Agar Town

Neighbourhood in/near Queen’s Park, existed between 1841 and 1868

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Neighbourhood · * · N1C ·
December
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2020

Agar Town was a short-lived area, built in the 1840s, of St Pancras.

From 1789 the area was the private estate of William Agar of Elm Lodge. To contemporaries he was commonly called, ’Councillor Agar,’ and known as an eccentric and miserly lawyer. In the 1810s Agar fought a desperate battle to prevent the cutting of the Regent’s Canal through his property, although his underlying motive may simply have been to maximise the compensation he received.

William Agar died in 1838 and his widow soon began to grant building leases on part of the estate, while retaining Elm Lodge. The neighbourhood was started in 1841 with Agar’s widow leasing out small plots on the north side of the canal.

The 72 acre site was built of the lowest quality materials on 21 year leases. An area was a population of labourers living in houses they built for themselves, was generally considered a slum. Street names belied the type of area and included Canterbury Place, Durham Street, and Oxford Crescent.

The local vestry failed to provide “Ague Town”, as it became known, with street lighting or cleaning, there was no sewerage.

Charles Dickens described the area as "a suburban Connemara ... wretched hovels, the doors blocked up with mud, heaps of ash, oyster shells and decayed vegetables, the stench on a rainy morning is enough to knock down a bullock".

In 1851 one W M Thomas, a visitor to London, described his journey through the area: "The footpath, gradually narrowing, merged at length in the bog of the road. I hesitated; but to turn back was almost as dangerous as to go on. I thought, too, of the possibility of my wandering through the labyrinth of rows and crescents until I should be benighted; and the idea of a night in Agar Town, without a single lamp to guide my footsteps, emboldened me to proceed. Plunging at once into the mud, and hopping in the manner of a kangaroo — so as not to allow myself time to sink and disappear altogether — I found myself, at length, once more in the King’s Road".

Ownership passed to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who sold it to the Midland Railway "for a considerable sum". The church of St Thomas, Agar Town, was built on Wrotham Road in 1864, at the very time that the old town was disappearing beneath the tracks and goods yards that accompanied the opening of the Midland Railway’s St Pancras station.

"For its passenger station alone, the Midland Railway swept away a church and seven streets of three thousand houses," writes Mr. F. Williams, in his ’History of the Midland Railway: a Narrative of Modern Enterprise.’

"Old St. Pancras churchyard was invaded, and Agar Town almost demolished. Yet those who knew this district at that time have no regret at the change. Time was when the wealthy owner of a large estate had lived here in his mansion; but after his departure the place became a very ’abomination of desolation.’ In its centre was what was termed La Belle Isle, a dreary and unsavoury locality, abandoned to mountains of refuse from the metropolitan dust-bins, strewn with decaying vegetables and foul-smelling fragments of what once had been fish, or occupied by knackers’-yards and manure-making, bone-boiling, and soap-manufacturing works, and smoke-belching potteries and brick-kilns. At the broken doors of multilated houses canaries still sang, and dogs lay basking in the sun, as if to remind one of the vast colonies of bird-fanciers and dog-fanciers who formerly made Agar Town their abode; and from these dwellings came out wretched creatures in rags and dirt, and searched amid the far-extending refuse for the filthy treasure by the aid of which they eked out a miserable livelihood; whilst over the whole neighbourhood the gas-works poured forth their mephitic vapours, and the canal gave forth its rheumatic dampness, extracting in return some of the more poisonous ingredients in the atmosphere, and spreading them upon the surface of the water in a thick scum of various and ominous hues. Such was Agar Town before the Midland Railway came into the midst of it."

The displaced Agar Town inhabitants mostly moved to neighbouring districts like Kentish Town.

The name of Agar Town is commemorated by Agar Grove, a road that runs along the edge of where Agar Town used to be, and which was originally called St Paul’s Road. The Agar Grove estate was built in the mid-1960s. It originally consisted mostly of four storey blocks, plus the 19-storey Lulworth House.

After the goods yards became redundant, part of the site was opened as Camley Street natural park in 1984, while Fairview Estates developed Elm Village, a mix of social and private housing.
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Sources: Old and New London: Volume 5. Published by Cassell, Petter & Galpin (1878), Lost London by Richard Guard. Published by O’Mara Books (2012)




Main source: Search | British History Online
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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY


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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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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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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LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

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Jonathan Penner   
Added: 11 Sep 2021 16:03 GMT   

Pennard Road, W12
My wife and I, young Canadians, lodged at 65 (?) Pennard Road with a fellow named Clive and his girlfriend, Melanie, for about 6 months in 1985. We loved the area and found it extremely convenient.

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Comment
   
Added: 1 Sep 2021 16:58 GMT   

Prefabs!
The "post-war detached houses" mentioned in the description were "prefabs" - self-contained single-storey pre-fabricated dwellings. Demolition of houses on the part that became Senegal Fields was complete by 1964 or 1965.

Source: Prefabs in the United Kingdom - Wikipedia

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Matthew Moggridge ([email protected])   
Added: 1 Sep 2021 10:38 GMT   

Lord Chatham’s Ride (does it even exist?)
Just to say that I cycled from my home in Sanderstead to Knockholt Pound at the weekend hoping to ride Lord Chatham’s Ride, but could I find it? No. I rode up Chevening Lane, just past the Three Horseshoes pub and when I reached the end of the road there was a gate and a sign reading "Private, No Entry". I assumed this was the back entrance to Chevening House, country retreat of the Foreign Secretary, and that Lord Chatham’s Ride was inside the grounds. At least that’s what I’m assuming as I ended up following a footpath that led me into some woods with loads of rooted pathways, all very annoying. Does Lord Chatham’s Ride exist and if so, can I ride it, or is it within the grounds of Chevening House and, therefore, out of bounds? Here’s an account of my weekend ride with images, see URL below.

