Kensal House, W10

Residential/commercial block in/near Kensal Town, existing between 1936 and now

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Residential/commercial block · Kensal Town · W10 · Contributed by The Underground Map
December
26
2017

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Kensal House (1936), was designed to show off the power of gas and originally had no electricity at all.

Built next to Kensal Green Gas Works, it was designed by architect Maxwell Fry in collaboration with Elizabeth Denby to set new standards.

Originally, the building was intended for the housing of the employees of the Gas Light and Coke Company and was situated on the company site. Until the Second World War, blocks of flats were often designed to include communal amenities. For the wealthy, these were an added luxury or convenience paid for by a service charge, while for the less well-off in state housing they were a way of sharing basic facilities. In this progressive modernist housing scheme there were communal workshops and other shared facilities, including a community centre, crèche, communal laundry and canteen facilities.

The original design of the Kensal House flats was intended to act as a competitor to the advance of electricity as both as lighting and power source. As originally designed, in Kensal House, there was no electricity supply at all.

There was an electrical battery used to ignite the centre ceiling room lights. The wall switch, when pushed downwards activated a cable which opened thr gas flow to the centre room light. This also sent a supply from the battery to a heating element which ignited the gas to the gas mantle, which then lit the room.

Cooking was done on a gas oven, and gas hob, and the heating of the hot water was by way of a gas geyser. (A geyser by the way was a device which was fixed to the wall in the kitchen; it was about 24 inches high and about 6 inches diameter. It had a water supply connection, and a gas supply connection, and was designed to supply instant hot water whenever it was needed. It worked by way of a water valve, which operated as soon as water flowed through it, because the water also open the gas valve which was then ignited by a small pilot light, which then heated the water to the water tap in both the kitchen and bathroom. Therefore only the required amount of hot water was used, as the water heating only worked when the water flowed through it.)

Room heating was by way of a open coke fire in the sitting room and a gas fire in the main bedroom.

The amenities were: a bathroom and toilet, a fitted kitchen, a gas-heated boiler for clothes washing, a larder cupboard, clothes drying balcony, a further balcony adjoining the living room and bedrooms (two or three in number).

Each flat had a loudspeaker fixed to the wall. There was also a switch which gave a limited choice of programmes. This was all controlled from a radio room on the roof of Kensal House, and the caretaker was the only person with control over what was listened to. While obviously there was an electrical supply to the radio room, there was no control, other than the loudspeaker in the flat.

Communal living facilities weres a great step forward from the norm, with two large green lawn areas, a workshop for the men tenants, and classes for dressmaking and similar activities for the women tenants. The club activities encompassed acting, cooking, and various instructional classes for both sexes. There was a full time caretaker who kept the estate clean and tidy, and who had the additional responsibility of ensuring all children were sent home to their parents at 9 o'clock every evening.

There were two club areas on the ground floor, one for adults and one for young children, in addition there was as purpose-built nursery at the rear of the flats, which also housed a childrens' playground.

For some unknown reason, the Gas Light and Coke Company workers were never actually housed in the flats once built - the property was acquired by a housing trust and let out to the poorer families of the area.

At the start of World War Two, it was decided to provide an air raid shelter for the occupants of Kensal House..

A decision was made to dig up the (beautiful) lawn between the front and rear block of the building (between the two club houses), and consequently a very large hole was dug out in the lawn. When the hole was some 20 to 30 feet deep, someone observed that if a German bomb hit the building, the buildings would collapse over the air raid shelter, and bury those sheltering in them. A panic-stricken authority immediately filled in the costly hole, and began to dig up the rear children's playground where the shelters were finally constructed. While the entrances to the two shelters were filled in at the end of W.W.2., the actual shelters still exist under the playground.

Contribution by Frank Hatton

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence



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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.

 

 
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North Kensington

North Kensington lies either side of Ladbroke Grove, W10.

North Kensington was rural until the 19th century when it was developed as an suburb with quite large homes. By the 1880s, too many houses had been built for the upper-middle class towards whom the area was aimed. Large houses were divided into low cost flats which often degenerated into slums, as documented in the photographs of Roger Mayne.

During the 1980s, the area started to be gentrified although areas in the north west of the district at Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park remain deprived and run down to this day.

Waves of immigrants have arrived for at least a century including, but certainly not limited to, the Spanish, the Irish, the Jews, the West Indians, the Portuguese, the Moroccans and many from the Horn of Africa and Eastern Europe. This constant renewal of the population makes the area one of the most cosmopolitan in London.

