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Kentish Town ·

The Underground Map is a project which is creating street histories for the areas of London and surrounding counties lying inside the M25.

In a series of maps from the 1750s until the 1950s, you can see how London grew from a city which only reached as far as Park Lane into the post war megapolis we know today. There are now over 85 000 articles on all variety of locations including roads, houses, schools, pubs and palaces.

You can begin exploring by choosing a place from the dropdown list at the top left and then clicking Reset Location.

As maps are displayed, click on the markers to view location articles.

You can also view historical maps of London - click on the "pile of paper" control on the top right of a page's map to change to a particular decade.
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Kentish Town
Kentish Town is first recorded during the reign of King John (1208) as Kentisston. By 1456 Kentish Town was recognised as a thriving hamlet, and in this period a chapel of ease is recorded as being built for the inhabitants.

The early 19th century brought a lot of modernisation, causing a lot of the area’s rural charm, the River Fleet and the 18th century buildings to vanish.

Large amounts of land were purchased to build the first railway through the area, which can still be seen today. Kentish Town was a prime site for development as the Kentish Town Road was the main route for the growing city of London to the South.

1877 saw the beginning of mission work in the area as it was, by then, poor. The mission first held their services outside but as their funding increased they built a mission house, chapel, and vicarage.

In 1912 the Church of St Silas the Martyr was finally erected and consecrated, and by December of that year it became a parish in its own right.

Kentish Town was to s...


Citations and sources

Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations

Links and further reading

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St Magnus-the-Martyr
St Magnus the Martyr church is dedicated to St Magnus the Martyr, earl of Orkney, who died on 16 April 1116. Archaeological evidence suggests that the area of London Bridge head was not occupied from the early 5th century until the early 10th century.

Environmental evidence indicates that the area was waste ground during this period, colonised by elder and nettles. Following Alfred’s decision to reoccupy the walled area of London in 886, new harbours were established at Queenhithe and Billingsgate. A bridge was in place by the early 11th century, a factor which would have encouraged the occupation of the bridgehead by craftsmen and traders.

St Magnus was built to the south of Thames Street to serve the growing population of the bridgehead area and was certainly in existence by 1128-33.

Until 1831, London Bridge was aligned with Fish Street Hill, so the main entrance into the City from the south passed the West door of St Magnus on the north bank of the river. The bridge included a chapel dedicated to St Thomas Becket for the use of pilgrims...



Wells Street, W1D
Wells Street - ’Welses Lane’ - is first recorded in 1692. Wells Street is an old route, marking the boundary between former freeholds: the Cavendish–Harley, later Portland and then Howard de Walden estate to the west, and the smaller Berners estate to the east.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, landuse in Marylebone was by no means purely agricultural. Clay and gravel pits abounded due to London’s encroachment, and a tenant of one of the eastern fields, George Wells, had been called a brickmaker as far back as 1658. Wells Lane or Street, named after him, was another old track, but did not connect with Oxford Street till the 1690s.

George Wells occupied the fields east of the lane, called Newlands, when they were bought by Josias Berners in 1654, and where he erected some long-vanished buildings.

Wells (‘Welses’) Lane is first recorded in 1692, when James Long, the Covent Garden inn-keeper and brewer interested in the lands to its west, got permission to create a short route from ...



Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf is a large business development on the Isle of Dogs, centred on the old West India Docks. Canary Wharf was the site of cargo warehouses that served the docks based in London E14, taking its name from sea trade with the Canary Islands. The docks were, as recently as 1961, the busiest in the world but fell into declie after containerisation.

The project to revitalise eight square miles of derelict London docks began in 1981 with the establishment of the London Docklands Development Corporation. At first, redevelopment was focused on light industrial schemes and Canary Wharf’s largest occupier was Limehouse Studios, a TV production company.

In 1984, Michael von Clem, head of the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston, was visiting the Docklands looking for a site for a client’s food processing plant and noticed that there was empty land. Thinking of relocating City of London offices, von Clem contacted his opposite number at Morgan Stanley who said that a large scheme with critical mass would be necessary. It was also agreed that a new T...



Carlton House Terrace, SW1Y
Carlton House Terrace consists of a pair of terraces - white stucco-faced houses on the south side of the street overlooking St. James’s Park. The land on which Carlton House Terrace was built had once been part of the grounds of St James’s Palace, known as "the Royal Garden" and "the Wilderness". The Wilderness was at one time in the possession of Prince Rupert of the Rhine and was later called Upper Spring Garden.

