Posts Tagged ‘Foxtons’

Brompton: 1988

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51-positive_2400
Brompton Rd, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-51

Estate Agents seemed to be taking over the world and this large Foxton’s seemed to symbolise this. In an article in ‘Property Chronicle‘ in 2020, Dan Channer suggests that Foxtons is the only UK Estate Agent brand “truly differentiated” for several reasons, one of which was that “It spent money on its offices like no other agent.” This building is perhaps an example of this and part of what has made them probably the most hated estate agent by those opposed to gentrification. Perhaps surprisingly this building on the Brompton Rd, though still and estate agents is now a branch of the other contender for that title, Savills.

Egerton Gardens,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62-positive_2400
Egerton Gardens, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-62

Although the street sign says Egerton Crescent which is the address of the row of Grade II listed houses, I was standing in Egerton Gardens, and the garden with its threes and flowering daffodils is the garden between the two. The street is one of several to have been described in recent years as the “most expensive street in Britain”, with average house prices in 2015 of over £7.5m. (Wikipedia.) Among those who have lived there are broadcaster David Frost and film director Tony Richardson.

These houses were designed by George Basevi and built by in the 1840s as Brompton Crescent by developer James Bonnin, responsible for much of the development in the area (and other parts of London) from 1822 on. Bonnin leased the site in 1843 and some of the houses were occupied by 1845, with the work being completed by 1848. The site had previously been occupied by a mansion named Brompton Grange, which was demolished. The street was renamed Egerton Crescent in 1896 after the Honourable Francis Egerton, one of the trustees of the Smith’s Charity who owned the land.

Egerton Terrace,  Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65-positive_2400
Egerton Terrace, Brompton, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-65

This Grade II listed terrace was also built on land owned by the Smith’s Charity and Basevi may possibly have been involved in its design. This cul-de-sac at the east end of Egerton Gardens was also developed by Bonnin in the 1840s on the land he leased in 1843, and was originally called Michael’s Grove.

Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-4m-66-positive_2400
Brompton Oratory, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4m-66

Anglicans who followed the lead of John Henry Newman and became Catholics in the middle of the 19th century first established a London Oratory near Charing Cross, but soon purchased a site in Brompton in 1852. They first built an Oratory House and temporary church but in 1874 launched an appeal to build this Italianate Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, more commonly known as the Brompton Oratory. They held a competition for the design, which was won by Herbert Gribble in 1876 and the church was consecrated in 1884, although it was made taller and the cupola added in 1895. (Wikipedia). The church is Grade II* listed.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-11

This is one I took for the tree, and shows why I liked photographing on London streets in winter when you see the remarkable patterns made by the branches. Of course there is another huge advantage, as in summer you can’t see the houses for the trees in many streets which created an impenetrable green barrier.

Although I find Google’s Streetview extremely useful at times – and check any locations I’m unsure about using it, one extremely annoying feature is that it only seems to have views taken between April and October, many of which are obscured by leaves. That seems a poor decision. The earliest views were taken in 2008, and its often useful to be able to go back to that date; if it had been going in 1988 I might not have thought my long walks necessary, though you often find that it doesn’t allow quite the view you want.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12a-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-12

Here’s another picture of Harcourt Terrace where you can see some of the houses.

Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13-positive_2400
Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-13

And walking a little further down the street shows a little more variety.

Land in this area south of Brompton Road was bought up by the builders and consolidated by around 1866 and became the Redcliffe estate. Building continued until around 1876 with over 800 houses and “72 mews premises” (British History Online) The builders, William Corbett and Alexander McClymont, were noted for their modern methods, including the use of steam powered joiner’s machinery and building fire-resistant roofs, but went bankrupt in 1878 with liabilities of around one-and-a-quarter million pounds. William Corbett in his earlier years described himself as an accountant, and the huge debt was possibly a result of the work being based on unconventional “modern” accounting methods. Fortunately most of the building was completed by then.

Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14-positive_2400
Redcliffe Mews, Harcourt Terrace, Chelsea, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-14

Redcliffe Mews is behind the houses on the west side of Harcourt Terrace and is one of the few mews in this area. The date of 1869 probably applies to the terraces on the main street as well as the mews behind them.

Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

Reclaim Brixton 2015

Sunday, April 25th, 2021

Brixton has been in the news again recently, with various analyses published on the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Brixton uprising (aka Brixton riots) which began on 10th April. Official reports put the 3 days of unrest which caused £7.5m of damage and left almost three hundred police (and an impossible to estimate number of the local community) injured down to poor housing, unemployment, and police harassment.

It was largely the actions of the police that led to the events. Their failure to effectively investigate the arson attack on a party in New Cross which killed 13 young black people in January 1981 scandalised much of the nation and the racist reaction of the mass media to a protest march about this raised tension, exacerbated by the police arrests of the march organisers who were charged with riot – and later acquitted. But the final straw was when police at the beginning of April began ‘Operation Swamp 81’ with large numbers of officers coming into Brixton and stopping an searching almost a thousand people – almost entirely African-Caribbean – under the ‘Sus law’, the 1824 Vagrancy Act which allowed police to stop and search anyone they believed was acting suspiciously.

Little changed after the official reports came out, and it was only 19 years later, following another scandalous police failure to properly investigate the murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993 that the Macpherson report found that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist. Although some changes have been made, there are still plenty of signs that this continues to be deeply embedded in the ethos of the force.

The publication of ‘The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities’ on 31st March this year (2021) came at perhaps a particularly insensitive time for a report that is widely seen as a whitewash by a commission set up to reflect particular views. Set up in opposition to the protests by the Black Lives Matter movement over the death of George Floyd (and three weeks before the trial of his killer ended in three guilty verdicts) it evoked fury from many experts in the field as well as the millions who still experience discrimination.

More recently is has been condemned in remarkably forthright terms by the independent experts of the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council who state “In 2021, it is stunning to read a report on race and ethnicity that repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies into conclusory findings and ad hominem attacks on people of African descent” and call on the British government to categorically reject its findings.

Brixton has changed since 1981 and some of those changes are very much for the worse for the local population. There were further riots, and there have been deaths at the hands of police – such as those of Ricky Bishop in 2001 and Sean Rigg in 2008 – but the main threat facing the local communities is gentrification as Brixton is changing from a working class area home particularly to migrant communities to a trendy up-market suburb. Its a change which is in part inspired by the vibrant communities which it is displacing, but also driven by the excellent transport links the area enjoys.

25 April 2015 saw Reclaim Brixton, a day long protest against gentrification which saw several thousands gathering at various events in what is still so far as I’m aware the largest protest of its kind. One major blow to local people has been the decision by Network Rail, backed by Lambeth Council to redevelop the railway arches in the centre of the town, home for many years to some of Brixton’s best loved – and cheapest – businesses. The current tenants, one of which came here in 1932 – are being evicted and after renovation the rents will be triple and their places largely taken by the same chains and franchises that we see in so many other high streets.

Soon after I left Brixton – in what seemed like a quiet period and I thought things had probably ended, activists took direct action against some of the major players they hold responsible for gentrification, breaking a large window Soon after I left Brixton – in what seemed like a quiet period and I thought things had probably ended, activists took direct action against some of the major players they hold responsible for gentrification, breaking a large window at Foxton’s estate agents, going into Brixton Village with their banners and briefly occupying Lambeth Town Hall.

More at:
London Black Revs ‘Reclaim Brixton ‘march
Reclaim Brixton celebrates Brixton
Take Back Brixton against gentrification
Brixton Arches tenants protest eviction