A distinctive terrace of houses and other buildings with Canary Wharf in the background
50-56 Ferry Street, a distinctive terrace of houses built 1976-79 on the Isle of Dogs, has been listed at Grade II © Historic England
50-56 Ferry Street, a distinctive terrace of houses built 1976-79 on the Isle of Dogs, has been listed at Grade II © Historic England

Distinctive 1970s Isle of Dogs Terrace Listed

50-56 Ferry Street, a distinctive terrace of houses built 1976-79 to designs by Stout and Litchfield, on the Isle of Dogs has been listed at Grade II by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The Ferry Street terrace is comparatively understated from the road; it is only from the river that the full drama of its angular roof-scape is revealed.

It is a creatively designed group of homes by a successful post-war practice, brought about through the determination of husband and wife Dr Michael Barraclough and Jenny Barraclough, and intended to form part of a wider self-build scheme.

The building, comprising three houses and a flat, is now recognised for its architectural and historic significance on the National Heritage List for England.

50-56 Ferry Street is one of a small number of private houses by a talented twentieth-century architectural practice, now joining the already-listed houses in Somerton and Shipton-Under-Wychwood. This is a striking building which meets the high bar for listing post-war architecture and cleverly presents its most dramatic elevation directly to the River Thames for passers-by on the water, and beyond, to appreciate.

Emily Gee, Director for London and the South East Historic England

Remembering our battle to get planning permission to build on what was, in the ‘70s, the down-at-heel, unloved, riverside of the Isle of Dogs, we are delighted to be honoured in this way by Historic England. When we bought the site opposite Wren's Royal Naval College - now said to have the best view in London - it was a failing marine paint factory and our neighbour in the draw-dock was a scrap metal merchant.

Michael and Jenny Barraclough

Collaborative approach behind 50-56 Ferry Street

50-56 Ferry Street is the product of an unusual and close collaboration between the architects and the ambitious, social-minded vision of a husband and wife duo.

The inception of the Ferry Street terrace was driven by Dr Michael Barraclough’s desire to facilitate a large self-build development on the north bank of the River Thames, having previously restored a terraced house in Narrow Street, Limehouse with his wife and documentary film-maker Jenny Barraclough.

The aim was to create an alternative response to meeting housing need, giving people the opportunity to share in the creation of a new community. As an area then characterised by derelict heavy industry, this was a uniquely ambitious concept. Dr Barraclough battled against huge odds at the time, all while carrying out a demanding job as consultant physician at St Thomas' Hospital.

Michael Barraclough had considered studying architecture and though opting instead for medicine, he never lost his desire to build, later helping others who shared this ambition. The Barracloughs invited Stout and Litchfield to produce a plan for the site, having met Roy Stout at a New Year’s Eve party in 1969-70. The plan comprised up to 44 terraced houses with the plots advertised in the personal columns of the Sunday Times and The Times. The plots had a few takers, but never enough to realise the scheme. While the development never came to fruition as intended, 50-56 Ferry Street stands as the realised fragment of an exceptional vision and remains the home of the Barracloughs.

As fervent believers in the benefits of community engagement in local development and housing, the Barracloughs later became involved in several East End community projects, including the establishment of the Great Eastern Self-Build Housing Association in 1985 which realised nearby Maconochies Wharf, claimed to be the largest self-build scheme in the UK.

Stout and Lichfield’s architectural language

The Ferry Street architecture has clear references to the earlier domestic work of Stout and Litchfield. Their two listed houses, New House, Shipton-Under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire, 1963-64 (listed Grade II*) and Somerton Erleigh, Somerton in Somerset, 1972-73 (listed Grade II) are lower horizontal forms with plans based on a series of linked pavilions with skewed, angular geometry, executed in a palette of traditional materials.

50-56 Ferry Street successfully translates this style into a vertical form and makes careful use of monochromatic white brick and slate on the exterior, and timber inside.

This distinctive angular profile of New House, Shipton-Under-Wychwood attracted the attention of Stanley Kubrick’s team when looking for ‘A Clockwork Orange’ filming locations, with New House serving as an exterior location in the 1971 dystopian classic film.