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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Institutions


Peabody Trust

Also known as


It was a Trust established by George Peabody to rehouse London's respectable poor

By the 1880s it had constructed 5614 dwellings occupied by more than 20200 people (Charles Dickens (jr), Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888: An Unconventional Handbook, 1888)

According to Dickens, “It was for some time feared that the class of accommodation was too good, and consequently too expensive for the actual artisan and labouring classes” but in fact they appealed to “Bricklayers, cabmen, charwomen, letter-carriers, messengers, needlewomen, police-constables, porters, &c.” – all of them people earning on average £1 3s 9¾d per week and paying on average less than 5s per week in rent (Charles Dickens (jr), Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888: An Unconventional Handbook, 1888)

These buildings were much healthier places to live than the housing formerly occupied by such workers: “The death-rate of the Peabody-bdgs in 1887 was about 0.85 per 1,000 below London” (Charles Dickens (jr), Dickens’s Dictionary of London 1888: An Unconventional Handbook, 1888)

It took over the Bloomsbury-based Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes in 1965

It continues to provide both social and open-market housing for tens of thousands of people across the whole of London

What was reforming about it?

It pioneered healthy and well-designed accommodation for working-class people

Where in Bloomsbury

It built housing off Little Coram Street, the Peabody Buildings, in 1884

The Peabody Trustees hold documents relating to their redevelopment of this site; an agreement between the Trustee and the Foundling Hospital of 1875 shows the area to be sold, encompassing the east side of Little Coram Street, Chapel Place, Marchmont Place, Russell Place and Coram Place, with the houses on Russell Place and Coram Place having already been cleared (Conveyance and Assignment, 6 October 1875, Peabody Trustees)

In the twentieth century, it also took over the running of social housing in Streatham Street

Website of current institution

www.peabody.org.uk (opens in new window)

Books about it

None found


Most of the Trust’s historical records are held in London Metropolitan Archives, ref. ACC/3445; details are available via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

Records relating to the Little Coram Street (Herbrand Street) estate dating from 1885 to 1936 form part of this deposit, ref. ACC/3445/PT/07/050; details are available online via Access to Archives (opens in new window)

Some artefacts and current records are held on site at the Trust’s headquarters in Westminster Bridge Road

This page last modified 13 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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