Lismore Circus, NW5

Road in/near Gospel Oak, existing between 1855 and now

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Road · Gospel Oak · NW5 ·

Lismore Circus was a former Victorian circus with six streets radiating from it.

Haverstock Hill station in 1905 with its entrance on Lismore Circus.
Lord Mansfield, Lord Southampton and Lord Lisburne were the local landowners and plans were drawn up for six streets radiating from Lismore Circus. Houses here were built by 1853.

From 1868 the Midland Railway ran trains from Bedford to its own terminus at St. Pancras with the railway tunnel running underneath the southern half of the Circus. And also in 1868, Haverstock Hill station opened and was situated in the southwest of the circus (partially closing in 1916 but only finally decomissioned in 1983).

In 1870 St Pancras Vestry took over the central area following a memorial that it should be laid out as a garden. It opened to the public in 1871, a circular garden surrounded by privet hedge with grass, shrubs and trees.

The area was devestated by bombing during the Second World War. On 15 October 1940, a bomb demolished the Lismore Circus bridge over the railway, blocking it.

The housing estate surrounding Lismore Circus was built in the 1960s and 70s. Frederick MacManus and Partners designed the estate. These two long parallel grey brick buildings were built between 1969 and 1972.

Local residents rallied around the idea of maintaining an area of the open space in Lismore Circus in the late 1990s. In June 1998 Michael Palin ceremonially planted a ‘Gospel Oak’ in the vicinity of what is now Lismore Circus Community Woods.

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Haverstock Hill station in 1905 with its entrance on Lismore Circus.
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Gospel Oak

Gospel Oak is an inner suburb of north London below Hampstead Heath.

The name derives from an oak tree, under which parishioners gathered to hear an annual gospel reading when the area was still rural. Lords Mansfield, Southampton and Lisburne were the local landowners when development began in the mid-19th century. Plans were drawn up for elegant streets radiating from Lismore Circus but after two railway lines were extended across the area the first buildings were two- and three-storey cottages for "navvies and quarrelsome shoemakers." Later the neighbourhood became more respectable and solidly residential.

All Hallows Church by James Brooks is a notable late Victorian church. After World War II much of the original housing around Lismore Circus was demolished and a series of estates built for Camden Council. Today Gospel Oak is a socially mixed area with its share of inner-city problems but a very strong community spirit. Famous residents include Tony Blair?s former head of communications Alastair Campbell and his partner journalist Fiona Millar, ex-Python Michael Palin, and Britain’s top networker Carole Stone and her husband broadcaster Richard Lindley.
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