West End Park
West End Park, 1870s
West End Park was created from fields known as the 'Little Estate'.

In 1851 West End was a hamlet mainly of agricultural labourers, gardeners, craftsmen, and tradespeople for daily needs, with an innkeeper and two beershop keepers and a schoolmistress; the few gentry included Rear-Admiral Sir George Sartorius (1790-1885) of West End House, a retired ironfounder, a surgeon, some civil servants, and a clergyman.

South of the village, the fifteen years from 1879 witnessed great developments after the opening of the third and final railway through the area, the Metropolitan & St. John's Wood, with a station in West End Lane (West Hampstead). Stations on the other two lines opened in 1880 and 1888.

The first to exploit the railway was Donald Nicoll MP, owner of a gentlemen's outfitter's in Regent Street, who leased Oaklands Hall between 1861 to 1872.

He owned portions of the Little Estate to the north and west, together forming a 23 acre estate which he called West End Park.

Nicoll was a director of the Metropolitan and St. John's Wood railway from 1864 to 1872 and, in anticipation of its plans, laid out a road (Sherriff Road - then called Nicoll Road) on the line later taken by the railway, for which he received substantial compensation.

He then sold West End Park to the London Permanent Building Society, which was connected with Alexander Sherriff, a fellow M.P. and railway director, who gave his name to the northernmost road on the estate.

Building began in West End Park in 1879, when houses were under construction in Sherriff, Hemstal, Kylemore, and Gladys Roads. Hilltop Road houses were not begun until 1883. Various builders, mostly local and including James Tavener, Reeder of Maygrove Road, and Haines of Sherriff Road, were working on c. 186 houses and 3 studios in 1893.

Some houses at the eastern end of the estate were detached but most were terraced and cramped. St. James's church was built in 1887 and the Beacon, 'the exact representation of a ruin on the coast of England', at the junction of West End Lane with Hemstal Road about the same time.

It was itself replaced by St. James's Mansions in 1894.

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