UK Housing Wiki

The landing of Great Thornton Street Blk 2 on the Thornton Estate.

The Thornton estate to the west of Hull city centre, was built between the late 1940s and the 1970s by Hull City Council. It was a mixture of high rise flats, low rise flats, houses and the now demolished infamous YDG "Misery Maisonettes".

The earliest housing was built just after World War II, starting with what is known locally as "Australia Houses". A circular five storey housing block off Porter and Adelaide Streets, with a communal garden in the middle. These flats are consisted of deck access flats and some traditional style Art Deco tenements. Some are three bedroom, and have been re-furbished over the years, in the 1970s and recently.

In the 1950s, the first high rise flats in the city were built with the foundation stone being laid in 1959 at Bathurst St blocks one and two, 11 storeys high (renamed The Manor and The Lodge during refurbishment in the 1990s). Both of these blocks being built by Truscon and designed by Andrew Rankine. These blocks would go on to be the basis of many tower blocks in the city, including Denaby Court, Great Thornton Street, Woolwich, Torpoint and Millport Drives, among others. At the same time, three deck access blocks, also by Truscon, but of a slightly different design were built at New Michael and Melville Streets and were 8 storeys high. There are also a lot of postwar three storey flats, which have proved to be very popular over the city, usually spread among Thornton Estate, all of which have been extensively re-furbished. Postwar houses, based on the designs of Bilton Grange, Greatfield and Boothferry Estate were also built in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1963, Great Thornton Street blocks 1,2 and 3 were built, opening to tenants in 1965. They were also built by Truscon, and copied at Denaby Court, (although Denaby Court is only 11 floors high) and Lynsey Place. Block three was recently refurbished with cladding added; blocks one and two were not cladded, but did receive a face lift, new windows, new kitchens and bathrooms to come up to the Decent Homes Standard. In the mid 1960s, the estate saw a huge building programme in the form of two and three storey houses, of the Caspon type build, some YDG bungalows and following YDG's programmes in Nottingham, Leeds and the Bransholme Estate, the YDG maisonette complex was built. Consisting of 6 storeys of maisonettes in the "scissor" design as well as 1 bed flats siuated near the lifts and stairs of every block. These blocks initially proved favourable to the tenants, but after a few years, the cracks began to be seen, quite literally. Although large, with double glazed windows, the maisonettes were hard to heat with the electric warm air heating, and damp was a big problem. In the 1980s the walkways that connected each "house" were removed, with some blocks being demolished all together in the early 1990s.

The names of these blocks were named after places in the Lake District, which were: Shap House, Seathwaite House, Torver House, Pooley House, Crumock House, Lorton House, Irton House, Troutbeck House, Skelwith House, Loweswater House, Buttermere House, Grasmere House, Bowness House, Morland House, and the last block of the whole YDG programme in the country to exist, is Rosset House, which was extensively refurbished in the mid-1990s.

In the early 1970s, when tower block building was coming to an end in the UK, Hull City Council had one more go at building tower blocks, which resulted in Cambridge Street blocks 1 & 2. Building started around 1973, and were completed around 1977, although some sources say 1980. Built to the same design as Great Thornton Street, but the whole complex was undertaken by Wimpey. Probably after their long stretch of building the very favoured 1001/6 design, (the blocks on Orchard Park are of this design) they built them to a different specification, with only slight differences in design. The author will point out that these blocks were very "american" in styling, Otis lifts, a lot of brown and orange interiors in public walkways etc, and were only used to house the over 50's up until recently. They have now have had a full extensive refurbishment. After Bayswater and Muswell Courts on the Ings/London estate, they are the most popular blocks in the city.

The area historically was home to the many Jewish refugees coming into the country in the late 19th century, evidence of this can be seen as Turner Court, which was originally Jewish tenements, the Alexandra Hotel on Hessle Rd with the very old Jewish cemetery, the old Hull Western synagogue on Lineaus St, the former Hull Old Hebrew synagogue on Anne Street and the many Jewish owned shops that were in the area, especially round Midland St.

The area since the late 1970s has had a bit of crime problem, usually with prostitutes and drug dealing, but this has calmed down recently and remains quite a high demand area, due to its good housing and close proximity to the Hull train and bus stations and the city centre itself.

Cambridge Street Blk 2 taken from the 14th floor of Cambridge Street Blk 1, on the Thornton Estate. Looking towards Hull city centre.

Rosset House. The only YDG masonette block in the UK.

The south side of "Australia Houses".

The Alexander Hotel, with it's magen David windows, reflecting the one thriving Jewish community in the area.

Melville and New Michael Street blocks.

Porter Street flats, blocks 1,2 and 3 on the left, with Bathurst St in the distance.

Bathurst 1 and 2, also called The Lodge and The Manor. The 'Caspon/YDG' houses on the left. A popular design that was used widely on the Bransholme estate.