Harrow Road, W10

Road in/near Kensal Town, existing until now

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Road · Kensal Town · W10 ·
December
1
2017

Harrow Road is a main road through London W10.


Harrow Road is an ancient route which runs from Paddington in a northwesterly direction towards Harrow. It is also the name given to the immediate surrounding area of Queens Park and Kensal Green, straddling the NW10, W10 and W9 postcodes. With minor deviations in the 19th and 20th centuries, the route remains otherwise unaltered. There are dozens of other existing roads throughout the United Kingdom using the same name which do not lead to or from Harrow but merely use the name of the town or, in some cases, a person of that name.

Before urbanisation the entire road was known as the "Harrow Road" but, as various local authorities came into existence and imposed independent numbering schemes and more localised descriptions on the parts of the road within their respective boundaries, the principal name was replaced in a number of places along its course.

Starting at the junction of Harrow Road and Edgware Road at Paddington Green, Harrow Road (A404) passes through Maida Hill, Queens Park and Kensal Green. This stretch runs partially alongside and underneath the Westway urban motorway.

At the junction of Ladbroke Grove the road leaves the City of Westminster and forms the boundary between the London Borough of Brent and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (except for the length between Kensal Green station and the entrance to Kensal Green Cemetery where it is entirely within Brent) until reaching Scrubs Lane where it becomes entirely within the borough of Brent.

It becomes High Street (Harlesden), Craven Park, Hillside and Brentfield.

Passing over the River Brent which formed the pre-1965 boundary between the former Municipal Borough of Willesden and the Metropolitan Borough of Wembley (both now defunct) and from which the modern borough takes its name, Harrow Road enters Wembley and passes through an area formerly known as Tokyngton.

Still numbered the A404, Harrow Road briefly becomes High Road (Wembley) and then Harrow Road (Sudbury), renumbered to be the A4005 at the junction with Watford Road (which continues to be the A404).

It passes from the London Borough of Brent into the London Borough of Harrow at the Sudbury Court Drive junction and for a while it is Sudbury Hill, London Road (Harrow) and finally Roxeth Hill High Street. The road finishes at the town centre on Harrow Hill.


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Kensal Town

Soapsuds Island

Kensal New Town was built between the Grand Central Canal (which opened in 1801) and the Great Western Railway line (opening in 1837) in the 1840s.

Single-storey cottages with gardens suitable for drying clothes were the first buildings and Kensal Road, Middle Row, West Row, East Row and Southern Row all appeared between 1841 and 1851. The rows of cottages quickly degenerated into a slum, mainly due to overcrowding, industrialisation and pollution.

The area was dominated by the Western Gas Company and Kensal Cemetery, which provided work but did little to improve the environment. Women were primarily involved in laundry work giving the area its nickname of ‘Soapsuds Island’.

The area was isolated from the rest of London at a time when Portobello Lane (now Portobello Road) was a muddy track sometimes impassable in bad weather.

Cut off from the municipal authorities it was left to charities to attempt to alleviate the social and health problems.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the cottage laundry industry began to be replaced by larger mechanized concerns.

In 1902 Charles Booth described it as, “Just as full of children and poverty as was the old woman’s dwelling in the nursery rhyme.” By this date the area had been transferred to the newly formed Royal Borough of Kensington. When the Piggeries and Potteries in Notting Dale were finally cleared in the early 20th century most of the displaced residents moved north into Golborne ward and Kensal.

By 1923 in the Southam Street area 140 houses contained some 2500 inhabitants. A series of evocative photographs by Roger Mayne in the 1950s showed that little had changed. It was only from the 1960s that the overcrowded and dilapidated terraces were cleared and replaced by social housing including Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower.
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