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1950s/60s Buildings

A selection of images showing buildings from the 1950s and 60s. These reflect the eras' architectural styles and social thinking.

Check out our Teaching Activity How did the vision turn out in reality? – Housing in the 1950s and 60s



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The Bullring and Rotunda, Birmingham, West Midlands
Copyright Crown copyright.NMR

The Bullring and Rotunda, Birmingham, West Midlands

Built in the early '60s the Bullring was one of the first multi-level covered shopping centres. The Rotunda office block became a symbol of unnecessary redevelopment as very few of the offices were ever let.

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Jesmond Branch Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Mr Bob Cottrell ARPS AFIAP DPAGB. Source English H

Jesmond Branch Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

This library was built in 1962-3 using the latest ideas in design. The "saw-tooth" walls of the circular lending area allow natural light on to the side of the bookcases. In 1965 is was awarded a RIBA (Royal Institute British Architects) Bronze Medal for its design. Read official list description.

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Council Housing, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear
Copyright English Heritage.NMR

Council Housing, Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear

This development was carried out by Ralph Erskine in 1969-71. It covers an area of around 200 acres and houses around 9,500 people. The Byker Wall, which varies from three to 12 stories high, is the most well-known part of the estate but there are also a lot of low rise and individual houses. The outer Wall was designed to protect the rest of the development both from the wind and traffic pollution. Existing housing was demolished to make way for the new development - although some old buildings including pubs, churches and swimming baths were retained in the new design.

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The Lawn, Harlow, Essex
English Heritage. NMR/Ms Elaine Allen LRPS

The Lawn, Harlow, Essex

Many new homes were needed in the 1950s to replace those lost during World War Two. One solution to providing a large number of homes was to build high-rise developments. The Lawn was built in 1951 and was the first residential tower block in Britain. There were two one-bed flats and two bedsitters on each of the 10 floors. The projecting ends of each wing were used to give each flat a south-facing balcony. In 1952 it received a Ministry of Health Housing medal. It was part of Harlow New Town. Most of the homes in the New Towns were rented from the Development Corporation. .Read official list description.

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Council Housing, Wyndham Court, Southampton
Mr Derek Wilson. Source English Heritage. NMR

Council Housing, Wyndham Court, Southampton

This city centre development was built in 1969. It consisted of 184 flats, three cafes or restaurants and thirteen shops. Southampton City Corporation was one of the most enlightened builders of council housing in the post-war period. This is the finest of three estates developed by Lyons Israel Ellis and was carefully designed to fit a sensitive site close to the civic buildings which dominate the city centre. The flats and maisonettes were leased at 'economic' or above average rents, a reflection of the prestige nature of the development. Read official list description.

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Centre Point, New Oxford Street, Holborn, London
English Heritage.NMR

Centre Point, New Oxford Street, Holborn, London

A 1960s office block that was very controversial when it was built. It was one of the most important speculative office developments of its period in Britain.It was built between 1961-66 by Richard Seifert and Partners; George Marsh was the designer. The 35-storey tower block faces on to Charing Cross Road. It has a raised glazed link at first floor level to a rear block containing shops, offices and residential flats.

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Council Housing, Balfron Tower, Bow, Greater London
Mr Stewart Monk. Source English Heritage.NMR

Council Housing, Balfron Tower, Bow, Greater London

This tower block was designed in 1963 by Erno Goldfinger for the London County Council. It was built by the Greater London Council in 1965-7 in St Leonards Road. It was built from reinforced concrete with timber cladding to the balconies and an asphalt flat roof. It contained 136 one and two bedroomed flats and ten maisonettes arranged on 26 floors. The homes are linked to a detached service tower by corridors at every third floor. The tower contained lifts, rubbish chutes, laundry rooms and had a boiler and chimneys on the top. This tower block is similar to Trellick Tower in Kensington and Chelsea. They were the best designed tower blocks of many built in this period. However, by the 1970s, the whole idea of housing families in tall tower blocks was being questioned. Read official list description.

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Longmoor Point, Alton East, Wandsworth, Greater London
Mr David Addison. Source English Heritage.NMR

Longmoor Point, Alton East, Wandsworth, Greater London

Longmoor Point is one of 10 blocks of flats known as 'the Points'. They are part of the Alton East housing development built in 1951- 52 and designed by the London County Council Architect's Department Housing Division. They were based on a reinforced concrete frame put up on site and clad in grey brickwork to reflect local house styles. They were the first public housing in Britain to have mechanically ventilated lavatories and bathrooms and the first high housing to be centrally heated. The blocks each had different patterned tilework at the entrance so they could be told apart. The rest of the development is a mixture of terraces of houses and maisonettes. They were set informally on a hillside among plants from the gardens of the Victorian houses previously on the site. Shops and a school were included in the development which was planned as a neighbourhood for 9,500 people. Read official list description.

