Maida Vale, W9

Road in/near St John's Wood, existing between 1807 and now

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Road · St John's Wood · W9 ·

Maida Vale is the name of part of the A5 road running through northwest London.

Developed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the early 19th century as middle class housing, Maida Vale took its name from a public house named after John Stuart, Count of Maida, which opened on the Edgware Road soon after the Battle of Maida, 1806.

The whole area belonged to the bishop of London in 1647, when a Mrs. Wheatley was tenant of a wood and of 44 acres of pasture in 5 closes, which lay between the high road and the Westbourne stream - this was probably the forerunner of Kilburn Bridge Farm.

In 1742, when Richard Marsh was tenant, the farmhouse and its yards stood by the road close to the stream, with c. 39 acres in 6 closes to the south and west.

Farther south Paddington wood and some fields of Manor House farm abutted the road, with fields of Parsonage farm to the west. There were no other buildings then or in 1790. Kilburn Bridge Farm was 40 acres and worth £230 a year in 1795, when it supported rent charges towards the assistant curate’s stipend and payments for common rights to the parish.

Building was made possible by the Act of 1795 but for the northern part of the bishop’s estate, as for Tyburnia, the first agreements were sealed only in 1807.

The plots were strung along Edgware Road, in Hill field and Pond field and as far north as Paddington Wood. Francis Humbert of Marylebone and Abraham Callard of Paddington, builders, took a 61-year lease of part of Paddington Wood with a frontage of 150 ft. for six detached houses, each with 15 ft. in front, ’in a regular line and of a fourth rate of building’. The houses were to be of stock brick, with slate roofs, and dimensions were carefully specified, as in later leases. Another plot was leased in 1807 to Thomas Beedle, builder, for four houses. It had a frontage of 184 ft. and was bounded southeast by a ’street to Maida Hill’, presumably a forerunner of Maida Hill West (later Maida Avenue). Many new houses were leased from 1809 to 1814; a few were detached, others in pairs or terraces. Land behind the plots was granted for short terms to nurserymen.

The name Maida was first recorded in 1807, the year after Sir John Stuart’s victory over the French at Maida in Calabria (Italy). The Hero of Maida public house was licensed in 1810 at Maida Hill, which served as the name of a short stretch of Edgware Road near the new Regent’s canal. Part of that stretch, including the public house, was known in the mid 19th century as Maida Hill East. Meanwhile Maida Hill West became the name of the road along the southern bank of the canal (from 1939 called Maida Avenue). By 1828, as building had extended along Edgware Road, a short stretch beyond Maida Hill was called Maida Vale, which from 1868 was the name of the whole length of the road between the Regent’s canal and Kilburn. The name was applied popularly to a district by the mid 1880s, a fact which was recognized in the creation of Maida Vale ward in Paddington metropolitan borough.

Building had been planned from the south along Edgware Road before the construction of the Regent’s canal marked a clear division between the projected suburb and the neighbourhood of Paddington green. Further leases were granted from 1819: for two houses at Maida Hill, for two in 1820 and one in 1821 at Maida Hill West, and for two in 1820 at Maida Hill East. By 1828 houses lined the main road almost to the corner of Stranraer Place, which was to lead into Sutherland Gardens (both together forming Sutherland Avenue from 1887) and was about a third of the way to Kilburn bridge. Some houses, more widely detached, also lined Maida Hill West, although Blomfield Road did not yet skirt the north-west side of the canal.

Plans for the Paddington Estate north of the Regent’s canal were on as grand a scale as those for Tyburnia and covered a wider area. Gutch proposed long avenues, including Portsdown Road (from 1939 called Randolph Avenue), parallel with Edgware Road and crossed by Elgin Road (from 1886 called Elgin Avenue) and other westerly projections of roads from Marylebone, the monotony of the grid plan to be relieved by an enormous circus, ringed with crescents, in Elgin Road. A leading builder along Edgware Road was Hugh Biers, described later as an auctioneer and surveyor. He had land by 1828 in Maida Vale, where Hugh Biers the elder, also of Marylebone, had built two houses. The younger Biers, who had plans for Stranraer Place by 1832, took leases for 3 houses in Maida Vale in 1834, for 8 in Canterbury Villas in 1836, and for many more farther north in Carlton Villas between 1840 and 1842. By 1840 detached stuccoed villas lined most of Edgware Road, with a gap beyond the projected Elgin Road as far as Portsdown Terrace, which had replaced or been joined to Kilburn Bridge Farm and where Biers had taken leases for 12 houses. Very little building had apparently taken place behind the Edgware Road frontage, although part of Warwick Road (later Avenue) had been named by 1840 and Blomfield Road by 1841.