The Notting Hill carnival was first staged in 1964 as a way for the local Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and traditions. After some rough times in the 1970s and 1980s when it became associated with social protest, violence and huge controversy over policing tactics, this is now Europe’s largest carnival/festival event and a major event in the London calendar. It is staged every August over the Bank holiday weekend.


LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
6 East Row, W10: Scott Hatton:   Scott Hatton lived here in 1960
Admiral Blake (The Cowshed):   The Admiral Blake was situated at the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Barlby Road.
Ark Brunel Primary Academy:   Academy sponsor led (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
Bales College:   Other independent school which accepts students between the ages of 11 and 20. Admissions policy: Non-selective.
Carmelite Monastery of The Most Holy Trinity:   Convent in North Kensington
Chamberlayne Farm:   Chamberlain (Wood) Farm developed out of the manor of Chambers, named after Richard de Camera, an early 13th century cleric.
Clayton Arms:   A pub which was situated halfway down West Row in Kensal Town.
Color Printing Works:   Color (sic) Printing Works featured on the 1900 map of North Kensington.
Dissenters’ Chapel:   The Dissenters’ Chapel is a redundant chapel in Kensal Green Cemetery, recorded in the National Heritage List for England as a designated Grade II* listed building.
Early Years Service at Holmfield House:   This is a children’s centre.
Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance:   Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance is the traditional starting point for the Notting Hill Carnival.
Gas Light and Coke Company:   The gasometers of the Gas Light and Coke company dominated North Kensington until demolition in the late 20th century.
Jack of Newbury:   The Jack of Newbury stood at the corner of East Row and Kensal Road until it was bombed on 2 October 1940.
Kensal House:   There are two Kensal Houses in London W10 - this was the original
Kensal Town:   Soapsuds Island
Lads of the Village:   One of the signature public houses along Kensal Road.
Middle Row Bus Garage:   Middle Row Bus Garage was situated on the corner of Conlan Street and Middle Row, W10.
Middle Row School:   Middle Row School was established in the late 19th century to provide education to the children of Kensal New Town.
Notting Hill in Bygone Days: St. Charles’s Ward:   Chapter 10 of the book "Notting Hill in Bygone Days" by Florence Gladstone (1924)
Portobello Arms:   The Portobello Arms was a former pub in Kensal Town, established in 1842.
Queen Victoria/Narrow Boat:   The 'Vic' was the first building on the right when crossing the canal going north along Ladbroke Grove.
Queens Park Estate:   The part of Queen's Park which is in the W10 postcode and City of Westminster, is known as the Queens Park Estate.
Queen’s Park Library:   Queen’s Park Library was built to improve the minds of the new Queen’s Park Estate residents.
Saint John the Evangelist:   Saint John’s Church stands on the busy crossroads of Harrow Road, Kilburn Lane and Ladbroke Grove and on the boundaries of the London Boroughs of Brent, Kensington and the City of Westminster, in which it stands.
Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary School:   Voluntary aided school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
Sion-Manning Catholic Girls’ School:   Voluntary aided school (Secondary) which accepts students between the ages of 11 and 16. Admissions policy: Comprehensive (secondary).
St Charles Catholic Primary School:   Voluntary aided school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
St Charles Hospital:   The St Marylebone workhouse infirmary was opened in 1881 on Rackham Street, North Kensington and received a congratulatory letter from Florence Nightingale.
St Martins Mission:   Saint Martin's Mission was originally known as Rackham Hall as it was situated on Rackham Street.
St Thomas’ CofE Primary School:   Voluntary aided school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
The Eagle:   The Eagle, on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Telford Road.
The Earl Derby:   The Earl Derby stood on the corner of Southern Row and Bosworth Road.
The Flora:   The Flora is situated on Harrow Road, W10.
The Foresters:   A lost pub of London W10
The Lloyd Williamson School:   Other independent school which accepts students between the ages of 1 and 16. Admissions policy: Non-selective.
The Plough:   From the sixteenth century onwards, the Plough stood beside the Harrow Road.
The Prince of Wales (Chilled Eskimo):   A pub in Kensal Town
Wedlake Street Baths:   In a time when most had somewhere to live but few had somewhere to wash at home, public baths were the place to go...
Western Arms:   The Western Arms was a pub situated on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Kensal Road.