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Repton House, Lillington Gardens, Westminster, Greater London
Mr Anthony Rau. Source English Heritage.NMR

Repton House, Lillington Gardens, Westminster, Greater London

This block of sixteen three-bedroom flats, two one-bedroom flats and two bedsits is part of the Lillington Gardens Estate. The estate was designed in 1961 by John Darbourne. The design is based on the nearby Church of St James the Less, with its striking Victorian red brick. Phase 1 was built in 1964-8, by Darbourne and Geoffrey Darke, for Westminster City Council. Lillington was the first low rise, high density public housing scheme to be built. It proved that low rise flats with an interesting design could accommodate the same number of people per acre (density) as tower blocks. It influenced the style of council housing from the mid 1960s until the early 1980s. The scheme won many awards including a Ministry of Housing and Local Government award for good design in 1970. The scheme provided homes for around 2,000 people with a high proportion provided for older people. There were also pubs, shops, doctors, a community hall and a library. Before the estate was built this part of Pimlico was mainly older terraced housing. Read official list description.

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Council Housing, Park Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire
English Heritage.NMR

Council Housing, Park Hill, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

The Park Hill housing development was designed and built in 1957-60 by Sheffield City Corporation. It was formally opened in 1961. The whole development consisted of 995 flats and maisonettes on 17 acres of land with a density of 192 people per acre. The unit (per flat) cost was £2,800 each. The scheme included 31 shops, 4 pubs, a laundry boiler house, a rubbish disposal system and garages. Access to the flats was via decks wide enough for a milk float. They were planned as 'streets in the sky' a way of recreating the community spirit of traditional streets of terraced housing. Sheffield was one of the few local authority departments designing imaginative and successful public housing in the 1950s. This development was its flagship but was not liked by everyone. The development still dominates the Sheffield skyline and its future has been hotly debated. The flats are currently (2010) being renovated. Read official list description.

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Demolition in Greater London
English Heritage.NMR

Demolition in Greater London

This image sums up changes that were made to buildings in the '50s and '60s. Many old, sometimes historic buildings were demolished to be replaced with new developments.

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Orchard Croft, Harlow, Essex
English Heritage.NMR/Ms Elaine Allen LRPS

Orchard Croft, Harlow, Essex

After the second World War London had a such a severe housing shortage that it was decided to encourage people to move out. New towns such as Harlow were planned and built. These terraced houses were built in 1952 - 53 and provided with car ports.

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The Twin Foxes, Harlow New Town, Essex
English Heritage.NMR

The Twin Foxes, Harlow New Town, Essex

New towns were built on greenfield sites and provided with shops and services as well as housing.

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Lady Godiva Statue, Broadgate, Coventry, West Midlands
English Heritage.NMR

Lady Godiva Statue, Broadgate, Coventry, West Midlands

Coventry City Centre was heavily bombed and needed extensive redevelopment after World War Two. This group of buildings was erected in the 1950s and includes an hotel and department store.

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New Street Station Signal Box, Birmingham, West Midlands
Copyright Crown copyright.NMR

New Street Station Signal Box, Birmingham, West Midlands

This building houses the signalling equipment for the station. Most of the stations in the West Midlands were rebuilt in the 1960s. New Street station was buried beneath the Bullring Shopping Centre. All the buildings in this complex were built of concrete in a very forbidding style.

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Forton Services, M6, Forton, Lancashire
Copyright Crown copyright.NMR

Forton Services, M6, Forton, Lancashire

Britain's motorway network was started in the 1960s providing improved transport links for the growing number of cars. This service station was one of the earliest.

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Keele University, Staffordshire
English Heritage.NMR/Clive Shenton

Keele University, Staffordshire

The 1960s saw an expansion in the numbers of students going to university. Keele was one of the new universities built as a campus with all facilities on one site.

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Halls of Residence, Cottingham, Hull
English Heritage.NMR/Mr Gareth Parry

Halls of Residence, Cottingham, Hull

Traditional city centre universities such as Hull expanded in the '60s and needed to provide more accommodation. These brick buildings were erected in a village on the edge of Hull and designed to allow light into all the rooms.

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Headquarters for the Royal College of Physicians, Camden, London
English Heritage.NMR/Miss Patricia Philpott

Headquarters for the Royal College of Physicians, Camden, London

This building from the early '60s was typical of many being built of concrete with few features to break up the outside walls

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Royal Festival Hall, Lambeth, Greater London
English Heritage. NMR/Mr David March

Royal Festival Hall, Lambeth, Greater London

The Royal Festival Concert Hall was built 1949-51. It was designed as part of the Festival of Britain celebrations. It's main structure is built using reinforced concrete for all load-bearing walls.

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Roman Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool
English Heritage.NMR/Mr Brendan Oxlade

Roman Catholic Cathedral, Liverpool

This building was very different from existing cathedrals and provoked strong reactions when it opened in 1967. It has several nicknames including 'Paddy's Wigwam' and the 'Mersey Funnel'

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Cathedral of St Michael Coventry
English Heritage. NMR/Mr Edward Alvey

Cathedral of St Michael Coventry

The medieval church of St Michael in the centre of Coventry was destroyed by bombing in World War Two. This new cathedral was built close to the site preserving the ruins of the old church. The new cathedral took ten years to build to a very modern design.



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