View: Video

Downham — A home in the country

Cat No: CVA0121
Duration: 00:35:23
Date: 1987
Location: Downham, Lewisham, BR1
Original format: Unknown
Colour: Colour



The Downham estate was built between 1924 to 1930, it housed 29,000 people in 6071 homes over 522 acres of farmland, with each house costing £450 to build. This community video interviews elderly residents who moved to the estate as children, with many coming from slum buildings in Deptford where there was no running water. Residents happily reminisce about the move and how they felt. One resident describes the estate as ‘Utopian’, another stating Downham was ‘space and light.’ One lady remarks the happiness she felt to have a flushing toilet, a bath and garden. The council imposed strict guidelines on the tenants, they were required to keep the gardens tidy and were not allowed to paint their house a different colour. Residents felt that the council thought they were not ‘civilised’ but the advent of World War Two changed that when the authorities witnessed how intelligent the working-class were, becoming pilots and officers in the Navy. The video ends with residents talking about the local cinema and the happy childhood they enjoyed on the Downham estate.

Production Credits

Geoff Stow
Tony Dowmunt


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