Buildings and Gates

BUILDINGS

Langbourne Mansions was built first and provided  88 self-contained flats which have changed little in the intervening years. The mansion blocks on Makepeace Avenue and Oakeshott Avenue though were designed from the outset as bed-sitting rooms, sometimes with bedroom or kitchen alcoves, and offered an acceptable way for single women to live near to London on their own. Only three flats in the whole of Makepeace Mansions and Holly Lodge Mansions had their own bathroom (one for a particular tenant, one for the caretaker and the remaining one for the stoker for the central boiler). The remainder all had shared bathroom and toilet facilities, which is still the case for seven of the blocks even today. Makepeace Mansions originally provided 269 rooms and Holly Lodge Mansions on Oakeshott Avenue had 408 flats but later conversions have seen this number reduced as bedsits have given way to self-contained flats. New regulations have seen a start on the conversion of the remaining bedsits to self-contained accommodation during 2005.

The design of the mansion blocks on each avenue follow the same design concept with variations from group to group. From a distance they appear as 'Tudor Cliffs' as they tower above the adjoining houses and which is aided by the topography with not only the fall of the hill to the south but also to the east adjoining Highgate Cemetery.

The blocks are four or five stories in height and are united by timber details, gable roofs with finials, red tiles and casement windows usually with south-facing balconies. The rear and side elevations are in a very different plain and minimal style and overall reflect the modern design of the 1920's.

GATES

Originally there were no gates to the Estate, and damage to the residents’ gardens and grass verges was caused by rowdy people using Bromwich Avenue as a through way to and from the Heath, especially at Fair times. A petition signed by all the residents was presented to the London Building Company Limited asking for gates to be put up for their protection and to preserve the privacy of the Estate. The then Mayor of the Borough, who lived on the opposite side of Swains Lane, which, on the opening of the Estate, had been relieved of this unwelcome traffic, endeavoured to get an injunction to prevent the gates being put up. But the London Building Co had the gates put in position ovemight before the injunction could be heard and eventually permission was granted by the London County Council for the gates to remain. The footpath gates were locked and the residents had keys. It was not until after the war that the practice of locking the pedestrian gates fell into disuse. In recent years, an electronically operated barrier has been placed across the West Hill entrance of the Estate to prevent unauthorised access. This allows vehicles to leave the Estate at all times but to come in by remote controllers between 23.00 and 11.00 when the barrier is closed.