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Cleverly Estate Hammersmith & Fulham


The Cleverly Estate was built for the Peabody Fund in 1928 as part of its provision of philanthropic housing for the poor. It was the first of the Peabody Estates where each flat had its own bathroom and its ornate exterior was based on the style of Sir Christopher Wren. The estate comprised 18 three-storey buildings set around 4 internal courtyards, bisected by Sawley Road and surrounded by perimeter iron railings. Badly damaged in WWII, the estate was expanded between 1960s-'80s with 3 additional blocks and two terraces of bungalows. Despite this infilling, most courts have flower beds with mature trees and there is a communal garden and playground.

Basic Details

Site location:
Sawley Road/Wormholt Road, Shepherds Bush

W12 0LX ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Housing/Estate Landscaping


Peabody architect: Victor Wilkins

Listed structures:
Buildings of merit (local list): all original blocks of the estate 1-246, Superintendent's Cottage

Hammersmith & Fulham

Site ownership:
Peabody Trust

Site management:
Peabody Trust

Open to public?

Opening times:
private but access to public areas is unrestricted

Special conditions:

Communal garden, playground


Public transport:
Tube: Shepherd's Bush Market (Hammersmith and City). Rail/London Overground/Tube (Central): Shepherd's Bush. Bus: 283

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/08/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Further Information

Grid ref:

Size in hectares:

Green Flag:

On EH National Register :

EH grade:

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:

In Conservation Area:

Conservation Area name:
Cleverly Estate

Tree Preservation Order:

Nature Conservation Area:

Green Belt:

Metropolitan Open Land:

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:

Fuller information

The Cleverly Estate was built in 1928 as part of the Peabody Fund's programme of providing humane housing for the poor of London, and is a particularly good example of the Fund's philanthropic aims. The site was purchased in 1926 with a donation from an anonymous benefactor, and building commenced in 1928, completed 2 years later. It was designed by Victor Wilkins, the Peabody Fund's architect and comprised 18 three-storey buildings set around 4 internal courtyards, bisected by Sawley Road and surrounded by perimeter iron railings. The monumental blocks were of red brick with significant bold decorative details such as friezes, classical style porches and columns, which have been described as being based on the style of Sir Christopher Wren. Badly damaged in WWII, the estate has been added to since the 1960s by two terraces of bungalows, Cleverly Cottages, built in 1963 and 1970 and 3 additional blocks were built in 1986, known as Blakenham Court. Despite these additional buildings, the integrity of the original design, particularly in the north-east section, remains and features such as the 2-storey Superintendent's Cottage, now the Estate's Office, and the 1-storey pram sheds are still present. The estate is well provided with trees although they are of later date than the original estate landscaping, and the south-east section in particular has well-kept green areas and trees.

The Peabody Donation Fund was founded in 1862 by George Peabody (1795-1869), an American banker, diplomat and philanthropist who had moved to London in 1837. He was part of a circle of influential thinkers and social reformers that included Lord Shaftesbury, William Cobbett and Charles Dickens, and he became the first American to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. His charitable works benefited a great many organisations, including education, music, science, banking and housing. At his funeral in 1869 Queen Victoria and Prince of Wales sent carriages to follow his coffin and William Gladstone, then Prime Minister, was one of the mourners at Westminster Abbey. Setting up his fund with a donation of £500,000, a gift that Queen Victoria described as 'wholly without parallel', Peabody's aim was to tackle the poverty and poor housing that he witnessed around him in London. The first Peabody estate was built in Spitalfields in 1864, which was followed by the Greenman Street Estate in Islington in 1865. All the pre-1900 estates were designed by architect Henry Darbishire. With a view to improving the residents' health, blocks of housing were separate from each other and a central space generally provided a safe area for children to play; shared facilities such as laundries, bathhouses, coal stores and pram sheds were usually provided and each estate was overseen by a resident superintendent. The Fund was initially restricted to building its estates within 8 miles of the Royal Exchange in the City.

From 1875 housing legislation came into effect that permitted slum clearance in London as a result of which Peabody was among the bodies that purchased cleared sites from the Metropolitan Board of Works, and was also required to provide housing for the displaced slum-dwellers. This led to a number of new Peabody estates being built in poor areas of London such as Whitechapel (1881), Whitecross Street (1883) and Clerkenwell (1884), and existing estates were also enlarged. From 1900 a Royal Charter enabled the Fund to operate over a 12 mile radius of the Royal Exchange and the improved transport network now in place across London also provided a better service for those travelling between home and work. Although estates continued to be built, for example at Bethnal Green (1910), Fulham (1912) and Vauxhall Bridge Road (1913), Peabody also began to build cottages, for example at Herne Hill (1901-05) and Tottenham (1907).

Peabody's estate architect from 1910-47 was Victor Wilkins, whose estates of the 1920s were more elaborate in design. The Hammersmith Estate (q.v.), built in 1926, was the last to have a separate bathhouse, and the Cleverly Estate in Shepherd's Bush was the first where each flat had its own bathroom. This estate, with its ornate exterior, was influenced by the style of Sir Christopher Wren. In the more stringent times of the 1930s the estate design became simpler and separate bathrooms were no longer provided; these estates included the Chelsea Manor Street (1931), Dalgarno Gardens (1934-8) and Clapham Estates (1936). Building ceased in WWII and many of the estates suffered damage and loss of life; the Cleverly Estate was among those with severe bomb damage.

After the war a private Act of Parliament in 1948 extended Peabody's operational area to a 25 mile radius and new powers were granted to enable the Fund to carry out an extensive recovery programme of repair and replacement. The Roscoe Street Estate near the Barbican is an example of a new approach, with a different layout and tall tower blocks constructed around a single staircase. Modernisation of the older estates also began to be carried out. In addition, in the 1950s Peabody began to purchase other existing housing estates, the oldest being Parnell House in Bloomsbury of 1850 built by the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes; the Shaftesbury Park Estate in Battersea, built in the 1870s by the Artizans' Labourers' and General Dwellings Company; the Carlton Square Estate in Mile End built in the 1850s by the Pemberton-Barnes family; the Ebury Estate of the 1870s built by the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company; and the Tachbrook Estate (q.v.) in Westminster, built in 1935-47 by Westminster Housing Trust. In 2011 four estates were purchased from the Crown Estate: Cumberland Market Estate, Millbank Estate in Pimlico, Lee Green in Lewisham and Victoria Park Estate in Hackney. A number of estates are LBII: Blackfriars Road, Parnell House, Shadwell and part of Ebury.

The Group currently owns and manages over 19,000 homes in London and runs various community programmes for its residents and neighbourhoods. In 2007 a 10-year programme of major improvements was launched, which includes environmental improvements to the open spaces of around 40 estates, carried out in consultation with the residents. These aim to improve access, safety and security as well as address issues such as waste management, climate change and biodiversity. Soft and hard landscaping, lighting, provision of play areas are among the works and residents' panels work with Peabody to select the landscape architects and other contractors for the programme.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p 224; Peabody history on; LB Hammersmith & Fulham 'Cleverly Estate Conservation Area Character Profile', 2001

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