The name "West Hampstead" was a 19th century invention - the original name was West End.
Inglewood Road, NW6 was one of the last roads to be built in West End, West Hampstead.
On the west side of West End Lane
, the land between the three railway lines was still largely untouched but beyond them building spread during the 1880s.
Thomas Potter, owner of Thorplands
, 13 acres south of Mill Lane
, stretching westward from the junction with West End Lane
, where he lived in Poplar House
, built about 15 houses fronting Mill Lane
between 1873 and 1877 and the Elms and the Cedars
next to the green by 1878.
New roads were constructed in the late 1870s and 346 houses were built between 1882 and 1894 in Sumatra, Solent, Holmdale, Glenbrook, Pandora, and Narcissus roads, mostly by J. I. Chapman of Solent Road
, G. W. Cossens of Mill Lane
, Jabez Reynolds of Holmdale Road
, and James Gibb of Dennington Park Road
Another 28 houses and a Methodist church were built on the estate fronting Mill Lane
in 1886-7 and seven blocks of flats in West End Lane
on what was called the Cedars
estate in 1894.
Some 49 houses were built, mostly by Reynolds, in the last road on the estate, Inglewood Road on the site of Poplar House
, in 1893-4. Welbeck Mansions, flats notable for their ironwork balconies, were built north of Inglewood Road, on the site of Potter’s foundry, in 1897.
The London General Omnibus Co. built stables and a depot c. 1901 on ground previously used for tennis at the north-eastern corner of the estate, which later became a post office garage. A fire brigade station, by ’O. Fleming and/or C. C. Winmill ... in Voysey manner’, was built c. 1901 at the northern end of West End Lane
. Holmdale Mansions were built in Holmdale Road
in 1904 and Cavendish Mansions at the east end of Mill Lane
about the same time, when the Cedars
, which had become a school, was demolished.
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Lacking its own supply of spring water and situated away from the main roads, medieval West End barely qualified as a hamlet until a few country houses were built here from the 17th century onwards. The tendency for West End Lane to become impassably muddy after heavy rain further enhanced the hamlet's isolation.
By 1815 West End was still exceptionally quiet – so much so that its inhabitants claimed to have heard the cannon fire at Waterloo. The construction of the Finchley Road in the 1830s brought few additions to a population that consisted of a handful of squires and some farm labourers, gardeners and craftsmen. By 1851 West End had one inn and two beershops.
Railways were the prime stimulus of growth in many country corners of modern London but few places were transformed as wholly as West End. With the arrival of the Hampstead Junction Railway in 1857, the Midland Railway in 1868 and the Metropolitan and St John’s Wood Railway in 1879, the new suburb of West Hampstead spread in all directions.
Rapid development in the 1880s and 1890s swept away the large houses and the streets were laid out in today's pattern. A local estate agent in Kilburn claimed that he coined the name ‘West Hampstead’, for one of the local railway stations. Public amenities such as street lighting, gas and electricity were provided and much of the frontage to West End Lane was developed as shops.
Some of the new estates were the work of big developers like the United Land Company, whose inclination was to build fairly densely, and during the latter decades of the 19th century parts of West Hampstead became increasingly working-class in character, with policeman, travelling salesmen and railwaymen mixing with clerks and artisans. Engineering workshops operated near the railway lines.
Twentieth-century building was limited mainly to interwar blocks of flats in the north of the district, often in place of Victorian houses that had already become run-down.
The West Hampstead ward now has relatively few families and a great number of young single people. A large proportion of homes are privately rented and fewer than a quarter of adults are married, compared with more than half for the country as a whole. This socio-economic profile is evident in the upmarket cafés that have lined West End Lane in recent years.
Famous West Hampstead residents have included the singers Dusty Springfield, Joan Armatrading, Olivia Newton John and Jimmy Somerville, author Doris Lessing, actresses Imelda Staunton and Emma Thompson, and the playwright Joe Orton, who lived on West End Lane with his lover Kenneth Halliwell from 1951 to 1959. Stephen Fry has also lived here.