The area, bounded on the south by what became the line of Earl’s Court Gardens, had formed Pound Field, which passed, as part of a larger property, to the Greene family who were owners of the Stag brewery in Westminster. It was sold by their representatives to John Hunter in 1793 and, after his death in that same year, by his representatives in 1797 to the crucial purchaser in the area’s building history.
The original development of Earl’s Court Gardens was on the south side only, from 1852 onwards, when Nos. 1–24 were built along a field-path made, perhaps in the 1790s, at the southern boundary of Pound Field. The site was a piece of walled ground, known in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries as the Pingle and held since the 1760s, as garden ground, with No. 2 The Terrace, adjacent westward facing Earl’s Court Road
. In 1852 it belonged, with that house, to George Yates, an elderly man who described himself successively as merchant, gentleman, retired proprietor and retired picture dealer. In October he came to an agreement respecting the whole site with a builder, George Stevenson, who began two houses in March 1853.
In February 1855 the Land and Building News carried a feature about the new development. The fine alluvial flat on which the terrace stood and the 14-inch thickness of the walls were noticed, while the variety in the elevational treatment was carefully described. The views at front and back over ‘richly-cultivated fields’ were pleasing. The writer stressed by repetition that these and the ediversified elevations made it all ‘cheerful’.
Gas was supplied to street-lamps (three only) by the Western Gas Light Company in the autumn of 1856, but in the summer of 1857 the vestry refused to extend the main sewer down Earl’s Court Road
as far as Earl’s Court Gardens, evidently obliging the estate to use cesspools or a sewer of their own draining into a ‘large tank’ near the junction with Earl’s Court Road
. The occupants came in between 1856 and 1858, except at Nos. 17–20, which filled up a year or two later. The early residents were of a decent respectability and almost all the houses were in single family occupation. On average six people lived in each house, one being a servant.
Disturbance came in 1868–9 with the laying of the Metropolitan District railway in a cutting between Earl’s Court Gardens and the ‘village’ and then more emphatically in 1871–3, when the builder Matthew Scott erected a row of houses opposite (Nos. 25–35), on the north side of Earl’s Court Gardens (and the south side of what had been Pound Field), rather closely fitted-in between the railway line and the roadway.