Kensington Park Road, W11
Kensington Park Road is one of the main streets in Notting Hill.

Kensington Park Road was built over a long period between the early 1840s and the 1870s. It was built in fits and starts by a variety of different developers, so the history of the street is somewhat complicated.

Originally, there was no north-south road parallel to Portobello Lane (as Portobello Road was known). In 1840, after the failure of the Hippodrome racecourse (the main entrance of which was about where Kensington Temple now is), James Weller Ladbroke signed an agreement with a developer, Joseph Connop, under which Connop agreed to develop a large portion of the estate between Portobello Road and roughly what is now Ladbroke Grove. The deal was that Connop would arrange for the building of roads, sewers and houses and Ladbroke undertook then to give him 99-year leases of the houses for a small ground rent; Connop would then recover his costs through letting the houses.

“Kensington Park” was the name chosen by the developer Pearson Thompson when in 1842 he prepared a grandiose and only partly realised plan for developing this part of the Ladbroke estate.

A plan for Connop’s land was drawn up by an architect called John Stevens. He designed a new north-south line of communication, the future Kensington Park Road, just west of Portobello Lane. The road seems to have been intended partly to cut off the wealthy inhabitants of the new Ladbroke estate houses from too much contact with the rougher area of Portobello Lane. By 1843, five villas had been completed in the new road (Nos. 44-52, subsequently demolished and replaced by Matlock Court, Buckingham Court and Princes House).

Ladbroke had entered into a separate agreement with another developer, William Chadwick, for the southernmost parts of Kensington Park Road and Ladbroke Road. Chadwick began by building the Prince Albert public house (pubs were a good way to relive building workers of their wages to the profit of the developer). By 1848, Chadwick had built three sets of semi-detached villas houses on the east side of Kensington Park Road, of which Nos. 32 to 38 have survived. Around the same time, a congregational chapel (now Kensington Temple) was built on the opposite corner site. Chadwick was also responsible for the long terrace at Nos. 4-30 evens Kensington Park Road.

After various further buying and selling of plots between developers, the part of Kensington Park Road between Latimer House and Westbourne Road was developed by yet another developer, Thomas Pocock. He was responsible for Nos. 56-64 and the long terrace at Nos. 126-182 Kensington Park Road, all in the early 1850s.

By this time the developers on the Ladbroke estate were running into financial difficulties and it was not until the late 1850s and 1860s that building on Kensington Park Road resumed. By this time the Ladbroke family had disposed of the freeholds of much of the undeveloped land on the estate to a variety of speculators. In 1855, the speculator Charles Blake acquired all the freehold land on the east side of Kensington Park Road between Westbourne Grove and the backs of the houses on the north side of Chepstow Villas. Blake’s first move was to present the Ecclesiastical Commissioners (and the inhabitants of his estate) with a site for a church, St. Peter’s, well placed to close the vista along Stanley Gardens, of which he was also the developer. St Peter’s was designed by Thomas Allom, the main architect working on the Ladbroke estate in the 1850s.

Blake also arranged for the erection of the terrace to the south of the church, Nos. 76-90 (evens). By this time, Blake was running into financial difficulties, and he then sold on the land north of St Peter’s in 1861 to Joseph Offord, a speculating coachbuilder from Marylebone. He arranged for the erection of Nos. 92-112 evens in about 1861. Now only Nos. 92-96 survive. In the meantime, Nos. 1-15 odds on the west side were completed around 1860.

There is not a lot of information on the building of the northern end of Kensington Park Road, although leases survive which show that Nos. 124 and 184 were built around 1853. The Peniel Chapel was erected in the 1870s, replacing a church built in 1862 that had been destroyed by fire.

Kensington Park Road originally had a number of separately named terraces: Horbury Terrace; Kensington Park Villas; Kensington Park Gardens East; Kensington Park Terrace; St Peter’s Terrace; Kensington Park Terrace North (the name of which can still be seen inscribed on numbers 152 and 154, the central houses of the terrace); Howard Place; Sussex Terrace; and Convent Terrace.

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