Houses, Almshouses, A Pub and Cold Store

Houses, Almshouses, A Pub and Cold Store: The end of my walk on 17th July 1989 which began with Back in Stockwell. The previous post was Stockwell Housing and Adventure.

Terrace, 195-203, Brixton Rd, Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-64
Terrace, 195-203, Brixton Rd, Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-64

This terrace is on the east side of Brixton Road, with 195 on the corner with Normandy Road. They were built on a part of the large Lambeth Wick estate which was owned by the Church of England but was developed by Henry Richard Vassall, the third Baron Holland, who had adopted his wife’s maiden name of Vassall in 1800. The manor was leased to him in 1820 with a building lease that specified he had to built “houses of at least the third rate” and keep them in good repair, painting outside wood and ironwork every 4 years “and offensive trades were prohibited.”

Vassall’s lease was for 99 years and he let out small plots such as this one to builders and speculators on 80 year leases. The lease for the plot for these three-storey terraces was granted to James Crundall in 1824, but the actual date of completion of Alfred Place as they were known may have been a little later. The Grade II listing simply states early-mid C19.

The end wall facing Normandy Road has no windows – its interior layout is presumably similar to those houses in the middle of the terrace, but what would have been a massive slab of brickwork is relieved by a central pilaster and blind windows.

House, 104, Fentiman Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-62
House, 104, Fentiman Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-62

I was now on my way home and walked quickly north up Brixton Road before cutting through Crewdson Road to Clapham Rd and then turning down Fentiman Road, heading for Vauxhall Station.

It wasn’t until I stopped opposite No 124 that I made my next picture. This was built on part of the large Caron House estate which stretched north from South Lambeth Road. Fentiman Road was laid out just to the south of the large house after it and its extensive grounds were sold to Henry Beaufoy in 1838 and this unlisted mid-19th century building probably dates from shortly after this.

There are a number of other interesting buildings on this section of the road, some listed I did not stop to photograph, and I think the reflection in the car and the shadow of the tree which occupy much of the lower part of the picture may have made me stop here.

Caron's Almshouses,  Fentiman Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-63
Caron’s Almshouses, 121, Fentiman Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-63

Sir Philip Noel Caron, Dutch Ambassador to King James I founded his almshouses in 1621 on what is now Wandsworth Road to house seven woman aged over 60, but by the 1850s these were, according to the Survey of London ‘“uncomfortable and unsuitable” for aged persons‘ and the site was sold to Price’s Patent Candle Company for their factory. They sold the site in 1865 to the Phoenix Gas Light and Coke Company, which later became part of the South-Eastern Gas Board.

The £1500 from the sale in 1853 was used to erect these new almshouses in a Tudor style in 1854 and they are now Grade II listed. Various charity amalgamations took place over the years and in the 1990s the Trustees granted a 50-year lease on the almshouses to the Family Housing Association. Modernised and repaired they were officially reopened by the Dutch Ambassador in 1997 and are still housing local women in need.

Builders Arms, pub, Wyvil Rd, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1989 89-7g-52
Builders Arms, pub, Wyvil Rd, Vauxhall, Lambeth 1989 89-7g-52

The pub was built in 1870 and an application for a licence refused in 1871 but it did open shortly afterwards, and remains open now, though under a different name. At some time in became Wyvils, then the Vauxhall Griffin, but after it was bought in around 2018 by Belle Pubs & Restaurants they renamed it the Griffin Belle. According to Camra, “Refurbished in contemporary style in 2017, with a further make-over in 2018, the interior now features varied seating, plastic foliage and an array of TV screens showing sport (can be noisy at times). Upper floor has been converted to hotel rooms.”

Still overshadowed by tall buildings (although those in my picture have been replaced by more recent versions) and on the edge of what has for some years been the largest building site in the country if not in Europe, stretching all the way to Battersea, its earlier name might have been more appropriate.

Nine Elms Cold Store, Brunswick House, Wandsworth Rd, Nine Elms, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-53
Nine Elms Cold Store, Brunswick House, Wandsworth Rd, Nine Elms, Lambeth, 1989 89-7g-53

Brunswick House is still there on one of the busiest traffic schemes in the country, at the junction of Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane close to Vauxhall Cross, but the Nine Elms Cold Store is long gone, replaced by St George Wharf, which isn’t a wharf but a “landmark riverside development spanning across 7 acres of London’s newest area of regeneration” with the 48 storey Tower which is the tallest solely residential building in the UK.

Some describe it as ‘magnificent’ but others think it hideous and I’m more inclined to the latter view. The Guardian in 2016 called it “a stark symbol of the housing crisis“, with two-thirds of the apartments in the Tower “in foreign ownership, with a quarter held through secretive offshore companies based in tax havens.” At its peak is a £51 million five-storey penthouse “ultimately owned by the family of former Russian senator Andrei Guriev“.

Brunswick House has a long article on Wikipedia. It dates back to the mid seventeenth century but was extended in 1758. In 1860 it was bought by the London and South West Railway Company who used it as offices and a Scientific and Literary Institute. In 1994 it was sold to the railway staff association who again sold it in 2002. It is now a restaurant and the yard around it is used by an architectural salvage and supply company.

The Nine Elms Cold Store was built in 1964, a huge windowless monolith erected on the site of the South Metropolitan Gas Works, ideally placed to take barge loads of frozen meat and other goods from London’s docks and store them in its 150,000,000 cubic feet of cold dark space for onward distribution from the adjacent railway yard or by lorry. But when the docks ran down it was redundant, only 15 years after its construction.

According to Kennington Runoff after it closed it became “used illicitly as a cruising ground, a recording studio, a performance space and even a convenient spot for devil worshiping.” It remained in place derelict until 1999 as it was extremely difficult to demolish and it provided a popular location for filming when desolate urban industrial landscapes were required.

Vauxhall Station was a short walk down the road and I was soon sitting on a train on my way home.

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One Response to “Houses, Almshouses, A Pub and Cold Store”

  1. […] took me to the junction of Wandsworth Road and Nine Elms Lane. Brunswick House at right appeared in an earlier post on my walks in 1989. This mid 17th century house, extended in 1758, bought by in 1869 by “the London and […]

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