“South of Nansen Road: later development towards the common”

From a draft Chapter 13 of the Survey of London – ‘Clapham Common to Lavender Hill:

“South of Nansen Road, the owners of the big houses and gardens on this stretch of the common held out to the developers until 1890. In that year the first of them fell when Northfields House and its L-shaped grounds were acquired by the builder and brickmaker John Cathles Hill. Scottish-born, Hill had been in London since his early twenties, and by this date had experience of successful suburban development on a large scale in Crouch End and Haringey. At Northfields, he was joined as co-owner and co-developer by the City architect Charles J. Bentley. Formerly based in Wandsworth, Bentley was well versed in house-planning locally. He quickly went to work on a street layout, and between the summer of 1890 and 1895 several builders erected all the houses on the south side of Nansen Road (Nos 1–59),

“Fridtjof Wedel-Jarlsberg Nansen (10 October 1861 – 13 May 1930) was a Norwegian polymath and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He gained prominence at various points in his life as an explorer, scientist, diplomat, and humanitarian. He led the team that made the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888, traversing the island on cross-country skis. He won international fame after reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′ during his Fram expedition of 1893—1896.” (Wikipedia)

in Fontarabia Road,

present-day Marmion Road

and Forthbridge Road,

as well as in the adjoining portion of Taybridge Road (Nos 54–76)

Note the Victorian postbox

and on the site of the old house on Clapham Common North Side (Nos 82–85). Bentley’s assistant, Leopold S. Rogers, did much of the legwork, and probably provided basic guidance to the builders, of whom the most productive were the Kervens (W. E. & C. J.), the Stringers (George H. and his sons George H. & Alfred W. J.) and Joseph Palmer. Hill followed his usual course, raising substantial sums in a series of concurrent mortgages, a practice that later in life would prove his undoing.

Nearly all the houses were in standard two-storey terraces, with splayed bays. A livelier row at 48–72 Forthbridge Road (c.1891) breaks the mould,

Broke the mold is an idiom describing someone’s uniqueness. The image is of a mold being destroyed so that an item may not be duplicated. Usually expressed as “they broke the mold when they made him”, the second portion “when they made him” is usually left unspoken. The phrase they broke the mold affirms that there is no one in the world like that person and that no one can compare to that person. The phrase “they broke the mold” is almost always a term of admiration, the implication is that it is too bad that there are not more people who are like the person. The term “they broke the mold” may be expressed because of someone’s kindness, intelligence, patience, or any other positive attribute. The expression “broke the mold” came into use in the 1560s. The English spelling is broke the mould.(Grammarist.com)

…with finial-topped gables, bands of contrasting brick, and shallow rectangular bays with tripartite windows; it was designed by the architect Herbert Bignold.

Some street-names suggest Hill’s Caledonian origins. Fontarabia, along with two other proposed names refused by the LCC (Scrivelbaye and Lutterward), derived from Sir Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion.

In 1894, as work at Northfields was drawing to a close, Hill and Bentley became involved in another estate near by on the north side of Clapham Common, centred on Maitland House and Bell House. By sacrificing the western half of the latter, as well as the long, narrow gardens behind both houses, Hill and Bentley were able to drive a new road south from Marmion Road to the common. This was known as Taybridge Road, a name later also applied to the north–south arm of Marmion Road; the noticeable kinks along its route follow old property boundaries.

And so all the houses on the road’s lower east side, now numbered 61–163 Taybridge Road, date from 1894–7.

Heard Brothers of Harbut Road were the most active of several builders involved.

(Nos 135 & 137 were rebuilt in a pseudo-Victorian style in 1987.) At the same time Rogers remodelled Maitland House and added new houses either side of it (see 59–61 Clapham Common North Side, above).

Also in 1894, two other large mansions and their grounds standing immediately west of the Maitland House estate—Northside and Springwell— were sold to the Wandsworth solicitor H. N. Corsellis. In the past Corsellis had often relied on the Stanbury family to design and build his estates; but by this time John Stanbury, the family’s chief builder, had moved out to Worcester Park in semi-retirement, and was in a position to join Corsellis as co-developer, leaving most of the construction work to lessees.

Generally shrewd, Corsellis and Stanbury were at their most efficient here, overseeing within three years the erection of around 180 houses on an estate of just six acres, beginning with 90–126 Taybridge Road

(1897–8), followed by all the houses in Tregarvon Road (1897–9),

at 65-79 Clapham Common North Side and finally all of Jedburgh Street (both 1898–1900).

The pared-down, virtually identical two-storey red-brick terraces in the side- streets were built by Frank Eaton of Cicada Road, Wandsworth (on another Corsellis estate). Only in the bigger houses overlooking the common, built by Stanbury and George Abbott of Brixton, was more effort put into appearances, in the way of gables, first-floor balconettes and moulded brick aprons. Despite this unforgiving approach the development did well, and the high demand for such houses locally encouraged the Mitchell (City of London) Charity to buy most of the estate freehold in May 1900 as an investment, at a price of £32,500. The pair of shops jutting out into the roadway at 78 & 80 Taybridge Road (of 1897)

and the four houses behind at Nos 82–88 (of 1900) seem to have been part of this development; their obtrusiveness was dictated by a small, irregular salient of land, once the hindmost part of the grounds of Northside.

Side entrance to 88, Taybridge Road

In 1928 parts of the rear gardens of 62 & 63 Clapham Common North Side were sold and the short terrace of six white-faced, bow-fronted houses at 128–136 Taybridge Road built there by Fawcett & Company of Clapham.”

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