Why are there Barbican-like buildings in Victorian Fulham?

St Peters todayDeep in the rows of Victorian terraces between the Fulham Road and the Munster Road sits a gem of modern thoughtful design. It looks like a displaced piece of the Barbican! What’s more there is another larger block opposite Fulham Broadway tube station.
How did they get there?  The answer can be found in the local Archives.

Reporton Road Prewar viewReporton Road originally ran from Munster Road to Filmer Road but the new block makes it a cul-de-sac. In this view St Peter’s church is just visible beyond the left hand terrace.
The area was badly damaged in both the early war bombings of 1940/41 and the V2 raids of 1944.

Flattened homes of St Peters Terrace and Reporton RoadThe scale of the damage can be seen from photographs in the archive, this one showing the complete destruction of St Peter’s Terrace and the ends of Kilmaine and Reporton Roads.  There was also irreparable damage to 53-57 Reporton Road.

The council soon (August 1945)  had 8 pre-fab bungalows on the site opposite the church and by 1951 had replaced 53-57 with in-fill flats that although different in style fitted the profile of the terrace.

1951 Flat replaces bomb damaged houses

As the economy recovered there was a desire to improve the Victorian terraces and to re-house people.  Tower blocks were a solution that was popular with some architects and planners but not necessarily with residents. Hammersmith Council was keen to find a solution, commissioning architects Higgins and Ney to produce a design. They made the large site at the end of Reporton and Kilmaine Roads available for a prototype.

New homes of St Peters Terrace prototype

Higgins proposed ‘High-Deck Living’ as a low-rise alternative, with ground floor flats around a central garage and two two floor masionettes above each flat but facing onto a high level street above the garage – creating a safe area for children. There are 34 homes altogether known as 19-60 St Peter’s Terrace. The now cut-off houses at 1-17 Reporton Road became St Peter’s Terrace too.

The large vicarage to St Peter’s was demolished in 1978 and replaced with sheltered housing and a smaller modern vicarage, completing the arrangement we see today.

St Peters Plan         Civic Trust Award

The development attracted a lot of media interest with articles in the Daily Telegraph and Guardian as well as local papers. It was also the subject of a US university study and articles in British and German architectural journals. In September 1970 it received the Civic Trust Award and by then the council was already building a 121 home version in Moore Park Road: Walham Green.

Walham CourtThis block has integrated shops and a 7 storey block of flats. Plans to build a further 364 homes in this style never came to fruition and, as in the rest of London, the ‘poor Victorian’ housing lived on to become the £1million homes of today.

[John, local studies volunteer]

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8 Responses to Why are there Barbican-like buildings in Victorian Fulham?

  1. victoria ramez says:

    This article is fascinating! I am an architect and live near the Walham Green Court block. Ive been trying to unearth some original plans for the development but havent been able to find anything in LBHF or London Met archives.. any suggestions?

  2. l anwyl says:

    My mother lived in St. Peter’s terrace befor the 2nd world war she got married on 3rd sept at 11 am 1939 the day war declared I think she lived at no 5 she had a direct hit by a v1 1944 luckerly the house was empty her maiden name was Brown married name Anwyl both family’s came from Fulham mmy mum was in the NF S on the switch board she passed away 2016 aged 97 🇬🇧🙏

    • Diane Harding says:

      Hello. My mums family lived at no 7 St Peters Terrace and my Great Aunt Polly was actually in her house when it was devastated by bombs, not sure of dates. The rescue crew heard her calling and a piece of furniture had fallen over her giving her a little shelter from the devastating debris all around her. Luckily she was rescued. She used to be the organist at St Peters Church. I can give you more information if you think you may have known them.

  3. Brian Hogg says:

    Most interesting article. I was an associate partner /conract mager for Higgins Ney and responsible for conract supervision of both high deck schemes, working closely with Hal Higgins.

    Joining H&N after running a section in the architects dept. Of Geo Wimpey ‘No fines’ housing these two projects utilised my speciality in social housing which contiued over a fifty year until my retirement.

    You may be interested in any background information I have on the above two schemes and how the experience gained with ‘ high deck housing encouraged me to develop my own version in Yorkshire suitable for aged persons.

    Regards Brian Hogg

  4. fhhs says:

    Hi I wrote the article after investigating the history. I know it is a bit late but if you want plans for either building the H&N archive was passed to RIBA. The archive is not catalogued yet but is held by the RIBA section of the V&A at their store in Peterborough Road. I have taken a photograph of many of them and can share these if this helps.
    John – contact via this blog or LBHF Archive.

  5. Pingback: TWO STORIES OF HOUSE HISTORY | The Fulham and Hammersmith Historical Society

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