Built by Greater London Council, the chief architect for Thamesmead, Robert Rigg, travelled far and wide to recruit the best design minds to engineer his vision. Shops and social clubs were on-site, walkways joined the buildings, and waterways and lakes (which had been seen to reduce crime and vandalism) were in copious supply due to the surrounding marshland. The housing units featured all the mod-cons including central heating and indoor bathrooms. Full of potential, they were a blank canvas for individuals to make their own mark on - a fresh new start, typifying the era of social mobility from which Brutalism sprung. In the spirit of democracy, the name ‘Thamesmead’ was voted for by the local community and demand for the homes was high, with residents having to meet strict conditions. Upon completion Thamesmead was proclaimed a model of the '21st century town' and even enjoyed a visit from the Queen.
However this Utopian dream was not without its problems. The location of Thamesmead was isolated, with poor transport links and few amenities on-site, and the pollution from two nearby power stations limited the heights of Thamesmead's towers to 200ft, scuppering plans to build a full-scale town. In spite of a series of promotional videos designed to showcase its desirability, the most enduring image of Thamesmead on film was made in 1971 when Stanley Kubrick cast it as the backdrop for his adaptation of the dystopian nightmare, A Clockwork Orange. It was this vision that remained cemented in the public conscious. Fiction eventually became reality and by the late 1970s Thamesmead had become one of the UK’s most notorious housing estates, with residents afraid to walk the walkways or swim in the lakes.