A mixed-community

The Armstrong family established the Gardens, the grandfather providing the money, to build the gardens, the father building the mansions, and the sons owning and living in certain flats in Parliament Hill Mansions until they sold the estate in 1973. While managing the estate as a commercial concern the family still retained a personal approach to it, living in the Gardens and working on repairs and other maintenance.

There is no doubt that the Armstrongs had a benign relationship with their tenants, allocating flats to children who were outgrowing their parents, giving a flat to a person who might have been kicked out of a broken relationship elsewhere in the estate, even giving garden flats to families with dogs.

The estate office was housed in 76 Lissenden Mansions. In the time of Raymond and Peter Armstrong disputes were often dealt with as an internal estate matter rather than by recourse to the law. A common method of dispute resolution would be for Raymond, the quieter of the two brothers, to have a word with the problem household. If this did not bring the matter to resolution then Peter and Raymond would both pay a visit to the flat. And if this did not work then Peter would visit alone, to threaten eviction or worse. The Armstrongs certainly paid attention to the cleanliness of the estate. Peter Armstrong would pay the children of the estate to clean up dog mess when the situation was deemed to be getting out of hand.

When 1-10 PHM was destroyed by bombing in the WWII, it is said that the Armstrongs built Chester Court with a lift so that elderly residents in other blocks could move to Chester Court when they could no longer climb the stairs in other blocks.

The Armstrong’s association with the Gardens continued to dog them even after they sold out in 1972. In November 1972, Vera Armstrong, one of the Armstrong brother’s wives was convicted and fined for taking a 350 “premium” to house Richard Jones at 18 Lissenden Mansions.

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