In 1915 land to the north of the River Cray was used for a large housing development to alleviate the chronic shortage of houses for Vickers’ rapidly increasing workforce, which at its peak was to number over 14,000. A new organisation, “The Crayford Cottage Society”, was formed to manage the building of around 800 houses on the Vickers estates at Barnes Cray, Whitehill, and Northumberland Heath. In February 1915 the Public Works Commissioners granted a loan of £48,000 to “The Crayford Cottage Society” for the construction of 300 cottages to be let at rents of 7s.6d. a week.
The houses were designed by Gordon Allen and the estate laid out on garden city lines, which was an entirely different concept to the bland streets of two-up and two-down, back-to-back cottages so familiar on nineteenth working class housing developments. The houses were of various designs built in blocks of two, four, six, and eight units with varying elevations and cost less than £250 each. All houses on the estate were designed to ensure the main rooms had a sunny aspect. On roads running east-west, the houses on the north side had the parlour and living room facing the road while on the south side they were at the back with the kitchen facing the road. Each house had three bedrooms, parlour, living room, and kitchen with a bath. This was covered with a wooden cover for use as a work surface when the bath was not in use. At the rear of the house was the toilet and coal store reached by a covered way.
More than half the houses were built with concrete block walls, chimneys, interior walls, door hoods and bay roofs. The external walls were rendered or rough cast and all houses had tiled roofs. The concrete building blocks and tiles were made on the site.