West End Lane, NW6

Road in/near West Hampstead, existing between 1525 and now

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MAPPING YEAR:1750180018301860190019302019Fullscreen map
Road · West Hampstead · NW6 ·
MAY
10
2015

West End Lane is the main road running through West Hampstead.

West End Lane in the late nineteenth century
West End Lane is one of the West Hampstead’s oldest roads. West End Lane and Mill Lane (Shoot Up Hill Lane and Cole Lane), probably existed as access in the Middle Ages since they formed the boundaries of several ancient estates.

It is possible to trace most of West End Lane’s bends and twists from the earliest maps on the modern street plan.

As late as the 1860s it was still a true country lane with high banks, "hedged irregularly for the greater part of its length, and enshrined too by the embracing branches of the majestic oak, elm and other forest trees, through which a sunny gleam here and there broke." according to Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms in Kilburn and West Hampstead Past.

West End Lane led westwards from Hampstead and then southwards to Kilburn. Where it took this sharp turn from running west to running south, a hamlet grew up. The hamlet was originally known as "le Rudyng" (indicating a woodland clearing) in the mid-13th century, but by 1534 came to be called West End. It was then a freehold estate belonging to Kilburn Priory, and was so called because it was at the west end of another, larger estate.

By the early 17th century a number of houses were present, and by the middle of that century London merchants were building larger houses in the area, so turning a hamlet into the village of West End.

At the beginning of the 19th century, there were three main large houses around the hamlet of West End: West End House, West End Hall and Lauriston Lodge which were later sold off for redevelopment with the arrival of the railways, which led to the transformation of the area from farmland into housing estates.

In 1879, the Metropolitan Railway adopted the name West Hampstead for its station on West End Lane. Three railway stations were built by three different companies along the length of the road.

With the coming of the railways and of housing, West End Lane became the major shopping street for which it is known to this day.

Citations and sources

Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations

Links and further reading

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Histor­ically inclined look at the capital’s obscure attractions

VIEW THE WEST HAMPSTEAD AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

VIEW THE WEST HAMPSTEAD AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

VIEW THE WEST HAMPSTEAD AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

VIEW THE WEST HAMPSTEAD AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE WEST HAMPSTEAD AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

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West Hampstead

The name "West Hampstead" was a 19th century invention - the original name was West End.

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.
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Maps


John Rocque Map of Hampstead (1762).
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map of Hampstead covers an area stretching from the edge in the northwest of present-day Dollis Hill to Islington in the southeast.
John Rocque, The Strand, London

Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
Chapman and Hall, London

London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
London Transport

The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
London Transport

Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)
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