East Row, W10

Road in/near Kensal Town, existing between the 1840s and now

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Road · Kensal Town · W10 ·

East Row is a road with a long history within Kensal Town.

Numbers 13-20 East Row on 6 July 1911. These cottages were demolished soon after the photo was taken and a park took their place.
Credit: Kensington Archives
The first settlements of Kensal New Town were in place by 1840, including East Row, Middle Row, West Row and South Row. At the beginning, the area was known as a laundry colony, that being the main occupation of the neighbourhood.

Kensal New Town in those days had something of a rural character, with many people keeping pigs.

The village had six public houses.

Things began to change quickly after the opening of the Hammersmith and City Railway and the station on Ladbroke Grove (originally called Notting Hill) in 1864. That meant that people who were working in the City could now commute from Notting Hill and this stimulated the building of houses, shops and pubs on the farmland to the south.

In the 1870s, what had been a footpath leading from Portobello Road to Kensal Road was turned into a road which became Golborne Road.

The cottages depicted in the photograph were unusually run-down and small, even for the London of 1911 - the date of the image. Soon after 1911, the cottages were demolished and their site converted into a small park. The land from later demolitions (post-Second World War) were added to expand the park.

Sources: Notting Hill in Bygone Days by Florence Gladstone and Ashley Barker; Portobello, Its People, Its Past, Its Present by Sharon Whetlor and Liz Bartlett (Kensington & Chelsea Community History Group)


Numbers 13-20 East Row on 6 July 1911. These cottages were demolished soon after the photo was taken and a park took their place.
Kensington Archives


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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