Beaconsfield buildings – local history

Beaconsfield_buildings_1879 I stumbled across this superb living history piece (click here) from a former resident of the awful Beaconsfield Buildings that used to be on the site of Bingfield Park and 8 Rufford Street.  Absolutely fascinating lesson of how state of the art social housing can go bad, in this case very bad.  A lesson we should remember as our representatives Beaconsfield_buildings_1969 approve increasingly dense housing in the planning system.  It may work nicely when it is new, but we could be storing up problems for future generations

About William Perrin

Active in Kings Cross London and South Oxfordshire, founder of Talk About Local, helping people find a voice online and a trustee of The Indigo Trust , Good Things Foundation and ThreeSixtyGiving as well as Connect8.
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120 Responses to Beaconsfield buildings – local history

  1. shirley says:

    Hi, I have been reading with interest about the Beaconsfield Buildings as I have just received a copy of my great grandfathers birth certificate which states he was born there in 1882. His flat number was 11B Beaconsfield Buildings. I was wondering if anybody had any other information from back then? I’ve just shown my 8 year old son the photos of the buildings and he was totally shocked and couldnt believe people lived like that! thanks shirley

    • kenneth kaleher says:

      hi i used to live at 19h block beaconsfield bldgs. in 1944 we only had 2 rooms where seven of us shared tough times we were known as the kalehers george and gladys. we are a family of twelve i was sent to a home in wood vale when i was eight and my brother and sister as well we used to play on the bomb sites our toys were hand made from bits of wood and pram wheels to make carts i used to chop fire wood and sell in bundles i used to love the bread pudding from arabins which cost a penny and take lemonade bottles back and get thrupence each .

      • Hi, Kenneth, My name is Patrick Smyth, I was born at 14m block, In 1934, What you wrote brought back so many things, bomb sites, our play sites, my mouth is watering thinking of muvver arabins bread pud, after chopping and selling fire wood from pembroke st, into arabins for a feed up, I was has happy as a pig in phooh living in the crumbles.Cheers mate

  2. Colin Smith says:

    I found froma military record that my grandfathers children were looked after by a Mrs L Biggs at No 22 Beaconsfield Buildings, York Road, Islington, whilst he was away at in WW1. Can anyone point me towards a plan of the buildings so that I can see which flat they lived in please.

  3. Phil M says:

    I was born and brought up in Beaconsfield Building (1947-61).Yes it was a tough environment but it was full of hard working decent families who cared for each other.
    Can we say that the lifeless estates of today.

    • kenneth kaleher says:

      thats right phil we used to help each other out in hard times you could leave your doors open and no would try and rob you .

  4. jackie says:

    I agree with Phil M my memories as a young child the happyness and togetherness that my family experenced in them days of old when people stood by each other and what was yours was shared by all. Can anyone remember Mrs Arribin the bakers where we would go for bread and as children in hard times, she would give us a cake (NO CHARGE). where have these times gone. Thanks Mum and Dad (Jack Dec and Rose Bruniges) and in loving memory of Bert and Lil Long. Who were there from the start. A Bruniges.

  5. Lorraine says:

    My Grandmother Clara Keetch was born in 1900 and lived at 32 Beaconsfield Buildings – her father was George Keetch and mother was Alice

  6. Elaine Rainbird says:

    My mother was born at No.12 I-Block Beaconsfield Blds in 1924 and her sister, 4 years later. She went to Gifford St Primary School? and later Barnsbury Road School for Girls before moving out of London to Middlesex. Mum recalls having to go to the end of the ‘balcony’ where there were 3 toilets shared by all the families on that level, and her mum taking the washing downstairs on a Monday to the ‘wash-house’ where a huge copper boiler heated water for their weekly wash. Apparently their flat had 1 bedroom and scullery.

  7. Gerardine Spiers says:

    I grew up in Beaconsfield Buildings. Number 12 and my aunt and uncle lived in number 43 (I think). I was only 4 when we moved but the memories of that place. I clearly remember having to share a loo with other residents, the two rooms we lived in etc. I think that is where my love of old 60s films come from.

  8. michael brett says:

    hi,my grandfather Harry Brett lived at 32 b beaconsfield building when first married and had his first 3 children there,also 2 of his sister’s who married 2 brother’s by the surname of faulkner lived there also,the faulkner brother’s came from the islington area, this was late 1890’s early 1900’s, i wondered if any faulkner family members still lived on the area.

  9. Mark says:

    My dad Arthur Head lived in no.7 K-block from his birth in 1929 until 1939. His family remained there during the war years. He remembers the Bakery very well. His mothers name was Violet Dack, the Dack family also lived in the buildings.

  10. Douglas Deamer says:

    In the 1881 census my Great grandfather George Deamer and his family wife Ruth son George daughter Jane were living in number 17L Beaconsfield Buildings Georges age was 23 as was his wife Ruth can anyone remember the family

  11. W.Pitt-Jones says:

    Awful Beaconsfield Buildings! Awful Beaconsfield Buildings? How can bricks and mortar be awful?
    The residents were wonderful, warm hearted, hard working people. The Estate was a fine example of how families can live in close proximity to their nieghbours in social harmony.

    Bad Landlords make ‘Awful’ Envirements.

