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Residential/commercial block · Somers Town · NW1 · Contributed by The Underground Map
July
2
2017
The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.

The Polygon was a housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.

In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon, Clarendon Square, amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The area appears to have initially appealed to middle-class people fleeing the French Revolution.

Clarendon Square occupied the site formerly covered by the barracks of the Life Guards.

Two of the most famous residents of the Polygon were William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Another former Polygoner was Charles Dickens, who lived at No 17 in the 1820s shortly after his father, John Dickens, was released from debtors prison. Dickens later made the Polygon a home for his ’Bleak House’ character Harold Skimpole, and he in turn may well have been modelled on Godwin. As late as 1832, Somers Town was full of artists

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

It was demolished in the 1890s, by which time Somers Town had become a cheap and run-down neighbourhood, almost entirely because of its location next to Euston station - built in the 1830s.

The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court, which features a commemorative plaque for Wollstonecraft.

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VIEW THE SOMERS 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 SOMERS 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 SOMERS 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 SOMERS 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 SOMERS TOWN AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

 
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Somers Town

Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Roads, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road, Euston Road and Eversholt Street.

Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1725–1806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (1651–1716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.

In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court.

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about six hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children’s play area and sports court.

Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.

During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Streets was a centre for the squatting movement.

In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.

Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.

Land at Brill Place, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.


LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Agar Town:   Agar Town was a short-lived area, built in the 1840s, of St Pancras.
Conservatoire for Dance and Drama:   Higher education institutions
Edith Neville Primary School:   Community school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
Euston:   London Euston is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line - serving Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Maria Fidelis Roman Catholic Convent School FCJ:   Voluntary aided school (Secondary) which accepts students between the ages of 11 and 18. Admissions policy: Comprehensive (secondary).
Ossulston Estate:   The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
Regent High School:   Community school (Secondary) which accepts students between the ages of 11 and 18. Admissions policy: Comprehensive (secondary).
Richard Cobden Primary School:   Community school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
Somers Town:   Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
St Aloysius Catholic Primary School:   Voluntary aided school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
St Mary and St Pancras Church of England Primary School:   Voluntary aided school (Primary) which accepts students between the ages of 3 and 11.
The Working Men’s College:   Further education (16 plus) which accepts students between the ages of 16 and 99.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Aldenham Street, NW1 · Ampere Way, CR0 · Barnby Street, NW1 · Barnby Street, NW1W · Bayham Place, NW1 · Baynham Place, NW1 · Bridgeway Street, NW1 · Brill Place, NW1 · Burton Street, WC1H · Cardington Street, NW1 · Chalton Street, NW1 · Charrington Street, NW1 · Chenies Place, NW1 · Christopher Place, NW1 · Church Way, NW1 · Churchway, NW1 · Cobourg Street, NW1 · Cooper’s Lane, NW1 · Cranleigh Street, NW1 · Crowndale Court, NW1 · Crowndale Road, NW1 · Doric Way, NW1 · Doric Way, NW1 · Drummond Crescent, NW1 · Drummond Street, NW1 · Duke’s Road, WC1H · Dukes Road, WC1H · Endsleigh Gardens, WC1H · Euston Road, NW1 · Euston Road, WC1H · Euston Square, NW1 · Euston Street, NW1 · Eversholt Street, NW1 · Flaxman Terrace, NW1 · Flaxman Terrace, WC1H · Godwin Court, NW1 · Goldington Crescent, NW1 · Goldington Street, NW1 · Grafton Place, NW1 · Hampden Close, NW1 · Lancing Street, NW1 · Lidlington Place, NW1 · Mayford, NW1 · Medburn Street, NW1 · Melton Street, NW1 · North Gower Street, NW1 · Oakley Square, NW1 · Oakshott Court, NW1 · Ossulston Street, NW1 · Pancras Road, NW1 · Penryn Street, NW1 · Phoenix Road, NW1 · Polygon Road, NW1 · Purchese Street, NW1 · Seymour House, NW1 · Somers Close, NW1 · St Pancras Cruising Club, N1C · Starcross Street, NW1 · Stephenson Way, NW1 · Tavistock House South, WC1H · Tavistock House, WC1H · Tiger House, WC1H · Unity Mews, NW1 · Upper Woborn Place, WC1H · Upper Woburn Place, WC1H · Werrington Street, NW1 · Woburn Walk, WC1H ·

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