02 : The Brentham Estate


Brentham Estate plan in 1911. Click to enlarge.

The Brentham Estate had its origins in a meeting at Haven Arms in 1901, chaired by Henry Vivian, when Ealing Tenants Ltd was formed. He and his colleagues were social visionaries, who were concerned with improving housing conditions. The company set up the first ‘co-partnership housing association’, whereby tenants had to buy shares in the company, aiming to cultivate self-reliance and a sense of community. The estate was built between 1901 and 1915 and eventually comprised over 600 houses, and 2000 people.  No church was included in the original plans and the St Barnabas site was allocated for further housing.   

The first terrace of 9 houses was Vivian Terrace, nos 71-87 Woodfield Road, built in 1901.  This was followed by over 100 houses in Woodfield Road, Woodfield Avenue, Woodfield Crescent and Brunner Road, to a typical Edwardian terrace design, constructed by 1906.   In the second stage (1906-1911) 135 houses were built in Winscombe Crescent, Ludlow road, Neville Road, Ruskin Gardens, and part of Meadvale Road. This area was designed by Unwin and Parker, with emphasis on informal curving roads, irregular blocks of 4-6 houses to give visual interest, and a large number of open spaces and trees.   Most houses were designed by Frederic Cavendish Pearson, who was aged 24 when employed by Ealing Tenants Ltd, and contained many fanciful features such as sweeping roofs, tiled dormers, sloping buttresses, and irregular shaped rooms. In the final phase (1911-1915), more houses were built in Denison Road, Holyoake Walk, North View, Lower Brentham Way and Fowler’s Walk, as well as the Brentham Institute, to more the restrained designs of G Lister Sutcliffe. The Brentham Institute – now Brentham Club – was opened in 1911 to be the focus of sporting and social life within the new community.

The Estate was largely completed by 1915.  The original aim of tenants taking over the estate was never achieved, and the estate was privatized by 1936. Nevertheless, the pioneering Brentham Garden Suburb had a marked influence on architecture, town and social planning throughout the 20th century. It was designated a conservation area in 1969, and The Brentham Society was formed to support and maintain the character of the area.   Further information and historic photographs are available on their excellent website http://brentham.com/brentham-garden-suburb/history/


Construction of Denison Road c 1911, taken from the Brentham Tower, with Pitshanger Lane and the  empty site of St Barnabas in the distance

Previous                                                                          Click to enlarge                                                       Next