    When first built by and administered by the Victoria Dwellings Association, residents were issued with a Rent Book. Printed on the back were the ‘Tenancy Rules’ – On pain of eviction each household will, in turn, wash and scrub all communal stairways and walkways – all doorsteps and window sills will be Blanco’ed (Whitened) weekly – No children allowed in the communal area designated for the ‘hanging out of washing to dry’. The entrance gates to the estate were closed and locked at 10.00pm (Before the pubs closed) and NOBODY was admitted after this time.

    Draconian? All I know is that my mother moved onto the estate aged 7 in 1914 and lived there till their demolition in the early 1970s.

    By this time of course the estate was in the hands of private Landlords whos only interest was profit and not the upkeep of standards.

  12. W.Pitt-Jones says:

    For more information on Beaconsfield Buildings why not ask the people who lived there? – – an open forum.

  13. Patricia Hoscik says:

    I was born on the 2nd July 1946 in 12c Beaconsfield Building, Drab yes certainly, embarrassed sometimes when frieds came from new estates or houses,Jealous never why because i had one of the greatest families anyone could ever have no not blood relatives although i had lots of those. But a whole bunch of people that loved and cared for me and any other that lived in the Draconian Building but i had such a great education learnt that colour, religion, disability, and homosexuality are all part of this world we now live in and because of the great start and wonderful friend i had then and still have high regard for I thank my Mum and Dad for allowing and trusting my brother Jim to to choose the life we wanted the friends we wanted and the friends and neighbours that were also there for us a great big thank to you all for making me the person that i am today……. Embarased now no i look back with love and fondness for the buildings and all you that were there with me I shall alyays love you as the song goes Patx

  14. My great grandmother Mary Ann Kerry & great grandad Samuel Kerry lived in Beaconsfield building, I do not know what number but Mary Ann’s death certifacate was made there in 1898. They had 8 children does anybody by any chance know what happened to them. Viv

  15. Rosemary Neal says:

    My husband’s father, Albert Neal, was born in 28H Beaconsfield Buildings in 1920. He had 5 brothers so it must have been crowded.

  16. june fitkin says:

    my mum&dad lived at 1m beaconsfields building they were ann&bert fitkin i was born september 1941 where i also lived with my brother brian my name is june fitkin imoved from ther in 1950.i also think they were my best years i was happy there my friends were audrey white &helen hargreaves dose any one remember seeing johnny ray at nash court. i also remember sitting on the wall outside arrabins bakers my cousins tony &jean long went to gifford shcool dose any one remember the caretaker tony bec also i loved playing on the roof got told off many time

    • Jeanette says:

      Hi June, my mum was Helen Hargreaves or Nell as she was known, my eldest sister was also Helen Hargreaves

      • John creasaey says:

        what schools did you go to?
        I was born in 1946 and lived with my mum, dad, uncle and grandparents at 1 Keystone Crescent. I spent many years doing paper rounds in the Cross

    • Mark Sheehan her son says:

      hi did you know Barbara Papworth she would love to hear from anyone who knew her or her brothers

  17. Ian Bond says:

    In the 1881 census my maternal Great Great Grandfathers lived in the Beaconsfield Buildings.
    George Fulcher, wife and 7 children lived at 7K
    William Snook, wife and 5 children lived at 1L
    How many rooms did they have?
    Does anyone know more about these 2 families?

  18. Ian Bond says:

    I would like to make contact with Mark who posted a comment on the 6th August 2009. My great grandparents lived at 7K in 1881. I would like to understand what the accomodation was like. Thanks

  19. susan robinson says:

    i lived at 21 and 22 c beaconsfield buildings next door to th hill family my name is susan robinson, my brothers are brian john and billy mum rose and dad albert,relatives walton and goodwin family also lived in the buildings.times were hard but people were genuin and kind and would help in any situation, food clothes and all sorts it was a pleasure to grow up with all the residents of the crumbles ill never forget them an their kindness they showed to us when we were kids

  20. Brian Winder) says:

    I was raised in the buildings alyhough i did not actually lived there,if that makes any sense,my grandmother,Lillian Drewette along with my grandfather George, raised their large family on the second floor dwelling, which consisted of 4sons, Ronnie,George,Freddie,and Alby, 5 daughters, Lillian,Mary,Jessie,Doreen,and Joice, they were all born at the Buildings and when they in turn married ended up also living in the Buildings,myself on a personal note would agree that the buildings were an awful place, but on a personal note i would transport myself back to those days if that was possible,I could spend hours in conversation on the subject of the Building and when they eventually demolished them it most definately left a small hole in my heart,

  21. susan robinson says:

    hey brian i thik we should have a crumbles re union and get billy jones to organise it, what do you think? regards sue

    • Hi Susan, My name is Patrick Smyth,I was born in the crumbles, 14 m, The crumbles is now a sort-of park with the crumbles castle near where arabins was, Lots of space for a RE-UNION, I and lots of others would turn up, Give us a shout susan,X

      • Margaret Baum (nee Hayward) says:

        Hi PAtrick,

        My family lived ‘the buildings’ for 3 generation and I would love to join any re-union you know of. Please let me know if one was ever to take place. My uni dissertation covered ‘the buildings’ so I have lots of maps ect plus, I have a film in which ‘ the buildings’ played a large part. Looking forward to hearing from you.

