See The Thamesmead Of The Past, Present And Future

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 17 months ago
See The Thamesmead Of The Past, Present And Future
Southmere Lake, Thamesmead, GLC
Sailing boats on Southmere Lake © Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre

Today London is in the midst of a desperate housing shortage, but the city's been in this spot before. There was a similar dearth of housing in the aftermath of the second world war. The solution? Building not just new houses, but entire new towns. One such town is Thamesmead.

Carved from concrete, Thamesmead was one of the boldest modernist designs Britain had ever seen, with Brutalist blocks of flats and elevated walkways built around a system of lakes and canals. The area later became iconic thanks to Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange, in which Alex and his 'Droogs' wreak havoc across its scenery.

Thamesmead Archive
Children's playground and Lakeside Health Centre, 1973. © Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre

Today the area is home to 40,000 people, but years of social and economic pressure have left their mark. Buildings have fallen into disrepair, as the infrastructure slowly  became more reliant on private investment to survive. Now Thamesmead looks set for an ambitious redevelopment.

The Town of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Thamesmead is a new book edited by Peter Chadwick and Ben Weaver, exploring Thamesmead's past, present and future. It covers everything from Erith's Marshes, as the area was known pre-development, to the planned Silvertown Regeneration project. The book weaves together archive material and newly commissioned photography to capture the architecture of the neighbourhood and the lives of its inhabitants. Take a look at some of the book's images:

The southern end of Caroline Walk, 1969 © London Metropolitan Archives
Thamesmead 1971
Aerial photo of Area 1, 1971 © Bexley Local Studies & Archive Centre
Teenagers Thamesmead
A group of kids outside The Link, a youth and community centre © Photography: Tara Darby
Thamesmead lake
Thamesmead Adventure Scheme, 1993 © Steven Peterson
Thamesmead Leaflet
Fold out leaflet about Thamesmead from the GLC (Greater London Council) 1982. Click for larger image © London Metropolitan Archives
Construction of towers on Southmere Lake, 1971 © London Metropolitan Archives
Open space available for development in 1973 © London Metropolitan Archives
Thamesmead 2018
Titmuss Avenue, The Moorings, 2018 © Photography: Tara Darby
Vision for Silvermere Lake, Thamesmead Waterfront, 2018 © LDS Architects

You can purchase the The Town of Tomorrow: 50 Years of Thamesmead via Here Press.

Last Updated 05 February 2019

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