The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Click to see full size; Photo © English Heritage Archives
Phineas Pett Road, 1915; Photo © Greenwich Heritage Centre
Well Hall Road 1915; Photo © Greenwich Heritage Centre

100 Buildings 100 Years

1915: Well Hall Estate, London

Condition: Good condition
Type: Housing
Architect: Frank Baines
Location: Eltham, Greater London, SE9

In 1915, increased munitions production became crucial. The Workforce at Woolwich Arsenal was more than doubled and a site at Eltham selected for 1,298 dwellings, completed by the end of the year to designs by a team led by Frank Baines, chief architect of the Office of Works.

They believed that the estate should look ‘as if it had grown and not merely been dropped there’, and with a deliberately picturesque sequence of unfolding street scenes, composed largely of terraces, with a mixture of wall and roof materials, arranged along the contours, the estate avoided the rigidity of a military encampment that might easily have been the outcome. Ironically, the many jettied gables facing the streets led it to be described as the ‘German village’, and its relatively high cost was influential in determining a plainer character for later developments. The estate has been a conservation area since 1971, with an Article 4 Direction, controlling external features like windows, since 1978.

by Alan Powers

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