were an early development (1863) by Christopher Todd and John Lane, assisted by the noted sanitary engineer, Thomas Crapper, who was responsible for the excellent houses with semicircular bays ay 8-10 Buckmaster Road. The smaller houses too are interesting , in that they anticipate the standard two-and-a-half storey, double bay house design of the 1880s by some 15 years, and those in Auckland Road have an unusual sawtooth roof profile.

 

On the corner of Northcote Road, originally a residential street, is the Northcote Public House of 1870 in gault brick and glazed tile. Northcote Road and the roads off - Abyssinia Road, Cairns Road, Shelgate Road, Bennerley Road, Mallinson Road and Salcott Road - are part of the Conservative Land Society’s development of the Bolingbroke Park Estate, started in 1869, the first major estate development in the area. Nearby, the houses of Clapham Common Garden Estate developed by WH Rawlings and JJ Brown in 1875-78, comprising Almeric Road and Lindore Road, though of different types are externally similar, giving the streets a uniformity which contracts with the varying dates and styles of those in Shelgate Road by the CLS.

 

In 1875-78 the CLS estate was extended southwards with the construction of Wakehurst Road and Belleville Road, where the houses are all in the style typical of the builder,Alfred Heaver. Bolingbroke Grove has more substantial houses, as specified in the estate covenants. The fine red brick houses, 64-79, together with Kelmscott Road and Bramfield Road are part of the estate of Rev John Pincher Faunthorpe, developed 1890-96 by HN Corsellis. Behind the tall terraces opposite the pond is Cobham Close, where the polychrome brickwork and crow stepped gables of St Michael’s Church (1881) by William White, are a pleasant surprise amidst the drab local authority housing which has replaced the cottages of what once Chatham Road. Now only a part of the road survives on the other side of Northcote road, and three cottages (c1857) opposite the church, which were converted to the Bolingbroke Public House a few years after they were built.

 

The largest development in this area was the Broomwood Park Estate, which comprises Honeywell Road, Broomwood Road, Montholme Road, Gayville Road, Devereux Road, Hillier Road and Wroughton Road, as well as the extension of Northcote Road and Webbs Road. The houses built between 1880 to 1904, vary greatly. Further south Dents House Estate was developed from 1882-84 by JW Everidge on the site of Dents farm. Here are substantial houses, many with timber bargeboarding. The best are 29-30 Bolingbroke Grove and 1-3 Gorst Road.

 

The first section of the Dents Estate to be developed in 1875, included the group of neo-Queen Anne houses on Bolingbroke Grove by ER Robson - particularly fine is 26 - and 5-7 Blenkarne Road. The remainder of the estate, up to Nightingale Lane and including the large, high quality houses in Morella Road, Granard Road and Hendrick Avenue, was developed by Thomas Ingram, Henry Bragg and Frederick Snelling between 1882-87.

The top of Thurleigh Road affords a splendid view across the Falcon valley to the campanile of St Luke’s Church on the skyline. Rusham Road was the first road on the Old Park Estate, started in 1876 with high quality houses by Stephen Hayworth. Sudbrooke Road was laid out at the same time, but building extended over many years. Facing the end of Rusham Road in Nightingale Lane is Nightingale House (c1865), once the home of George Jennings sanitary engineer and stoneware manufacturer, whose skills are amply displayed on the facade of the house. Further along Nightingale Lane, Broomwood Hall School is a striking Venetian Gothic tower house of 1874 by Rowland Plumbe, with an interesting garden folly wall of overburnt bricks.

 

The Nightingale Public House, a charming early beerhouse (1853) stands beside a fine terracotta commercial terrace, 81-95, of 1870 by George Jennings, with a crisp barley-sugar twist columns. Jennings had moved to 79, one of the magnificent groups of Arts and Craft-inspired houses, 69-79, designed for him by TE Collcutt, when he died in a riding accident in 1882. Dudley House (1869), on the other side of the road, and its coach house and stables form a fine group, with superb terracotta decoration to the games room above the stable.

 

The high quality houses, note espically 1-7, of 1890-91 in Old Park Avenue replace a Georgian mansion called Old Park. In Ramsden Road is another fine house, Sudbrooke Lodge (185) of 1915 by Edwin Evans in Queen Anne style, while nearby there is a good group of International style houses of 1934 at 105-115 Thurleigh Road and a fine detached house of 1886-87 at 117. Opposite is the Beecholme Estate developed by JS Quilter, 1927-30.

 

Roseneath Road has some good houses of the 1914-25 period. The Heathfield Estate was developed 1906-07 with the large red brick houses of Sumburgh Road and the top of Thurleigh Road, but the Georgian house, Heathfield, survives at 21 West Side. The red brick terraces of Manchuria Road, Broxash Road and Kyrle Road date from 1897 to 1903, by HN Corsellis, who also developed the top of Broomwood Road in 1896. The road follows the line of the carriageway to Broomwood House, once the home of William Wilberforce. Almost opposite the site of the house is the school (1906-07) with its impressive twin towers, one of TJ Bailey’s most dramatic buildings for the School Board for London. Winsham Grove and part of Culmstock Road were laid out 1899-1900 by WH George after the demolition of a Georgian house Beechwood. Between 1908 and 1925 Edwin Evans developed the Battersea Rise House Estate which icludes Bowood Road, Canford Road, Muncaster Road, Alfriston Road and Wisley Road, together with parts of Wakehurst Road, Culmstock Road and Chatto Road. These are transitional houses with many Art Nouveau details. Perhaps the most interesting in the strikingly whimsical 90 Alfriston Road, of 1914.

 

The Chatto Estate, are on the site of a Georgian farmhouse demolished in 1885, consists of part of Chatto Road, Grandison Road, Burland Road and Dulka Road - simply two-storey terraced houses. The extensive West Side Estate developed from 1882-87 includes Leathwaite Road, Ashness Road, Berber Road, Keildon Road, as well as parts of Webb Road, and the eastern parts of Shelgate Road, Mallinson Road, Bennerley Road, Salcott Road and Wakehurst Road. These have a wide variety of mid-1880s terraced houses. In Leathwaite Road 119 dated 1885 is worth noting, and amoung several houses with nice tile decorations, 88 Shelgate Road (1886) has a particularly good tiled path and porch

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