West Hampstead history
by Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms
The name ‘West Hampstead’ didn’t exist until the 1880s: before then, the area was known as West End. The census shows a gradual increase in West End from 212 residents in 1801 to 563 people in 1871. Not much had changed in the intervening years: the few mansions were still occupied by wealthy tenants, workers’ cottages and tenements clustered round the Green with the local farmhouse, the Old Black Lion beerhouse and Cock & Hoop pub nearby. The Cock and Hoop was pulled down and Alexandra Mansions built on its site in 1902. Another small group of cottages stood near Fortune Green. Many residents worked on the land or as servants for the gentry. In later years some had jobs in Potter’s Iron Foundry, (on the site of Welbeck Mansions).
West End Fair
Until it was suppressed in 1820, the daily routine of life in West End was disrupted every summer by hundreds of Londoners who came for the amusements on offer at West End fair. This three-day event started in a small way with toy and gingerbread sellers, but it spread from the Green into fields nearby, attracting many professional showmen. In 1819 a riot occurred, when a mob of about 200 men rampaged through the Fair, robbing and beating anyone they met. Ten people were brought to trial: three young men were hanged and the others were deported to Botany Bay. Little trouble was reported the following year but 1820 proved to be the last time the Fair was held.
Rapid development in the 1880s and 1890s swept away the large houses and the streets were laid out in today’s pattern. A local estate agent in Kilburn claimed that he coined the name ‘West Hampstead’, for one of the local railway stations. Public amenities such as street lighting, gas and electricity were provided and much of the frontage to West End Lane was developed as shops.
West End Station, now West Hampstead, National Rail station was the first to open, in 1871. West Hampstead Station, now the Jubilee Line, followed in July 1879 and West End Lane Station, now the London Overground Line, opened in 1888. Horse buses ran along the Lane and nearby Finchley Road.
House building took up all the available land, leaving just two open spaces, West End Green and Fortune Green. The residents fought hard to save them both. In 1882, when a builder put boards all around West End Green, 200 men tore down the hoarding and set it on fire. Eventually the local Vestry (the equivalent of the Council), bought the land in 1885 and ten years later they also acquired Fortune Green as an open space, following more local protests when it too was threatened by developers.
In 1952, the architectural historian Sir Niklaus Pevsner wrote that West Hampstead was only worth visiting in search of Victorian churches: ‘The houses and streets require no notice’. Opinions change and today this Victorian suburb is considered a vibrant and attractive place to live.
For the third year running, voting fever is upon us. Hampstead & Kilburn looks like being a key battleground once again as Brexit clashes with broader political and party-political issues to muddy the waters for many voters. To be honest, like Brenda, I’m not sure I can take much more. We love West Hampstead because it’s […]
Recently the Mayor’s office published this map of all the street trees in London – colour coded. This dendrophile’s wet dream covers all of London but if you put your postcode in the top-right corner then you can zoom in on West Hampstead. By unclicking certain dots you can see what West Hampstead would look […]
The new recycling contract is still causing problems, but Camden and Veolia say it is ’98% sorted’. Seems a rather high assessment. There is a new Love Camden app to report fly-tipping. Seems to be working, although ‘bin problems’ is not one of the options. With support from an unexpected quarter. A minor political earthquake […]
Words like ‘history’, ‘church’ and ‘books’ don’t always conjure up images of children’s happy, smiling faces. Especially in combination. However, the rapt attention of 300 schoolkids from Emmanuel, Beckford, Francis Holland, South Hampstead High, St Anthony’s and Rainbow Montessori schools told quite a different story this Tuesday. History royalty rocked up to Emmanuel Church in […]
In 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is a brief mention of a real person. Our eponymous hero says that while he was studying at the University of Chicago, he was fascinated by the work of a man called Mitchell Hedges, a real-life adventurer and explorer who found a crystal […]
During the 1930s, Soviet intelligence recruited a group of young, idealistic Cambridge students who saw themselves supporting Communism against the spread of Fascism. After university, they held important posts in the Foreign Office and the Intelligence Service and passed secret information to the Soviets. They were not discovered until 1951 when two of them – […]
There been a ‘pop-up’ take-over of our usual food reviewer’s spot, Tom’s Diner, as WHL pulled rank to review Summer’s dining. As we reported a couple of weeks ago, three young guys have taken over the Sir Colin Campbell on Kilburn High Road and are collaborating with Ruairidh Summers, an ex-St. John’s chef on his […]
Tulip Siddiq, MP for Hampstead & Kilburn, is a busy working mother and her baby daughter Azalea is going through a naughty, determined, stage at the moment. After her mother’s recent haranguing of “smirking” foreign secretary Boris Johnson in the House of Commons, perhaps we know where Azalea gets it from. We sat down with […]
Cocoa Bijoux is an, erm, bijou, little chocolate shop down on Broadhurst Gardens. Except it isn’t just a chocolate shop. Stuart Daniel, the owner, wanted it be more interesting than a pure chocolate shop. It’s a good source if you are looking for a special present to take friends who’ve invited you for dinner. Or want […]
Mother’s day or Mothering Sunday, is the 26th March. Which is soon. If you haven’t got something for yours, or for younger mums something ‘from’ the kids – what to buy? WHL scooted round the shops in the ‘hood – and this is what caught our eye. Season’s Cookshop said “well it depends how pleased […]