  22. Michael Fitzpatrick says:

    Answer to Rosemary Neal posted on 12/11/09
    Rosemary I remember Helen Hargreaves very well as my family lived along the balcony from her. I remember her sister Letty better as we grew up together and had many a play on the roof and also were chased off by the neighbours underneath.I also knew their Mum and Dad, Nell and Jock. My mum and dad were Farnkie and Paddy Fitzpatrick and we lived in 32 N block. There were loads of Fitzpatricks in the building at the same time; Michael and Nancy (later with Teresa), Billy and Nancy (and their seven kids), Sean, Nancy, Sally, Mary. Mary would have been the same age as Helen and yourself. She married a maltese guy called Angie. Any memories? I had a great upbringing there. Tough but fair, and you could always rely on a helping hand from your neighbour. Remember the off-licence where you could get a packet of smashed crisps for a penny, and a bottle of Tizer, the bakery yes, was it Mrs Robinson (Robertson?)who had the corner shop? Happy days. I went to Copenhagen Junior and then onto St William of York Secondary Modern in Brewery Road.

  23. Michael Fitzpatrick says:

    Sorry. The answer above is to June Fitken’s message on 19/1/10. Cannot see too well without my specs.

    • Josephine Hassett says:

      There was another sister called Breda i know that because im her daughter

    • christine mills says:

      micheal my grandparents lived at 36N Bill and Tilly Jones with there children. My Mom Joan Olive was born there — they moved to Dagenham in about 1938

  24. pamela Stone says:

    My Grandfather lived at 11a Beaconsfield Buildings. His name was Henry Thynne and he died in 1942 aged 67. I never knew him because he left my Grandmother in 1911, with three children to support. I would love to hear from anyone who new him and what his life was like, and what it was like living in those buildings.Pam Stone

  25. sharon Collins says:

    Hi we lived at 7B my dad was Roanld and Mum Doris ( Dolly) Surname Hughes
    we had famly in different bloks my nan and grandad
    Patrick and Kathleen Best my mum’s parents she also had a sister Edna brothers David and Pat
    they lived in K i think
    My great gran also lived in L block Appleby was the name
    does any one remember my family little memory i have of living there is a small scullery living room 2 small bedrooms i cant remember a toilet but tin bath that was filled from the kettle and saucepans hell how did we survive
    but people were much happier and everyone looked out for each other.

  26. Jeannie King (Senn) says:

    My name was Jeannie King. I lived at 10k until my parents broke up and I then moved into my Nan’s at 1k. From there I was married and later emigrated to Canada in 1959.
    The salt of the earth lived in the buildings. Charlie King is my younger brother – we are close knit still. That is how we learned to be in those early days. I knew the Long family; Mrs Long had 21 children, and my Nan had 17 children but they were still able to laugh and have parties in spite of having nothing. I am proud to say I lived in the “Crumbles.”

    • sylvia mulvey formally tepper says:

      hi Jeannie was just looking on this site and your name reminded me of my sisters friend who she talked abought I was just wondering if it was you her name was rita tepper would like to know as I could tell her it would make her day lovely memories thanks Sylvia tepper

      • Christine Anne Ward-Mills says:

        My late Mum’s family where from the area. Her father William Charles son to Ernest George Jones and Jane Louise Richard was born at 123 Penbrook Street, Islington they worked on the Railways. Her mother Matilda Jane daughter to Thomas Henry Pearce and Matilda Mary Morsen was born at No 20 Caroline Street they were labourer’s with a vegetable barrow. Matilda is the Aunt of Billy Peace the Boxer. When they got married they lived at No 36N Beaconsfield Buildings, York Way, Beaconsfield and then moved to No 38N and then 14L. I love reading about the people who lived there and whilst hard, I know you were all salt of the earth and honest hard working folk – it would be awesome if anyone new my family.

      • garnet mcleary price says:

        sylivia muvey did you move to south london clapham son stephen and daughter janet its wee lizzys son garnet

      • Garnet says:

        Do you remember lizzy and reg did you move to Clapham it’s Garnet you have a son Stephen

  27. janet withers edmonton says:

    Hi, I,m also from the buildings I remember it well, most not very happy memories for me. But I remember my life there very clearly. I was born at 26 b block and livged there with my mum and sister Bet, shes l4 years older than me. I then went to live at my nan,s who lived at l3d block, me, my nan and my grandad in 2 rooms and a small scullery. I left there when I was l6. Now and again I.m in touch with a few people from there, Helen Hargreaves was my best friend, stillis but don,t see too much of her. Does anyone remember Valerie Carey, her dad was a tailor and he worked at Defiance, shop in the Cally. I well remember Arabins bread shop and also the offy ( where we could buy l penny bags of crisps! Then there was Robbo,s sweet shop a a few doors along, memories ay!Last year it was my sisters golden wedding anniversary, we went on a tour of the Cally, we went to the sight where the buildings used to stnnd, not only have the buildings gone, a lot of the names of roads have gone too. The only place standing is the old paget and church, nice to know they left something original for the people, who it all meanT something to. Janet Withers, (former;y France).

  28. ada fisher (nee goff) says:

    june fitkin from ada goff
    I remember your aunt Lil Long and her children Jean and Tony. Lil worked at Robert Porter in York Way for many years before moving to Essex to be with Jean. Audrey White Pat White Bill White and their Dad Bill also worked at Porters. As did Dick Carey and Tony Devoti. I also worked at Porters for twenty years. I also remember seeing Johnny Ray at Nash Court before seeing him at the Palladium.

