Page 12: Social housing

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Charles Booth’s 1902 map of London shows the borough to be predominantly wealthy but with areas ‘of as deep and dark a type as anywhere in London’. These included Notting Dale, Kensal, West Chelsea and parts of Earl’s Court. The new authorities quickly took action to tackle the problem of ‘working class’ housing. Lodging houses were renovated in Kensington and Thomas More Estate was built in Chelsea. An important part of the Housing Department’s work was remedying the appalling conditions caused by overcrowding and poor sanitation, often achieved in co-operation with housing associations and charitable organisations.

The Thomas More Estate was built in Beaufort Street between 1902 and 1905, and the first block, Kingsley House, was formerly opened in November 1904. In Kensington the Council carried out remedial work in the Notting Dale area, and by 1906 had remodelled or rebuilt properties in the Kenley Street area.

Through close co-operation with housing associations slum clearance and improvement schemes were initiated between the Wars. Altogether 2,500 new homes were constructed and a further 1,800 renovated. This progress was due in no small measure to the energy of Councillors such as Henry Dickens, grandson of Charles Dickens, Lord Balfour, founder of the Kensington Housing Trust, Lady Petrie, Lady Pepler and Councillors representing from the poorer areas.


Drawing of dignitaries at Sir Thomas More Estate

The opening of Sir Thomas More Estate, Beaufort Street by the Prince of Wales in 1905
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Dignitaries and Mayoress at Kenley street opening

Lady King, wife of the Mayor, performing the opening ceremony in Kenley Street, 1904
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Virtual Museum – The History of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
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