The Grand Union Canal at Little Venice
Maida Vale shown within Greater London
|OS grid reference|
|Ceremonial county||Greater London|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Westminster North|
|London Assembly||West Central|
Maida Vale is a residential district comprising the northern part of Paddington in west London, west of St John's Wood and south of Kilburn. It is part of the City of Westminster. The area is mostly residential, and mainly affluent, with many large late Victorian and Edwardian blocks of mansion flats. It is also home to the BBC Maida Vale Studios.
The Maida Vale area is usually regarded as being bounded by Maida Avenue and the Regent's Canal to the south, Maida Vale road to the north east, Kilburn Park Road to the north west, and Shirland Road and Blomfield Road to the south west: an area of around 1 square kilometre (0.4 square miles). It makes up most of the W9 postal district. The southern part of Maida Vale at the junction of Paddington Basin with Regent's Canal, with many houseboats, is known as Little Venice. The area to the south-west of Maida Vale, at the western end of Elgin Avenue, was historically known as "Maida Hill", and was a recognised postal district bounded by the Avenues on the west, the Regent's Canal to the south, Maida Vale to the east and Kilburn Lane to the north. Parts of Maida Vale were also included within this. The name of "Maida Hill" has since fallen out of use, although it has recently been resurrected through the new 414 bus route (which terminates on Shirland Road and gives its destination as Maida Hill) and a new street market on the Piazza at the junction of Elgin Avenue and Harrow Road.
Developed by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners in the early 19th century as middle class housing, Maida Vale took its name from a public house named after John Stuart, Count of Maida, which opened on the Edgware Road soon after the Battle of Maida, 1806.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Maida Vale was a predominantly Jewish district, and the 1896 Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, a Grade II listed building and headquarters of the British Sephardi community, is on Lauderdale Road. The actor Alec Guinness was born in this road. The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, lived within sight of this synagogue on Warrington Crescent, and the pioneer of modern computing, Alan Turing, was born a few hundred yards further down this same road.
Maida Vale is home to some of BBC network radio's recording and broadcast studios. The building on Delaware Road is one of the BBC's earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and was the centre of the BBC radio news service during World War II. The building houses a total of seven music and radio drama studios, and most famously was home to John Peel's BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
Maida Avenue, Warwick Crescent and Blomfield Road, the streets in the south of Maida Vale overlooking Browning's Pool including the section of Randolph Avenue south of Clifton Gardens are known as Little Venice. According to one story, the poet Robert Browning, who lived in the area from 1862 to 1887, coined the name. However, this was disputed by Lord Kinross in 1966 and by London Canals. Both assert that Lord Byron (1788–1824) humorously coined the name, which now applies more loosely to a longer reach of the canal system. Browning's Pool is named after the poet, and is the junction of Regent's Canal and the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal.
South Maida Vale, one of London's prime residential areas, also has a reputation for its shops and restaurants, as well as for the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge, the Waterside Café and the Warwick Castle pub. A regular waterbus service operates from Little Venice eastwards around Regent's Park, calling at London Zoo and on towards Camden Town. Since 1983 the Inland Waterways Association has hosted the Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice
The rest of Maida Vale has wide tree-lined avenues, large communal gardens and red-brick mansion blocks from the late Victoria and Edwardian eras. The first mansion blocks were completed in 1897, with the arrival of the identically-designed Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Mansions West and Lauderdale Mansions East in Lauderdale Road. Others quickly followed in neighbouring streets: Elgin Mansions (Elgin Avenue) and Leith Mansions (Grantully Road) in 1900, Ashworth Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Grantully Road) and Castellain Mansions (Castellain Road) in 1902, Elgin Court (Elgin Avenue) and Carlton Mansions (Randolph Avenue) in 1902, Delaware Mansions (Delaware Road) and Biddulph Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Biddulph Road) in 1907 and Randolph Court in 1910.
Maida Vale is the home of St Mark's Church, Hamilton Terrace. Between 1870 and 1906 the incumbent of St. Mark's was Robinson Duckworth. Saatchi Shul, an independent Orthodox Jewish synagogue, was founded in Maida Vale in 1998.
Blue Plaques in Maida Vale
- Edward Ardizzone (1900–1979), artist, has an English Heritage blue plaque in his honour at 130 Elgin Avenue. This is where he lived and worked from 1920 to 1972.
- Alan Turing (1912–1954), code breaker and pioneer of computer science was born at 2 Warrington Crescent.
- William Friese-Greene (1855–1921), pioneer of cinematography, developed a camera that took a sequence of pictures on a roll of perforated film moving behind a shutter, lived at 136 Maida Vale from 1888–1891. He later shot the world's first movie film at his Maida Vale home.
- Ambrose Fleming, (1849–1945), English electrical engineer and physicist, and inventor of the wireless valve, at 9 Clifton Gardens.
- David Ben-Gurion, (1886–1973), the first Prime Minister of Israel, at 75 Warrington Crescent.
- Andreas Kalvos, (1792–1869), Greek writer, at 182 Sutherland Avenue.
Other notable residents
- Sir Edward German (1862–1936), English composer of orchestral music and works for the stage (including the light operas Merrie England and Tom Jones), lived at 5 Biddulph Road from 1921 until his death in 1936.
