Series on how London has changed since Charles Booth's social conditions survey in 1886. Camberwell Grove has come full circle to middle-class affluence again.
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This programme contains some strong language
London in 1886 - then the largest city in human history, and centre of the known world.
With its self-importance, its dirt,
its wealth and awful poverty,
it seems a mystery to us now.
It was a different world. An entirely different world.
But there is a guide to this human jungle -
Charles Booth, Victorian London's social explorer.
Booth produced a series of pioneering maps
that colour-coded the streets of his London
according to the ever-shifting class of its residents.
Booth's maps are like scans - X-rays that reveal to us
the secret past beneath the skin of the present.
If people knew how many cattle was killed there,
I don't think they'd live there.
He wanted his maps to chart stories of momentous social change...
I was on the bottom.
And those houses were the lowest of the low.
..the ebb and flow between enormous wealth and terrible poverty,
how easily desirable or well-to-do neighbourhoods could descend into
the haunts of the vicious and semi-criminal,
and back again.
Now the maps can help us reveal the changes that have shaped our lives,
and made the story of the streets
the story of us all.
-Oh, my goodness!
The old toilet's gone!
So, we're going back to one of the tens of thousands of streets that Booth mapped.
We're heading to Camberwell Grove,
a street of beautiful Georgian houses.
-Different from what it was before?
Very much so, very much so.
Camberwell Grove reveals the story of a brand-new class -
the middle-class, who desired a different kind of house.
It was built for them in the Georgian era,
but fell into a steep decline when it was abandoned by them.
A century later, the middle-classes returned to restore it,
and a movement was born that helped preserve the road
in all its former glory.
Four miles from the centre of London lies Camberwell Grove.
Two-thirds-of-a-mile long, this gracious tree-lined street
has some of the best surviving Georgian architecture in London.
Well, they are, they're all beautiful big houses.
And so different.
The Grove is made up of many styles -
terraces, crescents and single houses,
built in Georgian and Regency times -
new homes for the middle-classes.
Taken together, they are a remarkable remnant of another age.
But the Grove is not typical of its area.
The centre of Camberwell is dominated by
a major traffic junction.
40,000 vehicles pass through it every day.
AMBULANCE SIREN BLARES
Bordered by Brixton in one direction
and Peckham in another,
Camberwell is very much the inner-city.
Yeah, it's a pretty rough area.
You get a lot of police sirens going.
The Camberwell chorus.
You know, there's regular taping off of bits of street.
This is not a sort of classic middle-class zone of London.
But turn the corner into the Grove, and you enter another world.
When you come into this street from the hurly-burly,
there is this kind of still heart just off that.
And it's a fascinating contrast.
A friend of mine who used to live on Camberwell Grove said...
"It's just like living on the river."
There's something about Camberwell Grove which is living on the river.
And I suppose it's the sort of flow down the hill
and also the rustle of the leaves and the trees,
which is a bit like water,
but also reminds you of a kind of bucolic country scene.
Camberwell Grove started life not as through road,
but as an actual grove.
An avenue of trees leading from the back of an old Tudor manor house
to the summit of a hill from where there was a fine view of the city of London.
The farmland around the village of Camberwell was prized as rich,
The cows that grazed here supplied milk, not just to the village,
but also for London.
The parish records show evidence that it was a really rural area.
There were herds of pigs running around on the streets uncontrolled.
And there were prizes for collecting polecats, hedgehogs and caterpillars.
By the mid 1770s, the old manor house had fallen into ruin.
It was demolished, and its land broken up and sold.
One end of the Grove was opened up to the main road.
Soon after, a small terrace of four houses sprang up.
For a very long time,
at least in this stretch of the road, it would've been...
These four houses would've been standing on their own.
Today, antiques dealers John Hall and Robert Hirschhorn live in one of these first houses.
So it's a kind of semi-urban terrace sitting in the countryside,
in an area on the edge
of a burgeoning development, you know? It was about to begin.
-This was a quite exciting thought, really.
The houses were built by speculative builders
aiming at a new market - the middle-classes.
A newly minted term for a social group
emerging between the working and upper-classes.
The new middle-classes were comfortably off,
but they had to work for a living.
These families wanted to escape the grime of London by moving to the country.
Developers built the new housing to accommodate them.
First, to the north of the capital, but by the 1770s,
once two new bridges were built over the Thames,
it was possible for people to live south of the river
and travel to work in the city.
Suddenly, the village of Camberwell was attractive to a whole new group of people.
Well, my impression of the first people that lived here would be
not super-prosperous, kind of middling-prosperous merchants.
People in the law, people working in the city,
people who could afford one or two servants.
And people who wanted to get out of the city of London into an area
that's full of good spring water, good air,
but still easy to get into town to do the work.
And just like today,
you can see the Shard of Glass from further up the hill,
then, you would have seen the dome of St Paul's dominating the skyline.
So people would still feel connected to town.
By horse and carriage, the city was only half-an-hour's commute away.
