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Housing: Victorian Housing Estates

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Victorian housing in a typical estate

My mother's family lived on a working class housing estate which was typical of the Victorian terraced housing that popped up in previously rural areas towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century.

A road on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton (now Enfield) showing how the Victorian terrace houses were designed in pairs.

A road on the Huxley Estate showing how the houses were laid out in pairs, one being the mirror image of the other.

The estate happened to be the large Huxley Estate in Edmonton [now reassigned as Enfield] on the northern outskirts of London, but it was effectively typical of other Victorian housing estates elsewhere in the UK.

Road layout

The roads on the estate were laid out on a grid with all the roads straight unless there was good reason for the occasional curve. The houses themselves were terraced, i.e. all joined together.

Terraced housing

Terraced housing was the norm but the regularity was broken up by building the houses in mirror image pairs, so, for example, 116 and 118 had adjacent front doors, and 116 shared its chimney stack with 114, and so on. So the floor plans of alternate houses would be the mirror image of one another.

Guest contribution

Embarrassing episodes due to the houses being in mirror image pairs

Because the houses were in mirror image pairs, front doors were next to neighbours' front doors. So when, as a teenager, boyfriends escorted me home, the neighbours would often arrive home while we were 'saying goodbye' on the doorstep. It was very embarrassing!

Another embarrassment was that outside lavatories backed onto our neighbours' outside lavatories. So we could hear everything that was going on!

Vera Harding
formally Vera Eaton

There were of course larger Victorian and Edwardian houses, but they tended to be individual or in small blocks, like my father's family home in Pymmes Villas.

House foundation problems on the estate

Guest contribution

The houses on the terraced housing estate had no brick foundations, but were built on wooden beams, about twelve inches square cross-section. This was fine until the beams rotted, which I know for a fact happened in Warwick Road!

John Cole

Estate development over time

On the Huxley Estate, building started in the late 1800s and went on into the early 1900s.

Warwick Road and Sheldon Road were the first roads to be built. They are shown on the 1894 Ordnance Survey map of the area which makes them genuinely Victorian.

The house where my mother grew up was built a few years later and was therefore Edwardian, but was in the same general style.

If you, with your 21st century norms, could be transported back to around 1911 to any one of the roads on this estate or any other such typical estate, you would be hard pushed to tell the difference between them. Not that the residents of the time would have seen things this way: As each new road was built, the insides of the houses improved in facilities and finish. The houses in the newer roads were offered to the better-off existing tenants or their children. So a natural gradation in quality and social class took place across the estate. Cheddington Road was either the last or one of the last to be build and was considered rather upmarket at the time.

House-style and how it differed from one road to another

Guest contribution

As an example of the changes which distinguished the house-building over time, 120 Warwick Road had a large earthenware bath in the scullery, which, when not in use, had a cover over it which doubled as a worktop. The bath may have been discontinued in the later-built houses as it was large, had a rough internal finish and would have taken a lot of water - which had of course to be heated by the copper or a kettle.

John Cole

Victorian housing estates - then and now photos

Victorian street of terraced working class houses

A typical road on a typical Victorian housing estate: Warwick Road on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton [now Enfield], early 1900s. Photo courtesy of Cliff Raven from Enfield Local Studies and Archives. Tap/click for a larger image.

Cheddington Road on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton [now Enfield]

A more recent photograph of a road on a Victorian housing estate: Cheddington Road on the Huxley Estate in Edmonton [now Enfield].


The most striking difference between the early 1900s photo of Warwick Road and the more recent one of Cheddington Road is the number of cars - although, of course, the roads have moved with the times in various other ways too.

Another difference is that, as residents of the 'now' houses own them, rather than renting them as they did in the early 1900s, the front approaches are differently decorated. Consequently the 'pleasing uniformity' that my mother noted is gone.

I have not visited the estate since I was a child, but I do remember that there were broadly similar Victorian-style terraces in adjacent roads.

House prices and inflation

Probably like most estates of Victorian or Edwardian terraces, the houses were rented. That changed in the early 1970s as Vera Harding explains:

Guest contribution

The Huxley Estate was owned by a Trust which was wound up in the early 1970s and we were all offered to purchase our homes as sitting tenants. It depended on whether you had a bathroom or not as to the price but the stipulation was that if you didn't have one you needed to install one in one of the bedrooms or have an extension built to accommodate the bathroom on the back. My parents were elderly so my brother and I bought the house together (with an additional loan for the extension). Our mortgage was just £1,250 with repayments of just £30 per month! A number of the houses were sold for under £1,000. Whilst the extension was being built we modernised the kitchen too. The house was sold in 1980 when I persuaded my Mother to move out. It raised around £20,000 then. So buying when we did proved quite an investment!

Vera Harding, born Vera Eaton


If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.


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Page based on the recollections and notes of the webmaster's mother (1906-2002) with additional research and editorial work by the webmaster