Kensal Green, also referred to as Kensal Rise is an area of London, England. It is located on the southern edge of the London Borough of Brent and borders the City of Westminster to the East and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to the South.
Kensal Green is a residential area with good transport links to central London, surrounding districts include Willesden Green to the north, Harlesden to the west, Brondesbury and Queens Park to the east and Ladbroke Grove to the south. The names Kensal Green and Kensal Rise are used somewhat interchangeably by non-residents to denote the same district, although residents differentiate between the areas based on proximity to the local tube and railway stations.
Roughly speaking, the area west of Chamberlayne Road, north of Harrow Road and south of Kensal Rise railway station is considered Kensal Green while that to the east of Chamberlayne Road and north of the station is considered Kensal Rise. These boundaries are by no means fixed however and some residents are known to use both terms with little regard for geographical accuracy. For a 1920s map of what at that time was considered to be Kensal Green, see Brent Council local history.
A third area south of Harrow Road, around the area of Kensal Road is commonly referred to as Kensal Town. Since Harrow Road is generally considered to be the southern boundary of Kensal Green and Brent, most residents class Kensal Road and its environs as part of Westbourne Park.
Originally part of one of the ten manors within the district of Willesden, Kensal Green is first mentioned in 1253, translating from old English meaning the King’s Holt (King’s Wood). Its location marked the boundary between Willesden and the then Chelsea & Paddington, on which it remains today. It formed part of one of ten manors, most likely Chamberlayne Wood Manor, named after Canon Richard de Camera (of the Chambers).
In the 15th century the then Archbishop of Canterbury Henry Chichele (1414–1443), acquired lands in Willesden and Kingsbury. In 1443 he found All Souls' College, Oxford and endowed it with the same lands in his will. Resultantly, most of Willesden and Kensal Green remained largely agricultural until the mid-1800s, well into the Victorian era.
In 1805, the construction of the Grand Junction Canal passed through the district to join the Regent's Canal at Paddington. As the combined Grand Union Canal, this allowed passage of commercial freight traffic from the Midlands to London Docks, and hence onwards to the River Thames.
There were two dairy farms in Kensal Green by the early 1800s, which expanded greatly after the 1864 Act of Parliament which made it illegal to keep cattle within the City of London. Although by the late 1800s residential development had greatly reduced the farmland, still in the 1890s many sheep and pigs were raised in the district. One of the farms later became a United Dairies creamery, supplied by milk trains from Mitre Bridge Junction.
In 1832 Kensal Green Cemetery was opened. This led to a revaluation of the surrounding lands, and in 1835 ecclesiastical commissioners were appointed by the Crown, who reported in 1846 that: "the larger portion of the Prebendal Estates possess, in our opinion, a value far beyond their present agricultural value."
With enough people living locally to create a new parish, in 1844 St. John the Evangelist Church in Kilburn Lane was consecrated. The 1851 census records just over 800 people living in the new parish. In the 1860s, Kensal Green manor house, situated where Wakeman Road joins Harrow Road, was demolished. Rapid increase in residential development followed, firstly with land west of Kilburn High Road, followed by the sale of Banister's Farm leading to the development of Bannister Road and Mortimer Road.
The rapid residential development led to local commissioners reporting in 1880 that there was inadequate drainage and sewerage facilities, with most houses having only improved access to what were the old agricultural drains. In that same year, All Souls' College started to develop its lands north west of Kilburn Lane, including All Souls' Avenue and College Road, with adjacent roads being named after leading Fellows of the college, and the installation of new sewerage facilities across the district. The college donated lands on which to build Kensal Rise Reading Room, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria, in 1897. Opened by United States author Mark Twain in 1901, it was later extended and renamed Kensal Rise Library.
The construction of the Great Western Railway started in 1835, with the first 22.5 miles (36.2 km) of line, from Paddington station to Maidenhead Bridge station, opened on 4 June 1838. In 1901, its major carriage washing and servicing facilities and locomotive depot were developed at Old Oak Common, bringing further employment and more immigrants to the district. The first major immigrant population had been Irish people post the Potato famine, and then post World War I. In World War II, due to the railway facilities, the district suffered greatly from German Luftwaffe bombing.
After the war, the area became a refuge for the first Afro-Caribbean born contingent. In the 1960s the College disposed of many freeholds, while retaining land in Willesden. This led to a growth in crime in the district, a reputation that led author John Preston to note:
|“||When he first moved to Kensal Green, Hugh had assumed that it would only be a matter of time before the area came up in the world. After all, it was close to fashionable areas such as Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove. But, as he'd discovered, there were certain parts of London that remained immune from any form of gentrification. Kensal Green was one of them; it seemed to have fallen off the property map altogether.||”|
Since the 1980s, the Irish-born community has reduced in size, although the legacy of their presence remains, not least in the number of Irish pubs and organisations and the many thousands with Irish ancestry that continue to populate the area.
According to statistics from the 2001 census, the area has a very high proportion of young residents (28.4% 25–44 years old) and a very high educational level (30.7% hold a first degree or better).
Kensal Rise Today
The area has seen significant gentrification over recent years. In 2009, Chamberlayne Road in Kensal Rise was named by Vogue as the hippest street in Europe and the area is now home to a number of noteworthy residents including actress Thandie Newton, singer Lily Allen, model-turned-author Sophie Dahl, author Zadie Smith, handbag designer Bill Amberg, David Cameron's ex-strategy guru Steve Hilton, footballer-turned-media personality Ian Wright and Sienna Miller. The area also now boasts Britain's first independent boutique cinema and social enterprise, The Lexi Cinema. It is staffed by local volunteers and all its profits go to an eco-village in South Africa.
The area is known for independent boutiques, cafes and bars as well as Gee Barber, an original Sixties gents' barber.
