Philanthropic Housing Between the Wars

Between the Wars, philanthropic housing and municipal housing continued side by side, although the municipal was now the larger by far. In 1926, Mrs. Cicely P. Davies founded the St Marylebone Housing Association with six friends. They each took a £1 note out of their handbags to purchase a £1 share. Thus the Association which thus started with a capital of £7. The Association aimed to improve the appalling housing conditions of many of the people living in Lisson Grove. In fifty years over a quarter of a million pounds was raised. In the currency of the time, this was an immense sum.

Broadley Gardens, Broadley St, is one of the substantial blocks of flats built by the Association. Before rebuilding, the site had been a mass of bedraggled, two storey houses in narrow courts. Seven pound notes and a lot of hard work certainly produced results.

Broadley Gardens, the block of flats at the corner of
Broadley Street and Salisbury Street, Marylebone

Built in red brick, with attic bedrooms in the roof, the block turns in on itself. There is one entrance (not shown) leading to a central courtyard, which means that no outsiders have reason to go inside and the building is thus self-policed, which helps to give a feeling of security.

During one of the heavy bombing raids in the Second World War, the Salisbury Street outside wall was demolished. The whole building was exposed and, in the morning when the building had been evacuated, there was no sign of life except for a canary in a cage singing away for joy at the extra light. The wall has long been repaired in a slightly different coloured brick, but some of the outside railings still recall the bombing. They are Air Raid Precautions stretchers, made of metal tubes and wire mesh. Having been used during the War, they were re-used to repair the damaged building.


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Updated January 23, 2011