Can we show you the front parlour?
It was probably a little dining room,
a little eating room for the people who lived here in the 18th century.
And when they were feeling like entertaining,
playing cards or whatever, things that people loved to do then,
this is probably where they did it.
The atmosphere in here is lovely, and in the evening,
if we're feeling like it,
we don't have electricity up here. We light the candles.
I mean, that mirror there is roughly of the period, is that right?
-Yes, it is.
-So, the candlelight,
the old mercury glass on the mirror,
and it sort of comes to life.
It really comes to life.
While this terrace of four houses stood on a plot
at one end of Camberwell Grove,
a large share of the land at the other end was bought
by an eminent and wealthy London doctor, John Coakley Lettsom.
Here, he built himself a villa and designed a new estate.
The villa has gone, but an ornamental cottage still survives.
Yes, I think because it's at the end of Camberwell Grove and on a corner,
it is a bit of a landmark,
because people have to slow up to turn the corner.
So, even people who are just driving down Camberwell Grove
tend to know it as a local landmark, yes.
The cottage at the top of the Grove.
Tristram Sutton chanced upon the cottage in the mid-1980s
when he was on his way to a party.
I got lost on the way there, I didn't know south London well,
and came past this house, saw the sign up outside,
the For Sale sign outside,
and eventually bought it.
It's a very...quirky...
..and unusual house. I really love it.
Lettsom's estate was broken up in the early 19th century,
and various bits of it were sold off for development.
And there's a record in the late 1830s of an architect
living in this house with his family,
and I think that's significant.
I can imagine him taking on a pavilion,
and because he's an architect,
being able to convert it into somewhere to live.
The residential development of Camberwell Grove was in full swing,
and by the early 1840s, the street,
much of it exactly as it appears today, was complete.
Georgian builders built from detailed pattern books.
These were so influential, that during the 18th century,
variations in building designs were diluted,
and the standardised Georgian design emerged.
Architect Jack Pringle moved to Camberwell Grove 10 years ago.
Oh, they're absolutely distinctively Georgian.
You know, this was one of the most economical ways of providing
high-quality, quite elegant, high-density housing.
And they were built by Georgian developers who were pretty keen on making a lot of money,
and they provided very nice housing...
So there's a good balance between economy, elegance and profit.
The Georgians were extremely keen on the use of proportion.
They're not highly decorative, because the Georgians appreciated quite simple things,
which I think is why they appeal to a more modern taste.
But no, I think they were definitely shooting for elegance.
This is my wife, Holly...
who's also an architect.
And we've done a lot of work on the house together.
Some of the houses on the street have gone the whole hog
with the Georgian theme,
and for us, that isn't what we wanted to achieve.
You know, we're very modern architects and wanted to have a new take on it.
So, with this space, we obviously took the wall out here,
and we've opened up to create a kitchen-diner experience.
You may not have wanted to be in the kitchen in Georgian times.
That's where the servants were. Now, it's where all the family meets
and it's, you know, where you hang out.
The early residents of Camberwell Grove were living a dream.
Artist and critic John Ruskin wrote about it at its height.
"A real grove in those days, and a grand one.
"Beautiful in perspective,
"the houses on each side all well-to-do,
"well-kept, well-broomed, and their own grove world all-in-all to them."
The census records reveal some of these residents.
Caleb Field, a stockbroker, his wife Magdalene and their child.
Walter Miller, a wine merchant, and his family.
John Cooke, a barrister, and his wife, Harriet.
All had servants.
But this charmed world was not to last.
Camberwell Grove stood on the brink of inexorable change.
In the Victorian era,
the city of London expanded at an unprecedented rate.
The greatest growth in urban population the world had ever seen.
Working-class people were pushed out to areas like Camberwell,
as houses were demolished in the centre to make way for new commerce.
In the 1860s, railway lines were cut through Camberwell Grove,
and a station opened within walking distance.
Now, ordinary people could live in Camberwell
and commute into central London in 20 minutes.
By the 1880s, the pastures that had once surrounded the Grove
were covered in a dense network of Victorian terraced houses,
and the population had more than trebled.
Rural Camberwell morphed into a metropolitan suburb.
It was 1889 when the social explorer Charles Booth and his surveyors
mapped the social make-up of the Grove for the first time.
On his map, the Grove appears as a prosperous suburban street.
At the high end, furthest from the city,
he records the houses as yellow, his top category.
Rare in south London, meaning wealthy,
keeping three servants or more.
All the rest of the Grove he coloured red - well-to-do, middle-class.
For these middle-classes,
Camberwell Grove was no longer an escape to the country.
It was now surrounded by Victorian urban sprawl.
Disenchanted, many began to move away.
Nine years after his first map,
Booth mapped the Grove for a second time,
and this time, he described it as declining.
He downgraded the beautiful terraces at the top of the Grove
from the highest category, yellow, to red, and at the other end,
introduced some pink - working class.
