Kilburn House - a simple suburban villa - was notable in its role as a base for the growing WH Smith newsagent.
Kilburn House and its grounds faced Edgware Road, a short distance north of today’s Victoria Road
At the beginning of 19th century, Kilburn House was a pleasant suburban villa with extensive grounds. For most of its previous history it was leased to wealthy tenants, who usually stayed only a few years.
In 1838, Lady Elizabeth Conyngham was temporarily living at Kilburn House. She was the daughter of Joseph Denison, a wealthy banker and landowner. In 1794 she married Henry the 1st Marquis of Conyngham but had a number of affairs, including one with the young Tsar Nicholas I of Russia. In 1820 she became the final mistress of George, Prince of Wales
and Prince Regent.
In 1839, William Henry Smith bought Kilburn House and the mansion became the family home. Smith made his fortune by efficient distribution of newspapers all over the country. Smith had fallen ill through overwork and the family hoped that the move to Kilburn would help him to relax. But instead, at 4am every morning, a carriage took father and son back to their Strand office to oversee the dispatch of the papers. In 1846 the son became a partner, and WH Smith & Son was born.
The peace and tranquillity the family wanted was progressively eroded by building development which eventually ended the seclusion of Kilburn House. In 1856 the family moved to Hertfordshire. William Henry Smith the younger took the business to a new level. Capitalising on the railway boom, he negotiated with various railway companies the running of book stalls at stations.
The last occupier of Kilburn House was John Farmer who lived there from 1866. He had helped found a railway signal firm: Saxby and Farmer.
Kilburn House was demolished in 1882 and the estate was sold for the development of Glengall Road
and Priory Park Road