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Fifty years of Trellick

There's one golden anniversary that's well worth marking this year in Golborne Ward. It was in June 1982 that Trellick Tower was completed. Ever since, its 31-storey, 322-foot bulk (394 feet if you count the communications mast) has soared above the local skyline.

Designed by modernist architect Ernö Goldfinger (1902-87) Trellick is Golborne's only Grade II* building and construction took four years. The Tower's listing was not without its critics, and the building probably falls into the 'love it or hate it' category.

Trellick replaced what had been some of North Kensington's worst slum housing, dilapidated and overcrowded Victorian stock. Ironically, if those houses had been left standing by now they would have been refurbished and selling for millions.

You've heard the name Goldfinger somewhere else of course. James Bond author Ian Fleming used it as the name of one of his best-known villains - and that was no coincidence. The story goes that Goldfinger demolished a row of cottages to build his modernist dream home in Hampstead, horrifying some neighbours by what they saw as cultural vandalism. One of those neighbours was Fleming, and he later took his revenge by creating the loathsome Goldfinger character in the 1959 spy thriller of the same name.

Trellick's story has not always been a happy one. Allowed to fall into criminality and decay, it became an extremely unpopular place to live back in the 1980s. In fact, at one time if three single people got together and agreed to take a flat, the council would hand them keys almost on the spot.

Access to the building was unrestricted and all kinds of unsavoury characters ran free in the corridors. The lifts - essential in a 31-floor building with 217 flats - were frequently out of order. But then the tide turned in the 1990s after a concierge system with the entrance staffed around the clock was introduced. Apparently, Goldfinger had always wanted a controlled entrance but it had been left out due to cost.

In a stunning renaissance Trellick was rescued from its seemingly unstoppable decline and today it's became a desirable place to live. Most residents are council tenants but some flats have seeped into the private sector under right-to-buy. Prices are now around the £700,000 mark.

Although Trellick Tower is the only Grade II* building in Golborne Ward, there are other structures with the less prestigious Grade II status. Golborne Life did a round-up of those in 2013 - you can read it here.