Observatory Gardens were laid out in 1870 but not completed until 1883. Originally part of the Phillimore estate, the land was purchased by a South Kensington builder, Thomas Cawley. Following the usual practice, he sub-contracted the work to others. These firms soon got into financial difficulties and were declared bankrupt. Cawley was therefore forced to complete the construction himself. This is a very familiar story in Kensington. Some developers and builders made huge fortunes while many more faced bankruptcy.
They were built in red brick with painted stone and cement detailing. Most of the flats were let out on short leases at rents between £150 and £200 per annum.
But why was the new road called Observatory Gardens? Turn to the next page for the answer.
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Location of original: LS vf PC/2/251
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