|This undated detail of a report by a Housing Inspector shows that the Local Authority was concerned with the accommodation in Howard Road between the wars. The room was below ground level but no damp proof courses have been provided and the floor had probably not been concreted. The light to the room was inadequate. The inspector thought that the two basement rooms were unfit for human habitation. Not all houses were as bad as this but some were not much better.|
Building the Howard Road Estate in 1938
In the years immediately before the Second World War a large estate was started in the Howard Road area, between Matthias Road and Howard Road. The Victoria County History (p.158) says briefly:-
'Another 3 blocks containing 90 flats were built on the Hewling Street site between Howard St and Matthias Rd in 1939'
.The problem, as usual, must have been to find a site. There were plenty of houses in Stoke Newington which called out to be demolished and replaced but managing to do it was a gigantic game of chess. People had to be moved out of their old housing into new before the old houses could be demolished. The problem was where to start. Back gardens had been enough for Wordsworth Central School (the present Grasmere Primary School site). Here a much bigger site was needed. It was decided to clear the old streets between Matthias Road and Howard Road, working slowly along the site.
A Sequence of Maps Showing the site of the Howard Road Estate over the Years
(It is now called the Hewling Estate)
Building the Howard Road Estate in 1938
The 1936 Ordnance Survey shows that the area to be demolished consisted of small houses bordering Howard Road, Spencer Grove, Matthias Road and Watson Street. The last was on the site of the present Watson Court. In 1936 the area had hardly altered from 1914 and no doubt the houses were in a sorry state. The Inspector's Report on No 40 Howard Road was only one of many which were made between the wars.
Pictures of the flats under construction.
The View in 2007 north along Shakespeare Walk from the old site of Derwent House
Looking east across the building works, showing the north side
of Howard Road
Wall of No 43 Watson Street, showing brickwork preparation
Outside Derwent House, Howard Road,circa 1950
The Howard Estate seventy years later, in 2007
During the Second World War the new blocks suffered bomb damage. It appears that Derwent House had to be completely demolished. Hewling House and Matthias House were repaired and are still in use today. Today this pair are called The Hewling Estate.
The original buildings as seen from the back with the later fire escape tower built on.
The fire escape towers would have been added much later,
This block appears to have replaced the third Howard Estate block, Derwent House, which appears to have been bombed. Alternatively, the bock may never have been completed. Certainly, this is a new block. Further research is needed.
These blocks are much later than the 1936 Derwent House Block. They were built with modern cavity walls, using small cavity wall bricks like those in Cowper Road
The new buildings in Cowper Road and Watson Close are different from others in the neighbourhood.
How High Fuel Prices Change the Building Regulations
When the price of oil and other fuels rocketed in the 1970s, the government altered
the Building Regulations. All new buildings had to be built so as to save and
retain heat. A double skin with a layer of air between them, has always been
known to hold heat well. It is difficult for heat to pass across a cavity of
still air, so it helps to conserve heat. The Cavity Wall became compulsory and
in addition, the inner skin had to be made of Thermal Concrete. This concrete
mix is particularly good at holding heat as It is full of tiny air cavities.
These make it difficult for heat to pass across them and therefore they help
to keep the heat in a building from escaping through the wall. The design will
save the householders a great deal in heating costs over the years.