Estates of Mind.

Tarling Estate_ThenTarling Estate, 2002. © Mike Seaborne.

Tarling Estate, Shadwell:

Located immediately to the east of Watney Street Market, Shadwell, the Tarling Estate was built c. 1950 to replace overcrowded slums and reduce the population density by half.

The run-down estate was demolished in 2003 and replaced by a higher density mixed-use development intended to both regenerate the area and create what the developer, Toynbee Housing Association, described as ‘a more mixed and balanced community’.

Tarling Estate_NowTarling Estate 2015. © Mike Seaborne.

Samuda Estate, Isle of Dogs:

Samuda Estate_V.3Samuda Estate 2015. © Mike Seaborne.

The Samuda Estate, completed by the Greater London Council in 1967, is mainly comprised of four and six story blocks arranged around a traffic-free square. There is also a 25-storey tower block of maisonettes – Kelson House – situated on a prime site by the river. The estate is in need of refurbishment and some residents believe that the estate’s owner, One Housing Group, are deliberately running it down so it can be demolished to make way for private housing.

St John’s Estate, Isle of Dogs:

St. John's EstateSt John’s Estate 2015. © Mike Seaborne.

Planned in 1952 by Poplar Borough Council and described by John Betjeman as ‘one of the best post-war housing estates I have seen’, St John’s Estate was intended as a new self-contained neighbourhood along the lines of the award-winning Lansbury Estate in Poplar. In this it has largely succeeded but One Housing Group, owner of this and three other estates on the island, are considering the possibility of demolition and replacement by new high-density housing which might include several tower blocks of 50+ storeys.

Kingsbridge Estate, Isle of Dogs:

Kingsbridge EstateKingsbridge Estate, 2015. © Mike Seaborne.

Originally known as the Millwall Estate, Kingsbridge was built by the London County Council in 1936-7, with an additional block being added in 1958-60. Despite their age, the blocks are structurally sound and are liked by many of the residents. However, their riverside location means that the value of the land they occupy is very high. The estate’s owner, One Housing Group, is currently consulting on ideas for the future, which may involve replacing the blocks with new housing for private sale.

Photos and text by Mike Seaborne, taken from Estates of Mind, photographs documenting 20th Century social housing by the Transition Group. Twitter feed: @TransitionLDN #TransitionProject. The pictures below are by Michael Mulcahy. Thanks to Mike and Michael.

Estates of Mind_4Brandon Estate, Kennington. © Michael Mulcahy.

Estates of Mind_5Lansbury Estate, Poplar. © Michael Mulcahy.

Estates of Mind_6Lansbury Estate, Isle of Dogs behind. © Michael Mulcahy.

See also: Balfron Remembered, Balfronism, Robin Hood Gardens, Two Men And A Dog, Pepys Estate.


3 Comments on “Estates of Mind.”

  1. o1kric says:

    I worked in Poplar for several years, it really was a concrete jungle, totally given over to roads and roaring traffic. There were no reference points as to what Poplar was before being redeveloped, it was a thoroughly demoralising experience, buffeted between roads and tower blocks, a very inhuman environment. Meanwhile, developers are demolishing tower blocks in one part of London as unsightly reminders of 60s planning then putting up new tower blocks in the name of 21st century progress – or whatever they choose to call it – in other parts of London, It’s just a land grab and any old grubby excuse to demolish the properties which are already there. The developers accomplish this with the full knowledge and backing of the councils. This is corruption & it stinks.

  2. o1kric says:

    Thanks, interesting article. The ‘official’ street art reminds me of those god-awful portrait-sized photographs which go up in public spaces to ‘brighten them up’, often photographs of people mistily smiling at the camera [say cheese] in idealistic pc settings. Street art is graffiti and graffiti is the mute expression of people who have no voice, and as such is important socio-historically. It tells us what street culture thinks, otherwise we wouldn’t know, and a large segment of social-historical commentary would be lost. Destroying genuine street art without first documenting it is cultural vandalism of the state I feel. But the establishment always (tries to) adopt, dumb down or pretty up spontaneous, popular expression. What was outré yesterday is framed, signed, and suspended over tomorrow’s bourgeois mantelpiece.