Agar Town

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

(51.53538 -0.12994, 51.535 -0.129) 
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Neighbourhood · St Pancras · N1C ·

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.

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: Old and New London
Further citations and sources

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Added: 21 Feb 2023 11:39 GMT   

Error on 1800 map numbering for John Street
The 1800 map of Whitfield Street (17 zoom) has an error in the numbering shown on the map. The houses are numbered up the right hand side of John Street and Upper John Street to #47 and then are numbered down the left hand side until #81 BUT then continue from 52-61 instead of 82-91.


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.

Added: 7 May 2021 18:44 GMT   

My nan lily,her sister Elizabeth and their parents Elizabeth and William lived here in1911

Lived here
Added: 23 Mar 2021 10:11 GMT   

Dennis Potter
Author Dennis Potter lived in Collingwood House in the 1970’s


Added: 20 Dec 2022 02:58 GMT   

Lancing Street, NW1

P Cash   
Added: 19 Feb 2023 08:03 GMT   

Occupants of 19-29 Woburn Place
The Industrial Tribunals (later changed to Employment Tribunals) moved (from its former location on Ebury Bridge Road to 19-29 Woburn Place sometime in the late 1980s (I believe).

19-29 Woburn Place had nine floors in total (one in the basement and two in its mansard roof and most of the building was occupied by the Tribunals

The ’Head Office’ of the tribunals, occupied space on the 7th, 6th and 2nd floors, whilst one of the largest of the regional offices (London North but later called London Central) occupied space in the basement, ground and first floor.

The expansive ground floor entrance had white marble flooring and a security desk. Behind (on evey floor) lay a square (& uncluttered) lobby space, which was flanked on either side by lifts. On the rear side was an elegant staircase, with white marble steps, brass inlays and a shiny brass handrail which spiralled around an open well. Both staircase, stairwell and lifts ran the full height of the building. On all floors from 1st upwards, staff toilets were tucked on either side of the staircase (behind the lifts).

Basement Floor - Tribunal hearing rooms, dormant files store and secure basement space for Head Office. Public toilets.

Geound Floor - The ’post’ roon sat next to the entrance in the northern side, the rest of which was occupied by the private offices of the full time Tribunal judiciary. Thw largest office belonged to the Regional Chair and was situated on the far corner (overlooking Tavistock Square) The secretary to the Regional Chair occupied a small office next door.
The south side of this floor was occupied by the large open plan General Office for the administration, a staff kitchen & rest room and the private offices of the Regional Secretary (office manager) and their deputy.

First Dloor - Tribunal hearing rooms; separate public waiting rooms for Applicants & Respondents; two small rooms used by Counsel (on a ’whoever arrives first’ bases) and a small private rest room for use by tribunal lay members.

Second Floor - Tribunal Hearing Rooms; Tribunal Head Office - HR & Estate Depts & other tennants.

Third Floor - other tennants

Fourth Floor - other tennants

Fifth Floor - Other Tennants except for a large non-smoking room for staff, (which overlooked Tavistock Sqaure). It was seldom used, as a result of lacking any facities aside from a meagre collection of unwanted’ tatty seating. Next to it, (overlooking Tavistock Place) was a staff canteen.

Sixth Floor - Other tennants mostly except for a few offices on the northern side occupied by tribunal Head Office - IT Dept.

Seventh Floor - Other tenants in the northern side. The southern (front) side held the private offices of several senior managers (Secretariat, IT & Finance), private office of the Chief Accuntant; an office for two private secretaries and a stationary cupboard. On the rear side was a small kitchen; the private office of the Chief Executive and the private office of the President of the Tribunals for England & Wales. (From 1995 onwards, this became a conference room as the President was based elsewhere. The far end of this side contained an open plan office for Head Office staff - Secretariat, Finance & HR (staff training team) depts.

Eighth Floor - other tennants.

The Employment Tribunals (Regional & Head Offices) relocated to Vitory House, Kingsway in April 2005.



Added: 29 Mar 2023 17:31 GMT   

Auction of the paper stock of Janssen and Roberts
A broadside advertisement reads: "By auction, to be sold on Thursday next being the 16th of this present July, the remainder of the stock in partnership between Janssen and Roberts, at their late dwelling-house in Dean’s Court, the south side of St. Pauls, consisting of Genoa papers according to the particulars underneath." The date in the ESTC record is purely speculative; July 16th was a Thursday in many years during the 18th century; 1750 is only one possibility. Extensive searching has found no other record of the partners or the auction.