He remarked, "This area well illustrates the tendency
"of what may be called the inner-ring of suburban London
"to be occupied by a less wealthy class than formerly."
The trend intensified with the coming of a new century.
So, this is the census for 1911.
For this house.
A load of people here.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,
nine, ten, 11. 11 people in the house.
We are misusing the house.
There's only two of us!
So, 11 people in the house.
was a widow and a boarding... So, it was a boarding house.
Arthur Walter. You've got the Walter family here.
The wife was Ella.
-Ooh, quite an age gap!
-Lots of clerks.
Yeah, I suppose you needed lots of clerks in an age before computers.
I suppose this is indicative of the status of the house in 1911.
Presumably, it was built as a single-family house with servants in the first place,
and now it's BACK to a single-family house.
-Unfortunately, without servants.
Whereas, this period, 100 years ago,
it must have been at a sort of nadir,
-cos it's stuffed full of people.
Further down the Grove where it opens out onto the main road,
Camberwell was now a busy hub.
In the 1920s, Booth's maps were once again updated,
and Camberwell Grove was colour-coded for the final time.
The grand old houses were now owned by commercial landlords
who rented them out for multiple occupation.
The whole street was classified as pink - working class.
-My dad used to play shove ha'penny in the pub.
And then my mum and all of them used to play darts.
Does the pub look the same outside as it used to?
-They haven't changed it, have they?
We used to climb up those...
See them bits of the bricks?
We used to climb up them when we were children.
And see who could get to the top.
Childhood friends Pat Pike and Margaret Reeves
were raised on Camberwell Grove in the 1940s.
We just grew up together.
We used to play with our dolls.
-We used to play with each other of a night if we were allowed out.
Shall we go in?
Pat and Margaret both left the Grove over 40 years ago.
This is EXACTLY as I remember it.
Isn't it strange? I thought it would look completely different.
-And the wood's still there.
But these, when I was a child, these were painted brown.
You know, really dark brown.
And then, I remember, for my wedding,
my nan had everything painted white.
This is exactly the same, Pat, this.
Margaret's great-grandfather, William Sexton, a stockbroker's messenger,
began renting their house in the early 1900s.
At that time, three households shared the building.
When Margaret was growing up,
the family still sublet rooms to lodgers on the top floor.
-Oh! Oh, that's beautiful.
-Oh, my goodness!
Obviously, that wall wasn't down.
No, it was a separate room.
Oh, the toilet's gone!
The toilet, the old toilet's gone.
-Used to be a toilet out there.
When Margaret was a child, her mum, Dolly, suffered a long illness.
She eventually died of tuberculosis,
which was a common killer before the introduction of the BCG vaccine.
My mother's bed, when she was home, was down there.
I remember when she was in they often had the window open,
cos they thought, in those days, fresh air was good for you. It was probably killing them.
I mean, my mother, in hospital,
used to make a load of stuffed toys for me and dresses.
She was very good at needlework.
And they all had to be baked in the oven before I could have them.
-I think I was kept away from my mum.
Which was awful, really, wasn't it? Yeah.
-They wanted to be safe, didn't they?
-Yeah, well, this was it.
She thought I was going to catch it.
-Oh, yeah, where was your bathroom?
-We didn't have one.
We didn't have a bathroom. We had to have a tin bath.
-Oh, that's right!
Yeah, there was no bathroom in this house at all.
In 1951, nearly half a million households in London
were still without a bath which was plumbed into the mains.
Did you have the railings here?
-No... Yeah, this side.
-But not that side.
-They look nice, actually.
Pat grew up across the way from Margaret.
In this room here was my bedroom.
There used to be a front room as well.
Had the big fire there, what's still there.
So unusual seeing the books there,
cos we didn't have books, you know?
And seeing all these books, it does put you off a little bit.
-Trying to think where everything is.
-It throws you.
-Yeah, it throws you.
Mm. With the piano and all that sort of stuff.
My mum used to sit here,
and I used to sit on the window ledge with the window wide open,
and we used to watch the horse and carts going up there.
The milk float and the horse and carts going up there.
the man next door, Mr Gunter,
he would run out with his bucket
to get up all the...
all the manure up, and spray it all over his garden.
Wonder what happened to those?
I think they're all gone now, aren't they?
So who lived next door, then?
Pat shared a bed with her older sister, Barbara.
Their parents rented the house, living on two floors
and subletting the other rooms to lodgers.
At any one time, up to 11 people lived in the house.
-Barbara slept in here with you?
All the week the bed was out, and then at weekends
we used to put it up, because they used to have, you know, the relations and all that here.
And we used to have the party.
They used to go to the Grove pub,
and then they'd come out the Grove pub straight into here,
and have a ding-dong. That's what they used to call it. Yeah.
Pat's parents, Frank and Caroline Keeping,
had 19 children between them.
Pat was their youngest.
