Agar Town

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

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Neighbourhood · St Pancras · N1C ·
December
14
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.
===================

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
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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY



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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Comment
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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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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LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

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Alison   
Added: 26 Jun 2022 18:20 GMT   

On the dole in north London
When I worked at the dole office in Medina Road in the 1980s, "Archway" meant the social security offices which were in Archway Tower at the top of the Holloway Road. By all accounts it was a nightmare location for staff and claimants alike. This was when Margaret Thatcher’s government forced unemployment to rise to over 3 million (to keep wages down) and computerised records where still a thing of the future. Our job went from ensuring that unemployed people got the right sort and amount of benefits at the right time, to stopping as many people as possible from getting any sort of benefit at all. Britain changed irrevocably during this period and has never really recovered. We lost the "all in it together" frame of mind that had been born during the second world war and became the dog-eat-dog society where 1% have 95% of the wealth and many people can’t afford to feed their children. For me, the word Archway symbolises the land of lost content.

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Jack Wilson   
Added: 21 Jun 2022 21:40 GMT   

Penfold Printers
I am seeking the location of Penfold Printers Offices in Dt Albans place - probably about 1870 or so

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Lived here
   
Added: 19 Jun 2022 16:58 GMT   

Runcorn Place, W11
Runcorn place

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Comment
   
Added: 30 May 2022 19:03 GMT   

The Three Magpies
Row of houses (centre) was on Heathrow Rd....Ben’s Cafe shack ( foreground ) and the Three Magpies pub (far right) were on the Bath Rd

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Watts   
Added: 17 May 2022 20:29 GMT   

Baeethoven St School, also an Annex for Paddington College of FE.
In the early 70’s I took a two year science course at Paddington CFE. The science classes were held on weekday evenings at Beethoven Street school, overseen by chemistry teacher, Mr Tattershall.

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Added: 25 Apr 2022 22:11 GMT   

Southover, N12
Everyone knows Central Woodside is the place to be. Ever since kdog moved from finchtown, Woodside has been thriving.

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Born here
Bernard Miller   
Added: 12 Apr 2022 17:36 GMT   

My mother and her sister were born at 9 Windsor Terrace
My mother, Millie Haring (later Miller) and her sister Yetta Haring (later Freedman) were born here in 1922 and 1923. With their parents and older brother and sister, they lived in two rooms until they moved to Stoke Newington in 1929. She always said there were six rooms, six families, a shared sink on the first floor landing and a toilet in the backyard.

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Brian Lynch   
Added: 10 Apr 2022 13:38 GMT   

Staples Mattress Factory
An architect’s design of the Staples Mattress Factory
An image found on the website of Dalzell’s Beds, in Armagh Northern Ireland.

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


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
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The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
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
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
Licence: CC BY 2.0
The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
TUM image id: 1499354315
Licence: CC BY 2.0
St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
TUM image id: 1530005129
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
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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
Licence:


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.
Licence: CC BY 2.0


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


Wollstonecraft Street sign
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