A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9, Hampstead, Paddington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1989.
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The mid 13th-century le Rudyng, a name which indicates a woodland clearing, was by 1534 called West End, (fn. 1) because of its position in relation to the central demesne lands. West End was then the name of a freehold estate, later called Thorplands, belonging to Kilburn priory. There was a house on the estate by 1646 and possibly by 1244 (fn. 2) and although none of the copyhold tenements at West End can be traced back to 1312, the fact that several were heriotable suggests their origin in the Middle Ages. (fn. 3) The road junction at which West End lies appears to be later than the hamlet but West End Lane and Mill Lane (Shoot Up Hill Lane and Cole Lane), although not named until later, probably existed as access in the Middle Ages since they formed the boundaries of several ancient estates. (fn. 4) In 1644 Hillfield abutted on Northwood apparently without Frognal Lane, called West End Lane in the 18th century, separating them but presumably there was always a route from West End hamlet to the parish church. (fn. 5)
Several houses in West End were mentioned in the early 17th century (fn. 6) and by the mid century London merchants were building larger ones. Richard Gibbs, a goldsmith, acquired Hillfield on the east side of West End (or Kilburn) Lane, north of Jacksfield, together with two houses in 1644. (fn. 7) One may have been the decayed brick house purchased from Gibbs before 1663 by the father of Matthew Blueh, a Chancery clerk. (fn. 8) The Hillfield estate was held by another Londoner in 1685 (fn. 9) and the house was 'new fronted and much beautified and another house built' after 1703 by Henry Binfield. (fn. 10) Both houses, with their coach houses, were owned by Mary Binfield in 1762. (fn. 11) One was West End Hall and the other possibly Treherne House. (fn. 12)
In 1655 William Hitchcock, merchant tailor, conveyed a new house, described in 1687 as a mansion house on the west side of West End Lane, to William Bennett, another London merchant, and north of it another house was held by three generations of Wachters, London merchants, possibly Jews, from c. 1649 to 1686. (fn. 13) Bennett's house was probably the White House, which passed to Norwich Salisbury by 1692 and to Richard Limbrey in 1743. In 1762 Limbrey owned and occupied a brick house and coach house opposite Jacksfield, the most southerly house in West End. (fn. 14) The house and stabling north of it, owned by Armine Snoxell in 1762, was probably Wachter's, later Sandwell House. (fn. 15) There was a house at Colemead, north of Shoot Up Hill Lane and west of Fortune Green Lane, by 1707. (fn. 16) The Black Lion stood on the west side of West End Lane by 1721 and the Cock and Hoop almost opposite, north of the junction with Frognal Lane, by 1723. (fn. 17) In 1710 West End had 14 rent-paying tenements and by 1762 there were 19 houses, 18 cottages, and 2 inns, in West End, mostly on the west side of West End Lane and Fortune Green Lane. (fn. 18)
By 1800 West End was a hamlet of cottages and seats set in parkland. The White House had by 1774 been replaced by West End House, which, as a result of the straightening of West End Lane, stood back from the road. (fn. 19) The property, with other West End estates, passed in 1796 to Maria Beckford, (fn. 20) whose family, which included William Beckford (1709-70), lord mayor of London, had occupied a house nearby since 1762 or earlier. (fn. 21) The house was occupied by Miss Beckford from c. 1807 to 1810, by the marchioness of Headfort from c. 1815 to 1825, (fn. 22) and by the Hon. Henry Frederick Compton Cavendish in 1842. (fn. 23) Another resident by 1800 was Germain Lavie, J.P., (fn. 24) who was lessee of Lauriston Lodge and some 11 a., part of Gilberts estate, from 1806. (fn. 25) The house, later occupied by Sir William Woods, Garter King-at-Arms, was of red brick with stained-glass windows and a fine entrance. (fn. 26) The engraver Josiah Boydell (1752-1817) was lessee of land in West End in 1783 (fn. 27) and by 1807 was occupying a house and coach house. Boydell was a tenant of Jeremy Jepson Ripley, who built a house and coach house after 1814, possibly that with a large garden north of Lauriston Lodge. Admiral James Saumarez, Baron de Saumarez (1757-1836), lived in one of the West End houses. (fn. 28)
West End Hall was owned 1796-1807 by the family of the Hon. Richard Walpole, M.P., in 1807 by Lord Walpole, and 1815-89 by John Miles and his wife, benefactors of West End. (fn. 29) Two other substantial houses in 1807, occupied by Thomas Kesteven and Mrs. Mears, (fn. 30) were probably Treherne House and Flitcroft's farmhouse. (fn. 31) There were c. 16 houses and 9 cottages in 1810 and another four modest houses by 1815. (fn. 32) Between 1762 and 1814 houses were built on Fortune Green and fronting Frognal Lane, Mill Lane, and Fortune Green Lane, (fn. 33) the last being Cholmley Lodge, a twostoreyed stuccoed house. (fn. 34) At the southern end of the hamlet, on the west side of West End Lane, Charles Spain bought 5 a. of the Little estate (fn. 35) and between 1829 and 1838 built York Villa. (fn. 36) That house was renamed or replaced by Oaklands Hall, an elaborate Gothic mansion, occupied in the 1860s by Donald Nicoll, a merchant. (fn. 37) Two white Italianate houses were built in the 1860s by the Greenwood brothers, contractors working on the Midland railway: Sandwell House near Lauriston Lodge and Canterbury House opposite, on Jacksfield. (fn. 38)
