Somers Town

Suburb, existing between the 1750s or before and now

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Suburb · Somers Town · NW1 ·
August
22
2018

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.


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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY


Roy Batham   
Added: 7 Jan 2022 07:17 GMT   

Smithy in Longacre
John Burris 1802-1848 Listed 1841 census as Burroughs was a blacksmith, address just given as Longacre.

Source: Batham/Wiseman - Family Tree

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Reg Carr   
Added: 10 Feb 2021 12:11 GMT   

Campbellite Meeting
In 1848 the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ) met in Elstree Street, where their congregation was presided over by a pastor named John Black. Their appointed evangelist at the time was called David King, who later became the Editor of the British Millennial Harbinger. The meeting room was visited in July 1848 by Dr John Thomas, who spoke there twice on his two-year ’mission’ to Britain.

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Scott Hatton   
Added: 11 Sep 2020 19:47 GMT   

Millions Of Rats In Busy London
The Daily Mail on 14 April 1903 reported "MILLIONS OF RATS IN BUSY LONDON"

A rat plague, unprecedented in the annals of London, has broken out on the north side of the Strand. The streets principally infested are Catherine street, Drury lane, Blackmore street, Clare Market and Russell street. Something akin to a reign of terror prevails among the inhabitants after nightfall. Women refuse to pass along Blackmore street and the lower parts of Stanhope street after dusk, for droves of rats perambulate the roadways and pavements, and may be seen running along the window ledges of the empty houses awaiting demolition by the County Council in the Strand to Holborn improvement scheme.

The rats, indeed, have appeared in almost-incredible numbers. "There are millions of them," said one shopkeeper, and his statement was supported by other residents. The unwelcome visitors have been evicted from their old haunts by the County Council housebreakers, and are now busily in search of new homes. The Gaiety Restaurant has been the greatest sufferer. Rats have invaded the premises in such force that the managers have had to close the large dining room on the first floor and the grill rooms on the ground floor and in the basement. Those three spacious halls which have witnessed many as semblages of theatre-goers are now qui:e deserted. Behind the wainscot of the bandstand in the grillroom is a large mound of linen shreds. This represents 1728 serviettes carried theee by the rats.

In the bar the removal of a panel disclosed the astonishing fact that the rats have dragged for a distance of seven or eight yards some thirty or forty beer and wine bottles and stacked them in such a fashion as to make comfortable sleeping places. Mr Williams. the manager of the restaurant, estimates that the rats have destroyed L200 worth of linen. Formerly the Gaiety Restaurant dined 2000 persons daily; no business whatever is now done in this direction.

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Comment
Carol   
Added: 7 May 2021 18:44 GMT   

Nan
My nan lily,her sister Elizabeth and their parents Elizabeth and William lived here in1911

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Lived here
Julian    
Added: 23 Mar 2021 10:11 GMT   

Dennis Potter
Author Dennis Potter lived in Collingwood House in the 1970’s

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Comment
Jessie Doring   
Added: 22 Feb 2021 04:33 GMT   

Tisbury Court Jazz Bar
Jazz Bar opened in Tisbury Court by 2 Australians. Situated in underground basement. Can not remember how long it opened for.

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LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

Comment
Richard Lake   
Added: 28 Sep 2022 09:37 GMT   

Trade Union Official
John William Lake snr moved with his family to 22 De Laune Street in 1936. He was the London Branch Secretary for the Street Masons, Paviours and Road Makers Union. He had previously lived in Orange St now Copperfield St Southwark but had been forced to move because the landlord didn’t like him working from home and said it broke his lease.
John William snr died in 1940. His son John William Lake jnr also became a stone mason and at the end of World War two he was responsible for the engraving of the dates of WW2 onto the Cenotaph in Whitehall.

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Lived here
Julie   
Added: 22 Sep 2022 18:30 GMT   

Well Walk, NW3 (1817 - 1818)
The home of Benthy, the Postman, with whom poet John Keats and his brother Tom lodged from early 1817 to Dec., 1818. They occupied the first floor up. Here Tom died Dec. 1, 1818. It was next door to the Welles Tavern then called ’The Green Man’."

From collected papers and photos re: No. 1 Well Walk at the library of Harvard University.

Source: No. 1, Well Walk, Hampstead. | HOLLIS for

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Comment
   
Added: 4 Sep 2022 15:42 GMT   

Superman 2
I worked here in 1977. The scene in the prison laundry in Superman 2 was filmed here.

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TUM   
Added: 27 Aug 2022 10:22 GMT   

The Underground Map
Michael Faraday successfully demonstrated the first electrical transformer at the Royal Institute, London.

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Admin   
Added: 26 Aug 2022 15:19 GMT   

Bus makes a leap
A number 78 double-decker bus driven by Albert Gunter was forced to jump an accidentally opening Tower Bridge.

He was awarded a £10 bonus.

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Admin   
Added: 26 Aug 2022 12:44 GMT   

The world’s first underground train
The very first underground train left Paddington on the new Metropolitan Railway bound for Farringdon Street.

