Grazebrook School Walk 1
The Actual Walk
The Route of the Walk laid out on the 1914 Ordnance Survey map. This will allow you to compare what was there in 1914 and what has been changed, or rebuilt at different times since then.
From the School gates we can see a variety of houses, some old some new. We are going to look at them quite closely. The Bombing map will tell you what happened to the different houses and will help you to notice what has changed since then.
These are large, generous houses on wide street frontages. One could fit two smaller houses into the same road length. Some houses like these have side entrances but here they have been built over to give aanother complete stack of rooms. The houses have semi-basements and a flight of steps leading to the ground floor rooms.
The purpose of lintels is to support the weight of the brickwork over a window or door opening and carry the weight sideways to the brick columns on either side. One can look on a house as a series of brick pillars with windows and doors between. Imagine arranging windows at random over the front of the house. It would look wrong and be most upsetting. We would expect it all to fall down and it would soon oblige.
The first architect used two different sorts of lintel.
There are twelve chimney pots for each house. Imagine these houses a hundred years ago, with an army of servants to clean out, relight and carry coals for all these fireplaces every day. In Kitchen Fugue, Sheila Kaye Smith described her late Victorian childhood in a similar house in Sutherland Avenue, W2 in 1885
Post-war houses in Lordship Road
These new houses are very simple three-storey cottages with sloping roofs and in a brick which was unusual for London . These liver-coloured bricks are typical of the nineteen sixties and seventies. At that time there was a frenzy of building to house the thousands who had been bombed out, or who wanted to get married and have families. Local Authorities in London , like Hackney or Harringey, each built more houses and flats each month than Local Authorities built in the whole of the country in 2005. There was a national shortage of bricks and types which had never been seen in London before suddenly appeared. All sorts of colours and types were pressed into service. Harlow even had black bricks made partly from coal dust – a most depressing type – but fortunately London was spared these.
Now turn into Lordship Grove and go to the terrace of old houses on the right.
A terrace of Lordship Grove houses in mature London Stock brickwork.
Party Walls and the
|Before the Fire of London, in AD 1666, almost all the houses were built of timber and thatch. Trees were grown to about 200mm (8 inches) diameter, felled and squared with an adze. This gave posts about 150mrn (6 inches) square and usually about 2-2.5 metres long (6.5-8 feet). Bigger trees could have been grown, but this took a long time, so most trees were cut as soon as they were useable. The length of the trunk controlled the height of the house storeys and also the shape of the buildings.|
The timbers were prepared in the forest and then dragged away to be errected
Lopping off the side branches
Quartering the log with wedges
Sawing with two handed saw
Errecting a building
|If two timbers were placed end to end, the joint where they met became permanently damp from the rain and then rot set in. Therefore upper storeys jettied out beyond the lower ones so that rain could drip off. This and the thatched roof, made it easy for a fire to spread. Cities were enclosed by city walls, so space was limited and streets were narrow. The jettied houses were so close together that people coud shake hands across the street from the upper floors. The streets became narrow wooden tunnels and fire could spread rapidly from one street to the next. Wooden cities all over the world have had devastating fires.|
After the Fire of London, new Building Regulations were imposed and they, repeatedly updated, have governed London building ever since. All houses were to be in brick or stone; no wooden eaves were allowed - roofs were pushed back behind brick parapets; wooden window frames were reduced and later recessed behind brick; thatch was forbidden; party walls between houses had to project above the roof and be thick enough to withstand at least two hours of fire, to give the neighbours a chance of extinguishing the blaze. The face of London was changed for ever.
A pree 1666 wooden house
A post 1666 brick house with the
roof behind a parapet
The doors, with square transoms above to let light into the hallways, and the door surrounds in stucco, are all simple and quiet. The windows have the majority of the frames hidden by a layer of bricks, so little is showing. The sash windows have large panes and thin glazing bars, giving the whole a delicate appearance. These sash windows can be opened to any position and they will stay there. They do not fall down by gravity because each sash has a balancing weight on either side to hold it still.
There are two different kinds of lintels. The top ones are curved and use ordinary bricks. The lower ones are straight and use special wedge-shaped bricks. The slate roof has a low slope, which gives a good run off but keeps the timber lengths and the number of slates quite small. This slope was found to be an efficient use of materials and can be found all over Victorian London.
This is a typical London County Council name plaque.
One can often pick out an L. C. C. estate by this type of plaque.
These flats were the first Local Authority flats in Stoke Newington. They were built in 1935 and reconditioned fifty years later in 1985. They were very highly praised when they were first built and a part of a very long story. You will want to explore this back in the classroom, either before the Walk or afterwards. It is too long to take in on the pavement.
They are in an attractive orange/red brick with red pantile roofs. They have tall chimneys because the flats were built with coal fires, but these chimneys are now capped off and have become mere reminders of the past, like the human appendix.
There is a central entrance with a large Roman arch. Beyond there is the central courtyard and a sense of privacy. The wooden window frames are not hidden behind a layer of brick so they look much heavier and not delicate like the ones we saw in Lordship Grove.
The windows have double sashes. Each sash can be lifted to any position and it will stay there because it is balanced. On either side is a cord which runs over a pulley. On the other end of each cord is a heavy weight. When the window is opened, the weight rises or falls and so balances the weight of the window sash and it stays still.
One sash is in front of the other. Which one and why?
Now cross Manor Road and walk along the other side of the road towards School.
These houses in Manor Road are much smaller than those we saw earlier and those in Stoke Newington Church St. These have three storeys, with quite tall windows in the first floor and smaller ones at the top. These houses have no attics and no basements. At at the time they were built there may have been one servant living in, but not more.
Compare these Manor Road houses with the houses at 207-223 Stoke Newington Church St. which have four storeys and a basement. The actics in Chuch St., have tiny windows and were for live-in servants. The basements, which we can see under the front stairs are sunk well into the ground.
The larger houses in Manor Rd and the sort of people who would have lived in them, we met earlier in this walk. The people who lived in Church St., may have been even more properous - they would certainly have had three servants living in the basements and attics. But in Manor Rd there are no basements!
The Stoke Newington Church Street houses are built on Gravel, with a layer of London Clay below. Gravel drains well. The rain water can flow through the gravel and away, leaving dry basements.
There was probably Gravel on the top of the London Clay long ago north of Church Street , but if so, the Hackney Brook and all its tiny tributaries swept it away long ago. Manor Road is down to the London Clay and one cannot build basements. If you built a basement in London Clay it would fill up like a swimming bath.
Manor Road Houses
This type of house continued down the slope of Manor Rd. The 1914 map shows them running right up to the large houses still standing next to the school. A long line of them were destroyed during the bombing and the School was built on the site
The Site of Grazebrook Primary School
The School is a bungalow building, so low that it is hidden by the trees and hedges.
The last of the early houses in Manor Road
Here we can see the last house left after the bomb destroyed the houses which are now the site of Grazebrook School . This houses was one of a semi-detached pair, like the pair next door. The red house must have been repairable, so they demolished the other half and rendered the end to make it waterproof, did whatever repair was necessary and it has been lived in ever since.
Now walk along the side of the School to the gate.
There may be some local people who remember the War. If you can find them, they may have some interesting stories to tell.
|Grazebrook Primary School