    • Ethna Carlin says:

      I ada iv just reading all this posts cant belive came across 0ne frm you lol lots of love Ethna xxx

      • ada fisher isle of bute scotland says:

        Hello Ethna
        I was browsing and came across your name. Have you found the forum for Beaconsfield Buildings and guest book. ? .You’ll probably know quite a few of the names
        Think of Mum ,Dad and all friends and family with great fondness. Hope you are well. xxx

      • Ethna Carlin says:

        Hi ada yes just found it mum died in 2007 of breast cancer but dad is doing well he is the only one left in his family now all his brothers & sister have gone im gd thank you hope you are well .xxx

  29. Ken Kaleher says:

    My name is ken kaleher, i used to live at 19h block with mum gladys, dad george, brother brian, sisters maureen, gloria, and patsy. I used to go to arabins bakers and buy a twist loaf and pick a hole in it on the way home. I used to play on the dedbury and a car tyre was my toy, i used to roll it everywhere. They were hard times but we all helped each other. I can remember listening to the trains shunting at york way when i was in bed and chopping up fire wood and selling it for thrupence a bundle. My nan used to buy us penny milk lollies. I would love to hear from anybody who can remember our family.

  30. karen patten says:

    My mother in law Florence Wilson lived in the buildings from her birth in 1924 until she was sent to Hutton residential home when she was about 4 or 5, she had several brothers and sisters, Tommy, Alec, Winnie, Nora were a few,she has dementia now but often talks about the buildings, I am looking for anyone who may remember her family. Apparently her younger sister Nora fell down the steps when living there and she died, she would have been about 18 mths to 2 yrs. There were 9 children altogether living with her mother and possibly father.

    • lisa martin says:

      hello my name is lisa can you tell me more it my be nan is called florence and lived in the buildings is this the same person .

      • lisa martin says:

        hello i think it is my aunty flo. my mum was shelia .

      • Ellen Welch says:

        Hello, Lisa I was born in the Buildings in 1936 and I grew up with Shelia Wilson in fact we were best friends. she had a two sisters Florence, Winnie,and brother Tommy. Winnie lived on the ground floor with her family.I was at her wedding to Ronnie. I left in 1956 when I got married [I know she had a daughter) I do hope I,ve got the right Shelia I would love to know more .I hope you get my message I,ve only just seen this ellen xx

  31. linda davidson says:

    My name is Linda Davidson, my grandfather was Edward( Ted) Cane. He and his family lived at 1c.Beaconsfield bldgs. They were George Cane, Hannah his wife , children, Hannah , George, Frederick Katherine and Ivy. They are on the 1901 Census , living there. George was a carman, and son George worked on the railway. If anyone knew of them Id love to hear from them…we have no birth record even of my grandfather either..he would have been born a few months after the 1901 census….thanks for all the info to everyone!

  32. linda davidson says:

    My grandfather Edward Cane and his brothers and sisters lived here in Beaconsfield Bldgs, blocks ‘A’ and ‘1C’ from about 1895-1911 or so, when there father died and they had to move to Story Street? His mother and father were Hannah and George Cane.
    I’d like to find out which school he( Edward born 1903) may have attended…I have read about ‘Board schools’… were they actual boarding schools or would every day poor children have gone there. Or does anyone know where the poorer families in the buildings would have sent their children?
    Im grateful for any information..

  33. jim palmer says:

    i lived at 9m from 1947 to 1960 i thougt the buildings was great we all got on with each other yes we had bad times but the good times were great every one new who you was i have posted letters but no luck all the best to you all jimmy palmer

  34. Pat Hoscik says:

    I wonder why visitors to this site and to the crumbles site constantly refer to how poor the residents of the buildings were. I lived there from birth in 1946 until November 1967 poor not at all I am along with the rest of the children born there during this time are the richest people in the world. You need to read our memories and feel envy because you could never experience what we had then or now in our hearts. We did suffer hard times everybody does at some point. But with people like Ted and Maisie Robinson Rose and Albert Robinson, Jackie Walton My mum (Lily Whatmore ) RIta Hill the Barker, Pettit families my list of names are endless we were only ever going to grow up to be decent and honest people. Not some THIEVING/LOOTING yob of the present day if we put a foot finger hand or word out of place one of the above would have dealt with you and if you told your mother or father the god help you because you knew the out come. So visitors do not pity us because we still yearn and mourn those days something you will never know”……..

    • Peggy Murphy says:

      Well Patsy Whatmore God Bless you only found these sites yesterday would you beleive my name is or was Peggy Murphy we all knew each other well I lived in the corner to you at first 9E then moved down to the front at 4B am a pensioner now and still think about those days used to go around with Linda Finnegan and your brother Jimmy once sent me a telegram yes ask him to cancel a date the first and only. My mother gave me a slap as I wouldnt say who it was from such memories of you all I actually get offended to hear anything bad about the bldgs you are so right the people were salt of the earth and we all prove it by making contact with people we lived around I was 17 last time was at the Bldgs now 62 went there for a last look around and the Cally in 2005 before moving to Yorkshire cried for its loss crazy or what xxx

    • sylvia mulvey formally tepper says:

      well said pat I loved the buildings too wonderful people the salt of the earth my name is Sylvia tepper lived there from 1944 – 1967

