and King’s Cross.
Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and 6
74' target='_top'>Euston Road
s, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road
74' target='_top'>Euston Road
and Eversholt Street
Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1726
). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (166
), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.
In the mid 176
34' target='_top'>50s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1754
' target='_top'>84, 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
deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 18
30s 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 16
32' target='_top'>9th 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 186
8 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 16
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 16
. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate
32' target='_top'>927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.
During the early 16
s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Street
s was a centre for the squatting movement.
In the 16
32' target='_top'>980s, 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 20
08, 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.