This is an alleyway in East Sheen that runs down an avenue of delightful 19th-century cottages, the model cottages. Model not because they were small, but because they were the perfect model for how homes for workers should be built.

The first of the row of 2-storey cottages were built in 1853 by the Labourers’ Friendly Society, which may have been associated with the Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Poor. The east side was the first to be built. By 1862 ownership was in the hands of Major Penrhyn, and by 1870 twenty-six cottages had been built, the last ten having been built by the Major.

Each of the decent-sized cottages is set back from the central passageway as this is also their front entrance, and it’s just about possible to drive a car down here, from the south side only.

None of the cottages have back gardens, which probably explains the huge effort that’s gone into making the front gardens so varied a rich delight of planting. Some of the gardens have award-winning badges on the front.

One adventurous resident down here has a large Landrover, which seems to have spent a couple of years on a roundtrip to India and Nepal according to the sign on the back.

And for a row of so-called cottages, some of them seem to be very large, some having 4 or even 5 bedrooms. Being build for workers, they are these days rather more exclusive in pricing. One was renovated recently with an interesting staircase lighting effect.

Although a private lane, a sign at the entrance installed in 2010, confirms it’s a public footpath.

The alley is likely busier than it used to be after a Waitrose opened at the southern end, and lots of shoppers were using the passage to pick up their groceries. But what a lovely way to get to the shops.


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One comment
  1. Renata says:

    It’s always nice to have the local area featured in the blog. The alley is indeed busy as it’s a convenient way to get to Waitrose and the shops and probably also because it’s a much nicer place to walk than the roads around it. The prices for these cottages are eye watering and it surprised me that they were built for working class families. Certainly out of reach for most now.

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