The Alexandra Cottages were constructed between 1866-1868 by the “Metropolitan Association for Improving the Dwellings of the Industrious Classes”, the first such organisation to build semi-detached houses with gardens, rather than traditional terraces or tenement blocks. They were intended as low cost housing for London workers, being close to Penge station, although local workers were soon accommodated too.
The Alexandra Cottages were built in pairs and occupied a generous plot of 40ft x 90ft which was lavish for the standards of the day. The cottages provided either two or three bedroom accommodation and each had their own front and back garden with a shared gate and path. The cottages were named after Princess Alexandra of Denmark who had married Queen Victoria’s eldest son, Edward, in 1863. The road names of Victor, Edward and Albert were a compliment to Edward himself, whereas Hardings Lane is believed to have been named after a local landowner.
The history of the Old School House at the corner of Edward Road and Parish Lane is less well documented and was in use as a school for a relatively short period of time. This being before it was sub-divided into the four properties of 106a Edward Road and 57, 58 and 59 Parish Lane, as they are known today.
The cottages suffered some bomb damage in WWII with numbers 77-80 Edward Road and 137-138 Victor Road being demolished and replaced subsequently with a row of garages and more modern houses. The fronts of 63, 64, 97 and 98 Edward Road had to be rebuilt and 107-110 and 158-164 Victor Road were also badly damaged on the 20th September 1940. Further major bomb damage was incurred to adjacent properties, including 17-21 Hardings Lane and 13-14 Parish Lane.
The cottages remained in the ownership of the Metropolitan Property Association (the successor to the Metropolitan Association) until the end of the 1950s with the cottages and gardens remaining largely unaltered. After then the cottages were gradually sold off to the existing tenants and private owners leading to less uniformity as people enlarged window opening, applied pebbledash and removed trees and boundary walls to create driveways.
The change of ownership prompted the founding of the Alexandra Residents’ Association at a meeting held on the 26th May 1959, and this body has been serving and representing the interests of the local residents ever since. The Association being largely instrumental in promoting the special nature of the Estate and working closely with the Council on a number of important and even contentious issues over the years.
The area forming the Alexandra Cottages and including the terraced properties in Princes Road was declared a “General Improvement Area” in 1974 and was designated as a Conservation Area in 1982 by the London Borough of Bromley. This was to acknowledge the historic and architectural importance of the Alexandra Cottages not only to the local area of Penge but also within the London Borough of Bromley and to London as a whole.