It is located on the banks of the River Thames, and was previously the Royal Victoria Dockyard which was founded over 400 years ago. Here Samuel Pepys, Secretary of the Royal Navy, ordered the fitting out of the Fleet for the Dutch Wars and here through the centuries British warships were built and rigged.
The Pepys estate was officially opened on 13th July 1966 by Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl Mountbatten of Burma KG.
The estate is made up of several 4 storey blocks, ten 8 storey blocks and three of London's tallest tower blocks at 24 storeys tall. The 8 storey blocks have a strange internal arrangement in that from the front door to each flat, you either go up or down a short flight of steps, and the floors are on three split levels. With the exception of the 24 storey towers, the blocks are built of red brick. When completed, the estate won a Civic Trust design award.
In June 1992, the Housing (Development) Sub-Committee approved the submission of the Pepys Estate Action bid, including a Community Refurbishment Scheme to the Department of Environment. Phase One of the scheme was approved by the D.O.E in December 1992. Subsequent approval for Phase Two was granted in September 1994. The estimated total cost of the scheme is £28.658 million plus £1.85 million for the Community Refurbishment Scheme. Including partnerships with the Family Housing Association and Deptford City Challenge, the overall scheme resources totalled £39 million. The Government Office for London extended the Estate Action Programme for two additional years without any alterations to the funding so that the Pepys scheme ran from 1992 to 2001.
Architects, community leaders, councillors and residents collaborated on plans to revitalise the estate. The plans resulted in the demolition of Merrick House in the centre of the estate for new, low rise housing, and the reconstruction of the community facilities. The local authority also proceeded with refurbishing Eddystone Tower and Daubeny Tower, before running out of money for Aragon Tower.
Controversially, it was decided to sell Aragon Tower to Berkeley Homes PLC, who devised plans to renovate the tower into luxury riverside apartments. In 2006, Aragon Tower underwent refurbishment that resulted in an additional 4 floors being built on top of the tower containing 14 penthouses (called the "Z Apartments") and a new podium at the bottom. Additionally, the remaining land that was not regenerated by the earlier scheme was transferred to Hyde Housing Association, supposedly without consulting residents. The changes and their effects on residents was documented in BAFTA-winning series The Tower: A Tale of Two Cities.
Eddystone and Daubeny Towers are now operated by ALMO Lewisham Homes.
The three 24 storey tower blocks are:
The 8 storey tower blocks on the estate were:
- Argosy House
- Bembridge House
- Bence House
- Clement House
- Harmon House
- Lanyard House
- Marlowe House*
- Merrick House*
- Millard House*
- Pelican House
- Pendennis House
The other blocks of flats on the estate:
- Albemarle House - a Victorian building with a postwar extension, converted into 67 flats
- Barfleur House - a block of 32 flats, now demolished
- Crandley Court - a large four storey block of 96 flats
- Doblen Court - a block of 24 flats connected by footbridge to Limberg House, with two smaller blocks of 14 flats each, now demolished
- Gransden House - a large four storey block of 80 flats
- Limberg House - a block of 32 flats, now demolished.