Architect: Eric Lyons

Brooklands Park I
London SE3

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This bright three-bedroom house represents a unique opportunity to acquire one of the finest of Eric Lyon’s designs, the spacious T15, on the prestigious Cator Estate in Blackheath. Developed by Span in 1964, this excellent example has been extended to provide approximately 1060 sq ft of internal space, and has a garden and separate garage.

Through the ground-floor entrance porch is a kitchen, large living room and study area with original parquet floor, and a wet room to the rear. The front of the house faces east and enjoys morning sunshine through floor-to-ceiling windows.

The first floor has three bedrooms and a bathroom. The front bedrooms look through the foliage of mature trees that line the quiet residential street. At the back, a bedroom looks out onto the garden which enjoys afternoon-long sun.

Lyons’s Span developments are renowned for their space, light and attention to the surrounding landscape. Among the many Span types on the beautiful and highly sought-after Cator Estate, the T15 is a rarer, more spacious model, with between 20 and 25 per cent more floor area than many other Span terraced houses in the area (such as the T2) and a wider garden. The T15 seldom comes up for sale.

Graham Morrison of Allies & Morrison Architects, who bought a Span house in Blackheath in the early 1980s, describes the joy of living on the Cator Estate: “I find it hard to imagine a more pleasant and safe place, so close to the city, in which to bring up young children. A shared garden made the making of friends easy and a sensible management structure helped to ensure the maintenance of not only the buildings and gardens but also the aims of the community.”

The house is very close to Brooklands Primary School, which is one of the best primary schools in the Borough of Greenwich and is consistently described as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED.  The fields of Blackheath and open spaces of Greenwich Park are a pleasant ten-minute walk away. Blackheath Village also has a strong sense of community and a number of good local shops, restaurants, pubs and delis, and a variety of cinemas and theatres.

Brooklands Park is approximately seven minutes’ walk from Blackheath mainline railway station, which is one stop from the Docklands Light Railway, with easy access to both Canary Wharf and the City. Trains from Blackheath run to London Bridge in approximately 10 minutes, Cannon Street in around 15 minutes, Charing Cross in approximately 20 minutes, and Victoria in approximately 25 minutes. The river bus also links nearby Greenwich with central London.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


History

The development company Span built 30 housing estates between 1948 and 1984. In his book The Spirit of Span Housing, James Strike says: “Span housing was the inspiration of two young men, who, during the 1930s, met as architectural students at the Regent Street Polytechnic. Eric Lons and Geoffrey Townsend both had a keen interest in modern architecture[…] They believed that there was a market for well-designed houses in carefully designed landscapes for the sort of people who recognised good design when they saw it – and they were right.”

Span housing was the subject of an exhibition at the RIBA, and the accompanying book, entitled Eric Lyons & Span (ed Barbara Simms), gives a comprehensive survey of its history. “The work of the architect Eric Lyons,” it states, “is as well-loved now as it was vibrantly successful when first constructed. Built almost entirely for Span Developments, its mission was to provide an affordable environment ‘that gave people a lift’.”

Outlining the background to the Span Estate at Blackheath, it says: “Span’s attention had turned to the Cator Estate in Blackheath, a charming preserve of late 18th-century and early 19th-century terraces and villas[…] The area’s history was stoutly defended by the Blackheath Society, founded in 1937, and Blackheath Park – the core of the Cator Estate – was becoming admired for its ‘Regency character’. But many of the houses had been damaged beyond repair, and the long gardens and backland nurseries of Blackheath Park and the roads immediately to its north and south were ripe for speculative development.”

The book continues: “Today, the area takes its distinctive character from the combination of Regency and Span developments, and the mature landscaping of both. That Span estates were not diluted in their execution was due to Lyons’s sheer determination to defy the planners, termed by him ‘aesthetic controllers’, and restrictive building regulations[…] He won around 20 housing medals from the MHLG [Ministry of Housing and Local Government], three in 1964 alone.”

Eric Lyons developed an extensive range of different housing ‘types’ over the years, and the T15 is one of the largest and arguably most successful. Brooklands Park consists of just sixteen T15-type houses.


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Eric Lyons

Having worked for Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry, Eric Lyons (1912-1980) co-founded the development company Span in 1948, along with Geoffrey Townsend and Leslie Bilsby. Lyons’s Span houses are all about space and light, and blurring the edges between outside and indoor space. He paid great attention to the surrounding landscape, designing and building properties around existing splendid mature trees and creating communal areas that encourage residents to mix. An early Span publication summarises the origin of the name: “It spans the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical ‘spec building’ and the architecturally designed individually built residence.” Outside of his Span work, Lyons carried out a number of other schemes, including public housing for World’s End in Chelsea. He was appointed President of the RIBA in the 1970s.


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