Refurbishing Dudley House in North Wharf Road in 1988
In the nineteen-eighties Dudley House suffered from invasions by glue-sniffers and other undesirables, coming in from outside. Newspapers spoke of 'Filth and misery brought by glue-sniffers.' Entrance to the site was unrestricted and the tenants, who had little control beyond their own front doors protested, demanding improvements to the building and its surroundings.
In 1988 Dudley House was refurbished and made ready for a further fifty years of life.
The plan was to add two extra flats in the old roof laundry space, and to move out the tenants while the work was being done. The cost and potential disruption of the community were too great, so the new flats in the roof-space plan was deleted, and architects planned to carry out the work with the old flats with tenants in residence.
The flat layouts shown on the plan are copied, one above the other on all floors, with each vertical set of flats sharing the same services. Therefore the refurbishment was carried out in stacks. Each set of flats faced severe disruption for about a week, but were in relative peace before and after.
Flats were given new kitchens, bathrooms, wall and floor tiles; individual gas-fired central heating with balanced flues; their own water tanks; new windows on the balcony side; new front doors and were completely rewired.
One of the worst mistakes made by councils after about 1960, was to withdraw the caretakers. Instead of saving money in salaries, it lead to millions of pounds lost in vandalism and crime and made residents' lives a misery. As a result, tenants demanded security. Two lift shafts to serve all floors were built next to the existing staircase, with entry phones. TV screens were installed so that tenants can view the caller before deciding whether to open the door. Long access balconies at the rear were blocked in the centre. Now one can enter from one direction only and a thief's escape route is cut off.
The area was landscaped, with car parking, raised flower beds, garden walls to create private spaces outside the ground floor flats, and bench seating. This was a second example of the Professor Coleman dictum of giving tenants their own private entry space, however small, which we saw in the rehabilitation of the Mozart Estate in Queen’s Park.