Monday, 20 August 2007


Forest Hill has many lovely buildings, and a great mix of architecture.

One of the things I have noticed, walking around the streets of the area, is the extent of development of old houses to modern living standards, which is great. It is a shame to see some beautiful houses being converted to flats, with some roads of Victorian and Edwardian town houses totally turned over to flats, but that is the price we pay for urban housing density targets.

Not all developments, however, are created equally. I have been keeping an eye on one particularly lovely building (Montrose Villa) on Church Rise that seemed to be suffering the most horrific abuse.

First of all we witnessed plumes of black smoke day after day from fires in the back garden. I have no idea what they were burning, but I admit at first I thought the entire house was alight it was so large. And it went on and on (they even seemed to be shipping in more stuff to burn at one stage).

Then mysterious piles of earth kept appearing and disappearing, and I saw what must have been a pile of earth over 10 feet high in the back (clay soil - i.e. from rather deep).

Well, yesterday afternoon the road was cordoned off by police. Crowds, including me, gathered to see that the incompetent (or possibly unlucky - but I doubt it) builders had managed to erode the building's foundations. The police were evacuating the surrounding buildings and stopping all traffic.

Check out the crack on this building, and the angles where it has collapsed in the middle.(Click on the image for a larger version)

Today the Council is overseeing the pumping of several truck-loads of cement into the basement. I can't believe the building is salvageable, but good luck to them.

I can't believe there are people out there that stupid or brazen to excavate a basement without supporting the building, especially after reputedly spending £850,000 to buy the building in the first place.

[Update: according to my searches it was actually £585,000 - not that the extra £250k make much difference to the point]

(Click here for a few more photos - sorry the Police moved me on the first day before I got the camera out)


Anonymous said...

I live next door to this property and we have to admit that we saw this coming!!
Its such a shame this building has been allowed to collapse in this way as the pictures do not do the house justice, its one of many houses on this tree lined road many of which are stunning some in Italianete Villa styles.
I just hope the builder is prosecuted under building regulations, and that the council only allow a building to replace it in the same style.
This House has stood for nearly 150 years and its so sad to see the house in the state it is in now!

Robert McIntosh said...

Thanks for your comment. I might have met you on the street when the police were there?

I agree about the photos not doign it justice (either the original attractiveness nor the horrific damage).

I have always meant to take more 'documentay' photos on that road, but I think this one had escaped me although I had always liked the style.

I'm not sure about what they'll allow in its place. I cannot imagine that a developer will want to go to the expense of building something in character as it will probably be too expensive.

Snazy said...

I live to the left of the property, and am watching daily as the condition of both its, and our property deteriorates.
The figures stated by the builders and given on what No10 went for are as follows.

Purchase £800k
Resale £2.1m
Clear profit £800k

I have a whole sequence of over 300 shots of the house at various stages, from when first discovered and called the Police, to today.

Lets just hope, and maybe rally together to make sure its replacement will be suitable and in theme.

Knit Nurse said...

The police moved you on? From a public street? What a bloody cheek! What, pray, was your offence?