Kensal Town

Suburb, existing between the 1830s and now

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Suburb · Kensal Town · W10 ·
MARCH
23
2015

Soapsuds Island

Kensal Town
Kensal New Town was built between the Grand Central Canal (which opened in 1801) and the Great Western Railway line (opening in 1837) in the 1840s.

Single-storey cottages with gardens suitable for drying clothes were the first buildings and Kensal Road, Middle Row, West Row, East Row and Southern Row all appeared between 1841 and 1851. The rows of cottages quickly degenerated into a slum, mainly due to overcrowding, industrialisation and pollution.

The area was dominated by the Western Gas Company and Kensal Cemetery, which provided work but did little to improve the environment. Women were primarily involved in laundry work giving the area its nickname of ‘Soapsuds Island’.

The area was isolated from the rest of London at a time when Portobello Lane (now Portobello Road) was a muddy track sometimes impassable in bad weather.

Cut off from the municipal authorities it was left to charities to attempt to alleviate the social and health problems.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the cottage laundry industry began to be replaced by larger mechanized concerns.

In 1902 Charles Booth described it as, “Just as full of children and poverty as was the old woman’s dwelling in the nursery rhyme.” By this date the area had been transferred to the newly formed Royal Borough of Kensington. When the Piggeries and Potteries in Notting Dale were finally cleared in the early 20th century most of the displaced residents moved north into Golborne ward and Kensal.

By 1923 in the Southam Street area 140 houses contained some 2500 inhabitants. A series of evocative photographs by Roger Mayne in the 1950s showed that little had changed. It was only from the 1960s that the overcrowded and dilapidated terraces were cleared and replaced by social housing including Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower.


Main source: North Kensington Histories
Further citations and sources


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Kensal Town
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THE STREETS OF KENSAL TOWN
Adair Road, W10 Adair Road is a street on the Kensal Town/North Kensington borders.
Adela Street, W10 Adela Street is a small cul-de-sac in Kensal Town.
Alderson Street, W10 Alderson Street is a side street north of Kensal Road.
Appleford Road, W10 Appleford Road was transformed post-war from a Victorian street to one dominated by housing blocks.
Bosworth Road, W10 Bosworth Road was the first street built as Kensal New Town started to expand to the east.
Briar Walk, W10 Briar Walk lies on the Queen's Park Estate
Conlan Street, W10 Conlan Street lies between East Row and Middle Row, in Kensal Town, W10.
East Row, W10 East Row is a road with a long history within Kensal Town.
Edenham Way, W10 Edenham Way is one of the streets of London in the W10 postal area.
Elkstone Road, W10 Elkstone Road is a street in North Kensington, London W10
Golborne Gardens, W10 Golborne Gardens is a street in North Kensington, London W10
Harrow Road, W10 Harrow Road is a main road through London W10.
Hawthorn Walk, W10 Queen's Park Estate
Hazlewood Crescent, W10 Hazlewood Crescent is a street in North Kensington, London W10
Kensal House, W10 Kensal House (1936), was designed to show off the power of gas and originally had no electricity at all.
Kensal Road, W10 Kensal Road, originally called Albert Road, is the heart of Kensal Town.
Middle Row, W10 Middle Row is one of the original streets laid out as Kensal New Town.
Ronan Walk, W10 Ronan Walk was one of the streets constructed in a 1970s build parallel to the Harrow Road.
Southam Street, W10 Southam Street was made world-famous in the photographs of Roger Mayne.
Southern Row, W10 Southern Row is a street in North Kensington, London W10
Sycamore Walk, W10 Queen's Park Estate
Tollbridge Close, W10 This is a street in the W10 postcode area
Wedlake Street, W10 Wedlake Street arrived as the second wave of building in Kensal Town was completed.
West Row, W10 West Row, W10 began its life in the early 1840s.



 

Kensal Town

Soapsuds Island

Kensal New Town was built between the Grand Central Canal (which opened in 1801) and the Great Western Railway line (opening in 1837) in the 1840s.

Single-storey cottages with gardens suitable for drying clothes were the first buildings and Kensal Road, Middle Row, West Row, East Row and Southern Row all appeared between 1841 and 1851. The rows of cottages quickly degenerated into a slum, mainly due to overcrowding, industrialisation and pollution.

The area was dominated by the Western Gas Company and Kensal Cemetery, which provided work but did little to improve the environment. Women were primarily involved in laundry work giving the area its nickname of ‘Soapsuds Island’.

The area was isolated from the rest of London at a time when Portobello Lane (now Portobello Road) was a muddy track sometimes impassable in bad weather.

Cut off from the municipal authorities it was left to charities to attempt to alleviate the social and health problems.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the cottage laundry industry began to be replaced by larger mechanized concerns.

In 1902 Charles Booth described it as, “Just as full of children and poverty as was the old woman’s dwelling in the nursery rhyme.” By this date the area had been transferred to the newly formed Royal Borough of Kensington. When the Piggeries and Potteries in Notting Dale were finally cleared in the early 20th century most of the displaced residents moved north into Golborne ward and Kensal.

By 1923 in the Southam Street area 140 houses contained some 2500 inhabitants. A series of evocative photographs by Roger Mayne in the 1950s showed that little had changed. It was only from the 1960s that the overcrowded and dilapidated terraces were cleared and replaced by social housing including Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower.
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