This month West Hampstead says farewell to Ladudu, the rather good Vietnamese restaurant by the stations. We will be sad to see it go but, as you will find out, when one door closes another one opens (in fact two). Teresa considers herself a West Hampstead local as she lives in the area – it’s her […]
There’s always a bit of excitement when a major new shop or restaurant opens in the area. Some scoff at the fervour with which chains are welcomed. Others just scoff the food they sell. Marks & Spencer’s food hall in West Hampstead Square will undoubtedly be a boon not just for those eventually living in […]
The NDF has a new head – or rather heads. After five years of steering the Neighbourhood Development Forum, chairman James Earl stepped down at last night’s AGM. James is leaving West Hampstead for pastures new. His replacement(s): NDF treasurer Nick Jackson and former Lib Dem local councillor Keith Moffitt. In the end, the whole […]
Gondar Gardens – the old reservoir site in the northern reaches of West Hampstead – has had more than its fair share of development proposals over the past few years. Some have been rejected – even on appeal – and some have been accepted. Yet nothing has actually been built. The most recent decision was […]
Last week we looked at job creation in West Hampstead. This week, we turn our attention to housing. In the London Plan 2016, West Hampstead is glamorously referred to as “Area for intensification, number 45”. The original designation dates back to the time Ken Livingstone used to commute to City Hall via West Hampstead and […]
Local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq could face an uphill battle to retain her seat if plans to redraw constituency boundaries come into effect. The Boundary Commission has published proposals, at the request of the government, to reduce the overall number of MPs from 650 to 600 and to more evenly balance the size of constituencies in […]
Camden has released more details of the Brexit vote. The results are not strictly ward based (the count was organised in this way for reasons of accuracy) as postal votes were allocated randomly and evenly per ward. With that caveat, the percentage vote in favour of remain in the the local wards was: Hampstead Town 79.72% […]
West Hampstead is a very civic-minded area and last night The Sherriff Centre in St James’s Church held a hustings on whether Britain should stay in the European Union. The audience of about 60-80 people was generally respectful and let everyone speak. A republican debate on Fox news it was not. Each side also had […]
The reason West Hampstead seems inundated with new developments is that it was designated a “Growth Area” by City Hall. The Growth Area is specifically the part of West Hamsptead around the railway lines. Targets were set for 800 new homes and 100 new jobs between 2010 and 2031. Yes, 2031. Seven years in, we […]
John Padalino runs not one but two local businesses – and they are next door to each other. Rock Men’s Salon and Wired Coffee on Broadhurst Gardens. If you don’t know them already, they are a couple of the ‘hipper’ businesses here, but with a mix of typical West Hampstead customers. What brought you West […]
West Hampstead became a little less colourful last week. Ironically, it was with handwritten note not something printed that Colour Division announced last week that it was closing. It will be missed. Colour Division was not just one of the longest standing business in the area (it was set up in the mid-70s, under Edward […]
After many people – including West Hampstead Life – made a fuss about the lack of affordable housing provision in the Liddell Road scheme, Camden promised that the 156 West End Lane scheme would meet the 50% affordable housing quota by floorspace. The development, which was given the go-ahead by the planning committee on Thursday, […]
Tenants will be delighted at the announcement last week that administrative fees to tenants are to be banned, effective immediately. Whether costs to landlord might increase as a result is yet to be seen. Our view is that anything that can be done to improve transparency in our business has got to be positive. Flushing […]
West Hampstead Square still isn’t finished. As you will have noticed. Progress is being made as recent tweets show but it’s well overdue, and while it’s annoying for locals as the roads clog up with lorries delivering materials, for those who’ve bought apartments (some of whom are existing West Hampstead residents), the delays are going […]
Months of recent community work and lobbying came to some fruition on Tuesday 20th with a site visit to the Black Path and meeting with local residents by representatives from Network Rail, the British Transport Police, Camden Council and the West Hampstead Safer Neighbourhood Team. They were joined by two very welcome maintenance workers from Network Rail, […]
The late license of Kilburn’s popular music/comedy venue, The Good Ship, will be reviewed this Thursday. At the moment, it opens until 3am, but if the licensing committee rules follows the wishes of the police, it will be required to close at 2am – crucially with the last entry at midnight. Owner John McCooke says […]
The post office at the Sherriff Centre was still closed this morning following the robbery that took place on Saturday afternoon. The café and Hullabaloo soft play centre are open as normal, but post office staff were explaining the temporary closure to a steady flow of customers. One of the staff members, Robert, a familiar […]
Kids are in their element when playing sport. Running around with their teammates, safety is often an afterthought in the excitement of a live game. Parents have to be especially vigilant when their kids are playing contact sports, and though children’s orthodontics may not be at the front of many parents’ minds, thinking about it […]
It’s that time of year again; time to start thinking about undoing some of the damage from treating ourselves a little too much over the festive season. For all those times we said, ‘Oh go on then, it’s Christmas after all!’ Now your clothes are a little uncomfortable and you seem to have grown a […]
Inspired by Team GB’s Olympic hockey success (the first ever gold for the women’s team), time to remind you all that there’s a hockey club on your doorstep. I’ve played at every level of hockey from junior to international and West Hampstead Hockey Club is the best club I’ve ever been involved with. There are 15 teams; […]