Progress over the fields north of the canal continued to be slow. In 1851 there were buildings only in Blomfield Road and in the quadrangle between that road, Clifton Place (later Villas), and the south end of Warwick Road enclosing Warwick Place. In 1857 Bristol Gardens still commanded uninterrupted country views to the north and west. Leases for 7 houses in Blomfield Road had been granted to John Pink, 6 of them in partnership, in 1840-2 and of 14 houses there or in Warwick Road to John Taft, who also took several in Maida Hill West, beside the canal west of Park Place, between 1840 and 1851. All the houses were stuccoed, those in Warwick Road being grander than those in Blomfield Road.

Growth was quicker in the 1850s, when a lease for 32 acres around Warwick Road and Warrington Crescent required building to be finished within eight years. An Italianate style was maintained, 16 of the 32 a. were set aside for gardens, and Warwick Road was widened to create a majestic approach to the new St. Saviour’s church. Roads with stuccoed houses included Randolph, Clarendon (later Clarendon Terrace and Gardens), and Clifton roads by 1855, Warwick Road West (renamed Warrington Terrace and later part of Warwick Avenue leading north-west past the church) by 1863, and the southern parts of Warrington Crescent, Randolph Crescent, and Castellain Road by 1869. The south end of the bishop’s Maida Vale estate thus came to resemble Tyburnia, even to the extent of being served by clusters of shops, around the Warwick Arms in Warwick Place and the Eagle in Clifton Road, and soon also in Formosa Street.

Meanwhile buildings had filled the entire Edgware Road frontage by 1851 and had started to form a humbler line behind, although only Andover Place, at the north end backing Portsdown Terrace, was complete by 1855. Park Road, begun by 1855, was projected to run along the Willesden boundary to meet the future Chippenham Road by 1861 and renamed Kilburn Park Road in 1862. Edward James Hewett, of Kilburn Park Road, built pairs of houses along the east side of Randolph Gardens, which were leased from 1864 and 1865.

The first line of housing behind Edgware Road had been completed by 1869, forming, from the south, Lanark, Canterbury, and Elgin terraces, Carlton Place (by 1901 called Carlton Mews), and Andover Place. Behind them the wider Portsdown Road (later Randolph Avenue) ran north to Randolph Gardens, with terraces on both sides as far as the corner with Sutherland Gardens but with open ground to the west as far north as Carlton Road (later Carlton Vale), which cut across the largely built-up land of Kilburn Bridge Farm. A new type of building, in red or multi-coloured brick, was used from the 1860s in the avenues parallel with Edgware Road and their cross-streets. It was soon to spread over the remaining land, giving most of Maida Vale an appearance very different from that of its southern, Italianate quarter.

Piecemeal building in many parts was planned in 1880, when the Paddington Estate made ten agreements, with different builders. Three agreements were for 91 or 92 terraced houses on the Paddington side of Kilburn Park Road, the largest being with George Godson for 50 or 51 houses, three were for between 50 and 61 in Sutherland Gardens, and the others were for 37 in Portsdown Road, 20 in Shirland Road, and a few in Formosa Street and Warwick Road West. The most expensive houses, to be worth at least £1,000 each, were to be in Sutherland Gardens and the cheapest, 17 at £200 and others at £500, in Kilburn Park Road. Their construction, including drainage and paving, and appearance were specified in detail: in Sutherland Gardens trees were to be planted and builders were to help purchasers in laying out general gardens behind, which eventually would be enclosed on all sides by new ranges. The leases were all for 98 years and the rents, as elsewhere, were to be divided between the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the beneficial lessees’ trustees.

Building continued steadily in the late 19th century but not very fast. Behind the frontages, built up except for a stretch of Portsdown Road, the area enclosed by Shirland, Kilburn Park, and Portsdown roads and Sutherland Avenue was empty in 1886, allowing time for c. 26 a. in the north part to be saved for public use as Paddington recreation ground. Essendine Road in 1895 was to be built up with 60 or more houses by William Henry Pearce, who had made the agreement of 1881 for Shirland Road. Morshead and Grantully roads, bordering the recreation ground, were to have flats in 1898 and 1899, as were the nearby Widley and Wymering roads in 1901. There remained gaps in the smarter area to the south, between Elgin and Sutherland avenues, although most of Lauderdale Road had been finished under an agreement of 1897. Infilling was carried out under agreements made between 1900 and 1902 for the rest of Elgin Avenue and for part of Castellain Road, although Delaware, Ashworth, and the west side of Castellain roads were still empty in 1910. Most infilling was with flats, which also replaced many villas along Edgware Road.

