Less than forty five years after the Connaught Estate was completed, its last rites have been administered. As I noted in an earlier post on the Morris Walk Estate, the Connaught Estate will be demolished soon as part of the One Woolwich regeneration project, along with the Maryon Road and Grove Estate.
The Connaught Estate was designed by Greenwich Council’s architects, assisted by consultant engineers Jenkins and Potter. The project began in 1967 and construction was completed in 1970 by contractors Simms, Sons and Cook. ‘Five-storey blocks, open at ground level, form a north–south spine off which range eight-storey blocks with basement garages, all punctuated by lift towers and stepping up the hill in a fish-skeleton layout’ (English Heritage, Survey of London, Woolwich, ch. 9).
Only a small number of residents remain on site. Many landings have been sealed off, some properties have been vandalised and the residents’ car parks are unnaturally empty. Wild flowers and plants are enjoying a brief interlude of uninterrupted growth.
‘The London County Council’s Morris Walk Estate of 1962–6 holds a distinctive position in the history of mass housing. As Britain’s first housing estate to deploy the Larsen-Nielsen industrialized building system, which would be used extensively for the rest of the decade, it was a major step in the promulgation of technological innovation as a solution to housing shortages. Morris Walk did not simply use the system; it embraced prefabrication as a fundamental virtue, not just of construction and efficiency, but also of aesthetics. The fifteen-acre estate replaced 389 houses on terraced streets with 562 dwellings in an open array of blocks that merged into adjacent Maryon Park.’
(extract from A Survey of London, volume 48: Woolwich, English Heritage, 2012).
Its architectural history notwithstanding, the Morris Walk Estate is scheduled for demolition in the near future. This is part of a £269 million redevelopment programme with the Royal Borough of Greenwich and developer Lovell to undertake transformation of three Woolwich council estates.
The project, in partnership with asra Housing Group, will see the demolition and redevelopment of the 1,064-home Connaught, Morris Walk and Maryon Road / Grove estates and their replacement with 1,500 new mixed-tenure homes.