Site Unseen: Prince Albert's cottages

Click to follow
Prince Albert, the driving force behind the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, was what reactionaries termed 'a do-gooder'. The Prince commissioned a block of 'model dwellings' for the working classes to be displayed there.

Albert's efforts were soon followed by those of charitable organisations such as the Peabody Trust, whose barrack-like blocks of flats can still be seen all over London. The problem was that the trustees never had to live in the buildings and most were obsessed by the virtues of fresh air. Some flats were designed with front doors that did not fit, letting in gusts of cold air. Tenants who blocked the draughts faced instant eviction.

After the Great Exhibition, Prince Albert's Tudor-style lodge, which contains four flats, was removed to Kennington Park. (High up in the multi-coloured brickwork are, suitably entwined, the initials V and A). Few developers copied his designs, claiming that the flats were uncommercial.

The lodge is now occupied by the park superintendent, who assures me that the doors do fit.

Prince Albert's Cottages are on the Kennington Park Road side of the Park, facing Kennington Road.

(Photograph omitted)