They used to pick the piano up,
carry it down the stairs,
and then there's a room down below, we used to have all the knees-ups,
what they used to call the knees-ups and everything,
because this floor was so soft, you were frightened you were going to go through it.
Pat was born in 1940, just after the outbreak of war.
When the bombs came, Camberwell was one of the worst-affected parts of London.
The bomb damage map of the area was made by the London County Council
directly after the war.
Colours inked in to indicate structures damaged by blasts.
In July 1944,
Camberwell Grove suffered a direct hit from a V1 rocket.
Six people were killed and 12 houses destroyed.
While many children were evacuated to safety,
Pat's mother chose to keep Pat and her sisters at home.
-I can't remember your stairs at all.
They used to put us under here when I was born, when the bombs were dropping.
-Oh! The shelter?
-Yeah, they used to hide us all under here.
Mum used to shove you under there, or wherever she could put you.
And you would just stay there until it was all clear.
I think my sister was evacuated, my sissy,
but my mum brought her back home again.
I don't think she left her there.
10 years after the war,
the landlords of Margaret's house decided to sell up.
Her grandparents and uncles clubbed together enough money to buy the house, for £1,000.
Once it was theirs, they set about making some alterations.
Unfortunately, when my uncles bought it,
that's when they started ripping the house out, you know, in the '50s. Oh, spoilt it.
Britain's DIY obsession took hold in the 1950s,
with people keen to get rid of the old
and bring in the new all by themselves.
I don't know whether you've got a problem like this - a rather ugly, old, panel door.
It's one that can be solved quite simply.
You can make it look like this.
Lovely panel doors, you know? They were all hardboarded over.
You know, pulling out all the original fireplaces and cupboards,
and it did spoil it a bit, really.
I didn't realise at the time.
Nobody thought anything about it.
But now, I've realised it was absolutely terrible,
cos they weren't listed in those days.
Beyond the Grove, Camberwell was facing a challenge common to
all post-war inner-city areas - depopulation and decline.
Drawn by the promise of clean air and green spaces,
many young working-class couples who were having it good,
moved out to new towns or suburbs.
In the early 1960s, Margaret and her young family left for Sidcup.
I don't know. I just wanted to move more into the suburbs,
I think, really. Yeah.
The remaining private landlords were keen to clear out
their tenants and sell the properties.
The old houses were expensive to maintain
and as long-term tenants had controlled rents,
landlords found it hard to increase their returns from their properties.
But the landlords couldn't simply evict sitting tenants like Pat Pike.
In 1968, her landlord resorted to extreme measures to remove her.
I was pushed to leave.
Otherwise, I would probably still been here.
But no, I was made...really I was forced to get out.
He brought all these people down and started frightening me.
And they used to sit in the kitchen, and they used to put their hands
up to their head like that, and tell me there was loads of spirits
and, you know, all frightening people - ghosts and that all around.
And it just used to frighten me.
I think it would.
He just kept coming backwards and forwards with them
and eventually I gave in.
He gave me £300 to get out,
to help me with whatever I had to do.
I was only early 20s then, you know.
Landlords had a strong incentive to offer their properties
for sale with vacant possession.
A new, very different group of potential buyers
began to take an interest in the old houses.
People were actually horrified in the office where I worked
when I said we were buying a house
-in south London.
-Nobody lives south of the river.
You must be daft. And that's true.
The whole young professional set
lived north of the river, didn't they?
You could never get a black cab over the bridges.
They didn't want to take you.
They would drop you on the bridge and then you had to walk.
Increasing numbers of young, middle-class couples were
searching the city for old houses to restore as single-family homes.
The beautiful old houses of Camberwell Grove were ripe
for rediscovering, and by London standards, the houses came cheap.
-You go first because I've got to lock the door.
We'd never heard of Camberwell before.
It was just the quality of the architecture and design.
And it just felt that the house deserved attention.
Architects Shirley and Jim Tanner
were in the vanguard of a new wave of home-buyers on the Grove.
They moved in in 1959.
The house was pretty forbidding and derelict.
The basement wasn't habitable.
But we realised what a lovely house it was.
Back then, mortgages weren't routinely available for houses
built before 1918, so the Tanners approached their bank manager
to request a loan.
He said, "You sure it hasn't got dry rot?"
Jim said, "Of course it's got dry rot. It's old."
He said, "I'll tell you what. I'll go and have a look."
He strolled up Camberwell Grove and had a good look at the house
from the other side of the road.
He came back and rang me and said, "I think it'll be all right."
I think probably artists and architects were drawn
to cheap property probably.
And also, I think they didn't have...
..the kind of, erm...
..I don't know, social worries that maybe, if one was going to be
a lawyer or a solicitor or something,
they might think it a little bit down-at-heel,
living in somewhere like Camberwell Grove in those days.
David Hepher and his wife Janet, both artists,
bought their house on Camberwell Grove in 1961.
They were in their mid-20s.
We wanted a house which could accommodate a couple of studios
because Janet was leaving the Royal College,
I was leaving the Slade
and one needed a space which could be fairly adaptable in that way.