For all its wealth, Maida Vale was never as fashionable as the districts which overlooked Hyde Park. Titled residents were rare, although in 1858 the exqueen of Oudh lived in Warwick Road West and another Indian, the rajah of Coorg, nearby in Clifton Villas. Charles Ollier (1788-1859), publisher of Shelley and Keats, and Thomas Jefferson Hogg (1792-1862), Shelley’s biographer, both lived in Maida Place, the mid-century name for Edgware Road immediately north of Maida Hill. Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914), the artist and cartoonist, lived from c. 1854 in Portsdown Road, where the change of his address from no. 3 to no. 10 probably signified no more than a renumbering of the houses. The boys’ story writer Thomas Mayne Reid (1818- 83) died at no. 12 Blomfield Road, the poet John Davidson was at no. 19 Warrington Crescent from 1889 until 1909, the radio engineer Sir Ambrose Fleming at no. 9 Clifton Gardens from 1890 to 1896, and John Masefield at no. 30 Maida Avenue from 1907 until 1909.

Maida Vale was notable in the late 19th century for its Large number of Jewish people. The first influx had been into Bayswater, where a synagogue had opened in 1863, but thereafter Jews settled both farther west and to the north, as Portsdown Road and its neighbourhood were built up. In the 1880s at least 1,000 and possibly 2,000 out of Maida Vale’s estimated 10,000 residents were Jewish and by 1890 the area supplied more than half the members of Bayswater synagogue.

The comparatively slow spread of building over the heart of Maida Vale, in contrast to the building of St. Peter’s Park south-west of Shirland Road, was presumably due to the ambition to maintain the character of a largely upper middle-class district.

Much of Maida Vale was classified as wealthy c. 1890, including the Edgware Road frontage from Stranraer Place (leading to Sutherland Avenue) to slightly north of Carlton Vale, and the whole of Sutherland Avenue east of Shirland Road, with Warrington and Randolph crescents and Clifton Gardens. Most of the southern portion, including Blomfield, Warwick, and Randolph roads, was wellto-do, as were the whole of Portsdown Road, part of Carlton Vale, and, so far as they had been completed, Elgin Avenue and Lauderdale Road. The long terraces between Edgware and Portsdown roads were ’comfortable’ and the houses fringing the area along Kilburn Park and Shirland roads were of mixed poverty and comfort. Most of the tradesmen and artisans in the south part, off Clifton Road and Formosa Street, were considered ’pretty comfortable’, although there were a few poor cabmen, sweeps, and ostlers. Only in the northern corner were there many poor, notably in Carlton Mews and Andover Place. The two streets, with 17 and 19 houses respectively and densities of 7.8 and 6 persons to a house, were among the eleven most overcrowded in Paddington, although much better than some near the canal.

Middle-class flats, including many of the earliest in London, were built from the 1890s, perhaps’partly because buyers of large houses were tending to settle farther out. Some blocks replaced older villas, particularly along the stretch of Edgware Road called Maida Vale, and others filled empty sites. Building also took place on the Marylebone side of the road and continued in the 20th century, giving the area much of its later character.

The first flats were planned in 1890, when nos. 1 and 3 Maida Vale, at the corner of Blomfield Road, were to be replaced by one or two buildings before the end of 1891. As Maida Vale Mansions (later Cunningham Court) the block had 22 flat-holders in 1902, when it was the only one on that side of the road. The adjoining site of nos. 5 to 35 (odd), however, had been leased for rebuilding in 1895 and was filled with Aberdeen and Blomfield courts in 1903. with Clarendon Court between them. Clarendon Court was claimed in 1917 as the first and most up-to-date of its kind in London, with flats, single chambers, a restaurant, and a booking office for theatres. Farther north, beyond Clifton Avenue, nos. 63-73 Maida Vale in 1900 and nos. 95-103 in 1902 were to make way for flats, built as Alexandra Court by 1906 and Sandringham Court by 1908. Much of the open land south-west of the main road had likewise been filled with blocks: Carlton Mansions, for 90 flat-holders, at the north-west end of Portsdown Road, and Elgin Mansions, for 80, and Ashworth Mansions along the north side of Elgin Avenue, all by 1902, and the nearby Biddulph Mansions in 1907 and Delaware Mansions in 1908.

