Calling local history buffs

On a recent bimble around Brockley, BC came across these unusual houses on Rokeby Road.





They look intriguing, yet a quick internet search doesn't bring up much information about their history. Can any BC readers oblige?

54 comments:

fabhat said...

i think Transpontine has mentioned them before _ i like their european modernist feel...

Tom said...

This walk guide briefly mentions them, says they are from 1934.

My friends are very divided on them - some have loved them, others shudder when they walk past!

I think they were probably pretty fashionable back in the day.

Brockley Kate said...

I really like them but I'm not convinced by the pebble-dash.
If they were painted white instead, I could really imagine them in one of those genteel Art-Deco seaside resorts, perhaps with pampas grass planted outside.

The Cat Man said...

eh?

shb said...

You can imagine them being marketed with the tagline 'Concrete: it's the future' but I agree they look pretty tired now - it doesn't age beautifully. They're opposite one of the entrances to Luxmore Gardens which is worth a visit; it's a hidden park between Rokeby and Malpas Roads.

Brockley Kate said...

I'd be very interested to know whether any of their residents have had problems getting a mortgage, banks can sometimes be wary of uniquely-constructed buildings like this which can have expensive maintenance requirements ...

brockley mutha said...

I have coveted one of these houses for years - which is pointless because they are far too small for my family, and because we already have a home. They never come on the market and I think they may be social housing. In my opinion they are a great design, although could do with a spruce up. If anyone lives in one - would they consider having an open day.

Anonymous said...

Never even been down that road! Will go and have a look, they look cool.

Anonymous said...

OMG – hideous white plastic window!

I bet that’s not permitted under the terms of the conservation area. Surely there’s an Article IV Directive in place forbidding the replacement of unsuitable windows in the conservation area.

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/Environment/Planning/ConservationAndUrbanDesign/ConservationAreas/Brockley/

Anonymous said...

Must be pretty dark inside given the size of the windows.

brockley mutha said...

I'm ashamed to admit that i've never visited luxmore gardens, although i've heard it's pretty. isn't there some huge residential development planned there that has been fairly controversial.

Anonymous said...

Chisel off the council estate pebbledash and they'd look reet lovely.

Or would that be against NIMBY guidelines?

shb said...

This, perhaps: http://deanwalton.blogspot.com/2008/04/planning-rear-of-10-malpas-road.html
Sounds like there were a few issues...

Jackie said...

I used to live in one of those - I lodged with a friend who had no problem getting a mortgage (this was early/mid-90s though so might be different now), and at least one other person was an owner-occupier as far as I remember. They probably were a bit dark, but not excessively so as I remember. I thought they were lovely inside, though you're right it's a big shame about the pebbledash. Don't know a thing about their history though, sorry.

drakefell debaser said...

Banks have various views on concrete properties but houses are generally more acceptable because maintaining them is easier than large panel concrete blocks of flats, larger deposits are required though. The type of concrete used and its susceptibility to concrete cancer are the main considerations, as is location.

Brockley Kate said...

What are they like inside, Jackie - are they Art Deco?

Brockley Jon said...

I love the way the doors are neither on the ground floor or the first, but somewhere in the middle! They're brilliant, as is Luxmore Gardens opposite (sbh, you've let the secret out now!)

Danja said...

Are they concrete or is it just pebbledash?

They would have looked much better before the finish got dirty and stained.

Nina said...

I'm so glad you mentioned this! I live on Upper Brockley Road and walk past these houses all the time. I assumed they were late 19th century arts and crafts era architecture because some of the houses around here definitely have that feeling and they're so unusual. 1934 though, that's weird, they must have been someone's specific project.

Tamsin said...

Yes, my thoughts were "arts and crafts" - they'e fascinating. Could they be leafletted to see if there is an artist there to do an "Open Studio"...

Brockley Kate said...

I was secretly hoping that someone reading this would know someone living in one of the houses, and might tip them off about this discussion ... !

Maybe this should be a regular Brockley feature - 'Who would live in a house like this?'
I could be the local David Frost ...

tyrwhitt michael said...

What on earth is a bimble?

According to Wikipedia it's a cartoon fox/rabbit hybrid with a magic bucket?!?

The Cat Man said...

Yes, I was wondering that. I think its a new age london-esque style of saying the word Ramble.

lb said...