In 1812 James Leigh Hunt moved to a cottage at West End, attracted by a district so quiet that the inhabitants of West End Hall claimed to have heard the cannon at Waterloo. (fn. 39) A proposal to bring Finchley Road to West End Lane in 1824 failed and the new road, east of the hamlet, had little immediate effect. (fn. 40) The only building was of a few houses at New West End, on the east side of Finchley Road, in the 1840s. (fn. 41) A National school and cottage for the schoolmistress was built on the north side of the village, on part of the grounds of Cholmley Lodge, in 1844. (fn. 42) In 1851 West End was a hamlet mainly of agricultural labourers, gardeners, craftsmen, and tradespeople for daily needs, with an innkeeper and two beershop keepers and a schoolmistress; the few gentry included Rear-Admiral Sir George Sartorius (1790-1885) of West End House, a retired ironfounder, a surgeon, some civil servants, and a clergyman. (fn. 43) Industry, in the form of Thomas Potter's foundry on the south-west side of West End Green, arrived in the 1860s, followed by Potter's Buildings or West Cottages for its workers. (fn. 44)
The transformation of West End came with the building of three railway lines south of the village, crossing West End Lane. Large sections of several estates were sold to the railway companies: in addition to the lines themselves, sidings, yards, and rubbish tips occupied much space and the remaining farm- and parkland was cut into segments, determining the subsequent street pattern. The Hampstead Junction Railway, built by 1857, ran along the southern boundary of West End House. The Revd. William Dunbar, who lived in Scotland, sold the estate to a speculator, Charles Bischoff, the owner in 1863 when the second railway line, the Midland, was proposed. The Midland line, opened in 1868, passed along the northern boundary of West End House, which in 1857 became a girls' laundry training school and later accommodated railway workers before its demolition in the late 1890s. Before 1873 Bischoff sold the estate to the British Land Co., which constructed Iverson Road, where four cottages were built in the West End portion in 1872, and developed the land to the west, in Kilburn, but most of the West End section was occupied by railway land. (fn. 45) The Midland Railway bought the eastern section of the estate and built coal offices in Iverson Road in 1890-1 and Heysham Terrace (nos. 202-20) on the site of West End House in 1897. (fn. 46)
Coincidentally the next estate to be developed, like West End House, had belonged to the Beckfords, although it had followed a different descent since the 1840s. Consisting of c. 15 a. north of Mill Lane and west of Fortune Green Lane, it was sold in 1865 to the Real Property Co. and in 1868 to the Land Co. of London, which laid out Hillfield Road and Aldred Street in building plots. (fn. 47) Development was slow. Two houses and a temporary church were built in Mill Lane, east of the junction with Aldred Road, in 1874 and one plot fronting Mill Lane, sold in 1875, was built on by 1878. (fn. 48) Premises for Field Lane boys' industrial school were built on the north side of Hillfield Road in 1877. (fn. 49) Sustained building began in 1878 and by 1890 some 88 houses, by various builders, had been erected in Hillfield Road; 16 were built in 1888 in Aldred Road by Cossens, who lived there, and the Pavement, nos. 41-83 (odd), was built in Mill Lane. In 1908 Berridge House opened next to the industrial school, at the junction of Hillfield Road and Fortune Green Lane, as the National Society's training college for teachers of domestic subjects. (fn. 50)
Most of the land north of West End Green and around Fortune Green belonged to the Flitcroft estate, 20 a. of which were sold to the parish in 1875 for a cemetery, thereby holding back housing in the area for a decade. (fn. 51) Apart from the Hillfield Road estate, the only building was on a small estate west of Finchley Road, owned in 1841 by Francis Lovel, where between 1870 and 1878 Charles Cannon, a dye merchant who lived at Kidderpore Hall, converted an old footpath into Cannon Hill, and West House and Wellesley House were built west of the junction of Finchley Road and West End Lane. (fn. 52)
