Wander through Pimlico’s streets and you will soon realise that Dolphin Square is difficult to miss. Standing proudly on the North Bank of the River Thames, this imposing red brick structure is much more than just a block of flats. As well as being known as one of the area’s key landmarks, Dolphin Square is also renowned for its history and some rather surprising stories, set within the square.
In a recent interview with Dolphin Square’s Head Gardener, Michael Deville, he told us “I think anyone who knows anything about London generally is aware of Dolphin Square.” But where did it all start?
Building the square: In numbers
It took 2 years to build
12 million bricks were used to build the square
125,000 tons of concrete and 125 miles of electricity cables were used
There is 22 acres of floor space with 12 floors
3,000 men were employed in the building of the square at different times
It was the Costain brothers who built Dolphin Square, one hundred years after Master Builder Thomas Cubitt created Pimlico. Clearance of the site began in 1935, firstly with the demolition of the Army clothing factory that operated here on the site that later became Dolphin Square.
“Demolition of the old [clothing] factory started with Albert Costain – later Sir Albert, Member of Parliament – knocking down [the] first chimney which fell on his foot, breaking several bones.”
200,000 tons of earth was then removed so the new foundations could be laid and the building could begin. The South half of the building, Collingwood, Frobisher, Grenville, Drake Raleigh, Hawkins, Nelson and Howard Houses were completed in less than a year and the North half was completed by September 1937.
At the time of construction, the building was billed as the largest development of its kind in Europe, and right from the beginning attracted famous faces and Londoners looking to make the most of the city, the square’s privacy and its secluded gardens. Read more about tales from within the square.
- Read more about the creation of Pimlico
- Read about the team’s favourite spots within the square
Source: Square Tales, By Jan Prebble