Category Archives: Historical photos

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – building begins

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. After showing various architects’ models of the estate, we finally move onto the actual construction.

This photo (above) shows a terrace on Coburg Crescent at an early stage of construction. The foundations have been laid and services installed. The characteristic split-level design of most of the houses can already be seen.

Here we see the split-level design on the roadway of Coburg Crescent. The existing houses on Limetree Close can be seen in the background.

Steel reinforcments are put down, ready for pouring the concrete floor slabs.

With the floor slabs laid, building of the walls progresses, with a mixture of blocks and bricks.

Builders meet to discuss their work.

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – designing the flats

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. This time we will look at some detailed models of the blocks of flats. These showed how the flats fitted within the topology of the sloping sites along Palace Road. Viewing the models from different angles helped the architects to understand how the completed buildings would look. A special camera could even be inserted into the models to show the view from within the finished buildings.

This beautiful model, carefully constructed from wood, shows one of the repeated units of flats, now know as houses – Ducavel, Baly, Ponton and Despard. Note the marker at the top left, showing the direction of north.

A similar model, viewed from Palace Road. This model includes the garages that extend below the flats.

A model viewed from the interior of the estate shows the consideration that the architects gave to the presence of the existing trees.

A camera inserted within a model shows a view as would be seen by a person standing on the balcony at the rear of the building.

A view looking along the balcony the other way.

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – the community hall

This is part of a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. This time we show models that were constructed by the architects when they were designing the community hall.

The design of the hall is a contrast to the rest of the estate, having a complex polygonal floor-plan and a pitched roof. The main hall is a tall octagonal space. Attached to it is a set of smaller rooms, including kitchens, offices and toilets.

This model illustrates the design well. The main hall is to the right and the smaller rooms are to the left. The interior is lit through roof-lights and narrow vertical windows. The roof and parts of the walls are clad in natural slate while the main walls are built from bricks that match the rest of the estate.

A view from above.

The wide span of the roof above the hall required careful design. This model shows the roof trusses that were left exposed in the finished building.

Another view of the roof trusses.

The hall was sadly demolished in 2016 to make way for a centre for adults with learning disabilities. At the time of writing in 2020, the construction of this new building has yet to start.

The community hall in around 2010, flanked on the left by similarly radical buildings – a seven sided building to the left (disused) and a two-storey building to the right (a nursery).

Historical photos of Palace Road Estate – the grand plan

This is the first in a series of blog posts of historical photos of Palace Road Estate. These photos are from the London Metropolitan Archives. You can explore their online archive by searching the Collage picture archive. There are many more photographs of the estate there than will be presented in this blog, so do have a look there yourself.

We will start with some photos of architects’ models of the estate before it was built. The estate was designed by architects working at the Greater London Council, under Sir Roger Walters KBE, the Chief Architect. Models were constructed of the whole estate to show how it would fit into the surrounding landscape.

This large model (above) shows the planned estate within the existing built landscape. Layers of board have been used to construct the topology. Although the layout of the estate is very similar to the eventual implementation, there are a few notable differences. For instance, the grounds of the estate merge with the Palace Road Nature Garden and there is a more extensive network of paths within the central grassed area.

A closer view shows more of the detail in this model.

Here is another simpler model that was, perhaps, constructed earlier. The elevation of the land can be seen marked around the edge of the model in metres. We can see that the estate was then known as the Palace Road Extension.