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/ by Oliver Bennett

London's architecture: 1930s

The area of Roehampton, SW15, close to Richmond, is rich in architectural interest, but a real 20th century lovers’ secret is the KFH-managed Grade II-listed block called Fairacres dating from the 1930s. Overlooking parkland and a golf course, Fairacres appears like a country estate but is rather a block of 64 flats, sleek with period detailing: portholes, curved brick, glazed canopies.

Undeniably elegant, at four storeys Fairacres isn’t as high as other 1930s sentinels like Du Cane Court in nearby Balham, but a lovely sense of interwar languor shines through, as if it was always time for tennis. Built in 1936 by architects Anthony Minoprio and Hugh Spencely for developer Charles Kearley, Fairacres’ flats were made for a smart clientele with three to five bedrooms each, plentiful bathrooms, even servants’ quarters.

It’s the private gardens that really make Fairacres special: fully six (fair) acres, with access to Roehampton Golf Club and close to the glories of Richmond Park. That Fairacres was competing with houses is betrayed by a 1937 marketing blurb which gushes: ‘If you were blindfolded and taken to one of the flats at Fairacres you would never believe you were in a flat when the bandage was removed.’

Elements of 1930s style: cruise-ship style porthole windows; curved brick; sun balconies; green retractable awnings; fitted furniture; curved glass Crittall windows; dedicated servants’ quarters.

Illustration: Mister Mourao


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Oliver Bennett Freelance journalist

Journalist, Oliver Bennett lives in a late Victorian house in central London and specialises in property, architecture and the built environment. He has worked on several newspapers including the Independent, Telegraph and the Sunday Times, and has contributed to many more magazines from Grand Designs to Homes and Gardens. 

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