Thursday, January 11, 2018

The 'Hood, 1894


A few days ago, someone donated some odds and ends to the library where I work. The papers included reproductions of old survey maps from 1894 depicting various parts of North London, including the areas around West Hampstead. I got a kick out of looking at these maps and since they show areas I often mention in this blog, I thought you might like them too.

Above you'll see what the region around Fortune Green and Hampstead Cemetery, where I often walk Olga, looked like 124 years ago. To the left of Fortune Green are the so-called "Greek streets," named after heroes like Agamemnon and Ajax. North of the cemetery, it's all just farmland.


This is what the same area looks like today. As you can see, west of the "Greek streets" and surrounding the former reservoir, more neighborhoods were built -- including Gondar Gardens, where I also frequently walk with Olga. And north of the cemetery there are now athletic fields and more neighborhoods.

That reservoir, incidentally, is still open space, but it's the subject of occasional development schemes. The most current, I believe, is a plan to turn it into an upmarket retirement community. Unfortunately the property is fenced off and inaccessible, so I don't walk Olga there.


Even more pertinent, at least to me, is this area -- which is where Dave and I now live. You can see West End Lane, which is West Hampstead's main street, running north-south about a third of the way from the left side of the map. To the left (west) of West End Lane are lots of houses on streets like Pandora and Sumatra roads (where, yes, I also walk Olga). You can also see, at the upper right, a short segment of Finchley Road.

In between West End Lane and Finchley Road, and to the west of the Hampstead Cricket Ground, there was just open land with three large houses -- Canterbury House, Treherne House and West End Hall.


This is what that same area looks like today. The neighborhoods west of West End Lane haven't changed much, but between West End Lane and the cricket ground, a whole "new" neighborhood has been built. That's where Dave and I live. (I hasten to add that it's not really new -- it's probably 100 years old at this point!) Those three large houses are gone entirely.

It's also interesting to see how much has been built just north of the railroad tracks, such as the relatively modern housing estate between Lymington Road and Dresden Close where, yes, I walk Olga.

It's even more surprising to look at the whole map, because lots of the land beyond what I've shown here was empty in 1894. Nowadays it's just houses and houses and houses -- West Hampstead runs into Cricklewood which runs into Willesden Green and Dollis Hill. In the late Victorian and Edwardian years, London's growth mushroomed and much of the city's housing stock was built. We're all still living in it today!

8 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I am a mapohile. Thanks for sharing this Steve. Very interesting. I imagine that Gondar Gardens were named after a dragon or a magician in the Harry Potter books but as I have never read such tripe I cannot say for sure. Beware of Gondar! He will cast a spell on you or barbecue you with his fiery breath!

Marty Damon said...

In spite of the changes you've pointed out, it's still remarkable how much - at least from a bird's eye view - looks to have remained the same.

Ms. Moon said...

I agree with Marty!

Sharon Anck said...

What an interesting find. I recognize the lay of those streets from when I looked at the maps to get to your house. It seems strange that those big houses are entirely gone. It makes sense that the land was developed around them but I wonder why the big houses had to go. I'm sure it had to do with economics.

Bohemian said...

At least in most of Europe they still maintain an appreciation for History and the Historic Properties and preservation is diligent. If I look at a Map of 1880's Arizona what has been preserved Historically is abysmal. But it is Wonderful finding old Archive Photos and Maps just to see what once was.

robin andrea said...

It is so interesting to have old maps to look at and compare to current ones. Each change has its own history, families, lives, stories, and dust.

37paddington said...

Maps tell such stories! I have always loved them. I majored in writing and cartography in college!

Catalyst said...

I also love maps and my favorite uncle was said to favor a map to study while he was eating his dinner. It's always interesting to look at changes in areas where one once lived.