The cottage estate concept took advantage of the expanding railway network and railway companies’ cheap workman’s fares in the Victorian era. It was a self-contained enclave of low-rent houses built on open land away from the city centre. The Artisan’s, Labourers’ and General Dwellings Company was founded in 1867 by illiterate ex-labourer turned philanthropist, William Austin.
In 1874 the Company bought half a dozen fields on the north side of Harrow Road
, just east of its junction with Ladbroke Grove
and Kilburn Lane
, from All Souls College, Oxford, and began the Queen’s Park
Estate, named in honour of Queen Victoria.
At that time, the only buildings in this area were the church, parsonage and school at the Harrow Road
crossroads, a couple of farms in Kilburn Lane
, and Kensal House
, together with a tea garden and a few cottages, in the little triangle between the canal and Harrow Road
Over the next dozen years, the company built over 2000 Gothic-style cottages in a regular grid of streets centred on two broad, tree-lined avenues, Ilbert Street
and Fifth Avenue
When the streets were given real names, they represented some person or place connected with the Company. Droop, for example, was one of the directors, and Alperton was the location of the company’s brickworks.
In 1978 the houses along most of the southern edge of the estate, between Droop Street and Harrow Road
from Sixth Avenue
almost to Third Avenue
, made way for Westminster’s Avenue Gardens, consisting of 11 blocks named after trees.
Most of Queen’s Park
, declared a conservation area in 1978, remains as it was built for the Company by Hubert Austin and then by Roland Plumbe. The houses are two-storeyed terraces of red and yellow brick in ’minimum Gothic’, enlivened by turrets at some of the street corners, and many bear a date or the company’s monogram.