Brandon Estate – Southwark

Brandon Estate is a social housing estate in Southwark, south London. The estate is situated to the south of Kennington Park, and it was built in 1958 by the London County Council, to designs by Edward Hollamby.

History of Brandon Estate

Brandon LibraryThe estate is named after Thomas Brandon, a gardener, who ‘obtained permission by Act of Parliament to let land within (Walworth) manor on building leases for 99 years in 1774. The estate’s initial development included six 18-storey towers (at the time, the tallest in London, helping the development achieve the required density of 136 persons per acre), a new square and other lower buildings, and the rehabilitation of some Victorian terraces.

The estate also features a large mural by Tony Hollaway, commissioned by Hollamby, commemorating the Chartist meeting at Kennington Common on 10 April 1848. In late 1962, a statue, by Henry Moore, was purchased by LCC and installed on the estate. Initially placed on a high plinth, it was repositioned on a sloping lawn site in 1989 to make it more accessible. Chartist meeting is still celebrated today through Chartist project 1848.

By the end of the 1970s, the estate started to become more socially problematic, with new waves of families arriving from other slum clearances and the council prioritising more disadvantaged people and immigrant communities. The local press carried headlines such as: ‘Vandal-hit estate goes to war’, ‘Corridors of Fear’, ‘It’s revolting! Slum estate tenants in new protest’.

Brandon in mainstream culture

Dr Who defends an alien invasion of London on Brandon estate.

The sitcom 15 Storey High used the estate as a backdrop for the exterior locations. It has also been featured in the TV shows Spooks, Silent Witness and The Bill.

The sci-fi series Doctor Who used the estate to stand in for the fictional Powell Estate, home of companion Rose Tyler for several series.

Video of the estate from the early 1960s exists due to the Brandon Estate Cine Club, which ‘made Super 8 films of events on the estate organised by the social club – using a camera bought by 17-year old Brian Waterman with his first pay-packet from his job on the Underground’.

Some scenes in the film For Queen and Country were shot at Hanworth House on Brandon estate. Brandon estate is still a favourite for the BBC’s cameras and crew as they are often seen around shooting.

Brandon estate is popular for art and culture and the estate is home to Nigerian poets and author such as Honey Adewole, author of the new poetry-based children’s book Materbeampater.

Brandon is known to be the home of a group of UK drill rappers called Moscow17. Early 2018, the estate witnessed unprecedented rise in homicides, including the death of two drill rappers. Following the manifestation of gang violence on London streets, the Metropolitan Police maintain heavy overt and covert presence and have made significant arrests on Brandon estate.

Two Piece Reclining Figure No.3 1961. By Henry Moore.

Brandon Estate, community activism and modern society

Brandon estate unifies two boroughs, Lambeth and Southwark, and has been at the centre for social justice and change for decades. The estate is diverse and rich and lots of community initiatives available since the end of 2018 summer violence.

Get online week was celebrated across the estate for the first time in 2018 and there are many local projects aimed at adults and young-people directly and indirectly affected by gang-related activities and violence.

Social justice and change

The local park was the epic-centre of the famed 1848 march that ultimately won the ordinary man voting opportunities. The march is remembered and celebrated annually through the Chartist Project.

Chartist project 2018 in Kennington park. Credit: Richard Galpin.

Kennington Park

Kennington park sits between Lambeth and Southwark and perfectly placed to unify the two boroughs. Abstractly speaking, the park has all the facilities one would expect to find in a school or higher education institution. There is a beautiful flower garden in the park – the flower garden is next to the volley ball court.

Brandon Library

The estate houses Brandon library. Brandon library is a community library, it’s actually the reverse of a traditional library – due to the layout of the estate and the location of the library.

Brandon library brought Get Online Week to Brandon estate in 2018. The first Online Centres Network in the sector to do so since the national campaign began in 2006/07.

Green and open spaces

Brandon estate has lots of green and open spaces which are all connected to Kennington park. healthy environment, erosion proof, shade, natural resource conservation, improved air quality and lots of space for play and outdoors and opportunities for gardening.

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