9. Farringdon Road Buildings 1874 (Frederic Chancellor) London (demolished)

This arrangement type, parallel blocks perpendicular to the street, is quite rare and this particular entry sequence unique. Entry is via an alleyway between blocks leading to open staircases that led to shared balcony/landings. There is limited information and so it is unclear how the space between buildings were used. British History Online refers to the courts as playgrounds. There is reference to the architect consciously thinking through this unique layout to account for the perceived weaknesses of the Industrial Dwelling (Model Cottage) type and gallery access type. Namely, issues of light and privacy. The entry ‘balconies’ were intended to be appropriated by tenants: “Chancellor thought the balconies would not only increase ventilation, but allow the inhabitants to express (and improve) themselves by cultivating flowers there.” [British History Online]

Schema

  • street (city) ⇒ enter gap between buildings (boundary) ⇒ pass through playground/court (crossing) ⇒ enter stair lobby (one of four) ⇒ stair (ascend) ⇒ landing/balcony ⇒ door (two)

Unit identity

  • Weak; the entry sequence is hidden from street; emphasis is on tenement block identity
  • All images from Working-class Housing in 19th Century Britain, John Nelson Tarn, CUP Archive, 1971.

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4 thoughts on “9. Farringdon Road Buildings 1874 (Frederic Chancellor) London (demolished)

  1. I was born in 167 Farringdon Road Buildings in 1955. It was a one bedroom flat. In 1956 my parents and I moved across the landing to 166 and I lived there until the Compulsory Purchase Order required us to move in 1970 I think. The Buildings may not have been classy or fancy, but they were dry and solidly built. We didn’t have central heating or bathrooms. We had a toilet and a tin bath hung up on a hook which was filled once a week with hot water for a bath. But boy were we happy. I had many of my aunts, uncles and cousins living there and it was a real community. They were happy days for us kids, playing in the courtyards.

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    1. Dear Jan, Thank you for sharing your recollections. I’ve been wondering about the courtyards and whether they got used and how. I’ve also wondered about the landings which are labelled as balconies on the plan. It’s quite a unique layout – I’ve not seen any other examples of this configuration. I would be interested in any other details you remember about the buildings. Best, Luis

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      1. Dear Luis
        I’m glad my recollection has been of some interest. The balconies were shared by two flats, in our case 166 and 167. I don’t recall anyone using them for growing flowers; they were mainly used to hang out washing. Each block also had basement flats. I think most of those had fallen into disrepair but I seem to remember we had one or people/families occupying them. We also had shops at ground level – a fairly well known cork shop, sweet shop/tobacconist, dairy, a greengrocer, and a general shop that sold everything from tins of peas to mops, light bulbs and anything in between. We used the main courtyards for games – tennis, rounders, skipping, kiss chase and just somewhere for us to play. A lot of children learned how to ride their bikes in the courtyards. All the blocks had a flat roof and was the location of many fireworks parties. I’ve heard people refer to the flats as tenement blocks which seemed to suggest they were occupied by poor families and were run down. In truth, the families weren’t particularly well off but everyone took pride in their own flats with tenants redecorating them on a regular basis. It was a happy community with long life friends being made. Happy days. Hope this gives you a bit more flavour of what life was like in Farringdon Road Buildings 😁.o

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