Hillcroft Heritage: Powell House


                                             Borough News June 1970 The opening of Powell House

Paragraph 3.16 of the Heritage Statement states that the 'Residential College of Working Women', purchased the 6-acre site known as 'The Gables' that would be later named Hillcroft in 1925. This can be read on the planning file in a bundle of 143 documents supporting the over/redevelopment of the college (one document is missing to protect the public from the knowledge that there are protected species onsite). 
In the Table on page 30 we are told that 'Powell house has no historic associations with local people or past events'. So who was it named for?
The Borough News item above reporting on Hillcroft's fiftieth anniversary celebrations states, "at noon Joyce Powell House, a new hall of residence was opened". Speakers included Vic Feather, Joan Lestor M.P. and Baroness Stocks chair of the college council presided over by Mrs Janet A. Cockerill, the present college principal.

Mrs Margaret Joyce Powell OBE, after whom the new hall of residence was named, was the  Librarian at Surrey County Hall and Trustee of Hillcroft when located at Beckenham Place. During her daily journey to work, she stopped at an estate agents, seeking premises for the growing college. She was given the particulars of the site then named 'The Gables'. We are told this, in the book pictured below. Two copies are easily located in the Heritage rooms at Kingston.

Women, made invisible, their work  plagiarised,  ideas demeaned and ignored, even at a college originally conceived for the education of women, continue to be designed out of the current application. A thoroughly sexist document to design women out of Hillcroft's history as well as its future.
It goes on:
'The building is in a generally poor condition and remains vacant as a result of its deteriorating state.  It is considered that Powell House makes a limited contribution to the character and appearance of the conservation area as a result of its associations with Hillcroft College. Such use can continue through redevelopment and would not be lost if part of the site were to be retained in College use'.

Sounds like someone doesn't like Powell House, wanting to justify demolition and make Margaret Joyce Powell OBE invisible, so this post is to correct that injustice.*

 * It was Claire Mellish who remarked that the building to be demolished was named for the author of the book.


Most viewed

Heritage Trees part 2: street trees.

Fishing the Hogsmill

Seething Wells: they've done it again