Early flat-holders needed to be able to pay a large premium or invest in an estate company. The period immediately before the First World War was also that of the ’almost Corinthian days of Maida Vale’, when jokes were made about mistresses kept there in discreet apartments. During the war unprecedented damage was caused by a bomb in Warrington Crescent, where the king and queen came after four houses had been destroyed and 140 affected nearby in 1918.

In the 1920s and 1930s Maida Vale continued to be described as one of London’s most desirable suburbs, with ’handsome piles of residential mansions’ and superior detached houses. Maida Vale ward retained a lower density than any other in Paddington except the two Lancaster Gate wards, having only 81 persons to an acre in 1921, 85.9 in 1931, and 85.3 in 1951. Some large houses were subdivided, notably in Portsdown Road, where two had been listed as lodging houses in 1902 and 13 offered apartments in 1927. Since no fresh building land was available, the main change was the replacement of houses by more flats. In Edgware Road Clive Court was inserted between Alexandra and Sandringham courts, in the style of its neighbours, in 1923 and Hamilton Court was built south of Elgin Avenue in 1937. In the far north, where some of the earliest leases fell in, an agreement of 1935 provided for roadside villas and the poor housing behind in Andover Place to make way for 250 working-class flats, opened in 1937 as Dibdin House. The flats were the first on the estate to be in the direct control of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who acquired a long lease from the beneficial lessees.

Flat-building along both sides of Edgware Road had made the Maida Vale section ’typical of suburban arterial roads in fairly well-to-do districts’ by the time of the Second World War. There were few further changes for another twenty years, since the Church Commissioners, while retaining control in the 1950s, did not draw up an ambitious rebuilding scheme like that for the Hyde Park estate. Isolated projects included Melbourne Court at the south end of Randolph Avenue, built by Blomfield Development Corporation in 1960, of which the Church Commissioners bought the leasehold, and the adjacent Browning, Elizabeth, and Robert closes. Along Edgware Road many more villas made way for flats after 1964: Stuart Tower, a joint venture by the Church Commissioners and George Wimpey & Co., south of Sutherland Avenue, the G.L.C.’s Atholl, Braemar, and Dundee houses to the north, and Edinburgh, Falkirk, and Glasgow houses between Elgin Avenue and Carlton Vale were all built by 1975. The G.L.C.’s flats were part of its Maida Vale housing estate, for which more room was made by widespread clearance south of St. Augustine’s church: Helmsdale, Invergarry, Keith, and Melrose houses occupied the south side of Carlton Vale, and Thurso, Renfrew, Strome, and Peebles houses, and an old people’s home called Carlton Dene, the north side. Farther north the G.L.C. built Torridon House at the corner of Randolph Gardens and Kilburn Park Road. Paddington Churches Housing Association had converted 21 houses in Randolph Avenue into 123 units by 1985.

In 1981 it was decided to sell the entire Maida Vale estate, consisting of c. 200 a. with more than 2,000 properties. The sale was the most valuable yet undertaken by the Church Commissioners, who offered tenants a 20 per cent discount on the assessed market value of their houses and flats. Disagreement over the valuations, particularly in Little Venice, ’Maida Vale’s most desirable part’, was such that less than a quarter of the properties had been sold by mid 1982. In 1985 it was expected that two thirds would be sold by the end of the year. There were, however, complaints about gentrification, after a steep rise in the value of houses bought by companies for conversion into flats.

Most of the Maida Vale section of Edgware Road is dominated on both sides by blocks of flats. Cunningham Court is five- or six-storeyed, faced with red brick and stone or terracotta dressings, opposite the mock-Tudor of Clifton Court in Marylebone. The Clarendon Court hotel, Boehmer & Gibbs’s Blomfield Court, and Alexandra, Clive, and Sandringham courts are also red-brick and ornate, overshadowing the last of the 19th-century villas which survive as pairs on either side of the ends of shopping ranges which extend down Clifton Road. The pairs, from nos. 37/39 to 57/59 Maida Vale, are of four storeys and basement; although converted into banks, shops, and offices, some still have their pillared porches. North-west of Sandringham Court the buildings are more modern, many of them set back amid lawns and bearing the numbers of some of the villas which they have replaced: the seventeenstoreyed Stuart Tower (no. 105 Maida Vale), the six-storeyed brown-brick Atholl, Braemar, and Dundee houses (nos. 125, 135, and 145), part of the G.L.C.’s Maida Vale housing estate and in scale with the private Hamilton Court (no. 149) by Beresford Marshall, and the taller Edinburgh, Falkirk, and Glasgow houses (nos. 155, 165, and 175), also municipal. From Carlton Vale stretch the fivestoreyed brick blocks of Dibdin House by Caroë & Passmore, incorporating a shopping parade near Kilburn Park Road.

