Named after the Labour MP George Lansbury, the estate was built on one of London's most badly bombed sites, where thousands of terraced homes fell to ruin leaving a huge housing shortage for east-enders.
Planned by the London County Council, who wanted to reduce the size of the population in the area, it was decided that the first phase of works should form a 'live' architecture exhibition for the 1951 Festival of Britain (probably a first for social housing in the country). The aim of the showcase was to provide a tract of housing that the public could walk through and experience on a real scale. It was intended that the majority of the buildings were finished, with some partly constructed to show off methodology.
Architects Bridgwater & Shepheard designed all of the dwellings on Development Site III, or the Central Housing Site.
The first lot of six- and three-storey blocks of flats were built adjacent to East India Dock Road, providing 158 homes.
The first family to move in here were Mr and Mrs Albert Snoddy with their two children and pet tortoise, which you can just about see by her knee in this picture. (I am told the lady on the right is her mother-in-law).
Nearby, a portion of a row of terrace houses, standing on Pekin Close, remain with their original London stock brick facade, while others (like the first one in the second picture) have been modified by their owners.
Each terrace house originally had three bedrooms, a kitchen facing the street side and a living room.
Across from the close, on Pekin Street, Bridgewater & Shepheard designed a series of semi-detached, or linked, houses that are seen as pretty unusual for this part of London.
These were a mix of three- and four-bedroom homes together with a living room and kitchen in the main house, with links containing a way through to the garden and a bathroom on top.
Chrisp Street Market, which I've already mentioned in my blog about the Balfron Tower, was also part of the live architecture exhibition of the festival. Here are some more pictures of how it looks today.
Following the festival, construction on the remainder of the estate continued until 1982 when construction completed on the blocks on Pigott Street, and it remains one of the largest in the area.
I'd like to say thank you to the good folk at 14th Estate, who told me all about the history of the area as part of a walking tour, and must give them credit for the architectural plans and archive photographs shown here (which came from the Tower Hamlets local history library).