The period of greatest development was in the 15 years from 1879, beginning with the opening of the third railway, the Metropolitan & St. John's Wood, with a station in West End Lane (West Hampstead). Stations on the other two lines opened in 1880 and 1888. (fn. 53) The first to exploit the railway was Donald Nicoll, M.P. and owner of a gentlemen's outfitter's in Regent Street, who leased Oaklands Hall from Charles Spain from 1861 to 1872 and owned portions of the Little estate to the north and west, together forming a 23-a. estate which he called West End Park. Nicoll was a director of the Metropolitan and St. John's Wood railway from 1864 to 1872 and, in anticipation of its plans, laid out a road (Sherriff, then called Nicoll, Road) on the line later taken by the railway, for which he received substantial compensation. He then sold West End Park to the London Permanent Building Society, which was connected with Alexander Sherriff, a fellow M.P. and railway director, who gave his name to the northernmost road on the estate. (fn. 54)
Forty-two houses were built between 1877 and 1879 in Lowfield Road, adjoining Nicoll's development in Palmerston Road in Kilburn. Building began in West End Park itself in 1879, when houses were under construction in all the roads (Sherriff, Hemstal, Kylemore, and Gladys roads) except Hilltop Road, where they were not begun until 1883. Various builders, mostly local and including James Tavener, Reeder of Maygrove Road, and Haines of Sherriff Road, were working on c. 186 houses and 3 studios in 1893. Some houses at the eastern end of the estate were detached but most were terraced and cramped. St. James's church was built in 1887 and the Beacon, 'the exact representation of a ruin on the coast of England', at the junction of West End Lane with Hemstal Road about the same time. It was itself replaced by St. James's Mansions in 1894. Oaklands Hall was occupied by Sir Charles Murray until 1878, when it was offered for sale, and in 1883 houses were built in Dynham and Cotleigh roads on its site. Mostly local builders, including A. Rathbone of Mill Lane and Julia Bursill, had erected 123 terraced houses there by 1893, in addition to completing the frontage on West End Lane. (fn. 55) A library was built in Cotleigh Road in 1901. (fn. 56)
On the west side of West End Lane, north of Nicoll's estates, the land between the three railway lines was still largely untouched but beyond them building spread during the 1880s. Thomas Potter, owner of Thorplands, 13 a. south of Mill Lane, stretching westward from the junction with West End Lane, where he lived in Poplar House, (fn. 57) built c. 15 houses fronting Mill Lane between 1873 and 1877 and the Elms and the Cedars next to the green by 1878. (fn. 58) New roads were constructed in the late 1870s and 346 houses were built between 1882 and 1894 in Sumatra, Solent, Holmdale, Glenbrook, Pandora, and Narcissus roads, mostly by J. I. Chapman of Solent Road, G. W. Cossens of Mill Lane, Jabez Reynolds of Holmdale Road, and James Gibb of Dennington Park Road. Another 28 houses and a Methodist church were built on the estate fronting Mill Lane in 1886-7 and seven blocks of flats in West End Lane on what was called the Cedars estate in 1894. Some 49 houses were built, mostly by Reynolds, in the last road on the estate, Inglewood Road on the site of Poplar House, in 1893-4. Welbeck Mansions, flats notable for their ironwork balconies, were built north of Inglewood Road, on the site of Potter's foundry, in 1897. (fn. 59) The London General Omnibus Co. built stables and a depot c. 1901 on ground previously used for tennis at the north-eastern corner of the estate, which later became a post office garage. A fire brigade station, by 'O. Fleming and/or C. C. Winmill ... in Voysey manner', was built c. 1901 at the northern end of West End Lane. (fn. 60) Holmdale Mansions were built in Holmdale Road in 1904 and Cavendish Mansions at the east end of Mill Lane about the same time, when the Cedars, which had become a school, was demolished. (fn. 61)
South of Potter's estate was the Ripley estate, originally part of Gilberts, with its house at West End Lane still occupied in 1874 by Thomas Ripley, and Lauriston Lodge, which survived until the late 1890s. (fn. 62) About 1881 Dennington Park Road was constructed on the line of Sweetbriar Walk, the old path to Lauriston Lodge, and 58 houses were built there and in Kingdon Road, possibly named after a speculator Emmeline Kingdon, between 1883 and 1888, mostly by James Gibb. A synagogue was built at the eastern end of Dennington Park Road in 1891. Three blocks of flats, named Dene Mansions after Little Dene, home of the Ripley family, replaced Lauriston Lodge in 1904. (fn. 63) Farther east, fronting West End Lane, was the Sandwell House or Park estate, where in 1893-4 the last big house on the western side of West End Lane made way for flats (Sandwell and Victoria mansions) along West End Lane and Sumatra Road and for 10 houses in a new road, Sandwell Crescent. (fn. 64)
Fronting Mill Lane west of Potter's estate was the Earlsfields estate, reduced by the Midland railway to a triangle of land which was sold to the Land Building Investment and Cottage Improvement Co. Terraced houses in varied styles presumably indicating the builders, E. Garrett and William Brown, both of Ravenshaw Street, J. C. Wallas of Belsize Road, and Rathbone of Croydon, were crammed into Ravenshaw and Glastonbury streets and Broomsleigh and Dornfell roads between 1883 and 1887. Another 10 were built in Broomsleigh Road in 1890 and two in Ravenshaw Street in 1894. (fn. 65)