They're maisonettes, or were originally built as such. Not sure if they're entirely concrete, it looks like they'd be roughcast over brick - roughcast was very fashionable at one time and I'd guess that's the original finish. There is a slight arts and crafts-y feel about them as well as a touch of vernacular Scottish in the finish and some of the detail - perhaps a local architect was a fan of Rennie Mackintosh.

The windows are a bit small, mind you.

Bea said...

I’ve always wondered about those houses too and think they’re fascinating – although currently looking a little run down.

Having done a Google I think they may belong to the Rokeby Community Housing Co-op http://www.southeastlondon.org/Sites/Co-ops/coop-rokeby.htm although their website looks out of date. This would explain why they are never on the market.

lb said...

They may rent some of the maisonettes but the freeholder is a private company.

Tom said...

that coop website says they are from the 1920s

Tressillian James said...

20s would fit well - as the main building is Arts and Crafts influenced - but the boudary walls have a strong Art Deco flair

Anonymous said...

Have been discussing these in the office with my boss (a former Conservation Officer), a great red herring from doing any work.

We think the 1934 date is too late. The scoops by the steps are typical Arts and Crafts, but the A&C Movement is 1850-1914, so pre-WW1 is a fair date.

From the look of the photo, the front door must open onto a stairway half way up the property - so would have to go either down or up to enter the rooms.

Hope it's sunny tomorrow will take a look.

brockley mutha said...

@ brockley kate - so was I. In fact i was hoping that someone reading the blog would live in one of those houses and invite us all in for a nose (that's not brockley slang for other rokeby road activities).

we need a brockley open house week when people with interesting properties open their houses up to the interested public. there is a national open house week currently organised but doesn't include any homes in brockley.

i'd like to see inside the big red house on the corner of harefield and wickham (and know something of its history), the modern house that is being built on tyrwhitt, the brightly coloured house on lewisham way, the houses on harefield mews (lots of properties in fact). Sadly it probably won't happen because some of our more opportunistic neighbours might use it as an opportunity to 'case the joint'; still i can dream.

Bea said...

The modern house on Tyrwhitt (near the park) was open last year for the Open Studios weekend. It was an empty shell then but the owner - a very friendly German lady- was keen to explain the hassles of the build. Apparently they'd had a flood just after decorating the insides.

She does very large sculptures out of stone which were displayed on the ground floor. However, I bought a print from someone else on the top floor which now has pride of place in my lounge.

tyrwhitt ali said...

@ brockley mutha, I'm with you. I'd love to see inside the big red house on the corner of Wickham, but given the amount of security they have I suspect they'd unlikely to ever do Open House. The security camera on the side that appears to cover the pavement is a bit OTT....

brockley mutha said...

@tyrwhitt ali - i'm completely intrigued by the red house. endlessly and beautifully renovated - but other than that - there is no sign of intelligent life.

In retrospect i think i'm being churlish about open house - because brockley artists open up part of their homes to the public during the open studios weekend. It's just not quite the same as being allowed to look around the bedrooms.

The Cat Man said...

If it covers the public payment then it is also against the law.

They need to have a sign up telling the public that they are being filmed/videoed.

I suggest you report that to the council if it really bothers you.

On a seperate note, I went into costcutters yesterday and noticed that they are splitting down multipacks to sell to customers, despite each item stating 'not for individual sale'.

This is also against trading standards.

I told them they were breaking the law and they looked at me gormlessly and kept repeating '20p'.

Anonymous said...

Jobsworth.

Bea said...

I have read that the actor David Haig (married to Jane Galloway + five children) lives on the corner of Harefield and Wickham Roads. So I have always assumed that the large red house was his pad – although it was on the market a couple of years ago for c. £1.8k.

If it is his place that explains the security – tyring to keep the masses of paparazzi out?

The Cat Man said...

Yeah, I have that problem too :o)

Anonymous said...

"Its my arse on the line, and I don't want a cock up!"

tyrwhitt ali said...

Apparently it's an architect that lives in the red house (one of my friends met her once), so I don't think it is David Haig. The two houses on the other corners (the third corner is flats) are all pretty big though, and so suitable for a local, minor celebrity! :-)

tyrwhitt michael said...

David Haig lives in the South West corner if that makes any sense.

An actor friend of mine introduced him to me.