One of the key reasons that Kensal Green has proved so popular with young professionals in recent years is its excellent transport links.
Kensal Green tube station (Zone 2) on the Bakerloo Line is only 20 minutes from Oxford Circus and the West End. London Overground services also operate to London Euston, a journey that takes around 15 minutes.
London Overground (previously known variously as Silverlink Metro and the North London Line) also operates out of Kensal Rise railway station and provides regular services to Richmond in the west Stratford in the east and Clapham Junction in the South.
Extensive bus services also run from the area, including the No. 18 (Harlesden - Euston), No. 6 (Willesden Bus Garage - Aldwych), No. 52 (Willesden Bus Garage - Victoria Station via Notting Hill and Kensington) and No. 452 (Kensal Rise - Wandsworth Road).
There is also a canal running from Kensal Rise to Paddington which features a cycle lane.
For a time the London Congestion Charge extended into Kensington and Chelsea and reached as far north as Harrow Road, the southern boundary of Kensal Green. Most vehicles travelling south east down Ladbroke Grove or east along Harrow Road and into central London were liable to pay the £8 daily charge between 7.00 and 18.00 Monday to Friday.
Following a public consultation in autumn 2008, the western extension of the congestion charging zone, which had bordered on Kensal Green, was scheduled to be removed. Charging on the western extension effectively ended on 24 December 2010. The effects of this on local trade are yet to be determined.
At a site just to the east of the Old Oak Common site, Kensington and Chelsea Council has been pushing for a station at Kensal off Ladbroke Grove & Canal Way, as a turn-back facility will have to be built in the area anyway. Siting it at Kensal Rise, rather than next to Paddington itself, would provide a new station to regenerate the area. Amongst the general public there is a huge amount of support for the project and Mayor Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it did not increase Crossrail's overall cost. In response, Kensington and Chelsea Council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of a Crossrail station, which was received very well by the residents of the Borough. TfL is conducting a feasibility study on the station and the project is backed by National Grid, retailers Sainsbury's and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly).
Kensal Green Cemetery
Kensal Green is the site of Kensal Green Cemetery which is one of the finest cemeteries in London. The brain-child of barrister George Frederick Carden who was inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, it was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by the Bishop of London.
Within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea survive two cemeteries dating from second quarter of the 19th century: Brompton and Kensal Green. Of the two, Kensal Green is the earlier in date being more important historically, and pre-eminent nationally in terms of its influence, importance of people buried there, overall richness and the number of outstanding memorials. There is a set of gates set in the southern outside wall to the cemetery which is adjacent to the Grand Union Canal, where it is said that coffins carried by barge could be unloaded.
Kensal Green Cemetery today comprises 77 acres (310,000 m2) of grounds, including two conservation areas and the adjoining canal. The cemetery is home to 33 species of birds and other wildlife, some almost unique in their representation at this site.
With three chapels catering for people of different faiths, the distinctive cemetery has a host of different memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous, to many distinctive smaller graves and even special areas dedicated to the very young.
Notable 'residents' include HRH the Duke of Sussex (a son of George III), his sister HRH the Princess Sophia, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Babbage, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope and William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland. Architects who are buried at Kensal Green include Decimus Burton and the famous 19th century architectural families of Hardwick and Shaw. Philip Charles Hardwick, Philip Hardwick and John Shaw Junior are buried there, as well as Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter.
Every Sunday in the summer months (1 March to end October) and on the first and third Sunday of the month in the winter months (1 November to end February) the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery run a tour starting at 14:00 at the Anglican chapel and lasting 2 hours. On the first and third Sunday of the month, the tour descends into the catacomb beneath the Anglican chapel.
Next door to Kensal Green Cemetery is St Mary's Roman Catholic Cemetery. It was established in 1858, occupies 29 acres (120,000 m²) and its own Catholic Chapel.
Tornado on 7 December 2006
On 7 December 2006 at 11.00am, a tornado struck Kensal Green. Up to 150 houses were damaged, and six people were injured, one requiring hospital attention. Residential roads were closed off and residents had to seek temporary accommodation. Traffic was also diverted causing disruption. The cost of the damage is estimated to be at least £2,000,000.
- "History". kensalgreendirectory.com. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
- 2001 census
- . The Daily Telegraph. 14 August 2009 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/buyingsellingandmoving/6028457/Chamberlayne-Road-in-London-the-hippest-street-in-Europe.html. Retrieved 10 January 2014. Missing or empty
- . The Daily Mail. 4 September 2010 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-1308628/With-green-space-art-house-cinema-glitzy-boutiques-wonder-everyones-talking-Kensal-Rise.html. Retrieved 10 January 2014. Missing or empty
- . Financial Times. 24 August 2012 http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/7268e158-e6e9-11e1-8a74-00144feab49a.html#axzz2q1naddbB. Retrieved 10 January 2014. Missing or empty
- . The Evening Standard. 4 September 2010 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/property/article-1308628/With-green-space-art-house-cinema-glitzy-boutiques-wonder-everyones-talking-Kensal-Rise.html#ixzz2wig9bO2P. Retrieved 22 March 2014. Missing or empty
- "The case for Kensal crossrail". Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. undated. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
- "Case for a Crossrail station gains momentum" (Press release). Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. 1 July 2010.
- Bloomfield, Ruth (24 August 2010). "Study to explore adding Crossrail station at Kensal Rise". Building Design (London).
- "Crossrail at Kensal Rise back on the cards?". London Reconnections (blog). 27 August 2010.
- "Council to pay for Crossrail station". London Evening Standard. 25 March 2011.
- Kensal Crossrail station would 'transform' the area, says deputy mayor. Regeneration + Renewal. 16 May 2011.
- "Six hurt as tornado hits London". BBC News. 7 December 2006. Retrieved 7 December 2006.