The History of the South Villa Site after 1893
The Building of Numbers 106-106d Albion Road
In some way South Villa came into the possession of a builder. How and on what terms, is not clear but in 1893, Mr. A. P. Osmond, of 17 Lealand Road, Stamford Hill, began building on the South Villa site. The new properties stretched from what is now 106 Albion to 106 D (a total of five houses) and back to Church Path. South Villa itself was at the Albion Road end of the site, with a large garden behind. Mr Osmond planned to build houses on the site, but first he had to ask permission and submit drainage plans. The Local Authority has the duty to maintain the drains so that rain water, household water and sewage are carried away safely and healthily. All builders have to submit plans and ask for approval before they can tap into the Local Authority drains. Without this permission they cannot build.
On 22 September, 1893, Osmond sent a hand-written letter giving notice that he proposed to build on the east side of Albion Road. He asked permission to build over an old barrel drain which he had found on his property. The original sewer ran along Albion Road, but a few years earlier the Local Authority had built a new sewer along Church Path and the houses in Albion Road were then diverted into it. The old pipes which used to flow into the barrel drain had been cut off. The drain was empty and out of use. The presence of the drain had come as a complete surprise to Mr Osmond. He had bought South Villa but the old drain was not mentioned in the lease.
The application to build was accompanied by a plan of the proposed houses, the drain layout, and a side view of the houses sunk in their semi-basements.
The original application drawings showing the plan of the five houses and an end view of the houses sunk in semi-basements, with the Back Additions at ground level. The various comments and conditions by the Local Authority have been written on the actual drawings as usual, so that drawings and permissions could not be separated.
The side view of the houses shows that the Back Additions have no cellars. They start at the original ground surface, so that the front and back rooms are at different levels and have to be linked by short half staircases
The houses were built on gravel, so the basements would drain well. This meant that people in this part of Stoke Newington could live and work in the basements. The Geology map shows that houses South of Stoke Newington Church Street are built on Gravel, while most of the houses North of Church Street are built on Clay. Clay holds water so that any basements built here would have become very damp and unhealthy. This is why you find only coal cellars in these houses. [Today basements in Clay can be made waterproof, but only by ‘tanking’ them with bitumen and facing this with brick or mortar. This is very expensive indeed and no builder in the Nineteenth Century could have sold his houses at an acceptable price if he had tanked the cellars].
Example of another narrow fronted building in London
Mr. Osmond’s application to build the five Albion Road houses was approved subject to his using 12” drain pipes. By 25 October 1893 he was free to build.
No. 119 is now the one remaining house. The other four have been demolished for various reasons, but below is a computer generated picture of the complete terrace.
The Builder of the houses
Henry Osmond, who built the ten houses on the South Villa site in 1893, was 49 years old at the time. The census return says that he was born in Hoxton, London. In 1891 he was living at 17 Lealand Road, Stamford Hill, with his wife, also aged 49 and who had been born in Essex. He was listed as a carpenter. There is no mention of him being a builder and yet, two years later, he was planning to build 10 houses. There must be an interesting story here.
In 1891 there were three children living at home - Arthur aged 20, Robert 17 and Alfred aged 8. Henry’s brother Alfred, who was also a carpenter, lived with them. So Henry had named his son after his brother. There was also a lodger in the house. He was a polisher, aged 49, the same age as Henry. Perhaps they had met at work somewhere and he was told there was a room to let. He was a lodger, not a boarder, so he must have had his own cooking facilities.
Next door, at No.19, there was an Engine fitter, his wife and family and William Garner, who was a Farrier (blacksmith who shoed horses) with his wife and family. There were fourteen people in the house, four parents and ten children.
At No. 21 lived Mr. and Mrs. Miller. He was a leather goods maker and this was his second marriage. When he married he took over a ready-made family. His step-daughter was aged 24 and the two step-sons aged 21 and 17. The step-daughter and the second step-son were also leather goods makers, but the second son was a violinist. Lastly there was a step-daughter aged 16, who is listed as a servant. This would have been a curious household. Cinderella was a servant to her own mother. Perhaps she was a servant in another house.
At No 23 were Henry Humphries, aged 57, married to Martha, 43, which means that she was 14 years younger. They had a son aged 28 who was a carpenter, like his father. If these figures are right, and many census details are wrong, Martha must have had the child when she was 14, and Henry 29.
None of this group of people, living in four adjoining houses sounds like people who build blocks of houses.
Ten years earlier, the 1881 census shows the Osmond family living in Stoke Newington, at 3 Sandbrook Road. Henry is listed as a carpenter and joiner. Clearly he could do the finer making of doors and cupboards, besides the coarser work of building roofs and laying floor joists.
The 1901 census returns of of Nos. 106 to 106d Albion Road
The First Occupants of Nos. 106 to 106d Albion Road.
The Heads of Households were as follows:-
We shall have to wait until 2012 before we can learn more about these houses immediately before the First World War from the census returns.
Revised: October 25, 2011 8:46 AM