The Trellick Tower is a 32-storey tower block in Kensington, West London, visible from trains coming into Paddington from the West of England, and also for several miles around, including Notting Hill. It was designed in the late 1960s by the late architect Erno Goldfinger (after whom Ian Fleming named the Bond villain), and takes the form of a large beige rectangle (the 'habitation module') with a smaller beige rectangle (the 'elevator module') attached to one of the sides by a series of small walkways. The tower was completed in 1972 at a cost of £2.4 million pounds and was intended to replace ageing council estates. It contains 175 flats, and it was not the most attractive building in the world. Goldfinger had earlier used a similar design for the Balfron tower in Bow.

The tower was greatly reviled both as a landmark throughout the first two decades of its life, supposedly inspiring J G Ballard to write 'High Rise'. It was notoriously grim, suffering from constant vandalism, broken elevators, damp, and burst pipes. Towering over the surrounding area, it was a constant reminder of the evils of naive, poorly-funded social housing projects. By 1972 high-rise buildings were fast moving out of fashion, helped in part by the Ronan Point disaster of 1964, in which a shoddily-constructed tower block had partially collapsed following a gas explosion. A mixture of economic mismanagement and the oil crisis had caused the Greater London Council, which ran the tower, to fall massively in debt, and despite memorable posters the council - riven by internal conflict between different left-wing factions - produced few actual improvements.

Nonetheless, by the mid 1980s the tower had improved, thanks to several injections of cash from the government, and it eventually became a listed building. It is now firmly middle-class, with individual flats selling for £180,000 and up.


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