Ethelburga Street, SW11

Road in/near Battersea, existing between 1871 and now

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Road · Battersea · SW11 ·
Ethelburga Street was named after Saint Æthelburh (Ethelburga), founder and first Abbess of Barking.

Albert Bridge Road at the former end of Ethelburga Street (1958)
Credit: Gwyneth Wexler
Ethelburga was the sister of Earconwald, Bishop of London. Earconwold founded a double monastery at Barking for his sister, and a monastery at Chertsey for himself. Barking appears to have already been established by the time of the plague in 664 AD.

Ethelburga had been at some time based in a manor which was sited in what became Battersea Park near to Albert Bridge Road.

Before Battersea Bridge was built around 1771, the area contained scattered houses, lanes and tracks. Once lane which then stretched right across the modern Battersea Park was Marsh Lane. The section across the park disappeared but the remainder of Marsh Lane was made into Ethelburga Street in 1871. At the time, the street stretched from Battersea Bridge Road to Albert Bridge Road.

A house called Park House (now demolished) was built in 1873 at the (north) corner of Ethelburga Street and Battersea Bridge Road for Benjamin Cooke, a builder who built a lot of Battersea.

In 1875, Nevil House and Nevil Villa were built by builder John Roberts on the south corner of Ethelburga Street where it met Albert Bridge Road for John Nevil Maskelyne, a watchmaker turned stage magician, who specialised in exposing fraudulent spiritualists. Nevil House was considerably extended in 1879 for Maskelyne who later had a local street named after him.

However, solid Victorian housing was the main stay of Ethelburga Street.

The area suffered enormously during the Blitz with much of the area around Ethelburga Street and Bolan Street destroyed. About eighty prefabs were built in this area and then in the early 1960s, a larger area was cleared to make way for the London County Council’s Ethelburga Estate. The subsequent naming of the blocks and internal roads held local significance: Jagger House, and Henty and Maskelyne Closes were called after famous Battersea residents; Watford Close after Watford Villas, and Searles House after Searle Street, obliterated by the development.

Along with the new building, the line of Ethelburga Street was dramatically altered by the new estate after the turn of the 1960s - formerly the street had cut east-west separating Rosenau Road and Worfield Street from each other, ending at Albert Bridge Road.

Main source: Bartlett Architecture: Battersea Park
Further citations and sources



Battersea is an area of the London Borough of Wandsworth, England. It is an inner-city district on the south side of the River Thames.

Battersea covers quite a wide area - it spans from Fairfield in the west to Queenstown in the east. Battersea is mentioned in Anglo-Saxon times as Badrices ieg = Badric's Island.

Although in modern times it is known mostly for its wealth, Battersea remains characterised by economic inequality, with council estates being surrounded by more prosperous areas.

Battersea was an island settlement established in the river delta of the Falconbrook; a river that rises in Tooting Bec Common and flowed through south London to the River Thames.

As with many former Thames island settlements, Battersea was reclaimed by draining marshland and building culverts for streams.

Before the Industrial Revolution, much of the area was farmland, providing food for the City of London and surrounding population centres; and with particular specialisms, such as growing lavender on Lavender Hill, asparagus (sold as 'Battersea Bundles') or pig breeding on Pig Hill (later the site of the Shaftesbury Park Estate).

At the end of the 18th century, above 300 acres of land in the parish of Battersea were occupied by some 20 market gardeners, who rented from five to near 60 acres each.

Villages in the wider area - Battersea, Wandsworth, Earlsfield (hamlet of Garratt), Tooting, Balham - were isolated one from another; and throughout the second half of the second millennium, the wealthy built their country retreats in Battersea and neighbouring areas.

Industry developed eastwards along the bank of the Thames during the industrial revolution from 1750s onwards; the Thames provided water for transport, for steam engines and for water-intensive industrial processes. Bridges erected across the Thames encouraged growth; Battersea Bridge was built in 1771. Inland from the river, the rural agricultural community persisted.

Battersea was radically altered by the coming of railways. The London and Southampton Railway Company was the first to drive a railway line from east to west through Battersea, in 1838, terminating at Nine Elms at the north west tip of the area. Over the next 22 years five other lines were built, across which all trains from Waterloo Station and Victoria Station ran. An interchange station was built in 1863 towards the north west of the area, at a junction of the railway. Taking the name of a fashionable village a mile and more away, the station was named Clapham Junction.

During the latter decades of the nineteenth century Battersea had developed into a major town railway centre with two locomotive works at Nine Elms and Longhedge and three important motive power depots (Nine Elms, Stewarts Lane and Battersea) all situated within a relatively small area in the north of the district.

A population of 6000 people in 1840 was increased to 168 000 by 1910; and save for the green spaces of Battersea Park, Clapham Common, Wandsworth Common and some smaller isolated pockets, all other farmland was built over, with, from north to south, industrial buildings and vast railway sheds and sidings (much of which remain), slum housing for workers, especially north of the main east–west railway, and gradually more genteel residential terraced housing further south.

The railway station encouraged local government to site its buildings - the town hall, library, police station, court and post office in the area surrounding Clapham Junction.

All this building around the station marginalised Battersea High Street (the main street of the original village) into no more than an extension of Falcon Road.
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