A unique opportunity to purchase a fine Span house on the desirable Cator Estate in Blackheath. The three-bedroom house on Brooklands Park was built in 1964 and is a rare model of a house developed by the company Span, known as the T15. It was designed by the architect Eric Lyons, whose work has recently been celebrated at an RIBA retrospective. To the rear, the property has a west-facing garden and a garage in separate block.
Lyons’s Span developments are renowned for their space and light. Lyons also aid great attention to the surrounding landscape, designing and building houses around existing splendid mature old trees (such as those in Brooklands Park). There are many Span houses in Blackheath, but 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.
The ground-floor has a kitchen at the front and living room and study with floor-to-ceiling windows making it airy and light. The front of the house faces east and enjoys morning sunshine, while the west-facing back garden enjoys afternoon-long sun. Upstairs, all three bedrooms have attractive leafy views. The back double bedroom looks out onto the garden. The front bedrooms (one double and one single) look out onto foliage and Brooklands Park, which is a quiet residential road with speed bumps.
The house is very close to Brooklands Primary School, which is one of the best primary schools in the Borough of Greenwich and is described as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. Places are awarded according to your home’s proximity to the school. The property is approximately seven minutes’ walk from Blackheath mainline railway station, which is one stop from the Docklands Light Railway, with easy access to both the Docklands and City. Trains from Blackheath to London Bridge take approximately 10 minutes, and approximately 25 minutes to Victoria.
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.”
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.
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 a recent 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.