April 1971. Mountjoy House was part of Phase II of the City’s building programme for the Barbican site. The original contractor was Turriff Limited. But after long delays and labour disputes Turriff were allowed to leave the site and their buildings were completed by John Laing Construction Limited.
Mountjoy House is the ‘zig’ attached to Thomas More House, of which Seddon House is the ‘zag’. It joins Thomas More House at the lake end and then runs at right angles to it in the direction of the Museum of London. it is a terrace block supported on unusually tall columns. It is built above Mountjoy Close (the only bit of the highwalk which is not called ‘Highwalk’).
Mountjoy House is a north-south (or side-to-side) terrace, which means that Mountjoy House has a central corridor along each floor. Flats are on one or other side of it, with all rooms facing either east or west.
There are 3 similar terrace blocks: Gilbert House, Mountjoy House and Seddon House. They each have penthouse flats at the top, and regular floors of flats below, but no garden flats. They are also all north-south (or side-to-side) terrace buildings.
Mountjoy House contains 64 flats and penthouses ranging in size from 2 to 5 rooms. The flats are mainly identical to the flats in Gilbert House. There are 5 storeys of flats with penthouse maisonettes above. The flats are numbered 101 – 114, 201 – 214, 301 – 314, 401 – 414, 501 – 514, 601 – 614, 701 – 704. The flats are arranged on either side of the central corridor. The east-facing flats overlook the St Giles’ Terrace, the small lake and the landscaped areas around the preserved ruins of the old City Wall and the Bastion, while the west-facing flats overlook the landscaped area used by the pupils of the City of London School for Girls.
There are two entrance doors at either end of the building. (See ‘Lifts and staircases’ below.) The north staircase, number 25, is close to Thomas More House. At 03 level the lift takes you down to lakeside where there is access to the Thomas More Car Park (where the sign announces Mount Joy House). There’s also a door sealed shut to prevent anypme getting on to the derelict lakeside at that point. The south staircase, numbered 26, is actually divided so that the public walk through it, with a lift on one side and stairs on the other, which only residents can access. 01 level is the level of the tennis courts and other playing courts, but there is no access to them because that door is blocked. 03 level is Thomas More Car Park.
Lifts and staircases
An access corridor runs through the middle of the block, with lifts and staircases at each end. Lifts go as far as the sixth floor. You have to take stairs up to the flats on the seventh floor. The lift lobbies and stairs have exposed granite at the north end, but they are painted white at the south end. There is a staircase with a lift at the south end of the terrace numbered 26; and there is another such staircase and lift at the north end near Thomas More House numbered 25.
There are dramatic ceremonial stairs down to the lakeside under Mountjoy House. If you have ever seen Cecil B De Mille’s silent masterpiece about ancient Babylon you recognise the style. But it’s completely cut off with no access from anywhere. I don’t know what it was originally intended for.
There is access to the Thomas More Car Park at 03 level.
I don’t know what the arrangements are for tenants’ stores.
List description of this building issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (as it then was) in 2001.
“Block X: 101-114,201-214,301-314,401-414,501-514, 601-614, 701-704 Mountjoy House. Seven storeys. Five wide bays, each three windows wide, with narrower bays at end, supported on giant double pairs of concrete columns which descend to the level of the lake. There is a series of narrow walkways. The block is entered via lifts and stairs at either end, with flats set either east or west of these internal stairwell lobbies. Each flat is a structural bay wide, save for the penthouse flats. Sliding varnished timber windows set behind paved balconies, with metal and glass balustrades and some with concrete window boxes, painted undersides of roof. Rooftop penthouses, with double height rooms lit by fully-glazed ends under rounded tops, given a white finish.”