William BirdAbt 1757 - 1833
Lambeth Property Development
Details of the long leases issued to William Bird to build a number of properties in Lambeth, the income from which provided him and his descendants with income for years to come.
The land belonging to the Manor of Lambeth Wick lay in three separate parcels. The most northerly extended from Kennington Common south and west to the site of Melbourne Square and across Brixton Road to Clapham Road; to the south of this lay a second parcel, separated from the east side of Brixton Road by copyhold land of Lambeth Manor (part of the Angell and Slade estates), and extending south across Coldharbour Lane almost to the junction of the present Mayall and Shakespeare Roads; the third and smallest parcel abutted on the north-west side of Coldharbour Lane and is now covered by parts of Lilford Road, Flaxman Road and Kenbury Street. In a survey of the Archbishop’s possessions in Lambeth made in 1647 Lambeth Wick Manor was said to be “divided into Twenty small Closes … (containing) … in all about two hundred and thirty Acres”. (ref. 21) Just before its development at the beginning of the 19th century the land was used chiefly as pasture and market garden ground. (ref. 22)
Although an Act of Parliament was passed in 1807 enabling the Archbishop to grant building and repairing leases of this and other of his estates, (ref. 23) the development of Lambeth Wick Manor did not start till 1820. This delay was probably due to the slow progress of the project which was first mooted in 1806 to build a bridge across the Thames at Vauxhall with connecting roads into Middlesex and Surrey (see page 78). Such a scheme would and did have a tremendous effect on the development of Kennington and Brixton, and it seems likely that building in Lambeth Wick was delayed until it was known definitely what direction the new roads would take. Vauxhall Bridge was eventually opened in 1816 and two years later an Act of Parliament was passed providing for the formation of a road from the bridge foot to Camberwell, (ref. 24) i.e., Harleyford Road and Camberwell New Road, the latter passing across the northern parcel of the Manor. The estate thus acquired valuable frontages to both sides of the new road, which was subsequently linked with the Brixton and Clapham Roads by Caldwell Street and Vassall Road.
Between 1820 and 1824 the whole of the Manor was let to Henry Richard Vassall, third Baron Holland, under 15 different building leases for terms of 99 years, due to expire by 1923. (ref. 25) Under the covenants of these leases brick houses were to be erected of at least the third rate and were to be kept in good repair; the outside wood and ironwork were to be painted every fourth year and offensive trades were prohibited. For developing each plot £1,000 were to be expended on building in the first five years of the term and another £1,000 by the end of the following fifteen years.
Building began first in the northern parcel of the Manor where prospects had been considerably improved by the opening of the Camberwell New Road. The frontages to Clapham, Brixton and Camberwell New Roads, and later to the new roads in between, were let in small parcels by Lord Holland to both builders and speculators for terms of 80 years. This policy of piecemeal letting, especially in the Brixton Road, resulted in unrelated groups of villas and terrace houses which, in spite of the charm of individual members, gave to the whole an untidy and haphazard appearance. In some cases the reserved rents of the plots sub-let by Lord Holland were sold by him for the duration of the sub-lease to persons not actively engaged in developing the property. (ref. 26) This practice provided the vendor with fresh capital to re-invest in further development, while the purchaser of the rents and his dependants enjoyed an annuity for some time to come.
The dates and names which follow the architectural description of the houses mentioned below are the dates of the building leases granted by Lord Holland —presumably when building was nearing completion — and the names of the lessees. When known, the occupation and address of the lessee is given on the first occasion he is mentioned thereafter only his name is repeated. All the houses are built of stock brick unless otherwise stated.
LAMBETH WICK ESTATE
Nos. 98–112 (even) Brixton Road
Nos. 98–110, formerly
Nos. 2–8 (consec.) Elizabeth Place
Nos. 98–108 form a three-storey terrace well raised above stuccoed semi-basements. Nos. 98 and 100 are a pair joined to the others by a twostorey link.
Nos. 102 and 108 are set forward slightly and the round-arched ground floor windows are linked by moulded imposts. The entrances have patterned fanlights and are flanked by attenuated Greek Doric columns. Each house has steep steps with cast-iron balustrades. May 15, 1823; William Bird. (ref. 63)
No. 110 abuts No. 108 and is a plain threestorey house with semi-basement, its ground floor faced with stucco. It is slightly lower than Nos. 98–108, and the entrance is contained in a single storey annexe.
No. 112 (Plate 55c) is a neat well maintained two-storey villa with wide overhanging eaves to its slated roof. It is three windows wide, and its central entrance and ground-floor windows are set in shallow elliptical arched recesses. The doorway has a fluted surround and a delicate fanlight. March 20, 1821; William Bird. (ref. 48)
Nos. 97–113, 119, 121, 127–133, 135 (odd) Clapham Road
Nos. 127 and 129 are paired three-storey houses with semi-basements. The front of each house is two windows wide and finished with a cornice and blocking course. The ground-floor openings have semi-elliptical heads and No. 129 has a patterned fanlight. The entrances are in single- (No. 127) and two-storey (No. 129) annexes; the latter is joined to No. 131 by a two storey link which is set forward slightly.
Nos. 131 and 133 are similar but three windows wide, and the entrances are set in the body of the houses;
No. 133 has no annexe.
No. 131 has a patterned fanlight. March 20, 1821; William Bird of Clapham Road Place, builder. (ref. 48)
No. 112 Brixton Road, 1821.
Plate 55c: No. 112 Brixton Road
No. 112 Brixton Road, 1821.
Lessee, William Bird, builder (p. 112)
SPECULATION YET TO BE DISPROVED
The hospital had to be erected in stages as funds became available, and the first part to be built was the west wing and half of the central linking block, including the main entrance. A formal building agreement with the Smith's Charity trustees was drawn up, and a contract was made with the builders George and William Bird of Hammersmith to complete the initial phase of the building programme for £11,290. The foundation stone was laid by the Prince Consort amid elaborate ceremony on 11 June 1844. (ref. 15)
Shrobb Walk in Whittlewood (PASSENHAM, Northamptonshire)
In 1607 and 1610 the Crown sold assarts and purprestures in Whittlewood near Puxley and Shrobb to William Derson and Thomas Ely of London, who sold on at least one parcel to a local yeoman, William Bird of Puxley. (fn. 24) In the latter year Sir Arthur Throckmorton purchased about 300 a. of assarts and purprestures in Puxley and the adjoining detached portion of Cosgrove. (fn. 25) The fee farm rent reserved in the sale to Bird was prepared for sale in 1650. (fn. 26)
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