My grandmother, at the same time, very conveniently,
left me £2,500 with which I was able to buy this house,
in those days, which was 50 years ago.
Enticed by the potential of the houses,
the new buyers took a risk.
Both bought their properties with sitting tenants.
The house at the time was divided into three flats
and it had two sitting tenants in.
I don't remember being at all really worried about
the fact that they probably could hand the flat on to their offspring
and it could go on for generation after generation.
I think I was, sort of, pretty ignorant about that really.
I was certainly very innocent, I think, probably,
about tenants' rights.
In both our cases,
the tenants did not prove a problem.
It was almost our arrival which signalled they wanted to get
the hell out of it.
These new young homeowners were part of a national trend
and they set about restoring their houses
and unearthing the original features.
There's something rather splendid about these houses.
They're so beautiful when you get down to the basics...
..when you see the basic material
and the Georgian detail.
It was wonderful to discover the moulding under all the gug
that had gone on, because, I suppose, we had some idea
of what it would be like. We'd looked at pattern books.
Gradually this was revealed as you stripped it.
Tina, my wife, picked out these mouldings.
That took her a long time, but they're rather good ones,
so it was a lot of water and picking away with an old screwdriver.
There was a whole load of boarding over all this,
I suspect, to keep draughts out.
In 1967, a young television producer, Jeremy Bennett,
found a house which could become his family home
and he, too, was exposed to the restoration fever.
There was no garden at that stage, at all.
I do remember that in the first week we were here,
two or three neighbours banged on the door and said,
"Can we come in and see what you've bought?"
So we said, "Yeah, fine." We gave them a cup of tea.
They then proceeded to pull off the boarding from the fireplaces
and indeed, the doors, because those were covered in plywood-type stuff,
to see what the mouldings were like.
It was just fascinating. It was like detective work.
Jim Tanner used his restoration experience
with his own house on the Grove to write a book.
Jim Tanner, who was the architect in Camberwell Grove,
had written this book
and everyone bought this, at least we certainly did.
I remember I followed his instructions on how to lay
paving stones in an outside patio, so it was really like
an amateur builder's bible
and I've kept it ever since.
It's now brown and jaundiced, but very useful.
This had lino all over the place.
And it had a buzz about it.
I mean, you could almost hear blowlamps and scrapers
going at weekends, and the smoke coming out of the windows.
And if you walked up and down Camberwell Grove, you would find
that outside several of the houses would be a skip.
In 1968, a local paper took notice.
It reported, "Like an enchanted Cinderella, stepping from the rags
"of her former self, Camberwell Grove is being re-born."
For the young homeowners,
what started as house restoration projects on their own properties
went on to tie them into a far wider movement,
putting them on one side of a battle over the future
of the architectural heritage of London.
'Demolition men called in by the London County Council
'pulled down nearly 700 of these tired-looking terrace houses,
'and more are still to come down.'
There was a danger - there was always this danger -
that the council might decide they want is to redevelop the area and pull them all down.
Between 1967 and 1976,
70,000 houses were demolished in London.
The same process was in action in other British cities.
'This is a programme about murder. Architectural murder.
'You are going to witness the severed limbs of a great city.
'No doubt too many of you, the word "murder" will seem exaggerated.
'You will say that what we call today "development"
'is a necessary part of change.'
The residents of Camberwell Grove
feared that their houses could be the next to fall.
You'd find up the road they were pulling down the terraces of Georgian houses.
There was no protection for them.
People from the council? They were all for demolishing all these houses
as they'd done with all the ones through there.
For local authorities, this destruction was a small price to pay
if they were to solve the post-war housing crisis.
Crumbling old houses were being pulled down
to make way for high-density modern housing estates.
The Council in those days thought bulldozing
and building new stuff was really the right thing to do.
Faced with this demolition,
preservation caught the popular mood.
Local action groups sprang up across the city
campaigning to protect London's architectural past.
There was a sense that there were so many fine old buildings around,
you know, we should recognise this and help to protect them.
In 1970, Jim and Shirley Tanner helped form
Camberwell's action group - the Camberwell Society.
I'm now the chair of the Camberwell Society.
I became the chair in April of this year
and I've been a member of the Society for seven years
since we've moved into Camberwell Grove.
40 years later, the Camberwell Society is still going strong.
You've all turned up at the same time!
-I thought you weren't going to come on time.
-We almost didn't!
You're only rousing me out for the dinner table!
'We meet on the first Thursday of every month,
'usually to go through anything of interest to Camberwell,
'which will usually be something to do with transport or planning.'
Jeremy Bennett was active in the group's early campaigning.
In those days, conservation did seem to be quite pioneering.
We felt that we were energetic young people
trying to do something that was worthwhile, I suppose.
That was really what it was. It doesn't sound terribly...
It sounds a bit pompous, but I think that's what we felt.
But the conservationists were an irritant to the council,
who were focused on building the new estates.
