How Thomas Lucas financed the development of Union Street is interesting in a wider context. It appears that prices fluctuated considerably as the example of the house built by Ryalls and Pearce and other later transactions show. These transaction affecting Union Street, and the way its builders were paid in materials purchased, provide examples of the results of an only partly accepted money economy. Capital had its value but commodities were as equally acceptable as cash for payment. Bricks had a more consistent value than money, which was often in short supply.
The fronts were terminated by parapets capped in stone, not with wooden eaves cornices which survived well into the eighteenth century. They were prescribed by the Building Act of 1707, and though the act did not apply as far from the centre of London as Deptford, it is clear that whether Lucas began building in 1705 or 1707, by employing parapets, he brought to Deptford the newest building style.
Building Act 1707. It was this pattern that fueled the Great Fire of London in 1666, which wiped out 80% of the city. That disaster led to the London Building Act of 1667, the first to provide for surveyors to enforce its regulations. It laid down that all houses were to be built in brick or stone. The number of storeys and width of walls were carefully specified. Streets should be wide enough to act as a fire break. This first Act applied to the walled City of London. The Building Acts of 1707 and 1709 extended that control to Westminster. They added a prohibition on timber cornices and required brick parapets to rise two and half feet above the garret floor. A comprehensive Act in 1774 covered the whole built-up area. Its detailed set of regulations included the stipulation that doors and windows should be recessed at least four inches from the front of the building.
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