Description of the Estate

The Golden Lane estate contains 559 homes, of which 385 flats are flats and 174 are maisonettes. About half are now in private ownership, and half remain as social housing owned by the City of London.

The dominating feature is Great Arthur House, the only tower block in the estate, which is roughly in the centre and makes a bold statement with its overall bright yellow colour. The rest of the estate is made up of terrace blocks. These are placed in groups round four courts. Crescent House runs the whole length of the western border of the estate along Goswell Road, from Fann Street almost to Old Street. Stanley Cohen House is not quite as long but covers much of the Golden Lane boundary to the east. These two blocks have their flats facing east and west. All the other terrace blocks are placed roughly parallel to each other, running east to west, and with their flats facing north and south.

The largest court is formed by Crescent House, Cullum Welch House and Great Arthur House and it opens onto Fann Street. Underneath is an extensive car park for residents, with air and light being provided by the round silo-like structures in front of Cullum Welch House. To reach the garage, you drive down the ramp next to Cuthbert Harrowing House and turn left into the underground parking area.

Carry straight on and it leads you out into the second court. (So do the wide steps running along the entire width of Cullum Welch House.) This contains the tennis court. (originally a bowling green). Right next to the tennis court is the swimming pool and, round the next bend, is the health club.

The third court is between Bowater House and Bayer House. The fourth is between Bayer House and Basterfield House. These later courts are part pavement and part garden. The pavement areas are generally at street level. The gardens are at a lower level which gives a form of separation between public and private areas. In fact, the levels were to some extent governed by the existence or not of basements in the buildings which had been on the site before the Luftwaffe cleared it one night in 1940.

The only strictly public garden area is behind Bowater where there is a ramp down to a rather attractive garden area with a pool with a little fountain, fish and water lilies. It’s attractive because it’s not intensively gardened and looks quite natural. The paving is tired and the roses look decidedly dowdy, which makes the place feel quite appealingly homely.