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Kentish Town is an area of north west Londonmarker, Englandmarker in the London Borough of Camdenmarker.

History

Kentish Town is first recorded during the reign of King John (1208) as kentisston. By 1456 Kentish Town was recognised as a thriving hamlet, and in this period a chapel of ease is recorded as being built for the inhabitants.

The early 19th century brought modernisation, causing much of the area's rural charm, the River Fleetmarker and the 18th century buildings to vanish, although pockets still remain, for example Little Green Streetmarker. Between the availability of public transport to it from London, and its urbanisation, it was a popular resort.

Large amounts of land were purchased to build the railway, which can still be seen today. Kentish Town was a prime site for development as the Kentish Town Road was a major route from London northwards. Probably its most famous resident was Karl Marx who lived at 9 Grafton Terrace from 1856.

1877 saw the beginning of mission work in the area as it was then poor. The mission first held their services outside but as their funding increased they built a mission house, chapel, and vicarage. One mission house of the area was Lyndhurst Hall, which remained in community use for many years before being taken over by the Council and being run-down. The Council wished it to sell it for residential use, and the hall was demolished in 2006.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries the area of Kentish Town became for many years the home of many famous piano and organ manufacturers, and was described by The Piano Journal in 1901 as "...that healthful suburb dear to the heart of the piano maker".

A network of streets in the East of Kentish Town has streets named after places or persons connected with Christ Church, Oxfordmarker viz: Oseneymarker, Busby, Gaisford, Cavershammarker, Islipmarker, Wolsey, Frideswide, Peckwatermarker & Hammond. All these streets lay behind the Oxford Arms. Some of the freehold of these streets is still in the name of Christ Church Oxford.

In 1912 the Church of St. Silas the Martyr was finally erected and consecrated, and by December of that year it became a parish in its own right. It can still be seen today along with the church of St Luke with St Paul and the Church of St. Barnabas (handed over to the Greek Orthodox Church in 1957).

Kentish Town Road contains one of London's many disused Tube stations. South Kentish Town tube stationmarker was closed in June 1924 after strike action at the Lots Road power stationmarker meant the lift could not be used. It never reopened. The distinctive building is now occupied by a 'Cash Converters' pawn shop at the corner of Kentish Town Road and Castle Road although there have been proposals to rebuild the station.

Kentish Town was to see further modernisation in the post-World War II period. However, the residential parts of Kentish Town, dating back to the mid 1800s have survived and are much admired architecturally.

Politics

Kentish Town is part of the Holborn and St Pancrasmarker seat currently held by Labour's Frank Dobson.

However, although considered traditional Labour heartland the area has often defied its demographic by resolutely maintaining a strong moderate, centrist vote. Kentish Town was an early base for the SDP and in recent years the increasingly middle class population has returned large votes for the Green and Liberal Democrat parties. In May 2006 the Liberal Democrats won two of the three Council seats in Kentish Town, strengthening this hold by taking the final seat in a by-election in November of the same year.

Kentish Town today

Kentish Town Road
Today Kentish Town is a busy shopping and business area. It offers libraries, gyms and other entertainments to visitors and its community.

Kentish Town has independent shops and a survey by the local Green Party found that of 87 shops on the high street, 53 were still independently owned. The high street is a venue of national chains and independents. Many 'World Food' shops have opened up on the street.

Kentish Town has always been noted for its pubs and bars. Pub rock is usually traced back to the "Tally Ho", a former jazz pub, where Eggs over Easy started playing in May 1971, and were soon joined by Bees Make Honey, Brinsley Schwarz, Max Merritt and the Meteors, Ducks Deluxe and others.

Other music pubs include the "Bull & Gate" which featured early performances by Blur, The Housemartins, Suede, PJ Harvey, Ash, The Pogues, The Men They Couldn't Hang, Keane, The Libertines, Muse, The Shamen, Manic Street Preachers, and Coldplay. The pub was the site of the extremely popular and influental six-nightly Timebox club run by Jon 'Fat' Beast from 1987 to 1992.

Kentish Town is also home to The Forummarker, for many years well into the 1950s one of Kentish Town's most popular and comfortable cinemas, and now a popular live music venue.

One of London's most famous nudist public baths, Rio's, is in Kentish Town.

Many of the old buildings remain, albeit hidden behind the facades of modern shops or neglected, and it is still possible to get a good impression of Kentish Town's heritage in present-day NW5.

Kentish Town has a fairly large boundary, stretching from Camden Gardens to as a far north as the Highgate Road/Gordon House Road junction near Dartmouth Parkmarker. Kentish Town generally includes the areas to the west, around Queens Crescent and to the east around Torriano.

Many of the filming locations used in the 2006 film "Venus", starring Peter O'Toole and Lesley Phillips, were in Kentish Town.

Kentish Town graffiti


Torriano Avenue, dating back to 1848, is a popular Kentish Town street being home to Pete Stanley, one of the country's best-known bluegrass banjo players, British actor Bill Nighy, The Torriano Poets, a beacon of culture where local poets have met for over 20 years and still hold weekly public poetry readings on Sunday evenings, and the second London branch of Flavours, a specialist delicatessen selling high quality home-baked foods, refreshments and finest quality deli ingredients. The street is also home to two pubs, one being an 1850s hostelry The Leighton, the other The Torriano, which was for many years an old-fashioned community off-licence.

St Pancras public baths

St Pancras Public Baths
The largest municipal building in Kentish Town is the St Pancrasmarker public baths, opened in 1900, designed by T.W. Aldwinckle. The large complex originally had separate first and second class men's baths and a women's baths, along with a public hall. Little of the interior remains intact.

The baths were closed in January 2007 for refurbishment and are unlikely to re-open before 2010.

Notable residents



Transport

Nearest stations



Neighbouring areas



References

  1. http://camden.greenparty.org.uk/localsites/camden/news/newstescokentish.html camden.greenparty.org.uk
  • Gillian Tindall, The Fields Beneath ISBN 1-84212-248-7. A detailed history of Kentish Town.



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