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.
We have had to cancel tonight’s hustings at the Sherriff Centre. Following the terrible attack in Manchester last night, which has left 22 people dead and dozens more injured, the political parties have suspended campaigning. Sadly this sort of disruption of the democratic process is surely one of the aims of terrorism. While calling a […]
The big news: Hustings on Tuesday at the Sheriff Centre. Doors open at 7:00, starts at 7:30. Next up in our election 2017 interviews: the Conservative candidate for H&K, Claire-Louise Leyland. A man was sentenced for ‘disgusting’ violence on his arrest. Election news If you aren’t registered to vote tomorrow (Monday 22) is your final chance! […]
Claire-Louise Leyland is a Camden councillor for Belsize and for three years has been leader of the Conservative opposition on Camden council. She is also the Conservative candidate for Hampstead & Kilburn in the upcoming general election. Hampstead and Kilburn is one of the Tories’ top target seats – one of the few in London on […]
Leonard Tom – Leon to his friends – was a diamond broker. He was born in Amsterdam in 1890, but lived at several addresses in West Hampstead during his life. His family came to England in 1896, and when Leonard was 16 he joined his father in the diamond trade. After his marriage in 1922 […]
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 […]
London Farmers’ Market, which runs the West Hampstead market, has an annual competition to find customers favourite stall at each market. In West Hampstead, the winner (again) was Brinkworth Dairy. So who better for WHL’s next Insight. Brinkworth Dairy is run by Ceri and Chad Cryer (helped by their young three boys and other family members) […]
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 […]
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 […]
It was Bank Holiday Monday, we were on the way back from a swim at Swiss Cottage, and feeling a bit peckish. Time to try West Hampstead’s newest kid in town – Rosa’s Thai Cafe. We were not alone. The place was pretty full when we arrived past 1pm and got even fuller over lunch. The […]
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 […]
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 […]
H&K promises once again to be closely fought battle and West Hampstead is the marginal bit of a marginal constituency. Given the snap election, hustings have been thin on the ground in 2017 – in fact we don’t know of any large-scale hustings at all. We’re therefore very pleased to announce that we’ve teamed up […]
If you don’t know who Kirsty Allan is… well, you should. She is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn (H&K). She’s a bona fide local too; she lives over in Queen’s Park, right on the constituency border between H&K and Westminster North. She actually stood for Westminster North in 2015 but after the Brexit vote, […]
The local Conservative party held its constituency selection meeting last night in the Dennington Park Road synagogue hall – a special general meeting called at short notice after Theresa May’s surprise election announcement. Hampstead & Kilburn is a key target seat for them. The local party had sent a shortlist to Central Office which initially […]
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 […]
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 […]
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; […]