• History of Roupell Street



    The History of Roupell Street

    Our historic neighbourhood was developed on a marsh after the erection of Waterloo Bridge in 1818. At the same time, piles were put down in order to build the “Waterloo” church of St John, soon to have its bi-centenary.


    Between 1820 and 1840, a local developer, John Roupell, began building what was to be called the Lambeth Estate, consisting of residential streets, five shops and a public house.


    As the population grew, there was need for a new church for the Lambeth Estate. In 1846, in accordance with the People’s Act ‘to make better provision for the Spiritual Care of populous Parishes’, Prince’s Town or Meadows (the wider area round the Lambeth Estate) was formed into a new church district. The district had no permanent church for ten years, but in 1854 the Commission for Building New Churches, having failed in their attempts to purchase ground from the Duchy of Cornwall, bought a plot on the Lambeth Estate between Prince’s Street (now Coin Street) and Cornwall Road, from Richard Palmer Roupell, son of the developer John Roupell. St Andrew’s Coin Street was designed by the architect S. S. Teulon in the Gothic Revivalist Style and built on this plot. It was consecrated in 1856. Sadly, it was bombed beyond repair in an air raid during the Second World War.


    St Andrew’s church was built in association with a new school for both parishes (St John’s and St Andrew’s) at what is now number 74 Roupell Street, and this was accompanied by a school-teachers’ house (St Andrew’s House, no. 77), and a coach-house (no. 75).

    Amazingly, most of the Lambeth Estate escaped Hitler’s bombs, and it is virtually unique as a classic example of artisan housing of the period, still retaining its original shops, pub, school and teachers’ house. It is regularly featured in TV and film productions.

    Architectural and Social significance

    St Andrew’s and St John’s Church of England School was designed by Edmund Woodthorpe (1812-87). Woodthorpe had been in the office of Philip Hardwick. A contemporary of S. S. Teulon, he was a well-known and successful architect who was responsible for many buildings in the city of London , including the Cornhill Chambers and warehouses in Aldermanbury, both now sadly destroyed.


    One London church in Hammersmith has survived but there are no recorded schools. Woodthorpe’s Waterloo School and the accompanying House are the key examples of his work in the metropolis (see Cherry and Pevsner, The Buildings of England London 2 South (2002) 364; London NW 757 and Bradley and Pevsner, The City of London (1997) 119. They are also of significance in that they pre-date the 1870 Education Act and are therefore something of a rarity.


    At some point a separate Infants’ hall was added at the front of the school. It appears to have suffered in the bombing in World War II, probably in the air-raids of 1941, and was demolished, presumably as beyond repair and no longer fit for purpose. It has not existed for 70 years and does not form part of the property’s historic listing or conservation status.

    In 1975 and 1976, the Estate was designated within two conservation areas, and the buildings and various railings etc., listed as Grade II. Conservation Area statements for the Waterloo and Roupell Street areas were issued by Lambeth Council in 2007, thus ensuring the protection of the areas’ heritage buildings, including the school.


    The school was listed Grade II as a U-shaped building and courtyard in 1979 and was included in the Waterloo Conservation Area in 1980. The exterior remains as originally built, including the east and west entrances (for boys and girls) with their brick arches.


    The building was redeveloped internally in 1991 and has been occupied by EF since 1992 as a private language-school business.


    It was last redeveloped internally by EF Language School from 2011-12, with additional repair work to the roof in 2013.

    Social Function, Group Value and Streetscape

    As part of the local community amenity, St Andrew’s and St John’s school was commissioned from another Victorian Gothic architect, Edmund Woodthorpe, and with it a house for the teachers, with a coach-house. Thus nos. 74-5 and 77 Roupell Street were built at the same time, in 1868. They form key examples of Woodthorpe’s work.


    St Andrew’s House, like the school building, sits within the Waterloo Conservation Area, and is listed Grade II. The detailing of its design, its brickwork, roof, window and front railings, is almost identical to that of the school.


    As stated in the Lambeth Council statutory notice of 5 January 1982, “the object of [the Conservation Area] designation is to preserve or enhance the character or appearance of an area of special architectural or historic interest, as distinct form individual buildings.” The individual buildings are further protected by their Grade II status.


    The Woodthorpe buildings – school, teachers’ house and coach-house – form a unified complex in Roupell Street. They embody “group value”, as noted in the Waterloo Conservation Area statement: “…a row of Gothic Revival style buildings, no. 74 (1868), now the International Language Schools and nos. 75-6 [recte 75 and 77] , St Andrew’s House (1868) both in yellow stock brick with red brick and stone detailing. They have a unified appearance of gables and Gothic windows…”


    The two properties are also listed together within the Waterloo Conservation Area statement as making a positive contribution to the area.


    EF Language School itself, within the Heritage Statement in its planning application of 2011 for internal works to the school building, stated:


    “The adjacent property, St Andrew’s House, is also by the architect S. S. Teulon .” (The attribution is now known to be incorrect)

    “[The school] is located within the Waterloo Conservation Area. It is also part of the Lambeth Estate.”

    “[There is Grade II] listing for the front railings to the adjacent St Andrew’s House”.

    “There are currently matching railings with fleur-de-lys standards installed to the top of the front wall of no. 74 [the school].” (Here EF Language School appears to recognize the value of the present frontage.)


    Other developers in the area have noted the group value of these two buildings. For example, the Heritage, Townscape and Visual Impact Assessment for the Southbank Tower Phase Two planning application in 2013 stated: “St Andrew’s and St John’s C of E Primary School… has a strong group value with St Andrew’s House.”


    This “strong group value” and the overall historic attachment of the school to the Lambeth Estate and neighbourhood would be lost if a new building were to be erected in front of the school building.


    In terms of streetscape, Woodthorpe’s Lambeth Estate buildings are described as “jewels” in what was a workaday area, intended as objects “in an urban landscape… to offer an alternative aspiration to the parishioners and to deflect attention from the injustices of social and financial deprivation. Therefore, spiritually and architecturally, [they] domineered ‘the mean, low houses of that quarter of Lambeth.” (D.O. Isherwood, 1986)


    The surviving school (including its open courtyard and trees) and school-teachers’ house continue to provide significant visual delight and amenity in terms of open space and trees, controlling London’s air pollution not only to local people but to the enormous brigade of commuters who every day make the journey from Waterloo to the city. There are also numerous tourists and groups who prize the area as it is and appreciate its significance.






    Help stop EF Language School ruining the beautiful street and tell Lambeth Council planning department how you feel. We can stop this if we unite against this proposal!