The joys and sorrows of living in Pimlico

The architects Powell and Moya were 23 and 24 when they got the commission to design Churchill Gardens, opposite Battersea Power Station. It was 1946, and the project would house 5,000 council tenants. They did a good job. Opening south, towards the Thames, the estate is sunny, varied, attractively green and has stood the test of time. I’ve walked through it twice recently: to attend a meeting whose time, on the first occasion, I got wrong. Alas, the meeting had been called after the murder of a 16-year-old boy on adjacent Lupus Street. A mob wielding knives and ‘swords’ set upon him mercilessly, after he’d tripped over.

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A bright lad, according to his school, he nevertheless dealt drugs. The police think 10 people were involved. None lives locally. It’s a penalty of Pimlico’s good transport links that undesirables find it easy to convene here. Some time ago, there was even a ‘rumble’, as it would have been called in West Side Story, in sedate Warwick Square. Residents-furious that Churchill Gardens’ good name has been besmirched-are being reassured by extra police patrols. One woman was unconvinced. Mounted officers couldn’t chase anyone: they wouldn’t know what to do with their horses.

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