Kentish Town

Kentish Town

infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
region= London
official_name= Kentish Town
latitude= 51.5447
longitude= -0.1459
london_borough= Camden
constituency_westminster= Holborn and St. Pancras
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= NW
postcode_district= NW5
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ285845

Kentish Town is an area of north London, England in the London Borough of Camden.


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 Fleet and the 18th century buildings to vanish, although pockets still remain, for example Little Green Street. 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 early 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 were looking to sell it to property developers for residential use, amid some local opposition. The Council were able to find a developer 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".

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 station was closed in June 1924 after strike action at the Lots Road power station 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.


Kentish Town is part of the Holborn St. Pancras 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.

In September 2008, one of the councillors resigned following a public outcry when it emerged that he had moved to Arizona [] . A by-election will take place on 30 October.

Kentish Town Today

Today Kentish Town is a busy shopping and business area. It offers libraries, gyms and other entertainments to visitors and its community. Its proximity to Camden Town is ideal for further entertainment and a wider range of shops.

Kentish Town is a haven for independent shops. 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, including the Bull and Gate music pub which featured early performances by Blur, Suede, PJ Harvey, Ash, Keane, The Libertines, Muse, Manic Street Preachers, and Coldplay.

Kentish Town is also home to The Forum, 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.

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

Kentish Town (by postcode) consists of Queen's Crescent, Torriano, part of Highgate, Tufnell Park & Kentish Town High Street.

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, and has retained a welcoming "living room" feel since its conversion.

Nearby Torriano Cottages is an unbarred enclave of 15 Victorian cottages with some recent architecturally interesting additions that still manages to retain an extraordinary rural atmosphere for a central London neighbourhood.

t Pancras Public Baths

The largest municipal building in Kentish Town is the St Pancras 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

* Mike Barson, the keyboardist of Madness (band)
* Sian Berry, Green Party politician and 2008 Green Party candidate for London Mayor.
* Tom Conti, actor
* Giles Coren, restaurant critic
* Noel Fielding, comedian (with his girlfriend, Dee Plume, a singer in the band Robots in Disguise)
* Patricia Hewitt, former Secretary of State for Health
* Bert Jansch, folk musician
* Tessa Jowell, Olympics Minister
* Roger Lloyd Pack, actor
* Bill Nighy, actor
* Gareth Peirce, solicitor
* Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian newspaper
* Jon Snow, TV journalist
* Pete Stanley, banjo player
* Pete Donaldson, Radio celebrity


Nearest stations

* Gospel Oak railway station
* Kentish Town station
* Kentish Town West railway station

Neighbouring areas

* Camden Town and Chalk Farm to the south
* Barnsbury to the south-east
* Tufnell Park and Holloway to the east
* Dartmouth Park and Archway to the north-east
* Highgate to the north
* Hampstead and Belsize Park to the west


*Gillian Tindall, "The Fields Beneath" ISBN 1-84212-248-7. A detailed history of Kentish Town.

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