Friday 1 May 2015

Metroland Modernism - Stanmore's Valencia Road and the Kerry Avenue Conservation Area

4 Valencia Road
Stanmore is one of a number of places that were developed due to the extension of London Underground in the 1930's. Stanmore Underground Station opened in December 1932, now the last stop at the northern end of the Jubilee Line, it was the original terminus of the Metropolitan Line following the abandoning of plans to take the Underground to Elstree. The Underground extension brought many former villages on London's periphery within easy reach of the city and work. Many more affluent families chose to move out into what became known as Metroland, attracted by the benefits of a better environment and rapid public transport to their place of work.

The land opposite the station was the property of one Sir John Fitzgerald, an Irish Baronet and Knight of Kerry and in 1931 he granted  Douglas Wood architects permission for a residential development at the southern end of his estate, just a short walk from the Underground. This resulted in the properties that currently stand at number 2,4,6 and 8 Valencia Road, a private road within Harrow Council's Kerry Avenue conservation area

Number 4 has recently been lovingly restored to its original splendour under the supervision of English Heritage. It can be yours for a mere £1.795 million! The house was completed in 1934 and was originally the property of Attilio Azzali who came to London in 1926 fleeing poverty in Italy. He settled in Kings Cross where he established a restaurant and then two more elsewhere in London. According to the Azzali family legend, Attilio brought his wife Elvira to Stanmore for a day out in 1932. He fell in love with the area, which would still have been somewhat rural then and so purchased one of the four houses being built by the Douglas Wood Partnership. The family retained the house until 2009 when it was sold and restored.

Detail, 4 Valencia Road

The former Azzali home has 5 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms and a variety of other rooms arranged over three floors. There are also two roof terraces and a feature staircase with a brushed chrome bannister and glass panels. The exterior displays some wonderful modernist features with the original style crittall windows  fully restored (and now double glazed for a London winter), squared off edges and that wonderful tubular staircase with glazing at the midpoint.  There is also a 130 foot garden at the rear of the house. 

Number 2 Valencia Road was also on the market earlier this year and sold for £1.4 million. A striking corner building, the white painted exterior contrasts with the thin strips of colour underneath the windows at ground and first floor levels whilst the side of the building recedes between each of the floors giving it an interesting stepped appearance.

2 Valencia Road
Valencia Road intersects Kerry Avenue, which leads down to the station and gives its name to the conservation area. It is also the location of seven modernist houses (numbers 1-6 and 16) designed by architect Gerald Lacoste and built in 1937. Lacoste was a much sort after architect and was responsible the interiors of fashion designer Norman Hartnell's studio at 26 Bruton Street in Mayfair,a further studio for Edward Molyneux. He also designed a weekend retreat in Berkshire for Hartnell. Clearly influenced by modernism, he was not restricted to the style and designed Gracie Fields' "Spanish house" in Frognal Way, Hampstead. 

Stanmore may well be at the very end of the Jubilee Line but its definitely worth a visit for fans of modernist or art deco architecture.

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4-6 Valencia Road

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