  35. jim palmer says:

    my name is jimmy palmer i lived at 9m from 1944 to 1960 i was happy in the buildings every one knew each other i had four brothers and one sister . billy , john . kenn .and dereck there is only my sister jackie and . john and me left any one that wants to contact me via email pleasedo so

    • Mark Sheehan her son says:

      Hi my name is Mark sheehan my mum live there through the war till about 1953 her single name was Papworth she 4 brothers and 2 sisters she would love to hear from anyone that knew her or her family
      Kind Regards

  36. jimmy palmer says:

    i lived at 9m i had four brothers billy johnny kenny and dereck and a sister jackie there is only jackie and johnny and me left now i am jimmy palmer i went to copenhagen school and gifford street school when i was a kid i worked up chapple st market on the barrows yes we had a rough time but people looked out for each other it was like one big family we all knew each other we lived at 9 m it would be nice to hear from any one that new me all the best to you all . jimmy palmer

  37. Graham Head says:

    my mother,Queenie head lived in d block with my father Alfred george head in 1947,my mother who is now 90 would love to see some photos of the old place,we moved out as i remember when i was about five to Essex,the new council house came as a great shock to us all,three bedrooms,kitchen,bathroom (with inside toilet)plus garden,if anyone could email me any photos of the blocks it would be a fantastic memory for my mother,very many thanks for your time,Graham Head,Bucks

  38. Graham Head says:

    Further to my last posting regards photos of beaconsfield buildings that i placed on the 19thJan i should of course put my email address down,so here it,if anyone could help with photos of the old place,i would be very much obliged, many thanks, Graham Head,Bucks

  39. Janet Bunworth says:

    My Grandparents, Alfred & Elizabeth (Bess) Fitch lived in the buildings for many years, at 11i or j circa 1900, then 20/21P in the early 1930’s & finally 25M from the late 1930’s to late 1950’s. My Grandmother lived at 25M on her own after my Grandfathers death in 1949. My Grandfather was a coalman who used a horse & cart to make his deliveries.

  40. fuller says:

    I’ve just found from the 1891 Census that my Great Great Grandfather, David Munday, a carpenter, lived in Beaconsfiled Buildings with his 2nd wife, their 5 school age/ toddler sons and his wife’s grown up nephew. Their address on the Census form seems to be shown as 3 units – 12e, 13e & 14e.

    Please. can anyone tell me anything about the layout of the flats in the Buildings?

    Does “e” refer to a building or to a floor or to a particular end of the complex? By the standards of the 1890s, 8 people wasn’t a very big family, so I wonder how they could be renting 3 units?

    Any suggestions or explanations welcome. Thank you.

    • Janet Bunworth says:

      Beaconsfield Buildings had block letters so the ‘E’ would be the block.
      There is a lot of information, including a line drawn map (block E is shown as ‘5’) on the following site:
      There is also a forum & various photo’s.
      Three units does sound a lot for 8 people but I’m not sure how large the units were although I remember being told that some were very small & only suitable for 1 or 2 people with shared toilets on the balconies.
      Hope this is of some help.

      • b fuller says:

        Thank you very much for replying.
        What you say about the different sizes of unit does tally with what I suspected might be the case. Maybe there just wasn’t one large family flat available when they were looking to rent and they just had to take what was available till something better turned up.
        I’ll explore the link. It sounds useful.
        Thanks again

      • Janet Bunworth says:

        My Grandparents lived in 2 units (20 & 21P) at one time because they had a large family. I’m not sure how many rooms this consisted of though.

    • Peggy Murphy says:

      Hi I lived at 9E late 1950s to mid 60s this was on the lst balcony consisting of small homes 5 per balcony as I recall consisting of front door which had a scullery behind it for the cooker then into the main room whick had the coal sellar/sink unit this room you ate in sat in did all then their was a bedroom which my younger brother John and I slept in and with our parents.The toilet was shared there was one toilet on each landing which was very unpleasant E block was in the corner by the rent office it was one of the smaller blocks. In those days you would walk in to the office alongside to pay your rent and it was quite a common things for people to have more than 1 unit some units faced each other so if you rented the other it was like your own little haven whatever problems everyone faced it was often shared I was there till I was 16 and I loved the buildings and the people especially dont make like that anymore always happy to help regards Peggy Murphy

      • B Fuller says:

        Hi – Thank you, Peggy. This explains a lot for me. It looks as if my G G Grandfather and 2nd family must have been renting 3 units at the time of the1891 Census. Actually, I think his wife eventually insisted on living apart from him, with the children, so maybe this was the beginning of that arrangement. I suppose, from management’s point of view, letting people rent (or give up renting) extra units as their circumstances changed was much easier and more flexible than moving them to a bigger or smaller flat. I’ve just been rereading the various postings and can see that it must have been a great place for kids in many ways, especially having so many extended family members living in the complex. Maybe someone should write a book about it.
        Thank you again. Kind regards, B Fuller

  41. ada says:

    A few families at Beaconsfield Bldgs were fortunate to rent more than”one unit. ”
    Our family name was McLellan and we lived at 3A. from 1953 until demolition. . Ada. Fred. Maggie and Rona.
    Our flat was on the ground floor and consisted of two bedrooms, sitting room, kitchen AND indoor bathroom and toilet.
    Very lucky I hear you say. Yes we were. Not until the toilets upstairs became blocked and and excretia bubbled up through our lavatory pan and had to be swept from the bathroom through the kitchen and out the “passage door”. Not to mention the “parcels” that were thrown from windows on a Sunday afternoon.

