Open House Festival

Modern Architecture in Blackheath walk


1 Blackheath Park, Blackheath, SE3 9RN

Architect Ana Sutherland will lead a guided tour of the Cator Estate, covering Eric Lyons' Span estates and unique modernist homes designed by architects Patrick Gwynne, Peter Moro and Walter Greaves.

Getting there




202, 54, 89, 380, 108



Modern Architecture in the Cator Estate, Blackheath

The Cator Estate is named after John Cator (1728-1806) a timber merchant with residence in Beckenham Place Mansion who used the Blackheath estate mainly for its agricultural rental income. Leases for residential developments began around 1787. John Cator and architect Michael Searles were responsible for creating The Paragon, completed in 1805, Blackheath’s famous crescent facing the heath.

About 15min away by train from London Bridge, The Cator Estate has a unique, leafy suburban feel - no commercial enterprises have been allowed, the roads are not adopted and there is no public transport within its boundaries. The estate presented itself as a perfect ground for post-war residential development, having both pockets of agricultural land and war-damaged plots.

Most of the buildings we will be looking at within this walk faced major opposition when first built. Today, as modern architecture is celebrated and more widely recognised, they form a unique group of architectural treasures that contribute to the rich historic fabric of the area.

The tour features buildings from the mid-1950s to the 1980s, by a number of architects including four who were particularly prolific in the area: Eric Lyons, Patrick Gwynne, Peter Moro and Walter Greaves. We will cover both developer-led housing - Span estates - and bespoke houses, as well as one public building, St Michael’s Church Hall.

We will have the opportunity to visit the inside of two to three Span houses during the tour.

Where to meet

Meet at the corner of Blackheath Park with Lee Road (by Cator Estate gates).

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