Wood Street and Middle Street: First World War Era Council Flats



Chatham Observer 17 10 1914:

“As a corollary to the demolition of ten old tenements in Wood Street, Brompton, the Gillingham Council decided to erect eight flat dwellings.
It is obvious that self-contained cottages are preferable, providing suitable land can be obtained in the required locality, but in this neighbourhood, as is well-known, there is a considerable population which must be close to the Dockyard Gates or the Royal Engineers Park, and there is no available building land.

The Council gave £300 for a block of old property with a frontage of 84 feet and a depth of 64 feet. The Borough Surveyor demolished the buildings, brought the foundations up to ground floor level, and the Council then invited tenders for the erection of the flats. The Works Department of the Corporation was selected to carry out the work, and the flats are now practically complete, four of them being already occupied.
With regard to the construction of the new buildings, there are four flats downstairs and four upstairs, the latter being approached by a passage which divides the two lower pairs, and there are two external fireproof staircases to give access to the tenements above.

Each flat contains a living room (14ft by 11ft), scullery (8ft by 8ft) and two bedrooms (one 12ft by 11ft and the other 11ft by 8ft 4ins).

The walls are built of ordinary stock bricks, the whole of the exterior work behind being rendered in cement, while the front walls are faced with Hoo red bricks.

The lower floors are of grooved and tongued boarding, the boards being secured to tarred battens nailed to coke breez (NB ??) concrete finished with boards on battens. All the walls are plastered with Sirapite finish, with the exception of the scullery walls which have flat joints.

All the bedrooms have fireplaces, and each living room is fitted with a dresser and with Corne’s and Haighton’s patent model cottage combined range, copper and bath, with hot water supply.

The bath is fixed in the scullery and the copper connected to it. This model cottage has been proved to answer well. One was fitted in Park Lodge eight years ago and is giving great satisfaction. The advantage of the combination is that the living room fire can be utilised for boiling the water in the copper, so hot water is obtained without any additional cost. The bath is fitted with a movable table top. In each scullery there is a well-ventilated food cupboard and a trapped glazed sink on iron brackets.

Picture rails are provided in the living and bedrooms and there is also a chair rail in the living room...

Each house enjoys a separate garden, convenience and coal place. The electric light is laid on in all the flats and a lamp is to be fixed to illuminate the whole of the back portion of the buildings. Selected old tiles have been used on the front of the roof and the buildings designed to harmonise with the locality. The sculleries are distempered and other rooms papered”.

Other info: Built by Council staff to plans by Borough Surveyor JL Redfern.
There were 40 applicants from would-be tenants.
Cost: £1330 for buildings, £310 for land & legal charges.
Six of the flats are let at 6/- per week and two at 6/3d. The latter have larger bedrooms.
Rents include rates & water rates.
Council has obtained a loan for land for 80 years and 60 years for buildings.

Chatham News 3 7 1915

“At Middle Street, Old Brompton, the six flat dwellings which are being provided by the Council are being rapidly erected by Messrs CE Skinner and Son. These flats will follow somewhat the plan of those in Wood Street except that they will be a little larger. The site in Middle Street is a somewhat awkward one, and the Borough Surveyor has set the buildings back in order to avoid the expensive foundations that would have been necessary had they been erected on the old site, which was cellared all over. The old cellars will be filled up and will form a forecourt garden.

It will be remembered that there are eight dwellings in Wood Street. By degree, the Council will effect quite a transformation at Old Brompton. They will act wisely in carrying out these reforms gradually.”


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The houses referred to in Wood Street are still there, and are the oldest surviving buildings in Lower Wood Street (the Gymnasium [1863] and former Lord Nelson Pub [1910] in Upper Wood Street are the only older ones). There are several pictures of them here: 


Brompton Resident - 11/04/2013 09:03

The flats in Middle Street were there until well into the 1970’s I can recall the old lady who lived in one of them. Unfortunately her smell proceeded her and when we had the post office at 61 High Street, if she came in Mrs Sladden who worked for us used to dance around the shop with an aerosol can to freshen the place up for the other customers.

The land on which they stood was then part of a swap with the Catholic Church who wanted the site of the old school in Manor Street to gain access to build the new flats and shops on the High Street.

Admin - 11/04/2013 14:17

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