Land companies were probably responsible for similar activity on the Flitcroft estate. Although the name Parsifal Road was approved in 1883, (fn. 66) no houses went up there until the 1890s but Hackney or New College, a brick building with majolica dressings designed by W. P. Manning, was built at the eastern end in 1887. (fn. 67) The National Standard Land Mortgage and Investment Co. constructed Ingham and Burrard roads between Fortune Green Road and Finchley Road in 1885 and 64 small terraced houses were constructed there between 1886 and 1892 by Rathbone, Gray, Pulling, Brown, and other builders, while much of the frontage on Fortune Green Road and Finchley Road was covered with houses and shops. A Congregational church was built at the junction of Burrard and Finchley roads in 1894. Between 1890 and 1897 c. 13 larger detached or semi-detached houses were built in Parsifal Road. (fn. 68) A land company was probably also involved in building lower middle-class terraces on the rest of the Flitcroft estate south of the cemetery and west of Fortune Green, where fear of the cemetery outweighed the advantage of adjacent open space. W. H. Suttle, of Agamemnon Road, was the main builder of 155 houses in Agamemnon, Ajax, Ulysses, and Achilles roads between 1886 and 1896. (fn. 69) In 1895 Lyncroft Gardens was constructed through the site of Woodbine Cottage, former home of the Eleys and later of the society beauty, Mrs. Laura Thistlethwayte, at the south-eastern corner of the Flitcroft estate. E. J. Cave, one of the district's most prominent builders, built 21 houses and four blocks of flats there in 1896-7. In 1898 Emmanuel church moved from its mission church in Aldred Road to the corner of Lyncroft Gardens and West End Green, next to the recently closed Cock and Hoop. The site was sold to Cave, who became bankrupt in 1900, whereupon H. A. Rayner, a speculative builder from Croydon, acquired it, demolished the inn, and in 1902 built Alexandra Mansions on the site. Cave had been involved in work on the neighbouring Cannon Hill estate where Marlborough, Buckingham, and Avenue mansions were built in the triangle formed by Cannon Hill, Finchley Road, and West End Lane in 1896- 1900. (fn. 70)
The eastern side of West End Lane, with its three large houses, remained unchanged almost until 1900. There was one road, Blackburn Road, named after a local builder, by 1869, where Joseph Sloper's engineering works were established in 1872, but Sloper failed to exploit it and the works remained isolated between the railway lines. (fn. 71) Maj.-Gen. Sir C. Crauford Fraser, who had entertained the prince of Wales at West End Hall, died in 1896 and the house and 12 a. were sold for development in 1897. The adjacent Treherne and Canterbury houses were evidently disposed of at the same time and apparently Honeybourne, Fawley, and Lymington roads and Crediton Hill (originally Road) were laid out on the combined estates about 1897. (fn. 72) Building began in 1897 with two large blocks of flats, presumably Canterbury and Lymington mansions, on the site of Canterbury House. In 1899 houses were built in Lymington and Crediton roads and two blocks were erected at 'the corner of West End Lane and Crediton Road', probably Fawley and Crediton mansions on each side of Fawley Road. One builder, A. Davis, applied to build 21 houses in Honeybourne, Crediton, and Fawley roads in 1900 and by 1913 building on the combined estate was complete, mostly fairsized semi-detached houses but including shops fronting West End Lane and Yale and Harvard courts, built c. 1903 in Honeybourne Road. (fn. 73) To the south, offices were built at the junction of West End Lane and Blackburn Road in 1905. (fn. 74)
In the period from the late 1870s to the 1890s West End, hitherto a village with grand houses, became increasingly working-class. At the end of the 1880s some big houses remained, classified as wealthy, upper middle-, and middle-class, but on the western side of West End Lane a 'fair proportion' of people with good, ordinary earnings was mixed with the middle class and residents in the West End Park estate were only 'fairly comfortable'. Most houses in West Hampstead, where building was 'still fast increasing', were for the 'better class of artisans, clerks, railway men, policemen, travellers and a few professional men'. (fn. 75) Railways influenced the timing and character of West End's growth but probably more important was the fact that West End Lane formed a boundary between large estates on the east and small and fragmented ones to the west. (fn. 76) The few sizeable estates to the west had tended to break up before the railway lines divided them and reduced them still further, the owners being content to take the immediate profit of selling to a land company or speculative builder.
