Category Archives: Property

One of the most unusual houses in Herne Hill …

… is an archetypal 1930s modernist home in Dorchester Drive, which has just come on the market after 65 years.

It starts with Kemp & Tasker

Who? Leslie Kemp and Frederick Tasker were English architects who practised in the 1930s as Kemp & Tasker.
They are best known for their cinemas (many now demolished, inevitably), although they are also responsible for several notable 1930s/modernist buildings in South London and Kent, often constructed by an energetic firm of builders, the Morrell brothers of Bromley.
These include the Dorchester Court flats between Herne Hill and Dorchester Drive, which as many local people will know are now owned by a neglectful property company harbouring ambitions for deleterious extensions.
However the Morrell brothers also built individual family homes including two Kemp & Tasker designed houses just up the road from our street, on Dorchester Drive. Indeed, the Morrells designed and built that whole street, each house being different from its neighbours.

Dorchester Drive

In 1934, one particular Kemp & Tasker house design was submitted to the Daily Mail’s Ideal House Competition.

The Morrells embraced and promoted this design, claiming in a glossy brochure  (unearthed for us by our learned neighbour Laurence, who indeed spotted that this distinctive house has come on the market) that it could be built to order anywhere. And so it was.

It’s red

Unlike another No 10 with a famous black door, number 10 Dorchester Drive, two streets up from here, has in fact a red door and windows and is one of the three known Kemp & Tasker examples of this design that still exist – and it is now on sale.

Morrells brochure for K&T house


Form an orderly queue

The 5-bedroomed  house is said to be fundamentally in good order, having been lived in and cared for by the same family – Mr & Mrs Eysenck – since 1956. Hans Jürgen Eysenck, the celebrated and latterly controversial psychologist, died in 1997 and his wife Sybil Eysenck died in March 2020, which explains why the house is now on the market for the first time in 65 years.
The property is being marketed through estate agents Hamptons. Their blurb announces that

“… this house now provides the opportunity for a buyer to breathe new life into a well-loved family home to create something really special in terms of style and space. It has wonderful features such as curved doors, original hardwood flooring (beneath existing carpets), original Crittall windows, the fabulous ‘sunspan’ curved window in the lounge, grand iron staircase and original tiled bathroom. There is a wraparound garden and off-street parking on both sides.”

However, the buyers will need to find £1.75 million, plus a fair bit more for the necessary updating. Insulating all those big windows will also be quite a challenge. The red paint will probably be replaced by something more muted from Farrow & Ball or Mylands.

Disappointed dreams

Incidentally, the Morrell brothers (they were twins) also built a much bigger house, for themselves, at no. 5 Dorchester Drive. But they managed to go bankrupt and never got to live there.

Bike theft

You probably don’t need the warning … but just in case, this was posted by someone in SE24 on the Nextdoor website earlier today.

“Stolen bike (Herne Hill, SE24).

Hello all, make sure you keep any bikes firmly locked up, preferably inside at the moment. Someone broke into our communal entrance hallway and stole my hybrid bike on Tuesday night (I’ve now found my bike being sold on Gumtree in Barking 🙄).

 

Our neighbour’s son was also mugged for his bike too recently.

Bike theft is on the rise in the lead up to Christmas so be extra careful. If you’re buying a bike off somewhere like Gumtree, I recommend asking for a picture of the frame number. You can then check if it’s been registered as a stolen bike on websites like Bike Register .”

Work carried out in people’s homes

Thought this might be useful/reassuring for neighbours.

The latest government guidelines for coping with  Covid-19, updated early this morning (25 March),  states that “work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.

Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a 2 metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.

“No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.

“No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.”

SE 24 IS A PROPERTY HOTSPOT!

Yes, according to a report in last Friday’s Times property pages (paywall, probably) , spotted by a sharp-eyed neighbour (thank you, Fred!).

After 19 consecutive months of price falls — down 2.9 per cent in Greater London since a peak in July 2017, and 15.7 per cent in prime central London since a peak in 2014 — there are signs of life in the market again. It’s probably too early to talk of “recovery” but there are real signs of life in the not-so-quite central areas, because of their relative affordability. A London estate agent quoted in The Times says “Most banks are only willing to lend 4.5 times wages. Even if you’re a couple earning £100,000 combined, there are only a few pockets left in London where a normal person can afford to buy.

Candidly, one might think that Herne Hill, at least, no longer offers many bargains for people seeking to trade up. It may be less expensive than, say, Dulwich but ‘affordability’ isn’t a word that springs to mind, most would say.

London Property Hot Spots 2019

Meanwhile property experts say that even if the market is showing glimmers of recovery, it’s hard to believe it will return to the heady heights of 2017 any time soon, when affordability is still such a problem. “We have had a resetting of prices that was well overdue,” one says. “The idea that double-digit annual house-price inflation is somehow a good thing is peddled by knaves and fools. What we want is a stable housing market.”

The relative ‘hotness’ of housing markets is measured by a new seller’s advisory service, Prop Cast™., whose chart is shown above. Their basic service appears to be free. It measures buyer demand levels to help predict how quick and easy or slow and hard it will be to sell your home. It tells you whether your market is hot or cold, and puts you on the same page as reality ‘so you make smarter decisions about your sale’.

Should we call the architect?

There’s a word of warning in all this. Maybe “potential” isn’t what people are looking for. One estate agent says family houses are selling better and faster because of a lack of decent stock.

“Middle-class millennials want to buy a house that’s already done up, they don’t want to do the work. If you’re prepared to do work, there’s a lot more choice,” he says.

Time to raid the savings?