Source: The information below has been taken from Lambeth Council information on the Streatham High Road and Streatham Hill Conservation area CA54. Both courts are part of this conservation area.
This courtyard development was designed by R. Toms (pictured in the gallery below) and Partners for the Bell Property Trust. According to the scheme of circa 1936 the apartment blocks are set back from the High Road behind Leigham Hall Mansions and overlook a central garden with access from the road through an arched entrance. The front doors to the six storey blocks are particularly fine. The entrances have grand stone surrounds with pared down detailing and the handsome original brass numbering. In the arch above the front doors are semicircular burnished copper-decorative panels-with a-variety of motifs, a fountainor-a-shell for example. The exterior is of stock bricks and the windows are Crittall type metal casements.
This attractive four storey development arranged around a large central garden was also a Bell scheme designed by Toms and Partners. Dating from circa 1935 these blocks of flats have white painted brick exterior walls and Dutch style mansard roofs. The mansard roofs incorporate dormer windows and the roof coverings are small clay tiles. Each block has a central return gable with a full height canted bay and paired windows on each floor. The original Crittall type windows are painted black throughout the complex. The entrance doors have a simple swept porch with a stylised Art Deco double height stair window above. The central garden is well stocked with mature shrubs and flowers and makes a quite retreat away from the busy commercial High Road. The original sales brochure boasts a residential club with amongst other attractions a pavilion for dancing. All-inclusive rents were advertised at £95 p.a. for three rooms and £110 p.a. for four rooms. This particular Bells development, along with Wavertree Court further up Streatham Hill, is comparable with Ealing Village, West London. Baling Village also in the 1930’s Dutch style, and designed by R. Toms and Partners for the Bell Property Trust was Listed Grade II in 1991.
General history of Streatham
Streatham High Road is one of London’s major arterial roads. From Roman times, and perhaps earlier, it has been an important highway running between London and the Weald. Traces of pre-Christian burials were discovered when St. Leonard’s was rebuilt in the 19th century and indicate that this could have been a burial place over 2000 years ago. Also discovered were Roman masonry, coins and a Roman ditch. It is probable that the Romans built a military station on the site of St. Leonard’s consisting of a small fort enclosing two or three acres surrounded by an earthwork and a ditch.
The derivation of the-name “Streatham” being from the Saxon “Strat” meaning Street and- “Ham” meaning Settlement. Streatham probably evolved as scattered settlements of Saxon farms along the two Roman roads, which ran through the area. The Chertsey Register mentions grants of land to the Benedictine Abbey of Chertsey in 675 by Frithwald on behalf of Wulfere, the Christian King of Mercia, which refers to seven farmsteads “apud Toting cum Stret”.
After the Norman Conquest the manor of Streatham was given to Richard de Tonbridge – an entry in the Doomsday Book values the manor at 60 shillings and the population was estimated at fifty people. In 1086 the name was recorded as Estreham and by 1175 as Stratham.
Today these two roads are the A23 through Streatham and the A24 through Balham. The A23 bisects Lambeth from north to south. The medieval village centre grew up around what is now the parish Church of St Leonard’s at the Junction of Streatham High Road and Mitcham Lane and stretched from Becmead Avenue to Streatham Station. The original church dates from the 1350s, while the registers at St Leonard’s commenced in 1538 charting the slow development of the village and also recording the deaths during the plague and many, no doubt murdered by highwaymen, on Streatham Common. The high point of St. Leonard’s Church was a focal point for ancient cross-country route ways. Medicinal springs were discovered in Streatham in 1659 and by the early 18th Century were proving very popular with concerts being held twice weekly with one commentator describing the Common and the High Street as ‘fashionable promenades where all the leaders of society might be met’. The usual dose was apparently about three cups which was said to be the equivalent to nine cups of Epsom waters — spring waters were pumped and sold right up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Rocque’s map of 1746 also shows a smaller settlement at Lower Streatham, west of Streatham Common. Also recorded are Russell House and Bedford House, the manor houses belonging to the Dukes of Bedford, dating from 1695, which have long since gone. The 18th Century saw large houses in their own grounds constructed for the wealthy who wanted to escape the unhealthy and squalid conditions of that period encountered by many living in the city.
Most notable of these inhabitants were the Thrale family of Streatham Park and their famous guests including Dr. Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, David Garrick and Edmund Burke. Coventry Hall, built in 1799, stood opposite the site of Streatham Station. During the nineteenth century when London expanded rapidly and new railway lines were opened, the fields and small villages close to the capital were engulfed by new development. From the mid 19th Century Streatham experienced this dramatic change with force. The population of Streatham grew from about 400 in 1725 to 2,357 recorded in the 1801 census, and by 1831 it was recorded as 5,000. By 1900 the population had reached 70 000.
The opening of Streatham Hill Station in 1856 and Streatham Station in 1868 made the area accessible to those who worked in the city. The old estates with their valuable grounds came under mounting pressure to be developed and during this time many were broken up and sold off for building. This expansion continued into the early part of the twentieth century when the leafy avenues and open spaces, the burgeoning retail centre, the transport both to London and the south coast and the opening of glamorous theatres, cinemas and dance halls made Streatham a highly desirable address. Trams arrived in Streatham in 1904 when the lines from Brixton were extended from Telford Avenue to the Tate Library.
Population growth was further accelerated after 1911 with the electrification of the line from Streatham Hill to Victoria and Crystal Palace. Streatham attracted the new middle classes, including doctors, architects, managers, teachers, music hall and variety performers. As a result Streatham as a whole reflects the enormous social, economic and architectural changes that occurred during the latter part of the 19th century and the first four decades of the 20th century. Today there is still some evidence of the old village centre when Streatham was a small village surrounded by fields – primarily the remaining portion of the village green and the Victorian Gothic drinking fountain (1862), which was designed by the painter and local resident William Dyce, St. Leonard’s Parish Church and some surviving Georgian properties to the north east of the Church.