Although West End was said to be within the area where old families made way for Jews and a 'Bohemian element', (fn. 77) it housed few artists and writers. Alfred Harmsworth, later Viscount Northcliffe, came to no. 31 Pandora Road in 1888 and in 1890 founded the Pandora Publishing Co. Another publisher, Arthur Waugh, lived at no. 11 Hillfield Road, where his author sons Alec and Evelyn were born in 1898 and 1903 respectively. (fn. 78) Sir Henry Walford Davies, the composer, lived at no. 21 Fawley Road from 1901 to 1911. (fn. 79)
Almost all the building in the period between the two world wars was in the north. Cholmley Lodge was demolished in 1921, and 17 blocks of flats were built fronting Mill Lane, Aldred, Hillfield, and Fortune Green roads between 1922 and 1927. (fn. 80) The industrial school in Hillfield Road closed in 1932 and its building was taken over by the adjacent Domestic Science College in 1934, (fn. 81) while in 1938 a new building by Lawrence of Bristol west of Hackney College in Finchley Road was opened for the New College displaced from Swiss Cottage. (fn. 82) The only other building was of small blocks of shops and flats (Queen's Mansions) north of no. 222 West End Lane and at the junctions of Finchley Road with West End Lane in 1927 and with Burrard Road in 1932, of flats in Sherriff Road and Holmdale Road in 1936, and of an office block at nos. 158-60 West End Lane in 1938. (fn. 83)
In 1930 all the area east of West End Lane and Fortune Green Road was classified as middle-class and wealthy, as was most of the area on the west side north of the railway lines and the eastern part of West End Park. The rest of West End Park, however, and most of the land companies' estates were inhabited by skilled workers and the like and were overcrowded. (fn. 84) Inhabitants included E. C. Bentley (1875-1956), the novelist, at no. 28 Lymington Road in the 1920s and Naum Gabo, the sculptor, at no. 101 Cholmley Gardens from 1938 to 1946. Nigel Balchin, the novelist, died in 1970 in Marlborough Mansions, Cannon Hill. (fn. 85)
West End suffered during the Second World War, although not so badly as to necessitate large-scale rebuilding. Bombed sites included nos. 76-86 Sumatra Road and nos. 9-17 Solent Road, which were replaced by an open space and clinic, and on the corner of Dennington Park Road where a library was built in 1954. (fn. 86) The council opened a terrace of eight three-storeyed houses on one bombed site in Agamemnon Road in 1952 and completed four flats in Gladys Road in 1953, when it started on eight dwellings in Broomsleigh Street and 18 fronting Dennington Park Road and West End Lane. (fn. 87) The demolition of Broomsleigh and Ravenshaw streets and Sumatra Road was urged c. 1955, because of bad drainage and neglected houses. (fn. 88) They had been overcrowded in the 1930s but survived in the 1980s. An ambitious scheme of 1963 for wholesale redevelopment along the three railway lines from Finchley Road to West End Lane had not been effected near West End by 1987. (fn. 89) The Kingsgate general improvement area, planned in 1969, included the sites south of the railway and west of West End Lane, originally Nicoll's estate, but there had been little rebuilding in the West End section by 1984. As in many areas the main post-war trend was towards the refurbishing and conversion of old houses to flats, with young, single people replacing families. (fn. 90) Other changes included the conversion of the Congregational church at the corner of Finchley and Burrard roads to a synagogue in 1947 and the building of a community centre by Seifert in Dennington Park Road for the synagogue there in 1964. (fn. 91) In 1966 the Domestic Science college moved to Tottenham and Berridge House was demolished, to be replaced in 1972 by a police station. (fn. 92)