Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Notes on Lordship Lane, East Dulwich SE22

I'd walked up and down the once-rural thoroughfare Lordship Lane in East Dulwich, also prosaically known as the A2216, a few times and found it long and uninspiring. Though there is a nice part of it, with cool gift shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a lovely new Dulwich Picture House (£7 a film on a Monday; still not as cheap as the Peckhamplex, but a more pleasant experience), I found myself naturally gravitating towards the other end of the Lane (where the Horniman in Forest Hill is). Here I found some interesting buildings and curios.

At 539 Lordship Lane, the unusual Grade-II listed so-called Concrete House is possibly England's earliest surviving example of, well, a house made of concrete. Dating back to the 19th century, it was derelict for years but has now been converted into flats.

Further down, past the lovely Dulwich library is a blue plaque above a hardware shop signifying the birthplace of children's writer Enid Blyton. Another blue plaque but obviously unofficial and homemade lies at the bottom of a wall on Overhill Road, just off Lordship Lane, where AC DC singer and lyricist Bon Scott died in a parked car of alcohol poisoning and 'death by misadventure', aged 33, in 1980.

A slight detour: two roads along on the right off Lordship Lane, Upland Road turns into Dunstans Road and up a wooded hill is Dawson Heights, a striking-looking housing estate built 1964-72. The 20th Century Society call Dawson Heights 'an important but little-known postwar housing estate in East Dulwich' which has so far been turned down for listing status. Designed by Kate Macintosh, who was only 26 at the time she started designing the building, the tranquil setting of the estate, on top of a hill surrounded by woods, gives it the feeling of a castle made of Lego (though the 20th Century Society's description of it as having 'evocative associations with ancient cities and Italian hill towns' may be pushing things a tad). But there's no denying its undulating soft, yet brutalist, form. (I struggle to write about architecture and music successfully: try these two blog posts, here and here, on the estate if you're interested.)

There used to be lots of prefab houses on Lordship Lane but only one remains now, at number 238. We chatted to the lovely gentleman who owns the house, who is understandably very proud of his flower garden. But the future of the house is far from secure; there are new developments surrounding the house, and it looks like it'll be next on the chopping list.

We popped into The Yard, a converted family home with work studios and a courtyard, just off Lordship Lane as part of Open House weekend recently.

Onwards there are numerous gift and furniture shops, restaurants and bars. And a good charity shop.

Thanks to James for directing me to several of these buildings.

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