The borough of Wandsworth has undergone immense change throughout its history, with enormous growth at the end of the 19th century transforming its small hamlets into town centres. In particular, Battersea - Wandsworth’s most northern ward – has played an important role in the capital’s industrialisation and transformation into urban metropolis.
Much of the borough’s handsome Georgian villas and mansions were commissioned by wealthy Londoners to line the open spaces of Wandsworth and Clapham Commons.
By the mid-18th century the area became densely populated as the factories and warehouses lining Battersea’s banks brought significant trade and industry. However, Wandsworth’s watershed moment arrived with the development of the railways after 1840, significantly transforming the area's housing landscape.
A major urban railway centre witnessing huge population growth, house building in Battersea and Wandsworth gathered pace. Victorian railway worker cottages neighboured family terraces with significant variations in building styles, as competition between contractors intensified.
Exemplary blueprints of Victorian house building line Wandsworth Common. Spencer Road and Elsynge Roads were originally designed to be part of The Great Exhibition and the architecture reflects the competition at the time to design the best houses.
Wandsworth’s finest mansion housing undoubtedly surrounds Battersea Park. Originally, the Park was to be surrounded by middle-class villas but after one plucky landowner commissioned his first mansion block in 1893, others quickly followed. Built by different house builders at around the same time, all are inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement.
Social housing in the borough of Wandsworth
Wandsworth was home to some of the highest housing development activity in London between 1955 and 1982. Battersea has a large area of mid-20th century public housing estates, almost all located north of the main railway lines and spanning from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east. There are four particularly large estates with The Winstanley Estate, perhaps the most renowned of them all.
Bomb damage and the destruction of homes during the Second World War was particularly severe in Battersea and Wandsworth due to the area’s industrial importance.
Ready availability of vacant land teamed with the decline of Battersea's industries, made the borough a prime location in which to accommodate need much needed social housing.
Wandsworth council recently announced a regeneration plan that will demolish much of The Winstanley Estate estate over the next decade – including 700 homes built in the 1960s and 1970s.
Focus on Battersea
The Shaftesbury Estate and Diamond Conservation Area are highly sought after locations, thanks to their gardens and access to top schools. Further east, Battersea Square is in the catchment area for the highly-rated Thomas’s School, with its cafes and Gordon Ramsay restaurant giving it a village-like feel.
Immediately to the west are ‘The Sisters', enduringly popular Victorian houses on streets named after the daughters of 19th century landowners.
East of Battersea Park are modern apartments, including Chelsea Bridge Wharf, Vista and The Bridge. All have park views, modern facilities and security, making them popular choices for people moving to the area.