Source: ESTC - Search Results

Born here
Added: 27 Mar 2023 18:28 GMT   

Nower Hill, HA5

Added: 26 Mar 2023 14:50 GMT   

Albert Mews
It is not a gargoyle over the entrance arch to Albert Mews, it is a likeness of Prince Albert himself.

Christine D Elliott   
Added: 20 Mar 2023 15:52 GMT   

The Blute Family
My grandparents, Frederick William Blute & Alice Elizabeth Blute nee: Warnham lived at 89 Blockhouse Street Deptford from around 1917.They had six children. 1. Alice Maragret Blute (my mother) 2. Frederick William Blute 3. Charles Adrian Blute 4. Violet Lillian Blute 5. Donald Blute 6. Stanley Vincent Blute (Lived 15 months). I lived there with my family from 1954 (Birth) until 1965 when we were re-housed for regeneration to the area.
I attended Ilderton Road School.
Very happy memories of that time.


Pearl Foster   
Added: 20 Mar 2023 12:22 GMT   

Dukes Place, EC3A
Until his death in 1767, Daniel Nunes de Lara worked from his home in Dukes Street as a Pastry Cook. It was not until much later the street was renamed Dukes Place. Daniel and his family attended the nearby Bevis Marks synagogue for Sephardic Jews. The Ashkenazi Great Synagogue was established in Duke Street, which meant Daniel’s business perfectly situated for his occupation as it allowed him to cater for both congregations.

Dr Paul Flewers   
Added: 9 Mar 2023 18:12 GMT   

Some Brief Notes on Hawthorne Close / Hawthorne Street
My great-grandparents lived in the last house on the south side of Hawthorne Street, no 13, and my grandmother Alice Knopp and her brothers and sisters grew up there. Alice Knopp married Charles Flewers, from nearby Hayling Road, and moved to Richmond, Surrey, where I was born. Leonard Knopp married Esther Gutenberg and lived there until the street was demolished in the mid-1960s, moving on to Tottenham. Uncle Len worked in the fur trade, then ran a pet shop in, I think, the Kingsland Road.

From the back garden, one could see the almshouses in the Balls Pond Road. There was an ink factory at the end of the street, which I recall as rather malodorous.


Added: 7 Mar 2023 17:14 GMT   

Andover Road, N7 (1939 - 1957)
My aunt, Doris nee Curtis (aka Jo) and her husband John Hawkins (aka Jack) ran a small general stores at 92 Andover Road (N7). I have found details in the 1939 register but don’t know how long before that it was opened.He died in 1957. In the 1939 register he is noted as being an ARP warden for Islington warden


Added: 2 Mar 2023 13:50 GMT   

The Queens Head
Queens Head demolished and a NISA supermarket and flats built in its place.



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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.

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The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
Licence: CC BY 2.0
The Carreras Cigarette factory, Mornington Crescent area This started life at the Acadia Works on City Road in the 19th century. It was a small business owned by Don Jose Carreras Ferrer who sold cigarettes, cigars and snuff out of small shops. A black cat began to curl up and sleep in the window of the shop near Leicester Square in Prince’s Street and the shop became known locally as "The Black Cat Shop". After the cigarette making machine was invented, the business required a large factory and moved to Hampstead Road between 1926 and 1928. It was designed by architect brothers, Marcus and Owen Collins with George Porri as their consultant. The black cat became the company’s logo. In 1959 the company merged with Rothmans and moved to Basildon, Essex. In the early 1960s the building became offices. The Egyptian décor was stripped away and the two cat statues removed. When the building got new owners in 1996, its former grandeur was restored. The building was later called “Greater London House” having become an office building.
TUM image id: 1660650534
Licence: CC BY 2.0
All Saints, Camden Town, in 1828.
TUM image id: 1492970567
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Cromer Street
TUM image id: 1547917827
Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

Click an image below for a better view...
Kings Place from York Way
Credit: Alan Stanton
Licence: CC BY 2.0

The British Library
Licence: CC BY 2.0

Cobden Statue, corner of Eversholt Street and Camden High Street (1905)
Old London postcard

Goods Way - old sign
Licence: CC BY 2.0

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

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

The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850 The Polygon was an eighteenth century housing estate - a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses. The idea appears to have initially appealed to the middle-classes. Two of the most famous residents of the Polygon were William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Another former Polygoner was Charles Dickens, who lived at No 17 in the 1820s shortly after his father, John Dickens, was released from debtors prison. Dickens later made the Polygon a home for his ’Bleak House’ character Harold Skimpole.

St Pancras Old Church claims to be one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in the world.
Credit: Wiki Commons
Licence: CC BY 2.0

St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
Licence: CC BY 2.0

Wollstonecraft Street sign

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