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The 1980s 

The residents association takes ownership of gardens and service roads on the eastern side of the Estate, establishing the current management structure for the houses' common areas. 

A brief chronology of the decade:

February 1980 The Residents' Association arranged for a garden maintenance firm to cut the lawns regularly and to do basic gardening on the eastern part of the Estate. Arrangements along these lines have continued to this day.


Spring 1980 The Metal Box Company fells the remaining poplar trees along the perimeter of its sports ground, replacing the screen mainly with Leyland Cypress but also silver birch, Norwegian maple, ash and oak. After years of pressure on Freshwaters by the Flats Sub-Committee, work begins on the external repair and redecoration of the flats.

September 1980 All production work ceases at the Metal Box factory. (The 300 headquarters and other staff were to remain until September 1983).

November 1980 It is confirmed that negotiations are under way to redevelop the Metal Box site. Immediately representations are made to Ealing Council by the local Ward Councillor, concerned with protecting the interests of residents and the Conservation Area.

January 1981 An official notice appears in local newspapers that an application has been made to Ealing Council by Metal Box and Unigate for the joint redevelopment of their lands right through from the Metal Box Sports Ground to Western Avenue.

April 1981 The annual Residents' Association subscription for house members is increased to £5 to pay for regular maintenance of the gardens to a good standard.

December 1981 Residents report unauthorised use of the previous builder's yard at the bottom of Dukes Road (ie behind nos. 167 to 173 Princes Gardens), for the repair of motor vehicles. At a meeting of the Borough's Planning Committee, a formal application to continue this use is refused. Two more years are to pass, and only following the issue of an enforcement notice by Ealing Council, before the firm vacates the site. Subsequently, a small building firm starts work there, smartening up the area.

June 1982 The Chairman and officers of the Flats Sub-Committee, accompanied by Sir George Young MP, attend a meeting with Freshwaters to consider the cost and other problems with the programme of repairs and redecorations being carried out to all the flats. A reduction of £12,500 on the service account is agreed, together with an assurance that the contract will be completed expeditiously. The work is more or less finished by the end of the year.

March 1983 Metgate Ltd (the development company formed by Metal Box and Unigate) commissions a survey of trees around the Estate. The report, which is passed to the Residents' Association, identifies those poplars that were wholly or partially decayed.

December 1983 Christmas buffet lunch and wine party organised by the Flats Sub-Committee at the Community Centre raises £141, which is used to buy plants for the flats' gardens. This is the first of several such events held over subsequent years. A chimney in Norfolk House was struck by lightning.

April 1984 Annual General Meeting adopts fundamental changes to the rules of the Residents' Association. This establishes the current structure, comprising an Executive Committee made up of the Chairman and eleven members, six of whom are house residents and six flats residents. The six house committee members are to be the directors and shareholders of the company being formed to own the lands being taken over from the Crown. The objects of the Association, as revised, make clear its responsibilities for the new company. It is agreed that the subscriptions for 1984-85 should be £2 per Flat member (unchanged from the previous year) and £10 per House member (to give an increased income once lands are taken over from the Crown).

July 1984 House price boom: prices on the Estate rise by about 15% over eight months, with 3-bedroom houses selling for around £70,000.

October 1984 Two firms of tree specialists are commissioned by the Residents' Association to survey the trees skirting the houses, which are to become the Association's responsibility when agreement is signed with Metgate Ltd. Trees on land originally owned by Kast Construction behind Queens Drive (on land "resting with the Crown") are included in the survey.

December 1984 The December 1984/January 1985 Residents' Association Newsletter No. 55 reports:

"A little piece of Estate history was made on 18th December 1984 when the long negotiated agreement with Metgate Ltd was concluded and we took over ownership of the gardens and access roads which mainly lie to the east of Monks Drive. Fittingly, the agreement was signed in the offices of the Crown Commissioners who for the past 25 years or so had held them as ownerless property. At the same time the sum of £10,000 was handed over to the Association and placed on deposit with the Association's bank. The freehold land was handed over within the ownership of a limited liability company bought on our behalf "of the shelf" by Metgate. The presently elected members of the Executive Committee, owning and living in a house (six residents of the Estate) became directors and shareholders of the Company. We held our first meeting of the shareholders on 22nd January 1985 and our first action was to change the name of the company to "Hanger Hill Garden Estate Residents Limited". We also made a number of changes to the rules of the Company which we agreed with Association members at our Extraordinary General Meeting last year. One of these rules for example is that only an elected member of the Executive Committee "owning and living in a house on the Estate" is entitled to be a Director and Shareholder. Also the Company must use the Residents' Association for "control and management" of the said lands.

Another early action was to insure the Company as owners of the land and trees against claims by third parties for any accidental damage that may be sustained. We have however not taken out insurance cover against root damage which may be caused by poplars".

February 1985 The Borough Planning Committee give consent for the erection of 12 houses on the southern corner of the former Metal Box Sports Ground.

March 1985 Residents' Association EGM to discuss proposals for the maintenance and improvement of the tree screen skirting Princes Gardens and Tudor Gardens. Meeting adopts resolution that the trees should be "progressively replaced and enhanced by a phased programme of felling and replanting with recommended species over the next 20 years commencing in Autumn 1985 subject to annual inspection".

April 1985 AGM highlights three significant areas of achievement during the year (although arising from efforts over a long period of years): successful purchase of the communal gardens and access roads; decisions on the tree screen bordering the Metgate site, including spending of about half the £10,000 received from Metgate; and an acceptable conclusion to the number and layout of the houses to be built in the southernmost corner of the old Metal Box Sports Ground.

June 1985 The twelve houses taking shape in the corner of the old Metal Box Sports Ground are reported to be on sale from £135,000 upwards, with selling prices of homes on the Estate ranging from £80,000 to £95,000. Rents for those flats that continue to be let are upwards of £2,000 per annum, depending on size and location.

1986 The Hanger Hill Garden Estate celebrates its half century!

October 1987 The great storm that swept through much of mainland Britain causes its share of devastation to the trees of the Estate. 

Next: The saga of the gardens

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