The heart of Maida Vale, south of Paddington recreation ground, is residential, containing mostly brick terraces of the 1860s and later. There are a few shops at the east end of Sutherland and Elgin avenues, at the north end of Lauderdale Road, and, to the west, in Shirland Road. The earlier terraces include one of 21 bays at nos. 124-64 Randolph Avenue, containing houses of five storeys above a basement, and nos. 237-55 and 290-304 Elgin Avenue. The Randolph Avenue terrace, a symmetrical composition, with its mews to the north, is the most elaborate: grey brick with red-brick or polychrome dressings, it shows the impact of Ruskin’s Stones of Venice on the decoration of standard London housing. (fn. 117) Most of the later buildings are red-brick, in wide roads lined with plane trees. Middle-class flats predominate from c. 1900, often in very long ranges, which are, however, less massive than the blocks in Edgware Road, being mainly fourstoreyed in keeping with the neighbouring terraced houses. An example of such blending is Carlton Mansions at the north-west end of Randolph Avenue, backing on to the recreation ground and facing a slightly older brick terrace. Some of the last roads to be built up have nothing but flats: the central section of Elgin Road has Elgin Mansions and Ashworth Mansions facing Biddulph Mansions, by Boehmer & Gibbs who also designed Delaware Mansions in Delaware Road; Lauderdale Road is lined on both sides by Lauderdale Mansions, and the northern stretch of Castellain Road by Castellain Mansions. The only buildings later than 1920 are in Biddulph and Ashworth roads, where two-storeyed houses have filled the last empty sites.

The northernmost tip of Maida Vale, partly cut off from the avenues of mansion flats by Paddington recreation ground, is a comparatively bleak area of council housing. It is dominated by the nine-storeyed Torridon House, built for the G.L.C., and St. Augustine’s church, which retains a rough, treeringed enclosure. Most of the old housing has made way for blocks belonging to the Maida Vale housing estate, lower than the tallest ones in Edgware Road but in a similar style: Helmsdale House and other buildings of six storeys or less, on either side of Carlton Vale. Nos. 2, 4, and 6 Kilburn Park Road, with four storeys and basements, remain from the terrace on the north side, next to St. Augustine’s primary school. A few other tall houses of the 1860s, in pairs and with pillared porches, survive in Randolph Gardens, towards the east end of Carlton Vale, and at the top of Randolph Avenue, most of them in bad condition. Humbler houses stretch in a long terrace south-westward from Carlton Vale along the Paddington side of Kilburn Park Road, where renovation is under way, in contrast to the open spaces and tower blocks on the Willesden side.

Main source: British History Online
Further citations and sources



St John's Wood

St John’s Wood is an affluent district, north west of Regent’s Park.

St John’s Wood was once part of the Great Forest of Middlesex with the name deriving from its mediaeval owners, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Knights Hospitallers), an Augustinian order. The order took over the land from the Knights Templar in 1323.

After the Reformation and the Dissolution of monastic orders, St John’s Wood became Crown land, and Henry VIII established Royal Hunting Grounds in what became known as Marylebone Park.

Until the end of the eighteenth century, the area was agricultural.

St John’s Wood was developed from the early 19th century onwards. It was one of the first London suburbs to be developed with a large amount of low density ’villa’ housing, as opposed to the terraced housing which was the norm in London up to the 19th century. Parts of St John’s Wood have been rebuilt at a higher density but it remains one of the most expensive areas of London.

St John’s Wood is the location of Lord’s Cricket Ground and for Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles recorded.

The Rolling Stones referenced St John’s Wood in their song Play With Fire. Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones lived on Carlton Hill, at the northern edge of St John’s Wood, in the 1960s.

St John’s Wood station was opened on 20 November 1939 on a new section of deep-level tunnel constructed between Baker Street and Finchley Road when the Metropolitan Line’s services on its Stanmore branch were transferred to the Bakerloo Line. It was transferred along with the rest of the Stanmore branch to the Jubilee Line when it opened in 1979. With the opening of St John’s Wood station, two nearby stations on the Metropolitan Line were closed. These were Lord’s (which had originally been opened in 1868 as St John’s Wood Road) and Marlborough Road.

The station building is located on the corner of Acacia Road and Finchley Road. The station is the nearest one to Lord’s Cricket Ground and Abbey Road Studios. For this reason Beatles memorabilia are sold at the station.

The platform design remains the same as when opened in 1939, and was designed by Harold Stabler.
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