New River Company

Bevin Court was built in 1952 on land previously owned by the New River Company. The New River Company laid the land out as Holford Square in the 1840s. This how the North East corner looked in 1939.

Holford Square 1939

Holford Square 1939 with the bowling green in use in the centre. Copyright: Islington Local History Centre

 

This now the Bevin Court car park!

In the Beginning

I have lived in Bevin Court for about 61 years.  My Family and I were moved into Bevin Court as part of Finsbury Borough Council’s slum clearance after the war.

As I’ve grown older I appreciate it more, although when we moved in we realised how lucky we were, because people who were not deemed worthy to live in Bevin Court were moved out to places like Romford.

It’s had ups and downs. It was magnificent when we first moved in and then over the years it has deteriorated. It has had prostitutes and drug addicts invading the communal areas. Now we have a good caretaker who cares about the flats, it’s being renovated, I think it’s on the way up again.

It will never be as good as it was because of the age of the building. Also I feel it has lost a sense of its local community which I valued.

Sue and Julia’s Bevin Court

I love it. Because it’s a nice place to live. It could be better… The Bevin Community Garden has changed Bevin Court completely – before it was mud and dog mess. When we first went to look at Bevin Court we walked down Cruikshank Street past all the little houses – you get a good impression don’t you – I was excited by these houses because I thought this is what we had been offered – and at the end of the street – there was Bevin Court and I was so disappointed. Then we went through the main entrance (there was no front door then) and I saw the staircase and I changed my mind. And I’m still here 30 years later.

Peter Yates

Peter Yates (1920-1982) was born in Wanstead, always artistic, he began studying architecture in 1938 at the Regent Street Polytechnic. In World War Two he was a fire watcher in the St Paul’s area and then went on to join the RAF on his 21st birthday.

In 1944 he travelled to Versailles with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces to establish a radar transmitting station. In early 1945 Yates was in Paris where he met, among many other artists and writers, Le Corbusier.  The two were both architects and painters, Le Corbusier noting on one occasion that ‘this boy can see things.’

Peter Yates had a long term friendship with Berthold Lubetkin who he worked with on the Peterlee scheme.

The mural painted at Bevin Court is named Day and Night, Winged BullsIt depicts the coat of arms of Finsbury in an abstract form. For more information about the mural take a look at our article Day and Night, Winged Bulls

For more information on Peter Yates visit www.peteryates.co.uk and on the Book Room Art Press