The Bourne Estate, Holborn

From: Hatton Garden Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy: London Borough of Camden (August 2017):

“Sub-area 2: The Bourne Estate
Spatial character
5.5 Sub-area 2, in the western part of the Area, comprises the residential Bourne Estate (Grade II), built by the London County Council in 1905-09. Its spatial character is inward-facing. The perimeter blocks facing Clerkenwell Road, Leather Lane and Portpool Lane each form a strong, uniform frontage, characterised by a general lack of permeability except for the original arched entrances and small ground-floor shops. The interior blocks are detached and are laid out in parallel rows, continuing the regularity but with more permeability and, significantly, several areas of open space, including some mature trees.
Architectural character
The Bourne Estate has a very strong architectural identity owing to the grand, classical treatment of the buildings and courtyards. The articulation of the main frontages provides an object lesson in how to vary a façade for picturesque means while maintaining a symmetry and regularity to the whole. The classical details, including a giant order of pilasters, are monumentally treated in a variety of materials, including render, stock brick and high quality rubbed brick along Leather Lane. The slightly plainer interior blocks are distinguished by high quality ironwork to the balconies.”

From Wikipedia:

“The Bourne Estate is an Edwardian housing estate in the Holborn district of Central London. It is bounded by Clerkenwell Road to the north, Gray’s Inn Road to the west, Leather Lane to the east and Baldwins Gardens to the south. It is also intersected by Portpool Lane, which forms part of the estate itself.
The estate is built in a free Classical style, with Arts and Crafts touches, developing the idiom established by the London County Council with the Boundary Estate and Millbank Estate in a formal direction.
The estate consists of a number of residential blocks which enclose a number of quiet shady courtyards containing mature trees, mostly London Plane trees. The buildings are constructed in dusky red and yellow bricks and the design incorporates classical pediments and stucco pilasters as well as arts and crafts details such as gabled walls, and casement windows on the inner courtyards and decorative mouldings to the large arches on the access ways.

Constructed from 1905–1909, it is regarded as one of London’s best examples of tenement housing and the majority of the housing blocks within the Estate have been Grade II listed. The Estate was designed by the London County Council Architect’s Department, by E. H. Parkes under W. E. Riley.
The Bourne Estate is the third of the three key estates built by the London County Council in the years of its greatest innovation. In Britain the Bourne Estate is the least known, but it has an international significance as the model for the much admired and highly influential public housing erected in Vienna immediately after the First World War. The Viennese model was subsequently brought back to England, as can be seen in the Ossulton Estate, Camden, listed some years ago, and in some private mansion blocks in central London of the 1930s.
The surrounding streets were laid out in the 17th century on an intersecting grid pattern from north to south, east to west. Portpool Lane is part of the estate itself and derives its name from the old manor of Portpool which was held by Grays of Wilton, also for Gray’s Inn.
The estate was originally bounded at its southern edge by factories and industrial buildings that were damaged during the Second World War and demolished.

To the southwest of the estate was Thanksgiving Model Buildings, built in 1850 for the ‘Society for Improving the Conditions of the Labouring Classes’, this block consisted of two four-storey buildings providing accommodation for 20 families and 128 single women. Also badly bomb-damaged in 1943 during the Blitz, the buildings were subsequently demolished.
Two post-war residential blocks and sports and play facilities were added to this land, with Mawson Building to the South and Gooch Building to the southwest on the former site of Thanksgiving Model Building.
A number of the buildings in the Bourne Estate appear to have been named after former Bishops of Ely, perhaps a reference to nearby Ely Place, as follows:
Shene, Ledham, Skipwith, Denys, Frewell, Scrope, Radcliffe, Redman, Nigel, Laney, Buckridge, Kirkby, Mawson and Gooch.”

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