The Red Rose towers are the collective name for the three high rise towers in the South East corner of the Estate. Two of them – Red Leaf House and Provence House – stand 23 stories tall, while Damask House stands slightly above them, at 27 stories tall. Between them, they are home to just over 1000 people.
If anyone from the Council, the Committee, or the Residents Association were to be asked, there’s definitely no sense of rivalry between the residents of each tower, or between the residents of the towers collectively and the rest of the estate. Redriff Estate is one big community.
The experience of the people living in the towers may not quite match up with official statements, where a certain me-against-my-brother-and-us-both-against-the-world mentality seems to hold true.
The tallest building on the estate, Damask House stands a little further from the river than its sister towers. The building contains 132 flats across 22 stories, in a variety of configurations. The lower floors are variously given over to community space, retail space, office space, and maintenance facilities.
There’s a standing joke that while Damask House only has 27 stories (a fact that can be easily verified by who cares to count the windows on the outside, or who is mad enough to climb that many flights of stairs), the control panels on the lifts have buttons for 28 floors, owning to a mix up when they were fitted. The residents appear to have liked it so much that someone arranged for the joke to be repeated when the lifts where refurbished and replaced in 2004. Indeed, “on the 28th floor” has become estate slang roughly equivalent to “where the sun don’t shine”.
Provence House is the nearest of the Red Rose Towers to the Thames – in fact, there’s event a small jetty that is technically part of the building, although it sees little use aside from the occasional optimistic angler sitting out there.
While various families have members all over the estate, and officially there’s no particular way to ensure that residents in council tenancies can be kept close together, especially in this day and age, it’s notable that more of the the O’Malley family live in Provence house that might be statistically probable, a fact that lends the residents of Provence House a certain cachet and protection on the estate, and Lyra O’Malley is know to take it badly if her family, friends, or neighbours are threatened by anyone other than her.
The other two of Red Rose Towers boast rooftop gardens (if some turf, seating and a few planters can be called gardens) that are open to the public during daylight hours, but thanks to an oversight in the some of the legal paperwork, the gardens atop Redleaf House are for the use of residents only. This means that the work of maintaining them has also fallen to the residents, rather than the council. At times in the past this has meant they were neglected to the point fo becoming a hazard, but in more recent years a few of the families living in the block have organised to maintain the gardens.
Chris Thrower, a man in in 40s living alone on the 12th floor seems to lead the effort is generally referred to as “Gardener Chris”, but he’d be the first to say that he’s hardly the only one in the block to get involved – just the one who does the organising (something he avoids in his work with the Residents Association, being happier to simply pitch in there are needed). The gardens of Redleaf towers comprise a rose garden (of course), a number of raised beds that contain a mixture of flowers and vegetables that are generally donated to a local charity, a space for barbecuing, and some urban beehives.