Wilsham Street was formerly known as St Katherine’s Road.
Charles Booth’s poverty map placed the Kensington Potteries among the "criminal and irreclaimable areas", largely on account of the overcrowded condition of its unsuitable and derelict houses.
Five short streets in the district became known as the "Special Area.": Bangor Street
, Crescent Street and three roads that have been renamed. St. Clement’s, now called Sirdar Road
, St. Katherine’s Road, now Wilsham Street, and William, now Kenley Street
In 1899 an enquiry was undertaken at the instance of the London County Council, and it was found that nearly half the babies born in this area died before they were a year old.
In 1904 there was a public-house to every twenty-five dwellings in these streets, and about twenty-three common lodging-houses provided accommodation for over seven hundred persons, at a nightly charge of fourpence or sixpence.
Greater however than the evil of these licensed lodging-houses, was that of the furnished rooms let from the evening until ten o’clock the next morning at tenpence or a shilling a night.
There was a total of fifteen hundred families in the most congested portion, at least one thousand occupied one-roomed tenements furnished or unfurnished.
When Wilsham Street was known as St. Katherine’s Road, back in the nineteenth century, a small stream ran along the north side.