I am mainly concerned with North Kensington. The far side of the Harrow Road is also W10 and I will have the odd article about that area. Back in the day, before the London boroughs were created in 1965, that was Paddington Borough. I will also venture in to W11 and W9 from time to time. Before 1965, Kensington was not linked to Chelsea. I should also add that one of my interests is Women’s History.
North Kensington as anyone familiar with the area knows, is quite a mixed area. It’s a mix of large houses intended for the middle classes. At lot of the houses were not occupied by the middle class families they were intended for. Many properties were divided up into flats. Kensington has always had a large private rented sector. And there is social housing, back then it was provided by voluntary associations, the great and the good etc. Octavia Hill had some projects in the area. There are pockets of affluence in the area, but that is not the main story here. In the period that interests me, 1870s to 1950s), North Kensington was a relatively low income area, an industrial area.
The Regent Canal passes through the area. Coal came from Newcastle by ship. It then went to Kings Cross and from King’s Cross came to North Kensington. Coal in this period is the fuel of industry. The canal linked North Kensington to East London and to West London and the Midlands.
There was a gas works in the area (where the Sainsburys is now). Tow of the old gas holders still remain. The coal was made into town gas which was used for street lighting among other things. There were factories along Kensal Road as it gave them access to the canal. There was a car works along Barlby Road. There were laundry houses. There was a lot of public houses. There was a workhouse in Mary Place. There was a lock hospital on he Harrow Road. What is now St Charles Hospital was the workhouse infirmary for the Marylebone Workhouse Union.
During the war and in the immediate post war period, infamous murderers had ties to this area. John Christie of 10 Rillington Place is infamous. Neville Heath carried out one of his murders at Pembridge Court Hotel in W11. John George Haig, the acid bath murderer, murdered several people at his lock up at Gloucester Road. Gordon Cummins, the Black Out Ripper, killed one of his victims at Paddington. Christie, Gordon Cummins, Neville Heath and John George Haig all feature in episodes of Murder Maps.