    Our parents along with many others led a protest walk to Downing Street and met with Sir Keith Joseph.

    But as with previous comments from other residents. Beaconsfield Bldgs was a school of learning and I’d say the majority of us would agree that money could not buy the “educatiion ” we had.

    And yes we were very lucky to have such love and warmth from the extended family..

    • Janet Bunworth says:

      Hi Ada,
      I’ve been trying to find some photo’s of the inside of the buildings but to no avail. Do you have any or do you know where I could see some please?
      I’ve replied to your message on Friends Re-united too.
      Best wishes,

      • ada says:

        Hello Janet
        You have obviously found the same website as myself. Isn’t it fascinating.

        I only have one or two photographs taken inside our flat on the day of my wedding 1958. I will search for them but I’m certain there is not much to see apart from one photo of Barbara and Rosina.

      • Janet Bunworth says:

        Hi Ada,
        Yes this is a great site!

        I would love to see any photo’s that you have if you don’t mind. Thank you.

        I think you have my email address.

        Best wishes.

  42. ada says:

    Good morning Janet
    I don’t appear to have your email address. Perhaps you could send it to me.
    Best regards Ada

  43. john creasey says:

    hi everyone, a fascinating discussion, i have only just found it. I was born in Keystone Crescent in 1946. I remember the name of the biuldings but cannot remember the exact locatlon. Memory does play funny tricks. Yes there was thieving, gangs and all the other things that went with poverty. But not amongst ourselves. We knew who the villains were, some amongst our own families so we knew who to look for when things went missing. However who wants to go back to huddling round the one open fire in the living room, Mum and Dad having to put down the put-u-up to sleep in the same room, the freezing cold times until we could get the fire going, carrying the bagwash up to Killick Street and carrying the wet sack back home. Not me even though those memories are very precious to me.

  44. Pingback: BBC Cally Road documentary on tomorrow night (Wednesday 20th) 9pm | Kings Cross Environment

  45. JIM PALMER says:


  46. Jean says:

    My name was Jean Monk. I was born in 27P block (my Nan’s flat (Jenkins) and when Dad was demobbed lived in 21M and 14m. Mum was Clara and Dad Tom though he also used his step fathers name Chappell. I was friends with Jean long and am still in touch. Also friends with Valerie Carey. Remember the Whites, Tyler’s, Bests, Ellis, Pyes, Mrs Fitch in M block. Went to Copenhagen junior School and left the buildings in 1952 just before changing to senior school. Totally agree with the sentiments expressed – they were good days. Remember Arabins, the sweet shop and the grocery shop on the corner. Saturday morning pics at the Essolldo in the Calley. Reading this site provokes so many memories.

  47. ada fisher says:

    Dear Jean
    My family lived at 3a until demolition. Our Uncle Robert lived in one room at 3m for several years.
    The Carey family lived in the same block.Florrie, Dick, Chris, Pat, June,Maureen, Jimmy, Johnny,and Mary.
    (Not Valerie Carey- she was on the ground floor of the back block. I remember her Nan picking her up from school every day.) Like yoursel I attended Copenhagen Street School before leaving for Barnsbury Girl’s)

    Jean’s Mum- Lil Long worked at Robert Porter for many years .before the family moved to Essex. (I worked at Robert Porter in York Way for twenty years). Audrey White and sister Pat also worked for Robert Porter as did their Dad Bill and brother Joe.

    (Please give my regards to Jean and Tony)

    Do you remember the Carlin family, Winnie Scott and family, the Sladden family. Mrs Banham., Sheila Brunages.

    In our yard we had the Ayling family, Dolly Best and family, Robertsons and Robinsons. Rita Hill
    The Walker familty. The elderly Mr and Mrs Brunages. The Edwards and Drewetts to name just a few. (Our family name was McLellan)

    In our block we also had a fair share of Italians and Irish tenants.

    A lot of good came out of very bad living conditions. Although on reflection we probably didn’t think they were that bad at the time.

  48. Peggy Murphy says:

    Hi all keep reading over and over again the comments that you all have made please dont laugh on second thoughts yes do am just so very excited about all the names that I am finding and the memories of them that is with me as am sure you would agree the older we all get the more we reflect on our individual pasts its wonderful to realise how we all stay faithful to our roots whatever our circumstances or changes we make to our lives as regard improvements? I look back and can honestly say what a right good lot me and my younger brother John had around us am knew to this site but not to my crumbles family always in my heart Peggy Murphy xxx

    • Mary-Anne Waters says:

      Hello Peggy, I attended Copenhagen Jnr school and my best friend was Peggy and I was wondering if you are her. The Peggy I knew did not live in the Buildings though.

