Thursday 3 July 2008

A time to dawdle in south and west hampstead

Usually I'm full of praise of the natural environment or the pure design - but I'm really struck by the late victorian brickwork of West Hampstead/South Hampstead - it's actually incredibly ornate and deeply impressive.

I'm no historical architect by it feels like much of it was the work of one firm - both in style and in type - but considering we are looking at bricks it has a flair that is unexpected and impressive.

We're looking at a period of about 1882 - 1894 - the ones here are illustrated with date plaques that give them precise dates of 1887 and 1889 - and I reckon they are not just the sme style but in fact by the same craftsman - that certainly would fit with the perception. That teams of men (often Irish labourers) were crewed together and worked in areas for period sof 5-10 years during the construction.

Considering the buildings are four stroises high, often with basements too, you get a sense of just how laborious they would have been - and the intensity of the development is amazing - the streets would have been busy, packed and at times highly congested. It made me think, as I had heard that on some estates such as this the brick kilns were constructed on site to save the time. My instinct here though is that due to the good transport links the brick kilns of the midlands in fact serviced these building sites and there would not have been much local generation.

The speed of growth of the South Hampstead estates was pretty impressive so it should come as no surprise to find this quality of workmanship.

Tkae awalk down any of these streets - Canfield, Broadhurst, Goldhurst - there is so much to see and enjoy - I find it one of the most pleasurable dawdles around...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Locally made bricks were used for internal plastered walls and elsewhere that was not very prominent. Just as today cost was important. Have you not noticed that as soon as skirting boards went into the hidden parts of the house they are plain board and nor ornate? Ditto all other decorative features. Some of the decorative work could be bought from pattern books and was sometimes chosen by the new owners. Perhaps there are very few houses left that have not been "modernised"; knocking down some of those now unwanted internal walls you find the work of the apprentices and less skilled.