ANYONE FAMILIAR WITH London will know that except for some parkland, the city is a built-up urban environment all the way west from Marble Arch to Acton and further beyond. This is also the case from Hyde Park Corner to Heathrow Airport. However, this has not always been the situation.
When John Rocque (1709-1762) drew his detailed, accurate maps of London in the 1740s, Paddington was a small village separated by open countryside from what was then London. In those days, Kensington was a village reached from London by a country road flanked on its northern edge by Hyde Park. And from Kensington to Hammersmith would have been a ride along a road running between a series of agricultural fields and orchards. And to the north of Hammesrsmith, Shepherds Bush was an open space around which there were only a few well-separated houses. And as for Notting Hill Gate, Rocque did not even bother to name this road junction in the middle of the countryside.
By 1826/27, when C & J Greenwood published their detailed map of London, Earls Court was still a country hamlet; Kensington a small town; and there was barely any development around what is now Notting Hill Gate. However, by 1826 Paddington was beginning to grow and was no longer separated from Marylebone by open countryside. Additionally, the northern edge of the eastern end of Bayswater Road was losing its rural nature and being built upon.
In brief, as the 19th century progressed, London spread west. As it did so, urban development covered what had been open countryside and places that had been separated from London began to become part of it. Places like Kensington, Earls Court, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith, and places further west were no longer separated by open countryside. Instead, they became engulfed by the expanding metropolis.
My book “BEYOND MARYLEBONE AND MAYFAIR: EXPLORING WEST LONDON” describes in detail how the villages and towns to the west of Park Lane and what is known as ‘The West End’ became engulfed by London’s westward growth. It reveals the history of these places; what they are like today; and what remains of their existence before they became joined to London, as it spread from Mayfair and Marylebone to Heathrow and beyond.
BEYOND MARYLEBONE AND MAYFAIR: EXPLORING WEST LONDON
By Adam Yamey
is available as an illustrated paperback and Kindle from Amazon: