Somers Town

Suburb, existing between the 1750s and now

(51.531 -0.13) 

Somers Town

MAP YEAR:1750180018301860190019502020Remove markers
Suburb · * · NW1 ·

Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Historically, the name Somers Town was used for the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Roads, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road, Euston Road and Eversholt Street.

Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (1725–1806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (1651–1716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.

In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court.

The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay.

When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about six hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children’s play area and sports court.

Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.

During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Streets was a centre for the squatting movement.

In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.

Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.

Land at Brill Place, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.

Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence

Ossulston Estate The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
Rhodes Farm Rhodes Farm was situated on Hampstead Road.
Somers Town Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
St. James Gardens St. James Gardens were used as a burial ground between 1790 and 1853.
The 'Royal Blue' horse omnibus outside 5 Euston Road (1912) The bus carries route information and an advert for Selfridge's. The shops behind, including Boots the Chemist, Stewart & Wright's Cocoa Rooms and the Northumberland Hotel, are covered in advertisements.

Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.
Ampthill Square, NW1 Ampthill Square is a name which has existed in two different time periods.
Barclay Street, NW1 Barclay Street led from Aldenham Street northwards to Medburn Street.
Barnby Street, NW1 Barnby Street is a street in Camden Town.
Bridgeway Street, NW1 Bridgeway Street is a street in Camden Town.
Brill Place, NW1 Brill Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Chalton Street, NW1 Chalton Street was formerly Charlton Street.
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
Cranleigh Street, NW1 Cranleigh Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Road, NW1 Crowndale Road was at first called Fig Lane and then Gloucester Place.
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a street in Camden Town.
Eversholt Street, NW1 Eversholt Street is a street in Camden Town.
Godwin Court, NW1 Godwin Court is a street in Camden Town.
Granby Terrace, NW1 Granby Terrace is a street in Camden Town.
Hampden Close, NW1 Hampden Close is a street in Camden Town.
Lidlington Place, NW1 Lidlington Place is a street in Camden Town.
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.
Oakshott Court, NW1 Oakshott Court is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Phoenix Road, NW1 Phoenix Road is a street in Camden Town.
Polygon Road, NW1 Polygon Road is a street in Camden Town.
Purchese Street, NW1 Purchese Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Somers Close, NW1 Somers Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
The Polygon The Polygon was a housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.
Unity Mews, NW1 Unity Mews is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.

The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
The Polygon, Somers Town in 1850.
TUM image id: 1499354315
Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
TUM image id: 1530005129
Print-friendly version of this page