Open House Social Housing Walks

We’re proud to take part in Open House London 2023 with a wealth of events, free and radical and a special Women in Social housing & Architecture Panel Discussion.

More about the programme September 6-17th here: 


Celebrate Somers Town’s rich history of social housing in Open House September – we are open extra days and offer Free walks  and workshops.

Please see our listings at  Somers Town Open House.

And don’t worry if you miss the walks, we can organise custom walks.

Guided Tour: St Pancras Art in Everyday life 

Wednesday 6th 1pm and Friday 8th 1pm from the People’s Museum Somers Town at 52 Phoenix Rd, NW1 1ES

Join a guided walk to the social housing ceramic art of St Pancras Housing, to the estates . This starts at the museum, where you can see the  restated originals, and hear first hand about the ‘restitution’ of the stolen art and meet Steve and Diana.

Working from the premise that ‘housing is not enough’ St. Pancras Housing Society’s ‘Garden Estates’ combined modern flats with nurseries, communal spaces, and ‘art in everyday life’ decorative features such as the finials on drying posts, by the sculptor Gilbert Bayes.

Please book Tickets for this event.

More about how we restituted ‘Stolen Art back from the USA! as the Camden New Journal has it:

However the grand Somers Town art theft took place, the outcome was a scandalous piece of destruction. In the courtyards of the historic St Pancras Housing Association estates, decorative sculptures – known as finials – were designed by the renowned artist Gilbert Bayes to sit on top of washing lines.’

Ossulston Estate – echoes of Karl Marx Hof a guided tour

For more info on all our walks.

The People’s Museum is set in the Grade 2 listed Ossulston Estate – a prime example of pre-war Social housing – based on Karl Marz Hof in Vienna. Our insider resident tour on Saturday 9th at 15.30 of the Ossuslton estate takes you to spaces not normally accessible. 

“With its white rough-cast facades, deep-set galleries and curved balconies, the Ossulston Estate, built between 1927 and 1931, still catches the eye; its steel-frame construction, not visible to the eye, was equally innovative. Cecil Levita, the chair of the London County Council’s Housing Committee, after whom the block was named, believed it ‘a noteworthy scheme which would mark a new departure in the construction of buildings’”
Read more of John Boughton’s review 

John Boughton Lost: Found Somers Town

Guided Walk Saturday 9th September 3.30-5pm

Please book for this event via Open House.

Explore the People’s Museum Somers Town 

The museum set in the Grade 2 listed Ossulston Estate, is a uniquely community-led venture: the result of 7 years of work & research by a dedicated local group: an unparalleled curation of content about urban development, and local lives, which tells of “social justice that reaches out to all of us”.

As well as its Lost: Found exhibition ‘Radicals Reformers and Un-Common People’ the museum has a small library of books about the area with themes of social housing’; a small outside space to sit, coffee, tea, and books and postcards on donation. 

We are open Wednesdays to Saturdays throughout Festival from 11-5pm from the 6th to the 16th September. 


Women in Social housing

For Open House 2023, we have two special events: a walk  and discussion with a focus on Women in Social housing. The strong female presence in the St Pancras Housing Improvement Society (SPHIS), resulted in innovative housing across the Somers Town area.

Perhaps the best known of the women who shaped the SPHIS are Irene Barclay (OBE) and Evelyn Perry, the first two women to qualify as Chartered Surveyors in the UK (in 1922 and 1923 respectively). Their surveys of slum conditions raised awareness of the terrible conditions in which ordinary Londoners lived. They were invited to work alongside local campaigners, Edith Neville and Basil Jellicoe, at the SPHIS and contribute to their work in building new housing.

Guided Walk Saturday 16th September 3.45-5pm 

Starts at People’s Museum 52 Phoenix Rd, NW1 1ES 

Ends at Basil Jellicoe Hall Doric Way with insider access to courtyard. 

Please book the Walk via Open House

The walk starts at the People’s Museum where a unique footage of slum clearance and a film with Irene Barclay can be viewed. There are social housing books on donation. 

Panel Discussion: Women in Social housing and Architecture 

Saturday 16th September 5-7.30pm

Following the walk is a special event to mark the 100th anniversary of the St Pancras Housing project, with a panel of female architectural historians and authors to discuss the way that women have shaped the history – past and present  and future – of social housing and architecture.  

This event takes place in the Basil Jellicoe Community Hall, affording a rare view of a community facility built by the St Pancras Housing Association, where once Irene and the housing managers held amateur dramatic clubs for women, and which is still in use today by the current housing association for its tenants.

Speakers include writer about St Pancras Housing Elizabeth Darling of the SAHGB, and Rosamund West, and academic Carrie de Silva, who has written about Irene Barclay.

This panel, co-organised by the Diversity Networks of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain and the People’s Museum Somers Town, set up to preserve the inspirational histories of St. Pancras Housing. We are campaigning to erect a plaque to Irene Barclay, the first female surveyor in the UK.

BOOK  Tickets here.

Low income locals Free tickets can be obtained at the People’s Museum Somers Town at 52 Phoenix Rd, NW1 1ES.

Please notify us if disabled access is needed via a courtyard entrance.

Radical Screen Printing Saturday

Letters on floor.

Saturday 11- 1pm September 2023 

We’re back with People’s Museum’s unique ‘Radical Screen printing’ – we have designs based on anarchist and radical themes. 

Fancy a print of Anarchist Torch?
Or International African Opinion from the 1950s? 

Or make your own design of social housing, using a stencil!

Radical Screen Printing (inc)  was inspired by radical nun artist  Corita Kent from the USA and was developed in collaboration with artist Melissa Fry. 

Note: inks, paper , stencils and screen designs available for use – on donation.

Upcycle! Bring your own T-shirt or clothing to print!

Origin resident low income locals free.

Please book via Open House.

Spirit! 02 100 Years of Social housing

To accompany your walks, why not pre-order our social housing book!

100 years of social housing can be found in the small bounded area of Somers Town in London: from slum clearance to Camden’s modernist Golden Age. It’s a history of trailblazing efforts of a radical priest and the UK’s first female surveyor to clear slums, to the bold ambitions of Camden Council, from 1920s European modernist estates to the 1960s. This traces a housing community, and its rebellions: rent strikers and squatters. This a place where housing was never on its own enough.

Order an advance copy will be reduced to £8: with every ticket of Panel discussion a reduction is available: normally £10 – £8, or ask for local discount. 

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