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 HattonLicence:
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence
|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).
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|VIEW THE KENSAL TOWN AREA IN THE 1800s|
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
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|VIEW THE KENSAL TOWN AREA IN THE 1830s|
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
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|VIEW THE KENSAL TOWN AREA IN THE 1860s|
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
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|VIEW THE KENSAL TOWN AREA IN THE 1900s|
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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.
Admiral Blake (The Cowshed)
|LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP|
: The Admiral Blake was situated at the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Barlby Road.Barlby Road Primary School
: Barlby Road Primary School has long served the children of North Kensington.Carmelite Monastery of The Most Holy Trinity
: Convent in North KensingtonChamberlayne 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.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.Help us to build a better W10!
: We are after your memories!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 originalKensal Town
: Soapsuds IslandLads 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.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. Scott Hatton lived here
: Scott Hatton lived here between 1900 and 2017St 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. 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 W10The Prince of Wales (Chilled Eskimo)
: A pub in Kensal TownWedlake 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.Adair Road junction with Southam Street (1932)
: A wet day in London W10.Adair Road, W10
: Adair Road junction with Appleford Road, March 1964Adair 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 1950sLothrop Street (1907)
: 2015Rackham 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 WarSt 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.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.
Adair Road, W10
|NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP|
· Adela Street, W10
· Admiral Mews, W10
· Alderson Street, W10
· Appleford House, W10
· Appleford Road, W10
· Banister Road, W10
· Barlby Gardens, 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
· Elkstone Road, W10
· Embrook Street, W10
· Enbrook Street, W10
· Exmoor Street, W10
· Faraday Road, W10
· Farrant Street, W10
· Fifth Avenue, W10
· Fourth Avenue, W10
· Galton Street, W10
· Galton Street, W10
· Golborne Gardens, W10
· Harrow Road, W10
· Hawthorn Walk, W10
· Hazlewood Crescent, W10
· Heather Walk, 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
· Lothrop Street, W10
· Manchester Drive, W10
· Maple Walk, W10
· Marne Street, W10
· Matthew Close, W10
· Maxilla Walk, W10
· Middle Row, W10
· Munro Mews, W10
· Nutbourne Street, W10
· Oliphant Street, W10
· Peach Road, W10
· Pember Road, NW10
· Porlock Street, W10
· Rackham Street, W10
· Raymede Street, W10
· Regent Street, NW10
· Ronan Walk, W10
· Sixth Avenue, W10
· Southern Row, W10
· St Johns Terrace, W10
· Sycamore Walk, W10
· Symphony Mews, W10
· Telford Road, W10
· The Quadrant, W10
· Treverton Street, W10
· Warfield Road, NW10
· Wedlake Street, W10
· Wellington Road, NW10
· West Row, W10
· Western Dwellings
· Wheatstone Road, W10
· Wornington Road, W10
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