Downham Estate

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Downham Estate
Castillon Road, Catford - - 406280.jpg
Downham Estate
General information
LocationDownham Estate, Downham Way, Bromley, London
Coordinates51°25′47″N 0°00′18″E / 51.429784°N 0.005100°E / 51.429784; 0.005100,
Area522 acres
ArchitectGeorge Topham Forrest
AuthorityLondon County Council

The Downham Estate is a London County Council cottage estate in Downham, south east London. It is mainly in the London Borough of Lewisham and partly in the London Borough of Bromley.

The Downham Estate provides an example of the programme of building council housing occurring in Britain between the First and Second World Wars. The estate was constructed between 1924 and 1930 to plans by the LCC architect George Topham Forrest.[1] One of the first houses to be completed was ceremonially opened in 1927 by King George V.[2]

Among other similar developments around London (for example Becontree), it was developed to help alleviate the chronic shortage of housing in London, partly brought about by the complete cessation of building during World War I. It was intended to show what could be achieved by public-sector house-building: particularly in order to provide better housing for those who had lived in the slums of the city. The building of the Estate attracted subsidies from central government and was constructed under the auspices of the London County Council.

The estate covered an area of 522 acres (2.1 km2), of which 461 acres (1.9 km2) were in the Metropolitan Borough of Lewisham, (from 1965 the London Borough of Lewisham) and 61 acres (0.2 km2) in the Municipal Borough of Bromley (from 1965 the London Borough of Bromley); altogether it covered a distance of 1.25 miles (2 km). The land had previously been mainly rural although around Grove Park railway station in the east of the area there had been some development; between Lewisham and Bromley was virtually the end of London at that time. 5659 houses were constructed of varying sizes; and there were also 408 flats (apartments) in blocks up to four storeys in height.

Downham Estate, under construction in 1926

Downham was named in honour of Lord Downham, who was chairman of the London County Council during 1919–20. The first tenants of the estate were mainly former residents of inner city areas, such as Rotherhithe and the accommodation was spacious and luxurious compared to their former dwellings.

LCC Cottage estates 1918–1939
Estate name Area No of dwellings Population 1938 Population density
Norbury 11 218 867 19.8 per acre (49/ha)
Old Oak 32 736 3519 23 per acre (57/ha)
Totterdown Fields 39 1262 32.4 per acre (80/ha)
Tower Gardens
White Hart Lane
98 783 5936 8 per acre (20/ha)
Becontree 2770 25769[a] 115652 9.3 per acre (23/ha)
Bellingham 252 2673 12004 10.6 per acre (26/ha)
Castelnau 51 644 2851 12.6 per acre (31/ha)
Dover House Estate
Roehampton Estate
147 1212 5383 8.2 per acre (20/ha)
Downham 600 7096 30032 11.8 per acre (29/ha)
Mottingham 202 2337 9009 11.6 per acre (29/ha)
St Helier 825 9068 39877 11 per acre (27/ha)
Watling 386 4034 19110 10.5 per acre (26/ha)
Wormholt 68 783 4078 11.5 per acre (28/ha)
Chingford[b] 217 1540 7.1 per acre (18/ha)
Hanwell (Ealing) 140 1587 6732 11.3 per acre (28/ha)
Headstone Lane 142 n.a 5000
Kenmore Park 58 654 2078 11.3 per acre (28/ha)
(Royal Borough of Greenwich)
21 380 1598 18.1 per acre (45/ha)
Whitefoot Lane (Downham) 49 n.a n.a.
  1. ^ Source says 2589 – transcription error
  2. ^ Part of a larger PRC estate around Huntsman Road


  • Yelling, J.A. (1995). "Banishing London's slums: The interwar cottage estates" (PDF). Transactions. London and Middlesex Archeological Society. 46: 167–173. Retrieved 19 December 2016. Quotes: Rubinstein, 1991, Just like the country.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History of Downham -". Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  2. ^ "The Downham Estate, Lewisham: 'the joy of having your own patch'". Municipal Dreams. 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2018-07-31.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°25′37″N 0°00′43″E / 51.427°N 0.012°E / 51.427; 0.012