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Admin   
Added: 26 Aug 2022 12:41 GMT   

Baker Street
Baker Street station opened on the Metropolitan Railway - the world’s first underground line.

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Admin   
Added: 26 Aug 2022 12:17 GMT   

TV comes to Olympia
Over 7000 people queued to see the first high definition television pictures on sets at the Olympia Radio Show. The pictures were transmitted by the BBC from Alexandra Palace, introduced by Leslie Mitchell, their first announcer.

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NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
’Royal Blue’ horse omnibus outside 5 Euston Road The bus carries route information and an advert for Selfridge’s.
Ossulston Estate The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
Rhodes Farm Rhodes Farm was situated on Hampstead Road.
Somers Town Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
St James Gardens St James Gardens were used as a burial ground between 1790 and 1853.

THE STREETS OF SOMERS TOWN
Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.
Ampthill Square, NW1 Ampthill Square is a name which has existed in two different time periods.
Barclay Street, NW1 Barclay Street led from Aldenham Street northwards to Medburn Street.
Barnby Street, NW1 Barnby Street is a street in Camden Town.
Bridgeway Street, NW1 Bridgeway Street is a street in Camden Town.
Brill Place, NW1 Brill Place is named after the former Brill Row in the area.
Chalton Street, NW1 Chalton Street was formerly Charlton Street.
Charrington Street, NW1 Charrington Street runs south to north and is a continuation of Ossulston Street.
Chenies Place, NW1 Chenies Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Clarendon Grove, NW1 Clarendon Grove ran south from Clarendon Square.
Cranleigh Street, NW1 Cranleigh Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Road, NW1 Crowndale Road was at first called Fig Lane and then Gloucester Place.
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Eversholt Street, NW1 Eversholt Street connects Euston with Camden Town.
Godwin Court, NW1 Godwin Court is a street in Camden Town.
Hampden Close, NW1 Hampden Close is a street in Camden Town.
Lidlington Place, NW1 Lidlington Place is a street in Camden Town.
Mayford, NW1 Mayford is a street in Camden Town.
Medburn Street, NW1 Medburn Street is named after a farm between Elstree and Radlett in Hertfordshire.
Oakley Square, NW1 Oakley Square is a street in Camden Town.
Oakshott Court, NW1 Oakshott Court is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Phoenix Road, NW1 Phoenix Road is a street in Camden Town.
Polygon Road, NW1 Polygon Road is a street in Camden Town.
Purchese Street, NW1 Purchese Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Somers Close, NW1 Somers Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
The Polygon, NW1 The Polygon was an earky housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.
Unity Mews, NW1 Unity Mews is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.

THE PUBS OF SOMERS TOWN
Cock Tavern The Cock Tavern is on the corner of Phoenix Road and Chalton Street.
Eastnor Castle This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Elixir Bar This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
St Aloysius Social Club This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Purple Turtle This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.


Click here to explore another London street
We now have 507 completed street histories and 46993 partial histories
Find streets or residential blocks within the M25 by clicking STREETS




LOCAL PHOTOS
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The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
Licence: CC BY 2.0
The Carreras Cigarette factory, Mornington Crescent area This started life at the Acadia Works on City Road in the 19th century. It was a small business owned by Don Jose Carreras Ferrer who sold cigarettes, cigars and snuff out of small shops. A black cat began to curl up and sleep in the window of the shop near Leicester Square in Prince’s Street and the shop became known locally as "The Black Cat Shop". After the cigarette making machine was invented, the business required a large factory and moved to Hampstead Road between 1926 and 1928. It was designed by architect brothers, Marcus and Owen Collins with George Porri as their consultant. The black cat became the company’s logo. In 1959 the company merged with Rothmans and moved to Basildon, Essex. In the early 1960s the building became offices. The Egyptian décor was stripped away and the two cat statues removed. When the building got new owners in 1996, its former grandeur was restored. The building was later called “Greater London House” having become an office building.
TUM image id: 1660650534
Licence: CC BY 2.0
St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
TUM image id: 1530005129
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Agar Town (1857)
Credit: Percy Lovell
TUM image id: 1499434317
Licence: CC BY 2.0
All Saints, Camden Town, in 1828.
TUM image id: 1492970567
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Cromer Street
TUM image id: 1547917827
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Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

Click an image below for a better view...
Kings Place from York Way
Credit: Alan Stanton
Licence: CC BY 2.0


The British Library
Licence: CC BY 2.0


St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Agar Town (1857)
Credit: Percy Lovell
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Cobden Statue, corner of Eversholt Street and Camden High Street (1905)
Old London postcard
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Goods Way - old sign
Licence: CC BY 2.0


The Brill Market in Somers Town (1858) Centre stage in this engraving of a busy market scene is the Brill Tavern itself, situated at the end of Brill Row.
Credit: Illustrated News of the World, London
Licence:


The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
Licence: CC BY 2.0


Wollstonecraft Street sign
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St Pancras Station under construction (1867)
Licence: CC BY 2.0


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