The older councillors really hated
not just the Camberwell Society, but some of the other societies like that.
Jeremy Fraser is a former leader of Southwark Council.
At that time, if you were involved in trying to get better housing for people,
then the groups that were trying to look at conservation and protecting
just looked like what we would call today NIMBY groups.
These were very professional, well-spoken people
who were telling largely working-class councillors how to do their job.
There is no doubt that the council regarded all of us
as a bunch of middle-class worthies
who were concerned with the value of their own property,
but it wasn't fair to dismiss us
accordingly as having only parochial interests.
In the same year as they formed the local Camberwell Society,
residents of the Grove joined a London-wide campaign
to stop work on a radical road-building scheme.
Nothing focuses your attention more than the sudden realisation
that your own little patch is going to be invaded by this.
The first section of the scheme in West London -
the Westway - had just been completed.
Many houses had been destroyed.
A similar motorway was planned to cut across Camberwell Grove
above the existing railway line.
A huge concrete...motorway,
and it would have been way up in the air.
You know, visually it would have completely dominated
and destroyed buildings over there.
But the residents weren't going to give in quietly.
Shirley Tanner stood for local election against the scheme.
"Homes before roads." There we are.
The aim was to draw attention to the plan and stir up public opposition
to the destruction of houses it would involve.
I think we all did hope that there wouldn't be some mistake
and we get elected, but it was part of getting this message across.
The scheme threatened to cut swathes through sections of London.
80,000 people were faced with the loss of their homes.
I was just completely taken over by this thing.
People used to come after work
and go round giving out leaflets through people's letterboxes.
We had a big map on the wall.
Yes, we had a big map and they'd come back
and they'd mark off the bits where they'd leafleted and so on.
Shirley didn't win a majority, but the opposition campaign,
added to the mounting costs of the scheme, had the desired effect.
The road-building plan was abandoned.
Nationally, the tide was turning in favour of conservation.
A law was passed requiring councils to create conservation areas
where historic buildings would be protected.
By 1971, 32 of London's 33 boroughs had conservation areas.
Camberwell Grove was one of them.
But the first time it really hit home
was when we got this leaflet through the door,
which we found was actually of our house, believe it or not,
and what it said was, "How does this affect me?
"What is a conservation area?" This is the Camberwell Grove one.
A year later, most of the houses on the street were given listed status.
I mean, once it was listed, that threat we knew had gone away.
Because not even the council could ride roughshod over that.
The old houses of Camberwell Grove now had the protection of the law.
The new legislation also restricted what the council could do
with property it had acquired on Camberwell Grove.
It had bought up a terrace of houses north of the railway line,
a bomb site on the other side
and two terraces of white stuccoed houses at the top of the grove.
They are the old, beautiful, big houses,
and so different, but all big,
because they're the rich people
and good architects and ideas.
And I had one, one day.
And it was good. I had the big house.
Yeah, it was good. It was called The Farm.
It was good.
Dave Viney grew up in South London a mile-and-a-half from Camberwell
in a terraced street near the Walworth Road.
A little two-up, two-down type of thing, you know?
Sit outside and...
..you know, normal key in and doors all open.
All that whole yap, yap, yap. It's all true.
In the early '70s, Dave's family home was earmarked
for slum clearance, part of the council's housing policy.
They wanted everyone to go in the estates,
the big estates up the Elephant. You know, they'd just built them,
all these wonderful places and, oh, you know, "Wow."
Which they was - big, beautiful kitchen, you know?
Sinks and toilets - indoor toilets.
We was in slums.
And again I was one of the last ones in the road to come out
because I didn't want to go in 'em.
You know, there was something about them, eight floors, ten floors up.
It just wasn't normal to me.
Anyway, one day I was riding up there, Camberwell Road...
..when I see these beautiful big houses...
And I thought maybe I'd stop and see who owns 'em.
I went in and asked the workers
and they said, "Yeah, they're council.
So I went up to the council
and the lady behind the counter, she said,
"You don't want to go in them. They're not new."
I said, "Yeah, please.
"I'd like to go in them." Anyway, we was...
They said, "Yeah, OK." I signed up and that was it. We was in there.
People thought we was crazy.
"Why don't you have a lovely new flat on the Aylesbury?
"Beautiful new kitchens etc, etc,"
but no, I didn't like the concept of going up high.
Dave and his family moved into Camberwell Grove in 1975.
It was beautiful. I thought it was beautiful.
It's strange coming to them cos they've been decorated again.
Should I go in and ask whose they are again?
Maybe I can go back there.
This is the Aylesbury estate in London.
By the mid-'70s, the vast new Aylesbury estate - which Dave had turned down -
was already suffering from its severe design flaws.
Kids still play football amongst the cars.
They're not supposed to -
they're supposed to use the elevated walkways
to go to play areas sometimes half a mile from home.
To be quite honest, my little 'un drove me mad when I first lived here.
Because he couldn't get down.
There's nowhere for the kids to play.
If they play on the grass, they've got to get off.
What about the general look of the place? Do you like that?
Oh, well - look at it for yourself. Look. I mean, it's like a prison, isn't it?
-Isn't it, though? Look.
All concrete, isn't it?
The council was building another estate
on one of the sites it owned on Camberwell Grove,
but this time regulations of the newly created conservation area
prevented it from repeating the mistakes
it had made on the Aylesbury Estate.
Orhan Beyzade moved into the newly-built Lettsom Estate as a boy in 1976.
The name is a last trace of the eminent doctor from earlier times.
The original plans of the estate show the height of the blocks
had to conform to the height of the houses on the Grove.
The height stays exactly the same as the houses.
It was nice. It's amazing that they, years ago, they thought of that
because you don't think they would think like that.
The thing about our generation, we was always out, active,
and if your dinner was ready, your mum would open the door,
shout your name, and you'd come straight up.
Living in a tower block, we would have been playing on the landing,
enclosed on the landing and we wouldn't be getting the fresh air.
That's why I'm glad, in a sense, that they didn't put the tower block,
or I might not have been the person I am, you know.
The block of the estate Orhan and his family moved into
faces onto Camberwell Grove, and shares its address.
Cos our address was Camberwell Grove it give us a bit more pride.
If I was out and someone said, "Where do you live?"
You'd say Camberwell Grove first and then you'd say the Lettsom after,
but not always would you put the Lettsom on it.
You'd always say you live on Camberwell Grove,
so people think, "Oh, he lives on Camberwell Grove!"
Still today I do it, probably without knowing.
At the top of the Grove, Dave Viney's circumstances were changing.
My wife had, er... we'd split up and she'd left
and I was on my lonesome.
And that's when it all started.
The rest of Camberwell Grove may have earned the title of gentrified,
but things were taking a very different turn at Dave's place.
He transformed the property into an open house and squatters moved in.
It was the '80s, it was a different time,
it was different rules, you know, youngsters were travelling.
It was a new era.
And people used to just turn up, word of mouth,
it was like a community spirit, it was a community spirit.
In the 1980s, against a backdrop of high unemployment
and long housing waiting lists,
unused properties were irresistible to some.
This was the main room, this was the farm.
This is where the action took...
The kitchen was there.
She's put a pallet on there, that's how big the fire was.
Dave embraced the good life,
the house became known as the farm, Dave as the farmer.
And farm animals returned once again to the Grove.
We had the pig, Irene.
Alfred the goat.
Billy the goat.
A horse for a while.
A psychiatrist, Bruce, and big bonfires and sofas and...
blaring music and...
parties, good times.
Life in the farm was in full swing when the young banker,
Tristram Sutton got lost on his way to another party.
He ended up buying a cottage
and he found it was right next door to the farm.
I remember the first day, waking up
completely disorientated in a strange house
and before I opened my eyes, I remember hearing a cock crowing
and Van Morrison playing loudly, really loudly.
And I just found this most sort of surreal and disorientating.
I went round to where the music was coming from
and that was the first time I met Dave,
just lying back on a beaten-up sofa
in the middle of this huge, cavernous room,
listening to Van Morrison, the way he wanted to start the day.
It was absolutely fantastic.
It feels good. It feels good.
Tristram, old chap! How are you doing? How are you doing?
Long time no see.
Must be a bit of a funny, historic moment, coming back here.
Well, innit changed?
It was the farm,
and now I've been in there and it's a beautiful family house.
-And it still feels good.
I mean, I don't know, did the farm feel good when you was in there?
-It certainly did.
-That's how I feel.
Do you remember that evening when Frances cooked for us all
in the pouring rain with windows smashed out of either side of...?
Do you remember that?
Bob the Bite was there with his arm in plaster.
And there was another guy, I can't remember his name,
but he had a crucifix tattooed on his back.
I don't think there was any lighting in the place.
-I think you probably had the electric turned off.
But there was a huge fire burning in each of the fireplaces,
pouring with rain.
It was one of the most unforgettable evenings of my life.
-There you go, that's my point about the farm.
The community was living, it was like alive, thumping
It was, like, dum-boom.
Other houses on Dave's terrace were squatted too,
part of this one by punks.
Remnants of the era still remain.
-How are you?
-I'm good, how are you?
-I'm David from the farm.
-Ah, come in.
-Pleased to meet you.
Wow, it's changed.
Different from what it was before?
Very much so, very much so.
Stephen Dunc moved in six years ago.
-You don't know anything about the graffiti on my chimney?
If I go and get a picture, I'll show it to you.
So, there you are, look,
so there's the anarchy symbol on the top of my house.
That's quite normal, you know, everyone was an anarchist.
Oh, right, OK.
-That would have been quite normal on the wall in here.
Graffiti was like you having photographs.
Oh, right, OK. Inside and out?
The '80s, you know, and people just wrote on the wall.
Want me to do one now?
-Well, I don't think I'd want one now.
The fabric of the council-owned houses had been deteriorating,
but, as they were listed, it could not demolish them,
nor could it afford to repair them for tenants.
Eventually, the council decided to sell.
In 1996, they paid Dave, the last council tenant, to leave.
The period came to an end.
It was a shame,
and there was a sense of another bit of London that was losing
a kind of more alternative or different way of being in London that was going,
and it was becoming a more, kind of, normalised, conventional set-up.
-Do you remember the circus acrobats practising on the tree opposite?
-They rigged up a trapeze.
-Yeah, they were fantastic.
Yeah, God, I'd forgotten about that.
Can you imagine it happening now?
Not easily, not easily.
The council sold the terraces to developers
on condition that the houses be restored to single homes.
The wheel had turned full circle for the grand houses at the top of the Grove.
This is the latest development on Camberwell Grove,
on the site of a former school,
these houses have just been built in a neo-Georgian style.
And the design is very much part of the sales pitch.
I think what they've achieved here is a wonderful Georgian facade,
like it really belongs in this beautiful, traditional street,
but inside, you've got beautiful space,
organised how you want to live today.
I think it's good.
I think the older homes have lovely exteriors too, like the ones opposite.
You could buy an older house and do it,
but it would cost you a lot of money to re-vamp the house,
re-plumb it, knock through supporting walls and so forth,
I think this is why I like this - you won't have to make any modifications.
Local groups, including the Camberwell Society,
fought for seven years to influence the new development.
You know what the price they're asking,
um, I believe it's one-and-a-half million pounds for each house.
So, I think it's probably going to be people who get bonuses
who are going to move in.
And fine, if they want to join our community,
be part of Camberwell community, great.
And the nice bath, very curved, very beautiful...
Locals fought six separate plans for much higher-density housing
before finally accepting the current design.
Conservation area gave us huge protection in this,
and that process that happened in the early '70s really paid dividends,
because the buildings that have gone up
are, I think everyone would agree, of pretty high quality.
While the private houses are on Camberwell Grove,
the developers also helped finance
32 social and affordable homes
on the parallel street,
some now occupied by today's council tenants.
At the same time,
the Aylesbury Estate, acknowledged now as a failure,
is being demolished,
the fate that once met so many Georgian houses -
recognition that the design of where we live really DOES matter.
If only all social housing was to this quality.
And it's to the credit of the people round here that they fought
long and hard to say they weren't opposed to things changing,
and buildings changing use and so forth,
but that things had to be done to equality.
That's good and, you know, you just wish there were more communities
that were fighting as strongly for things as good as this.
The whole of Camberwell Grove is beginning to look pretty good.
It seems to have vindicated what we did. In those early years,
I had doubts. She never seems to have doubts.
She's so bloody dogged about things, you know?
And I've actually started...
I've decided I'm going to draw every house in the street.
I need another 100 years for that, so I don't suppose I'll finish it.
If Charles Booth's surveyors were to return to map the social make-up of Camberwell Grove today,
most of it would probably fall into his top category - yellow.
Over 200 years since the first terraces were built on the Grove,
the houses once again provide family homes for the middle-classes -
the people they were first built for.
Next week, the Caledonian Road.
People go, "Oh, my God, Caledonian Road? What a shithole."
This is the story of how its prime location
left it open to be exploited...
I will give you a little advice.
As long as the cow has milk, milk it.
..and how the people who called it home, learned to fight back.
I just stood up, ranting, "How can you grin?
"This is our lives you're talking about.
"Don't sit there grinning! You're laughing at us."
To discover more about Britain's secret streets,
the Open University has produced a free guidebook. Go to...
..and follow the links to the Open University, or call...
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
In 1886 Charles Booth embarked on an ambitious plan to visit every one of London's streets to record the social conditions of residents. His project took him 17 years.
Once he had finished he had constructed a groundbreaking series of maps which recorded the social class and standing of inhabitants. These maps transformed the way Victorians felt about their capital city.
This series takes six archetypal London streets as they are now, discovering how they have fared since Booth's day.
Booth colour-coded each street, from yellow for the 'servant keeping classes', down to black for the 'vicious and semi-criminal'. With the aid of maps the series explores why certain streets have been transformed from desperate slums to become some of the most desirable and valuable property in the UK, whilst others have barely changed.
This landmark series features residents past and present, exploring how what happened on the street in the last 125 years continues to shape the lives of those who live there now.
Today, Camberwell Grove is an elegant oddity - a broad, leafy street of fine Georgian houses set in the seething inner city.
The street has come full circle, from middle-class prosperity to tight-knit working-class community and back to middle-class affluence again. Through the lively, often passionate accounts of residents past and present the film tells the story of the changing faces of this remarkable street and the people who have lived in and loved its beautiful houses. These stories also reveal how the fate of the Grove was intimately bound up with the monstrous growth of the Victorian city of London and the birth of the modern conservation movement.