Source: No Visible Lycra: Lord Chatham’s ride: a big disappointmen

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norma brown   
Added: 20 Aug 2021 21:12 GMT   

my grandparents lived there as well as 2 further generations
my home

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Ruth   
Added: 6 Aug 2021 13:31 GMT   

Cheltenham Road, SE15
Harris Girls’ Academy, in Homestall Road, just off Cheltenham Road, was formerly Waverley School. Before that it was built as Honor Oak Girls’ Grammar School. It was also the South London Emergency School during WW2,taking girls from various schools in the vicinity, including those returning from being evacuated.

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Jude Allen   
Added: 29 Jul 2021 07:53 GMT   

Bra top
I jave a jewelled item of clothong worn by a revie girl.
It is red with diamante straps. Inside it jas a label Bermans Revue 16 Orange Street but I cannot find any info online about the revue only that 16 Orange Street used to be a theatre. Does any one know about the revue. I would be intesrested to imagine the wearer of the article and her London life.

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Kathleen   
Added: 28 Jul 2021 09:12 GMT   

Dunloe Avenue, N17
I was born in 1951,my grandparents lived at 5 Dunloe Avenue.I had photos of the coronation decorations in the area for 1953.The houses were rented out by Rowleys,their ’workers yard’ was at the top of Dunloe Avenue.The house was fairly big 3 bedroom with bath and toilet upstairs,and kitchenette downstairs -a fairly big garden.My Grandmother died 1980 and the house was taken back to be rented again

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Kathleen   
Added: 28 Jul 2021 08:59 GMT   

Spigurnell Road, N17
I was born and lived in Spigurnell Road no 32 from 1951.My father George lived in Spigurnell Road from 1930’s.When he died in’76 we moved to number 3 until I got married in 1982 and moved to Edmonton.Spigurnell Road was a great place to live.Number 32 was 2 up 2 down toilet out the back council house in those days

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NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Agar Town Agar Town was a short-lived area, built in the 1840s, of St Pancras.
Greek Orthodox Church of All Saints All Saints, Camden Town is a Greek Orthodox church known as the Greek Orthodox Church of All Saints.

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Elstree Street, N1C Elstree Street once laid off of St Pancras Road.
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Pancras Road, N1C Pancras Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
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St. Philip’s Way, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
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Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.
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York Road Curve, N1 York Road Curve is a road in the N1 postcode area
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York Way, N1 York Way has been a thoroughfare since the twelfth century.
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NEARBY PUBS
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.
Lincoln Arms This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Golden Lion 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.


Queen’s Park

Queen’s Park lies between Kilburn and Kensal Green, developed from 1875 onwards and named to honour Queen Victoria.

The north of Queen’s Park formed part of the parish of Willesden and the southern section formed an exclave of the parish of Chelsea, both in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex. In 1889 the area of the Metropolitan Board of Works that included the southern section of Queen’s Park was transferred from Middlesex to the County of London, and in 1900 the anomaly of being administered from Chelsea was removed when the exclave was united with the parish of Paddington. In 1965 both parts of Queen’s Park became part of Greater London: the northern section - Queen’s Park ’proper’ formed part of Brent and the southern section - the Queen’s Park Estate - joined the City of Westminster.

Queen’s Park, like much of Kilburn, was developed by Solomon Barnett. The two-storey terraced houses east of the park, built between 1895 and 1900, typically have clean, classical lines. Those west of the park, built 1900–05, tend to be more Gothic in style. Barnett’s wife was from the West Country, and many of the roads he developed are named either for places she knew (e.g. Torbay, Tiverton, Honiton) or for popular poets of the time (e.g. Tennyson). The first occupants of the area in late Victorian times were typically lower middle class, such as clerks and teachers. Queen’s Park is both demographically and architecturally diverse. The streets around the park at the heart of Queen’s Park are a conservation area.

There is hardly any social housing in the streets around Queens Park itself, and the area was zoned as not suitable for social housing in the 1970s and 1980s as even then house prices were above average for the borough of Brent, which made them unaffordable for local Housing Associations. The main shopping streets of Salusbury Road and Chamberlayne Road have fewer convenience stores and more high-value shops and restaurants. Local schools – some of which struggled to attract the children of wealthier local families in the past – are now over-subscribed. House prices have risen accordingly.

Queen’s Park station was first opened by the London and North Western Railway on 2 June 1879 on the main line from London to Birmingham.

Services on the Bakerloo line were extended from Kilburn Park to Queen’s Park on 11 February 1915. On 10 May 1915 Bakerloo services began to operate north of Queen’s Park as far as Willesden Junction over the recently built Watford DC Line tracks shared with the LNWR.


LOCAL PHOTOS
The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
Licence: CC BY 2.0
All Saints, Camden Town, in 1828.
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Cromer Street
TUM image id: 1547917827
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Goods Way - old sign
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The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
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St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
TUM image id: 1530005129
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In the neighbourhood...

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Kings Place from York Way
Credit: Alan Stanton
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The British Library
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Cobden Statue, corner of Eversholt Street and Camden High Street (1905)
Old London postcard
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Goods Way - old sign
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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
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York Road was the name for a ’lost’ underground station on the Piccadilly Line north of King’s Cross. The road it was named after has also changed its name (to York Way)
Credit: The Underground Map
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The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
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St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
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Wollstonecraft Street sign
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