The Polygon

Residential/commercial block in/near Somers Town, existed between 1784 and 1894

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Residential/commercial block · Somers Town · NW1 · Contributed by The Underground Map
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.

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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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Post by LDNnews: Camden Town
All residents invited to return to the Chalcots Estate
We have now completed the urgent works identified by the London Fire Brigade related to fire containment issues inside the blocks on the Chalcots Estate and have invited all residents to return home. We thank all affected residents for their patience during this period of disruption. Our contractors worked around the clock to deliver the works outlined by the fire service but we couldn’t have achieved this without resident cooperation. A spokesperson from the London Fire Brigade said: “Our highly trained Inspecting Officers, have been working very closely with Camden Council since it was discovered that essential works were required in these four buildings on the Chalcots Estate. We agreed a list of works which would improve the general fire precautions in the building and mitigate the risks from fire. Officers from the LFB have visited the premises since the work began and are satisfied that sufficient progress has been made to allow a phased re-occupation of the buildings. The phasing of the re-occupation has started with the lower floors and progressing as works are completed on subsequent floors moving up through the buildings. “There is further work planned by the council to improve the fire doors and the aesthetic look of the remedial works undertaken so far. What has been achieved to allow reoccupation of the blocks must be maintained and that is very much a partnership effort between the council and residents to ensure self closers are left intact, fire doors are not wedged open and corridors are kept clear.’ Whilst residents were out of their homes, contractors completed the first phase of works ensuring residents are safe to return. Experienced independent building control inspectors, including members of the Institution of Fire Engineering, then signed them off. We have completed the following fire safety works to a standard that satisfies the London Fire Brigade’s requirements for reoccupation: The assessment of doors in the communal lobby areas and work completed to ensure that each of these doors is fitted with a self-closer. Improvement works to all stairwell entrance doors as required by the London Fire Brigade. We have upgraded these doors to include smoke strips to door edges and making sure doors fit properly. In the event of a fire, the smoke strips expand preventing smoke from entering escape routes. We have also fitted door closers and further smoke sealant to the windows. Upgrades to flat entrance doors. All front doors have been fitted with external door closers ensuring they meet the required fire resilience standard outlined by the London Fire Brigade and independent building control. We have also been making appointments with residents to carry out further internal improvements to the front doors including the installation of smoke seals on the inside. Whilst the external works are sufficient to meet the required fire resilience standard, we are keen to make further internal door upgrades whilst we wait for the delivery of new fire doors. Please call 020 7974 4444 (option 7) to arrange an appointment for us to undertake these works. Works to ensure compartmentation is maintained between floors, for example fire stopping where pipework or cables pass between communal areas and flats. All fire stopping works have been undertaken using fire rated materials and completed by registered contractors. These works help to prevent smoke from spreading beyond the floor where the fire started. The assessment of the basement and garage areas to make sure compartmentation and fire stopping is up to standard. This includes fitting stairwell doors with smoke strips, as well as improving fire stops between gas risers at the lowest level of the blocks. Assessment and repairs to ventilation grilles and checks to ensure Automatic Opening Vents are working properly. Automatic Opening Vents are present on each floor of the blocks, these vents automatically open when smoke escapes from a flat, setting off a sensor in a communal area of the floor. The open vents ensure smoke leaves the building helping to prevent escape routes filling with smoke. Future works We will be continuing to collaborate with the fire service and expert fire engineers to identify further improvements that can be made to ensure the highest standard of fire safety. Planned works include: Works to external cladding systems following government advice, which will follow the results of the BRE whole system tests. The installation of fire blankets within all flats, these should be installed within two metres of kitchen appliances. Portable Appliance Testing of white goods in all flats is underway on a block by block basis. This will be completed over the next few weeks. The installation of new front doors that provide up to 60 minutes of fire containment. These doors will be ‘secure by design’ and certified to PAS 24 standard, they will include a dual bolt Yale lock, three point deadlock and have been extensively tested to stand up to both fire and physical attack. A full schedule of these works is in development and we will provide a further update with an outline of the expected timeframe for completion in each block as soon as possible. If you are a Chalcots resident and would like to arrange for further works to report a snagging issue or book for the above works please call 020 7974 4444 (option 7). We will continue to keep the information and FAQs on our website up to date, and we will be releasing a longer-term schedule of safety works shortly. You can also read a copy of a letter sent to residents this morning, highlighting works completed so far and what is planned for the immediate future here. Visit to find out more or contact the Chalcots residents helpline on 020 7974 4444 (option 7).
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Agar Town:   Agar Town was a short-lived area, built in the 1840s, of St Pancras.
Euston:   London Euston is the southern terminus of the West Coast Main Line - serving Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
Somers Town:   Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Aldenham Street, NW1 · Barnby Street, NW1 · Bayham Place, NW1 · Bridgeway Street, NW1 · Burton Street, WC1H · Cardington Street, NW1 · Chalton Street, NW1 · Charrington Street, NW1 · Christopher Place, NW1 · Churchway, NW1 · Cobourg Street, NW1 · Crowndale Road, NW1 · Doric Way, NW1 · Drummond Street, NW1 · Dukes Road, WC1H · Endsleigh Gardens, WC1H · Euston Road, NW1 · Euston Street, NW1 · Eversholt Street, NW1 · Flaxman Terrace, WC1H · Godwin Court, NW1 · Goldington Crescent, NW1 · Goldington Street, NW1 · Hampden Close, NW1 · Lancing Street, NW1 · Lidlington Place, NW1 · Mayford, NW1 · Melton Street, NW1 · North Gower Street, NW1 · Oakley Square, NW1 · Ossulston Street, NW1 · Pancras Road, NW1 · Phoenix Road, NW1 · Polygon Road, NW1 · Seymour House, NW1 · Starcross Street, NW1 · Stephenson Way, NW1 · Tavistock House South, WC1H · Tavistock House, WC1H · Tiger House, WC1H · Upper Woborn Place, WC1H · Upper Woburn Place, WC1H · Werrington Street, NW1 · Woburn Walk, WC1H ·



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