Site Unseen: The Concrete House

Every month CabbieBlog hopes to show you a little gem of a building that you might have passed without noticing, in the past, they have ranged from a modernist car park; a penguin pool; to a Hanoverian gatehouseNestled amongst all the expensive Edwardian properties in the popular south London area of East Dulwich is probably a unique experimental Victorian property, number 549 Lordship Lane is believed to be the only surviving example of a 19th-century concrete house.

[B]uilder Charles Drake set up the magnificently named The Patent Concrete Building Company patenting the use of iron panels for shuttering rather than timber, a century before the Modernists were pouring concrete with gay abandon.

Concrete-House-before

The Ferns before restoration

To promote his company Charles Drake commissioned Charles Barry Jr., son of the designer of the Houses of Parliament – Sir Charles Barry to build The Ferns in 1873 for himself and his family declaring:

Much has been written and said lately about the demand for a new style of architecture. May I suggest that this may be found in studying the right architectural treatment of concrete buildings.

Neglected for over 20 years the Grade II Listed building was compulsory purchased from its owner who had run roughshod over planning regulations.

It has now been renovated by the Hexagon Housing Association and converted into 5 flats, though unfortunately, all the original features had been lost.

Picture: Derelict Concrete House by C Ford, 6th July 2004. By SecretLondon (CC BY-SA 3.0)

2 thoughts on “Site Unseen: The Concrete House”

  1. “believed to be the only surviving example of a 19th-century concrete house”… I live in one built in 1880. There are lots of them left. I’d be interested to know the source for your assertion 🙂

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  2. Thanks for your comment. This early example of a concrete house can be found here:

    https://www.shortlist.com/news/londons-15-best-hidden-gem-buildings

    Also this is a more comprehensive article:

    http://www.myfriendshouse.co.uk/the-concrete-house/

    If concrete is your thing I can recommend this book covering architecture in Britain in the post-war consensus period approximately 1945 to 1979, amusing and informative:

    Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain by John Grindrod

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