Kensal Road, W10

Road in/near Kensal Town, existing between 1839 and now

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Road · Kensal Town · W10 ·
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17
2015

Kensal Road, originally called Albert Road, is the heart of Kensal Town.

Kensal Road
Kensal (New) Town began to be built in the late 1830s with the original name being "Kensal Village". The builder, Kinnaird Jenkins, laid out four main streets apart from Kensal Road: West Row, East Row, South Row and Middle Row.

Kensal New Town was an isolated community, separated from the Harrow Road and the rest of Kensal Green by the canal. When the Great Western Railway was built to the south, the isolation only increased. Kensal New Town was known as a “laundry colony”, that being the main occupation of the neighbourhood, many of whose inhabitants were Irish. Kensal New Town then had something of a rural character, with many people keeping pigs and growing vegetables in their gardens. Pony-trotting and dog stealing were also said to be popular local pursuits.

C. H. Blake’s purchased the Portobello estate from the Misses Talbot and the land included some sixteen acres to the north of the railway. This was in the vicinity of Bosworth Road, Hazlewood Crescent, Edenham Street and Southam Street, where the building of tightly-packed ranges of small narrow houses proceeded rapidly in the 1860s and 1870s, every room being occupied as fast as the houses were completed.

A night market was held on Saturdays where Wedlake Street is now - it was notorious for rowdy scenes until an iron chapel was built on the site. The village had six public houses and organised pitched battles between the youths of Kensal Road and Lissom Green were popular up to the end of the nineteenth century.

In the 1870s, what had been a footpath leading from Portobello Road to Kensal Road was planted with trees and named Britannia Road. Later the trees were cut down and the street was called Golbourne and later Golborne Road. Originally, it had been intended that Golborne Road should cross Kensal Road to a bridge across the canal, so forming a direct connection with Harrow Road.

By the early 1880s building development had been substantially finished. Many of the residents by now were railwaymen, while others were migrants whose previous homes in the central districts of London had been demolished.

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Kensal Road
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Main source

Citations and sources

Blog from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Library
Recollections of people from North Kensington, London
Gillian Bebbington's 1972 work on street name derivations

Links and further reading

Facebook group, covering the history of W10 and W11.
Facebook Page
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VIEW THE KENSAL TOWN 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 KENSAL TOWN 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 KENSAL TOWN 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 KENSAL TOWN 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 KENSAL TOWN AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

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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Maps


Inner West London (1932) FREE DOWNLOAD
1930s map covering East Acton, Holland Park, Kensington, Notting Hill, Olympia, Shepherds Bush and Westbourne Park,
George Philip & Son, Ltd./London Geographical Society, 1932

Central London, north west (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Central London, north west.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

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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