Modernism Beyond Metro-Land

By Joshua Abbott

A guide to modernist architecture in London's southern and eastern suburbs.

Thursday, 14 September 2023

September Update

Hello Everyone,


We have reached 38% on our crowdfunding for Modernism Beyond Metro-Land, which is a great response, so thank you again, and if you know anyone who might be interested please tell them about the project. 


I wanted to let you know where I have been visiting recently for the guide, so I thought I would tell you you about two buildings which I found particularly interesting.The first was on a day trip to the borough of Bexley as I attempted to visit Erith, Bexleyheath, Welling and Sidcup. Those of you who know the public transport layout of the area will know this is not straightforward! 


My first stop was Erith Oil Works, an early example of reinforced concrete construction from 1913. They were designed by Percival M. Fraser and S. Rowland Pierce, with engineering from Danish firm Christiani and Nielsen. The silos, now over 100 years old, can still be seen at the centre of the complex. All around has grown up a jungle of other concrete buildings, steel pipes and chutes and other complicated bits of equipment. Viewed from the roadside it appears as a sort of industrial version of the Lloyds Building, complete with steam issuing from various pipes.

You can also walk around the site and along the river side, seeing the buildings from another angle and new ones such as the cargo port on the river itself. 


Keeping the concrete theme, the other building I saw recently was Enterprise House, a Corbusian slab amongst the suburban terraces of Chingford. Despite looking like an office block by Owen Luder, it is actually a retirement complex (a machine for elderly living perhaps?). It was designed by Polish architect Henry J. Spiwak, who wanted to design a building for the elderly that would be economical and forward looking. Unfortunately Spiwak died before the building was completed, but his efforts can still be admired from the road along Kings Head Hill.

I hope you enjoyed this small update and I look forward to letting you know about more of the places Modernism Beyond Metro-Land has taken me in the future. Thank you again for the support.




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