From 1700 the land was held by Henry Boyle, who spent nearly £3000 on improving the existing house in the Royal Garden. Boyle was created Baron Carleton in 1714. On his death the lease passed to his nephew, Lord Burlington, and thence in 1732 to Frederick, Prince of Wales, eldest son of George II. After Frederick’s premature death in 1751, his widow Augusta continued living in the house. After her death in 1772, the house devolved to her son - George III - who in turn granted it to his eldest son, George, Prince of Wales. The Prince spent enormous sums on the property, running up huge debts. The house became a rival Court to his father. When the Prince became King George IV in 1820, he moved t...



Lincoln’s Inn Fields, WC2A
Lincoln’s Inn Fields is the largest public square in London, laid out in the 1630s under the initiative of the speculative builder William Newton. Lincoln’s Inn Fields takes its name from the adjacent Lincoln’s Inn, from which the private gardens are separated by a perimeter wall and a large gatehouse.

Up to the 17th century, the fields were part of a agricultural land called Pursefield which belonged to St Giles Hospital. Katherine Smyth, the owner of the White Hart Inn on Drury Lane, leased the land from 1520 but then reverted to the Crown.

Its use as pasture meant that turnstiles were placed around the land to enable pedestrians to enter without animals escaping. Shops developed along these footpaths - still called Great Turnstile and Little Turnstile.

Inigo Jones drew out a plan for "laying out and planting" the fields but it was William Newton who was granted permission to erect 32 houses in what became known as Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1638.

The completion of the houses that surrounded the fields proceeded slowly. The oldest building from the ear...



Bank of England
The Bank of England is the central bank of the United Kingdom. Sometimes known as the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, it was founded in 1694, nationalised in 1946, and gained operational independence to set monetary policy in 1997.

After the ’Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, there were calls for a national public bank to stabilise the nation’s resources. Many schemes were proposed but the successful one was from William Paterson. This envisaged a loan of £1,200,000 to the Government but in return the subscribers would be incorporated as the ’Governor and Company of the Bank of England’. The Royal Charter was sealed on 27 July 1694, and the Bank started its official role which it continues today.

In 1734, the Bank acquired premises in Threadneedle Street. Over the next hundred years it added adjacent properties until the present island site was secured, and Sir John Soane’s massive curtain wall was erected round it.

The Bank’s notes became an accepted currency - people seldom doubte...



Kamballa Road, SW11
Kamballa Road ran from Natal Road to Falcon Road. Alfred Heaver bought the land here in 1879 becoming part of the Falcon Park estate. Surveyor W. C. Poole planned the area, continuing Mantua Street eastwards. Two new streets, Heaver Road and Musjid Road were set out running between Natal Road and Falcon Road.

Kambala Road was built when in 1882 Alfred Heaver obtained building rights over a narrow market-garden field which lay south of the Prince’s Head and which had a house called Falcon House on it. The field had been leased in the 1850s to William Watling who had promised to build on it but instead rented out Falcon House and let the lands at the back for a piggery and cowsheds.

Watling’s grandson, John Stephens, acquired the freehold in 1880 just before he died. The leases for houses on
Kamballa Road houses were mostly giving out by his widow Emily Louise Stephens.

Between Kamballa and Musjid Roads, Arding and Hobbs had a warehouse and there were workshops for Munt Brothers...



Battersea High Street, SW11
Battersea High Street is anything but the high street of Battersea. Overtaken as a commercial street by Falcon Road and Battersea Park Road, the street is now largely residential, albeit with a remaining larger-than-average supply of public houses.

Battersea had been an area of market gardens until the Victorian era and much of the area near the Thames was marshland. The village of Battersea had been centred on Battersea Square and Battersea High Street.

Landowner Lord Spencer opened up Battersea by building a bridge across the Thames in 1772. St. Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1777.

A railway station, since closed, was built on Battersea High Street in 1863 for the West London Extension Railway.

But it was Clapham Junction which was the important Battersea development. The railway station encouraged the local council to site its buildings in the area surrounding it - a cluster of new civic buildings included the town hall, police station, court, a library and post office in the 1880s and...



White City Stadium
White City Stadium was built for the 1908 Summer Olympics, and hosted the finish of the first modern marathon. It was designed by J.J. Webster and completed within 10 months by George Wimpey on part of the site of the Franco-British Exhibition.

The stadium had a seating capacity of 68,000 was opened by King Edward VII on 27 April 1908. Upon completion, the stadium had a running track 24 ft wide and three laps to the mile. Outside the stadium there was a 660 yard cycle track.

Many events of the 1908 Olympics were held at the stadium. Even swimming was held at White City Stadium, in a 100-yard pool dug into the infield. The distance of the modern marathon was fixed at the 1908 Games and calculated from the start of the race at Windsor Castle to a point in front of the royal box at White City.

