Westminster Community

Centre of Government

Westminster is a borough but in residential terms it can be defined as the triangle between the river Thames, Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street.It is a district of enormous architectural importance spanning many centuries and to wander through its small winding streets around Smith Square (the likes of Barton Street, Gayfere Street, Great College Street and Old Pye Street) is a history lesson in itself.

The main residential area is south of Horeseferry Road.


Here there are the large red brick mansion blocks of the Millbank and Grosvenor Estates. The Millbank Estate was built at the turn of the century on the site of the notorious Millbank Prison, just behind the Tate Gallery, and the Grosvenor Estate followed soon after.These are ex-local authority flats but are ever popular with investors and homeowners for their prime central local and reasonable prices.

At the opposite end of the scale is Vincent Square,


a haven like no other; a picturesque open space of playing fields surrounded by mature plane trees belonging to the Westminster upper school with its own traditional cricket pavilion looking most out of place in front of the metropolitan backdrop.Many of the buildings surrounding the square have now been converted or replaced by impressive developments of quality flats and apartments and it must now figure highly as one of the most desirable residential locations in the capital.

Much of the remainder of Westminster is devoted to Government buildings, usually imposing in design and stature.

There is no better example than the Marsham Street Towers, once a 1960’s monstrosity; the three concrete ‘ugly sisters’ have now been demolished to make way for an impressive, award winning headquarters for the Home Office.No mention of Westminster would be complete without reference to its most important tourist attraction: Big Ben. Big Ben is of course a bell, not a tower. The 13–ton bell is, in fact, the one that used to do the ‘bongs’ on the 9 o’clock news and heralds in the New Year on Jools Holland’s Hootenanny. And if you are away, you can remind yourself of home by watching the dedicated webcam at www.camvista.com. Sadly, there’s no sound.