Bowater House, Golden Lane Estate

Bowater House is a slightly larger version of Cuthbert Harrowing House. It looks over Fann Street at the front. At the back it looks over a paved courtyard towards Great Arthur House. The block contains 30 two-storey maisonettes, of which 24 are two-bedroom flats, and 6 (near the western end) are three-bedroom flats.

Bowater House was the first block to be built in Golden Lane and it contains the foundation stone. This has a worn inscription saying: ‘Corporation of London: Stone laid by Sir Noel Vansittart Bowater Bt MC: 21 July 1954: Thomas Cuthbert Harrowing late Chairman of Public Health Committee: Stanley Edward Cohen Chairman’.

Bowater House was named after the Lord Mayor of 1953, Sir Noel Vansittart Bowater. There seem to have been a dynasty of Bowater Lord Mayors. Sir Thomas Vansittart Bowater MP was Lord Mayor in 1913.;  Major Sir Frank Bowater in 1938; and Sir Ian F. Bowater in 1969.

Bowater House flat plans

Please note. These plans are illustrations and approximations only. They illustrate types of flats. They don’t show the actual demise, size, layout or dimensions of any particular flat. Individual flats may differ, or have been altered.

2 Beds Ground and First


2 Beds Second and Third


Detailed information about Bowater House


Lower level

  • Main entrance from a rear corridor.
  • Kitchen, dining area, and living room.
  • Glazed screen between the kitchen and the dining area.
    Hardwood veneer floors.
  • Staircase from the living room to the upper floor. (In the upper maisonettes, the stairs rise from opposite the front door.)
  • The double height stairwell and the open tread of the staircases were designed to increase the impression of space.

Upper level

  • Two bedrooms and a bathroom. (In the two western bays, on either side of the secondary access, the flats have an additional third bedroom in the space left by the stairwell.)
  • Bathroom is in the centre and has “clerestory glazing” (windows above eye level).
  • Balconies at the front (see below).

The overall layout

  • 6 storeys, with basement stores underneath.
  • “Mono pitch” (flat) roof.
  • Three rows of two-storey maisonettes. (The way architects put it is that the building “presents” as three terraces of two-storey houses, one on top the other.)
  • Maisonettes runs through the building from front to back.

Crosswalls and bays

  • A series of crosswalls divides the building into bays.
  • Each bay contains two-storey maisonettes on top of each other.
  • The crosswalls were built from pink bricks with pink mortar.
  • The crosswalls form the main structural support for the building, allowing the maisonettes in between them to have a mainly glass frontage.

Rear of the building

  • The rear of the building faces a courtyard at street level.
  • The crosswalls are replaced by wide brick piers.
  • There are basement stores.
  • The entrances to the maisonettes are timber doors set in pairs behind the piers, so the kitchen windows can look out in between.
  • At ground level and second floor levels, corridors run along the back of the building behind the piers, giving access between the maisonettes and the main stairs of the stair case and entrance block.
  • On the upper floors of the maisonettes, two outer windows extend to the front of the piers, and two inner windows are set back behind a waist-high glazed front wall which forms a balcony.
  • At the western end of the building there in an extra set of escape stairs which take up the back half of the penultimate bay and reach courtyard level.

Windows and panels

  • The crosswalls extend to the building line at the front, but most windows are set back a couple of feet behind that.
  • The penultimate bay on the western end contains third bedrooms for flats on either side. The windows of these extra bedrooms are flush with the very front of the building.
  • Windows are all set in aluminium surrounds.
  • Bright blue cladding panels are set in bands below the windows, which are also in the aluminium framework. Generally there are four panels for each set of two windows.
  • Continuous bands of glazing and blue panels appear on the top floor of the upper maisonettes.

Balconies for upper maisonettes

  • The upper maisonettes have concrete balconies at the front, facing south.
  • Each balcony run between the crosswalls with steel railings along the top.
  • Each balcony has gaps for a first few inches from floor level, presumably to allow water to drain away.

Access galleries for lower maisonettes

  • Each lower maisonette has an access gallery (a semi-balcony) outside the lower front windows.
  • Concrete steps lead up from the front courtyard, and then steps paved in quarry tiles lead up to the access gallery.
  • The access gallery has a low concrete wall with metal railings set in it.

Staircase and entrance

  • At the eastern end is the main entrance and staircase which is under a flat roof structure. It’s a metal frame with glazed panels and stairs. At first and second floor level there are large external metal bars, to prevent burglars probably.
  • Each flight of stairs and its landing was constructed as a single pre-cast piece of concrete, with metal railings set into it.
  • The staircase then opens onto the corridors running along the back of the building at the entrance door level of each set of maisonettes.
  • There is a rubbish chute like a huge pipe running beside the staircase and entrance block.

Secondary access

  • The penultimate bay at the western end contains a secondary escape coming out of the rear of the building. It is a metal construction with glazed panels and an entry system. It gives access to the secondary stairs and also down to the basement stores.
  • The staircase only takes up the back half of that bay. This leaves spare space for third bedrooms for the maisonettes on either side.

Front garden or courtyard

  • The garden is about four feet down from street level and protected by black-painted metal railings.
  • The garden is widest at the western end, tapering off to a narrower paved area at the eastern end.
  • At the very western end of the garden there is a ramp down to a bicycle store.
  • At the western end is a ramp up from the garden area up to the courtyard at the back of the building.
  • The paving stones are inset with patches of grass. There is a spreading tree at the western end. A lot of flower pots and terracotta containers for plants are clustered outside several of the houses.