      • Peggy Murphy says:

        Hi Mary Anne used to be known as Peggy Murphy lived at 9E then 4B in BB Linda Finnegan now Perry was my best friend she lived at 20D and had brother Patrick they used to have a little french
        bulldog called Bella and a toitpoisehell cat called Timmy (who was actually a female). Linda and I went to St.William of York in Brewery Rd opp Pentonville Prison which was our secondary modern school. I went to Copenhagen Street the St.Aloysious juniors. Its funny how we never forget those memories thats when we had a community and all sorts of people would mix properly. I must be the one you mention but I definitely lived in the buildings. Good luck and kind regards to you Peggy

      • Mary-Anne says:

        Hello Peggy, your name is so familiar to me that you may well be the Peggy who was my best friend at Copenhagen School. I had black hair a bob style and dark olive skin. I later attended Gifford School at the age of 11 when it became a Catholic School. I first lived at 5G and then moved to 17P. Linda was a lovely girl from a good family. Her mother took us to Richmond Park one day, I’ll never forget it. Are you still in touch with her? If so, please say hello from me. Good memories of life in the Buildings and Islington area but was ready to move on to better living conditions. We were relocated to a new housing estate at The Borough in Bermondsey. We tried to settle but my Mother hated it and returned to Islington after all her children left home. Warmest regards and wishing you all the best. Mary-Anne

  49. Colin nGeorge says:

    My Great Grandfather and Great Grandmother lived at 24C Beaconsfield Buildings. Their name was Stokely and they brought up 10 children whilst living there. I remember visiting them often as a child during the 50’s. Many an evening was spent outside “The Pembroke” listening to my grandfather, Bill Fricker (Caledonian Rd) playing the piano. The “Cornishes” were related.

  50. I found this sight today 3 Feb 2013, My name is Patrick Smyth, Any one remember me????

  51. Terry Harrington says:

    Went to school between 1965 and 1970 at St William of York, first in Brewary Rd (with its playground on the roof) and then in Gifford St. The school wasn’t that good but it was a product of it’s time however the area was magic. All these years on i still remember with great fondness friends from those days – Dermot Healy, Stephen Smyth, John Corrigon and many others and an environment that is totally gone today. It’s a shame but it was wonderful.

  52. Josephine Hassett says:

    Hi everyone, my name is Josie Hassett i have a brother edward(eddie) my mum was Breda ne;fitzpatrick and my dad was Paddy he was in the army all the time we lived in the buildings. We lived in a couple of different flat there i was born there i believe in p block and later lived at 11m, we had quite a lots of family who lived there, we moved away about 1966 south of the river, but i can honestly say that my childhood was great we had some rough times but the good out weighed them They were hard working people living in the buildings my mum and dad included but the community spirit was second to none. Fond memories.

  53. Christine says:

    My Grandmother Alice White lived at 12L Beaconsfield Buildings in 1901, I would like to know if she was living there alone. She had a daughter in July 1901. Can anyone make a connection, I would be very interested.

  54. Concetta Kyriacou says:

    I lived at 28 O Block from when I was born in 1960 until 1967. I remember playing on the roof at the top of the building with other children. I remember Sisters called Marion &Carol and a litle boy called Craig. I went to Copenhagen Infants School, where I had a teacher called Miss Neil. Does anyone remember her? I remember the flat being freezing cold, having no bath and a communal toilet! When I tell my children this they can hardly believe it! My mums name was Eileen. I remember we lived on the top floor and my Mum used to be exhausted by the time we got to our flat.

    • ada says:

      Hello Concetta
      Good to know you have found this site. There is another called Beaconsfield Buildings “The Crumbles”. The family you refer to would be Carole Farley and sister Marion along with brothers Eddie and Craig. I spoke to Carole earlier this year and she told me her mother Winnie had passed on three years ago. Her Dad who we called BigEddie is keeping well.

      • Concetta Kyriacou says:

        Hello Ada. Thanks for replying. I remember now that Farley was the family name. Sorry to hear about Winnie. My mother Eileen passed away twenty years ago followed by my dad george five years later. Did you know them?

      • ada says:

        Good morning Concetta
        Unsure if I knew your parents as you haven’t mentioned the family name. They would probably have been around a similar age as myself if you are the same age as Carole.
        Carole left her email address on the Beaconsfield Buildings “Forum” site. Sadly the site was wiped out recently and huge amounts of memorabilia deleted.

  55. Michael McDermott says:

    my name is Michael Mcdermott i was born in the Buildings as my mother calls them in 1957 my mam is called Ellen McDermott my dad was Phil McDermott My uncles anties and Granny lived their till 1969/70 they were Petie, Henery, Kathline & Molly who still lives in London off Old St

  56. jim palmer says:

    is there any one still about that knew me jimmy palmer lived at 9m i would like to hear from any one for a chat contact via thanks jim palmer

  57. jim palmer says:

    were has every one gone contact me via i would like to here from any one all the best jimmy palmer i lived at 9m from 1944 to 1960

  58. patrick smyth says:

    It”s niice to browse through the above notes, I have so many memory’s of the Crumbles, I had a great time living there, Thank you all,X X

  59. Barry Crittenden says:

    My friend’s great grandfather was Ambrose Thomas Quilton who lived in 9B Beaconsfield Buildings from 1918 until 1941 where he died aged 81. His was married three times: to Margaret Gallaway in 1890, to Alice Whetren in 1907 (she died the same year) and finally to Annie Smedley in 1911 (she died at 9B in 1931). Does anybody recall this family? Barry

  60. jimmy palmer says:


  61. Ged Christian says:

    I was born at 2d in may1959.i lived there with my mum &dad(Eileen& Jim Christian) my sisters Mary& Veronica and brother many happy memories,we were a poor Irish hard workingfamily,with lots of friends in the same position. We would get tic from the local corner shop and without it things would have been tough.once a week down to the Cally baths and maybe a swim.bigest bonfire on the 5th everyone there having a good time.As kids we would climb down the outside of the building, jump on the roof of the old factory, play chicken in the road, stone fights on the bombed ground,once a reporter came as we were playing by the bins and called us “the dustbin kids”. We attended St. Aloysious school near Euston.When we left and moved to Burnt Oak we cried our hears out so many lovely friends left behind. Even today I can drift back there with lots of fond memories.Untill we meet agin. Ged Christian.