The original running track continued in use until 1914. There were attempts to sell the stadium in 1922, but several athletes in the team for the 1924 Summer Olympics used it for training.

From 1927 to 1984, it was a venue for greyhound racing, ho...



South Ruislip
South Ruislip developed only in the twentieth century after the opening of the local station. A GWR/GCR joint line was built to High Wycombe from both Paddington and Marylebone. The two railways met at Northolt Junction, situated slightly to the east of the station.

South Ruislip station was opened on 1 May 1908 and was originally known as Northolt Junction. The station then became South Ruislip & Northolt Junction in 1932 and received its present name on 30 June 1947.

The station was first served by the Central line on 21 November 1948 when the Central line extension from London towards West Ruislip was finished. The concrete, glass and granite chip frieze in the booking hall is one of the earliest public works by glass artist, Henry Haig.
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Mill Hill East
Mill Hill East station is on the High Barnet branch of the Northern Line, and is the only station on a branch from Finchley Central. Mill Hill East station was built by the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway (EH&LR) and was opened as Mill Hill on 22 August 1867 by the Great Northern Railway (GNR) (which had taken over the EH&LR) in rural Middlesex. The station was on a line from Finsbury Park to Edgware via Highgate.

The EH&LR was built as a double track formation, but only a single track was laid, with the intention of doubling the track when business developed. However, when the GNR opened a branch from Finchley Central to High Barnet in April 1872 traffic on that section was greater, and the second track was never laid from Finchley Central to Edgware. For most of its history the service between those two stations was operated as a shuttle.

The station opened as Mill Hill and was given its present name in 1928.

The area around Mill Hill East has still the air of a village about it. It is quiet and very green with plenty of parks and golf courses to hand.




Bunhill Fields
Bunhill Fields was in use as a burial ground from 1665 until 1854. By the mid nineteenth century, about approximately 123,000 interments were estimated to have taken place of which over 2000 monuments remain.

It contains the graves of many notable people including John Bunyan, author of ’The Pilgrim’s Progress’; Susanna Wesley, known as the "Mother of Methodism"; Daniel Defoe, author of ’Robinson Crusoe’; William Blake (died 1827), artist, poet, and mystic; . It was a nondenominational burial ground, and was particularly favoured by nonconformists.

On the far side of Bunhill Row is a Quaker burial ground, also sometimes also known by the name Bunhill Fields and in use from 1661 to 1855. Its remains are a public garden, Quaker Gardens, managed by the London Borough of Islington.
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Goodmayes station was built in 1901 and forms part of the (Crossrail) Elizabeth line. Although Goodmayes appears on maps as early as the 1770s, the area remained largely undeveloped until the end of the 19th century when suburban development took place as London expanded. Most of the area was built up between 1898 and 1910 by the developer A. C. Corbett who used new stations on the Great Eastern Railway to promote new suburbs.

Goodmayes was part of the ancient parish of Barking until 1888 when it became part of the new parish of Ilford. The London Borough of Redbridge was formed in 1965 from Ilford and other areas.

Actors Cardew Robinson and Sir Ian Holm were born in Goodmayes.

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Roman Road, E3
Roman Road is divided into an E2 and E3 section. The Roman Road Market may date from as early as 1843 but was certainly as a fully fledged street market in 1887 by poverty campaigner Charles Booth. He reported that "Roman Road ... is one of the great market streets in London. Things to be bought of every sort, even patent leather shoes."

By 1901 there were 90 stalls trading in Roman Road. Typical market produce, says, would have included fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, furniture and clothing.

The market was partly pedestrianised after the Second World War. Two archways, erected in 1986, mark each end of the Roman Road Market. Nowadays, Roman Road Market operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The newspaper of the Suffragette movement was published from 321 Roman Road. The Suffragettes ran a stall in Roman Road market selling the ’Women’s Dreadnought; together with the toys and second hand goods.
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Percy Circus, WC1X
Percy Circus was once referred to as "one of the most delightful bits of town planning in London". Percy Circus was begun in 1841 but not completed until 1853. Around the railed central garden are still fifteen of the original twenty-seven houses.

It has five unevenly-spaced entry points and is laid out on the side of a hill.

On 15 May 1941, parachute mines and high explosive bombs fell in Holford Square and Percy Circus causing widespread devastation in the immediate vicinity.

The damage inflicted on this rare survival in London continued well into the 1960s when, in 1969, some of the remaining authentic Victorian houses were demolished to make way for a new hotel.

Despite the best attentions of the Luftwaffe and post war London planners the Circus still retains, in part at least, some of its old world charm.
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