Cool loft living, thanks to the Victorians

Timothy Barber
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THE grandly impressive school buildings of the Victorian era tend to present wonderfully idiosyncratic conversion opportunities.

This month’s property of the month is a case in point. Thackeray School in Battersea was a typical Victorian development – a towering redbrick affair, if rather more elegant than some examples of the genre. Built between 1876 and 1910, the school was closed in the 1980s and the building converted for commercial usage, before being turned into flats in 2004.

Whereas new-build developments tend to generate designs of a frustratingly uniform kind, transforming such a distinctive old building means every flat ends up with its own characteristics. In this case, the soaring ceiling height offers two key advantages – huge, south-facing windows that flood the place with light, and a mezzanine level which houses the two double bedrooms, one in a graceful curve, one in a squarer room which appears suspended from the ceiling.

It’s a cool space with plenty of personality, and it’s in an area on the up. Sitting between Battersea Park and Clapham Common, in walking distance of Queenstown Road and Battersea Park stations, it’s just to the west of the zone incorporating Battersea Power Station and Nine Elms, set to transform in the next few years. With work finally due to start early next year on the conversion of the power station into a luxurious new residential and shopping quarter, and the US embassy due to be built in Nine Elms, house prices are likely to remain very strong round here.

And on the other side, the green-space delights of Battersea Park, and its surrounding streets, represent a different kind of testament to those grand civic ambitions of the Victorian age.

Two bedroom flat at Victorian Heights, SW8. £850,000, share of freehold. Contact Douglas & Gordon on 020 7720 8077,, or visit