Posts Tagged ‘Mursell Estate’

Meadows, Tate Library & Albert Square

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

Meadows, Tate Library & Albert Square continues my walk on Wednesday 19th July 1989 in Stockwell and South Lambeth which began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason.

House, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-23
House, Meadow Place, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-23

Unfortunately the next few frames of my film were ruined in processing, though I can still see a few details on a couple of images, including the large house immediately north of Stockwell Baptist Church a house with the legend ARS LONGA VITA BREVIS at roof level which I can no longer find, but was probably further north on the same road.

This picture, taken on a second camera, is the next I still have. Meadow Place is a short street off the Old South Lambeth Road at the southern of its two junctions with South Lambeth Road. It ends at a blank brick wall, on the other side of which is the Bolney Meadow Community Centre on the 1930’s LCC Bolney Meadow Estate, at the north-west corner of the 1960s South Lambeth Estate.

In 1870 there was still some meadow land in the area; Meadow Place appears on the 25″ OS Maps with the 1871 survey as a row of a dozen houses next to St Stephens School with some small fields to the south and east, but the houses to the south of the street which remain were not then present, though they are shown on the next survey in 1893-4.

This small block, now with a roof terrace above the single storey end further from my camera is still there and looking much the same except the hanging baskets have gone. Just down the street immediately beyond this house is a narrow passage which I could not resist.

South Lambeth Library, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-24
South Lambeth Library, South Lambeth Rd, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-24

The passage took me to an alley, Stamford Buildings, which led back to South Lambeth Road, and from which I made this view of the Library across the road. These late Victorian flats and possibly Meadow Place were built on the site of John Tradescant’s garden.

Sir Henry Tate the sugar giant who lived in Streatham gave three libraries to the area, the Tate South Lambeth Library here and other larger libraries in Brixton and Streatham.

The terms of his gift appear to be unknown, but it seems likely that he will have exacted a promise from the then local authority that the library be kept open and free of charge to server the local community in perpetuity. It remains open despite repeated attempts by Lambeth Council to demolish or close it – and the documentation surrounding the bequest remain hidden.

The library opened in 1888 and still serves the community in the area many of whom are now Portuguese. Lambeth first tried to demolish it when they built their Mawbey Brough estate in the 1970s, but it survived. Then in 1999 they tried to close over half of the boroughs twelve libraries including this one but had to drop the plans after massive public objections, led by the newly formed Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library. In 2015 the council had another go at library closures – and again a forceful campaign by the Friends saved South Lambeth.

South Lambeth Library is not a listed building (though it is locally listed), probably because it has suffered some serious losses since 1888. As designed by local architect Sidney R J Smith (who also designed the Tate Gallery) it had copper cupolas on top of the two towers as well as a large porch, its roof supported by six caryatids. The copper perhaps went to aid the war effort (along with the railings) and the porch was apparently removed in the 1950s, probably to allow road widening.

Aldebert Terrace, St Stephen's Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-11
Aldebert Terrace, St Stephen’s Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-11

I was standing in Aldebert Terrace and looking across to the splendid terrace wich runs around the corner of St Stephen’s Terrace and Aldebert Terrace. It dates from the 1860s and is now part of the Albert Square Conservation Area. The house at the left of the picture is a little later. These unlisted houses on St Stephen’s Terrace are distinguished by their ornate decoration.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-12
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-12

Houses around Albert Square are numbered consecutively and all of the houses on the four sides of the square are Grade II listed in five groups. The square was developed on farmland which had been a part of the ancient Manor of Vauxhall following a Private Act of Parliament in 1843 on a site known as the ’14 acres’, and was completed following an agreement with him in 1846 by Islington builder John Glenn together with an ‘Ornamental Ground for the use of the Lessees of the Square in the late 1840s. All except one of the original houses remain, No 37 on the edge of the square which had been damaged by bombing being demolished and replaced by a block of flats in the early 1960s

This picture has No 11 at the extreme right and is looking towards the south-east corner of the square and includes the houses from 3-11.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-13
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-13

At the corner of Albert Square between No 5 and No 6 I could see the rather more modern and much plainer flats on Hampson Way on the Mursell Estate, a large LCC estate designed from 1961 by the LCC Architect’s Department and built in 1963-66. A tall fence separates it from Albert Square, with no way through. The estate has a long frontage on Clapham Road and is mostly relatively low rise as in the picture.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-16
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7e-16

This view is looking at the same corner as the previous picture but taken from outside No 1. Towering above the Albert Square houses is the single large tower block on the Mursell Estate, Rundell Tower, with 82 flats. The estate seems well-planned and is generally regarded as one of the better council estates in the area, though many properties are of course now privately owned.

Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-61
Albert Square, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-61

My final picture of Albert Square is a view across Albert Square Garden, taken over the fence looking across to the north-west side of the square. Like many London square gardens this is a private garden, open to residents of the square and other local residents who have to pay a licence fee. Albert Square Lambeth – A report on the Central Garden by David M Robinson for English Heritage is a very detailed account about the square and London square gardens in general and in particular these gardens which are now run by the Albert Square Garden Trust.

More from this walk in later posts.