Agar Town

Neighbourhood in/near St Pancras, existed between 1841 and 1868

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Agar Town

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Neighbourhood · * · NW1 ·
July
7
2017

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
Further citations and sources



Agar Town (1857)

Agar Town (1857)
Percy Lovell

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

NEARBY STREETS
Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.
Barclay Street, NW1 Barclay Street led from Aldenham Street northwards to Medburn Street.
Bayham Place, NW1 Bayham Place is a short cobbled street.
Beaconsfield Street, N1C Beaconsfield Street is a road in the N1C postcode area
Bridgeway Street, NW1 Bridgeway Street is a street in Camden Town.
Brill Place, NW1 Brill Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Camley Street, N1C Camley Street runs north from King’s Cross.
Camley Street, NW1 Camley Street is a street in Camden Town.
Canal Reach, N1C Canal Reach is a road in the N1C postcode area
Charrington Street, NW1 Charrington Street runs south to north and is a continuation of Ossulston Street.
Chenies Place, NW1 Chenies Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Coach Road, N1C Coach Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
College Grove, NW1 College Grove is a road in the NW1 postcode area
College Place, NW1 College Place is a street in Camden Town.
Cooper’s Lane, NW1 Cooper’s Lane is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Cranleigh Street, NW1 Cranleigh Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crofters Way, NW1 Crofters Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Court, NW1 Crowndale Court is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Road, NW1 Crowndale Road was at first called Fig Lane and then Gloucester Place.
Elstree Street, N1C Elstree Street once laid off of St Pancras Road.
Floor, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Godwin Court, NW1 Godwin Court is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Crescent, NW1 Goldington Crescent is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Street, NW1 Goldington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Goods Way, N1C Goods Way runs from Pancras Road to York Way.
Granary Square, N1 A street within the N1C postcode
Granary Street, NW1 Granary Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Gridiron Building, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Hampden Close, NW1 Hampden Close is a street in Camden Town.
Handyside Street, N1 Handyside Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Handyside Street, N1C Handyside Street is a road in the N1C postcode area
King’s Boulevard, N1C King’s Boulevard is a road in the N1C postcode area
King’s Cross Square, N1C King’s Cross Square is a road in the N1C postcode area
King’s Cross Station Concourse, WC1 King’s Cross Station Concourse is a road in the WC1 postcode area
Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Lidlington Place, NW1 Lidlington Place is a street in Camden Town.
Lower Carriage Drive, W4 Lower Carriage Drive is a road in the W4 postcode area
Mandela Street, NW1 Mandela Street was named after Nelson Mandela.
Mayford, NW1 Mayford is a street in Camden Town.
Medburn Street, NW1 Medburn Street is named after a farm between Elstree and Radlett in Hertfordshire.
Oakley Square, NW1 Oakley Square is a street in Camden Town.
One Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
One Pancras Square, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Pancras Road, N1C Pancras Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Pancras Road, NW1 Pancras Road is a street in Camden Town.
Pancras Square, N1C This is a street in the N1C postcode area
Penryn Street, NW1 Penryn Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Perry Street, N1C Perry Street was buried by St Pancras station.
Plender Street, NW1 William Plender, 1st Baron Plender was an accountant and public servant who served as Sheriff of the County of London in 1927.
Ploughmans Close, NW1 Ploughmans Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Polygon Road, NW1 Polygon Road is a street in Camden Town.
Purchese Street, NW1 Purchese Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Randell’s Road, N1 This is a street in the N1 postcode area
Randells Road, N1 Randells Road is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Randell’s Road, N1 Randell’s Road is a road in the N1 postcode area
Reapers Close, NW1 Reapers Close is a street in Camden Town.
Regent’s Canal towpath, N1C Regent’s Canal towpath is a road in the N1C postcode area
Smith Street, N1C Smith Street was buried under St Pancras station.
Somers Close, NW1 Somers Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
St Pancras Cruising Club, N1C St Pancras Cruising Club is a road in the N1C postcode area
St. Philip’s Way, N1 A street within the N1C postcode
Stable Street, N1C Stable Street is a road in the N1C postcode area
The Circle, N1C The Circle is a road in the N1C postcode area
The Gridiron, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
The Hub, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
The Marr, NW1 The Marr is a street in Camden Town.
Tower Hamlets, E1 A street within the N1 postcode
Unity Mews, NW1 Unity Mews is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Watford Street, NW1 Watford Street was cleared away in the 1860s to make way to St Pancras station.
Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Wollstonecraft Street, N1C Wollstonecraft Street was the first name to be chosen from a naming competition by the developers of N1C.
York Road Curve, N1 York Road Curve is a road in the N1 postcode area
York Way, N1 York Way has been a thoroughfare since the twelfth century.
York Way, N1C York Way is a road in the N1C postcode area


St Pancras

St Pancras railway station, celebrated for its architecture, is built on the site of the St Pancras suburb of London.

For many centuries the St Pancras name was used for various officially-designated areas, but it is now used mainly for the railway station and for upmarket venues in the immediate locality, having been largely superseded by other place names including Kings Cross, Somers Town, and Camden Town, or simply Camden.

St Pancras was originally a medieval parish, which ran from close to what is now Oxford Street north as far as Highgate, and from what is now Regent’s Park in the west to the road now known as York Way in the east, boundaries which take in much of the current London Borough of Camden, including its central part. However, as the choice of name for the borough suggests, St Pancras has lost its status as the central settlement in the area.

The original focus of the area was the church, now known by the retronym of St Pancras Old Church. The building is in the southern half of the parish, and is believed by many to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in Great Britain. However, in the 14th century the population moved en masse to Kentish Town, probably due to flooding by the River Fleet and the availability of better wells at the new location. A chapel of ease was established there, and the old settlement was abandoned, except for a few farms, until the growth of London in the late eighteenth century.

In the 1790s Earl Camden began to develop some fields to the north and west of the old church as Camden Town. About the same time, a residential district was built to the south and east of the church, usually known as Somers Town. In 1822 the new church of St Pancras was dedicated as the parish church. The site was chosen on what was then called the New Road, now Euston Road, which had been built as London’s first bypass, the M25 of its day. The two sites are about a kilometer apart. The new church is Grade I listed for its Greek Revival style; the old church was rebuilt in 1847. In the mid 19th century two major railway stations were built to the south of the Old Church, first Kings Cross and later St Pancras. The new church is closer to Euston Station.

By the end of the nineteenth century the ancient parish had been divided into 37 parishes, including one for the old church. There are currently 17 Church of England parishes completely contained within the boundaries of the ancient parish, all of which benefit from the distributions from the St Pancras Lands Trust, and most of which are in South Camden Deanery in the Edmonton Area of the Diocese of London.

St Pancras railway station was opened in 1868 by the Midland Railway as the southern terminus of its main line, which connected London with the East Midlands and Yorkshire. When inaugurated, the arched train shed by William Henry Barlow was the largest single-span roof in the world. Today, Midland main line services to Corby, Sheffield and Nottingham are operated by East Midlands Trains, and St Pancras is a stop on the Thameslink route as well as being the terminus of Southeastern high-speed trains to Kent.


LOCAL PHOTOS
All Saints, Camden Town, in 1828.
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Agar Town (1857)
Credit: Percy Lovell
TUM image id: 1499434317
Goods Way - old sign
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Wollstonecraft Street sign
TUM image id: 1580316384
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