  62. ex-resident says:

    How sad people have stopped contributing valuable memories to the “Buildings” website. So much history will be lost forever if we use other sites.

  63. Mary-Anne Waters says:

    I first lived in G block as a little girl, together with my Mum and two brothers. I remember the ice cream man who cycled into the square on his bike shouting ‘ices’! They were the best! Also remember the cockles and muscles man wheeling his barrow along Gifford Street. We used to play with the kids in the square quite safely until it got dark and we were called in. The ‘Offie’ was a great little shop where we used to buy our sweets. Mum always used to buy her bottle of Guinness there every Saturday night as a treat. I went to Copenhagen Junior School and then Gifford School when it went Catholic. The highlights were Bonfire Night, roasting potatoes in the fire together with chestnuts from Chapel Market. All the bangers and catherine wheels, my fave being Roman Candles and sparklers. Xmas was great too, going down the stairs you could hear Johnny Ray or Perry Como blaring out of someone’s radio and then someone would greet you on the way up or down. What avout the guy who used to appear on a Sunday afternoon, in the square, singing some old vaudeville songs and then doma tap dance. We didn’t have much money but the residents would throw him down a few coins and give him a clap. A bit of entertainment. Yes so many memories to relate! I could write a book!

    • Ada Fisher nee Goff says:

      Dear Mary-Ann
      It’s incredible how clear our memories are of the old days. Sometimes it’s difficult to remember what happened yesterday.
      You are probably younger than me as I don’t remember Gifford becoming Catholic.
      The person you recall singing in the square could have been Harry Crossan who lived in Clarence Terrace. He was a short young man with dark curly hair and often stood busking outside of the “Indi” or Pembroke.
      Like yourself my memories go back to Perry Como Guy Mitchell etc. If you have a computer you may enjoy http://WWW.BUTEISLANDRADIO96.5fm where they play golden oldies every Sunday afternoon.
      Hope you are lucky in finding old friends and neighbours on this site.
      Sadly the “Crumbles” website is flagging.
      Best wishes
      Ada Fisher (nee Goff)

  64. Mary-Anne says:

    Dear Ada,
    Thank you for your email and response. What a lovely surprise. I will tune into that radio station for sure.
    Yes, it is such a pity that the ‘Crumbles’ site is flagging. I guess it’s inevitable that once people have enjoyed the initial excitement the interest begins to wane and they forget to check the site for new information that may come filtering through. Word passes around and who knows what interesting tidbits might emerge.
    I recognise a number of the names listed on this site but cannot put a face to them. I didn’t have any friends that I played with from the buildings except Linda Finnegan whose name cropped up in one of these blogs.
    Re the busker, the figure of the man I remember who would come dancing and singing in the square when I moved to ‘P’ block was oldish, tall and slim but it was so long ago. I was just a kid.
    Do you remember ‘Dacky’ the old man who lived on the ground floor next to the school side. He always asked me to buy his cigarettes for him because he only had one leg and never left the house?
    I left the buildings when all the tenants were being rehoused and BB were about to be demolished. We were rehoused at The Borough and it was never the same. My Mum eventually moved back to north London.
    Very best wishes

    • ada fisher (nee goff) says:

      Dear Mary Anne Our family were also rehoused to New Cross before demolition of “The Buildings” and like your parents couldn’t settle and eventually moved back to St.Pancras.. Scottish by birth they became real North Londoners.

      • Mary-Anne Waters says:

        Hi again Ada, I saw a program about a particular street in Deptford with rows of terraced houses. The Council pulled them down and the people were relocated to other suburbs which were unfamiliar to them. All interviewed said they struggled with their new location. One lady said her husband suffered a breakdown and she had depression. They all missed the camaraderie of the street and the neighbourly chats that took place in the street or over the fence. Everyone knew everyone, even if only by sight. It is the familiarity of one’s surroundings that for some people when it is taken away from them, they find it hard to adapt to a new situation.
        Thanks for your response.

    • steve says:

      Dacky was my grandad.

  65. Stephen Bowd says:

    Fascinating to read about happy memories of the Beaconsfield Buildings because my grandfather George E. Bowd was born there in one room in 1910 and still living there in 1939. He moved to Scotland in 1940/41. It’s a long shot but if anybody has any recollection of the Bowds at 23 D before the War I would be very grateful as George’s son (my father) will soon be 80 and would be interested in ANY stories.

  66. Leroy parker says:

    My name is Leroy parker and I lived with my nan at 22n next floor from you I no the cearies baberys fitspattricks bests McLain’s and moor my brother Micky my sisters carol Christine sandy Janice

  67. Bill cummins says:

    Hi Ada yes l knew you way back ! Most of my friends were from Beaconsfield buildings I knew the Carling’s the Tyler’s bests my best friend was Roy Taylor who lived in Gifford street near the off licence we used to sell kindling bag it and sell it on Saturdays outside 3. Rufford street. I am bill Cummins .

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