PHOTOS OF THE AREA
Adair Road junction with Southam Street (1932):   A wet day in London W10.
Adair Road, W10:   Adair Road junction with Appleford Road, March 1964
Adair Road, W10:   Adair Road is a street on the Kensal Town/North Kensington borders.
Corner of Rackham Street, Ladbroke Grove (1950):   The bombing of the Second World War meant that some whole streets were wiped off the future map. Rackham Street, in London W10, was one of them.
Exmoor Street (1950):   Photographed just after the Second World War, looking north along Exmoor Street.
Ladbroke Grove looking north (1900):   This early 1900s image was taken just south of the junction of Ladbroke Grove and Treverton Street.
Ladbroke Grove looking north (1950):   Ladbroke Grove on the corner of St Charles Sqaure taken outside the Eagle public house, looking north, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.
Ladbroke Grove railway bridge:   Looking north over Bartle Bridge in the 1950s
Rackham Street, eastern end (1950):   The bombing of the Second World War meant that some whole streets were wiped off the future map. Rackham Street, in London W10, was one of them.
Rackham Street, western end (1950):   A bombed-out Rackham Street, looking down from the junction with Exmoor Street.
St Charles Square after bombing (1950):   A corner of St Charles Square looking north, just after the Second World War
St Charles Square ready for redevelopment (1951):   Photographed in 1951, the corner of St Charles Square and Ladbroke Grove looking northwest just after the Second World War.
St Charles’ Square Training College (1908):   St Charles’ Square Training College/Carmelite Convent.
The Victoria (1920s):   The Victoria later became the Narrow Boat before it ’conveniently burned down’.
Western Dwellings from below (1960s):   This photo was taken from the bottom of Southern Row steps.
William Miller's Yard:   William Miller's Yard stood in Chapel Place, West Row.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Adair Road, W10 · Adela Street, W10 · Admiral Mews, W10 · Alderson Street, W10 · Appleford Road, W10 · Barlby Gardens, W10 · Bonchurch Road, W10 · Bosworth Road, W10 · Branstone Street, W10 · Briar Walk, W10 · Bruce Close, W10 · Buller Road, NW10 · Canal Close, W10 · Canal Way, W10 · Compton Road, NW10 · Conlan Street, W10 · Droop Street, W10 · East Row, W10 · Edenham Way, W10 · Elkstone Road, W10 · Exmoor Street, W10 · Faraday Road, W10 · Fifth Avenue, W10 · Fourth Avenue, W10 · Galton Street, W10 · Golborne Gardens, W10 · Golborne Mews, W10 · Halstow Road, NW10 · Harrow Road, W10 · Hawthorn Walk, W10 · Hazlewood Crescent, W10 · Hewer Street, W10 · Huxley Street, W10 · Ilbert Street, W10 · Kensal Road, W10 · Kilravock Street, W10 · Ladbroke Grove, W10 · Lavie Mews, W10 · Lionel Mews, W10 · Manchester Drive, W10 · Maple Walk, W10 · Matthew Close, W10 · Maxilla Walk, W10 · Methwold Road, W10 · Middle Row, W10 · Peach Road, W10 · Pember Road, NW10 · Porlock Street, W10 · Rackham Street, W10 · Raymede Street, W10 · Regent Street, NW10 · Ronan Walk, W10 · Saint Mark’s Road, W10 · Saint Michaels Gardens, W10 · Salters Road, W10 · Sixth Avenue, W10 · Southern Row, W10 · St Johns Terrace, W10 · St Marks Road, W10 · Sycamore Walk, W10 · Telford Road, W10 · The Quadrant, W10 · Tollbridge Close, W10 · Treverton Street, W10 · Warfield Road, NW10 · Wedlake Street, W10 · Wellington Road, NW10 · West Row, W10 · Western Dwellings · Wheatstone Road, W10 ·

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Links

North Kensington Histories
Recollections of people from North Kensington, London
RBKC Library Time Machine
Blog from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Library
Old Notting Hill/North Ken History
Facebook group, covering the history of W10 and W11.
Kensal Green
Facebook Page
Ladbroke Grove
Facebook Page
Queen’s Park
Facebook Page
The Notting Hill & North Kensington Photo Archive
Facebook group
Born in W10
Facebook group
Hidden London
Histor­ically inclined look at the capital’s obscure attractions
British History Online
Digital library of key printed primary and secondary sources.
Londonist
All-encompassing website
Time Out
Listings magazine

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)

John Rocque Map of Ealing and Acton (1762)
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers an area from Greenford in the northwest to Hammersmith in the southeast.
John Rocque, The Strand, London

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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