Crossfields Estate

History

The history of social housing provision in the borough by the LCC and the local council starts in Deptford. The Crossfield Estate illustrates a new stage of the LCC’s programme when, in response to Government incentives, the focus shifted from creating cottage garden estates outside the established borough boundaries to the clearance of the historic urban grain of inner-city areas, and their replacement with planned, single-phased housing blocks. As a public housing estate it reflects a particular social character – working class – built in a period in which local and regional Councils had accepted the responsibility of state intervention as a necessary pre-condition to create a more civilised and humane industrialised city. The estate is in many respects a typical example of its time illustrating the underlying design principles dictated by social and economical considerations and built in the ‘domestic’ style that was favoured by the LCC as the appropriate one for social housing. Its lay-out is distinct due to the partial inclusion of pre-existing 19th century street pattern, which has given the southern part a sense of intimacy and surveillance not usually found in housing estates of that time. Castell House and Farrer House are notable for added individual feature, such as the rounded balconies attaching to the stair towers (Castell House) and rounded balconies to Farrer House, now individual for each flat, which add sculptural elements to its south elevation. Added to its evidential, historical and, to a lesser extent, aesthetical value, the estate has considerable significance for its communal value. When Lewisham Council changed its housing policy for the estate in the late 1970s – giving priority to young single professionals – it gave impetus to the development of a radical arts and music scene that gained Deptford an almost legendary status in the 1970s and 80s. The estate became the base for a number of musicians including members of Dire Straits and Squeeze, who performed regularly in local venues, satisfying an increasing demand for live Pub Rock (and Punk) music that developed in reaction to mainstream British Rock music. The estate and surrounding area laid the beginnings for a number of British bands that brought it to international stardom and as such also has historical and communal significance at a national level.

Please post your story or questions to crossfieldsestate@deptfordcreek.net

Find out about Anchorholds