Peabody present, Peabody past

Trace 14135 [Peabody Estate from Sutherland St, 1989] Image property of Westminster City Archives

Peabody Estate from Sutherland St, 1989. Image property of Westminster City Archives

We gathered at Charing Cross Library last week to learn more about the philanthropist George Peabody and his legacy. As Londoners we continually walk past the iconic Peabody buildings, so it was interesting to hear more about the man, his working class background in Massachusetts, USA and the development of his social conscience as he began in the 1860s to fund the creation of social housing in London – which at the time had horrific slums.

Christine Wagg, who has worked for the Peabody Trust for over 20 years, illustrated her talk with some lovely photographs of the man himself, the buildings and the people who lived in them. It is astonishing that the majority of the housing remains standing, in good repair and in use by over 80,000 people today.

Acc 2552 - Copy of the printed rules and regulations of the Peabody Buildings, Old Pye Street, [1914] Image property of Westminster City Archives

Rules and regulations of the Peabody Buildings, Old Pye Street, 1914. Image property of Westminster City Archives

A couple who came to the talk said they had been living in the Wild Street Estate when it still had communal water taps on the landings, communal bath houses and elderly ladies who insisted they polish the brass on their front door every week.

Times have changed. There has been masses of refurbishment to the flats and there’s no longer a requirement to polish weekly – nor indeed to sweep the passages every morning before 10 o’clock!

“Really interesting”

“Enjoyed the talk very much”

[Katrina]

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