Another actor Adrian Lukis who is big buddies with ......... er........ oh the american who runs the Old Vic, also lives in the area somwhere near Hilly Fields.

tyrwhitt michael said...

............Kevin Spacey.

Haven't seen him in Brockley yet but it can only be a matter of time.

tyrwhitt ali said...

Adrian Lukis? Wasn't he in the BBC's Pride and Predujice. That brings back my teenage years - swoon

Tyrwhitt Michael said...

Keep it quiet but he sometimes drinks in the Talbot. I imagine its because you can guarantee it will be quiet and devoid of swooning fans...... or anyone actually... in there.

tyrwhitt ali said...

Lol

I don't think I'd swoon anymore so I think it's probably safe to go in there for a drink...

Tressilliana said...

I can confirm that David Haig doesn't live in the red house. Many years ago it belonged to Goldsmith's and was used as student accommodation. Currently it's owned by City types, I think. I know someone who was the Warden in its previous incarnation who went to visit it after it was refurbished, and she told me.

Adrian Lukis can sometimes be seen walking his dog on Hilly Fields, and he does indeed live nearby. I'm not saying where, as I think he deserves his privacy.

Bea said...

I’m totally useless at recognising famous people and when I do see one I think, “Now where did I meet that person? Was it at work? Or maybe at a friend’s party?” So a whole pub full of sitcom stars could walk into the Talbot or take a stroll in Hilly Fields and I’d just come away wondering where I met them before.

brockley mutha said...

@ bea - ditto. Or if i do recognise them i tend to think they are lookalikes because they are so far from their photo shopped, stage made up public personnas. There is a not a famous person in brockley who is in any danger of being recognised by me.

back on the subject of houses - what about that grand mansion on lewisham way. that's a private residence isn't it.

Tressillian James said...

Does he live in Tyrwhitt in the house with Aston Martin DB sitting outside it? Whenever people say houses in the conservation area won't attract over £1 million, I think of that house and the car.

fabhat said...

Brockley Mutha, do you mean the stone house? Tha's often open during open house weekend, so you can get a looksie in there!
One house that I always like the look of is the yellow modern house hidden behind a garage door on the blocked off end of Vulcan Rd, and also the very countrish house on Rokeby road...

Anonymous said...

I had a tour of Stone House last Open House. A very interesting design, much older than the London that has grown up around it. It is privately owned by a gent for whom the house and its preservation is clearly a passion. It had a huge number of visitors and he showed everyone around personally.

Nice bit of history here.

http://www.ideal-homes.org.uk/lewisham/main/st-johns-deptford-new-town-case-study.htm

brockley mutha said...

I went into Luxmore Gardens today. It's lovely - truly a hidden gem. On the way in there is a derelict site behind a gate (unlocked) with a crater sized hole. Would this be the site for the new luxmore gardens development of flats.

Sydenham Central said...

My flat used to back onto them. The gardens at the back are communial. I was told that they were a squat. Whether that's true or not I don't know. The garden was full of old scooters and rubbish until it was cleared by some of the more green fingered inhabitants. They often had camp fires and made their own tabel tennis table which wilted (chipboard and rain don't mix). They seem to make their own furniture, shop wood for a wood burning stove and at one point years ago smoked a lot of dope!

Headhunter said...

I missed this thread! I have often wondered at these buildings. I very much doubt they are made of concrete, they must be brick rendered and then pebble dashed. Pebble dashing was very popular in the early 20th century and I'm sure it's contemporary to the buildings. To remove it would be like removing Victorian Gothic decoration around windows. I don't think you could describe them as art deco, possibly more arts and crafts or may be just a basic post war austere design to get more accomodation onto those plots of land at a time when flats were probably not common in the Brockley area.

Alec said...

I'm glad other people appreciate the Troll houses as we call them. I live in one of them and was trying to find more info. All i know is

built mid 30s
each unit has a ground floor 2 bed and a first floor 2 bed flat. ground floor access round side of turret, first floor through the turret.
all flats have separate rear doors from the kitchen to communal garden, first floor flat via steel escape stairs
they are pretty badly built, rough brick, rendered / pebble dashed
ground floor flats are a bit dark, 1st floor much better
internal layout is really nice with good sized rooms
garden a mess again unfortunately, the scooter is still there, as is a table tennis table

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