- Sir John Tenniel (1820–1914), artist and cartoonist, lived at 10 Portsdown Road, Maida Hill from 1854 to 1909.
- John Lawrence Toole (1830–1906), English comic actor lived at 44 Maida Vale.
- John Masefield (1878–1967), novelist, playwright and Poet Laureate from 1930 to his death, wrote his famous poem The Everlasting Mercy while living at 30 Maida Avenue.
- Lieutenant Leonard Keysor VC (1885–1951), Australian soldier, born in Maida Vale, who was awarded the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli in 1915.
- Terence Fisher (1904–1980), film director most notable for his work for Hammer Films, was born in Maida Vale.
- Sir Alec Guinness (1914–2000), Oscar-winning actor was born at 155 Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Road. His most well-known feature film roles included Fagin in Oliver Twist, Sidney Stratton in The Man in the White Suit, Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai, George Smiley in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
- John Inman (1935–2007), the actor best known for his role as Mr. Humphries in Are You Being Served?, the British sitcom in the 1970s and 1980s, lived in a mews house in Little Venice for 30 years.
- Stephen Potter (1900–1969), humorist and author of the cult book ‘The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship; or the Art of Winning Games without Actually Cheating’, lived at 23 Maida Vale in the 1960s.
- Vera Brittain, writer, lived at 111 Wymering Mansions, Wymering Road.
- Martyn Andrews TV travel presenter and journalist.
- Nancy Mitford (1904–1973) co-author of ‘Noblesse Oblige: an enquiry into the identifiable characteristics of the English aristocracy’ which coined the terms ‘U’ and ‘non-U’, lived at 13 Blomfield Road in the 1930s.
- Actress Joan Collins grew up in Maida Vale.
- Robert Smith (1986–) front of alternative rock band The Cure.
- David Gilmour of Pink Floyd formerly lived there.
- Jimmy McCulloch of Wings died of a heroin overdose at his flat there.
- Ruth Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, the English crime novelist lives there.
- Jennifer Saunders the British actress lived here.
- Jarvis Cocker of Pulp lived here in 1997.
- Paul Weller of the Jam and the Style Council.
- Björk, Icelandic singer.
- Joe Strummer of Punk rock band The Clash formerly lived there.
- Walter Kolarz British-based scholar of the communist world who wrote widely on ethnic and religious issues lived in Maida Vale from his arrival in London in 1940 until his death in 1962.
- Mary Hopkin the Welsh pop singer of "Those Were the Days" fame, formerly lived there.
- Delia Derbyshire lived in Clifton Villas during her time with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
- Kate Moss, international fashion model and designer.
- Mary Portas, retail adviser, journalist and television presenter.
- Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, model and actress.
- Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Irish actor.
- Steve McFadden, actor in EastEnders was born and raised in the Maida Vale area.
- Ben Miller, comedian and actor.
- Todd Swift, Oxfam GB Poet-in-residence, literary critic and editor.
- Bradley Wiggins, cyclist and Olympic gold medalist, formerly lived in Maida Vale.
- Sergio Pizzorno, musician from Kasabian, has a second home in Maida Vale.
Notable local events
- "Locations – Maida Vale". BBC Radio Resources.
- "List of Postal Districts". Homepages.gold.ac.uk. 6 September 2011.
- "Transport for London". Tfl.gov.uk. 28 March 2007.
- "Harrow Road Local Area Renewal Partnership". Harrowroadpartnership.wordpress.com.
- "Paddington – Maida Vale | British History Online". British-history.ac.uk.
- Maida Vale History[dead link]
- "English heritage Blue Plaques- David Ben-Gurion"
- "English heritage Blue Plaques- Alan Turing"
- Browning's Pool[dead link]
- "Little Venice Music Festival". Littlevenice-mf.com.
- "Letter to The Daily Telegraph, 1966".
- "The history of the place name known as 'Little Venice'". Londoncanals.co.uk.
- [dead link]
- O'Sullivan, Kevin, Dial 'M' for Maida Vale
- Minutes of Paddington Borough Council meeting of 5 October 1909 (page 646 for 1909), "Notices for Erection of New Buildings [in 1910]" includes No. 2,135: "A new block of flats.. on the west side of Portsdown Road [renamed Randolph Avenue in 1939] to be the third building from Carlton Vale and on the site between No. 223 Portsdown Road and Carlton Mansions."
- "St Mark's Hamilton Terrace". Archbishops' Council. 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- "History". .stmarks.me.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Todd M. Endelman (2002). The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000. University of California Press. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
- 'A Musical Peacemaker; The Life and Work of Sir Edward German' by Brian Rees (The Kensal Press, 1986)
- L. Perry Curtis jun., ‘Tenniel, Sir John (1820–1914)’ Retrieved 25 February 2014, pay-walled.
- McCarthy, Dudley (1983). "Keysor, Leonard Maurice (1885–1951)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9. Melbourne University Press. pp. 582–583.
- Obituary, The Times, 9 March 2007
- ‘St John’s Wood and Maida Vale Past’ by Richard Tames
- "Jarvis Cocker Interview". Acrylicafternoons.com.
- The Times, obituary 23 July 1962
- 'Sculptress of Sound: The Lost Works of Delia Derbyshire'; Archive on 4; BBC Radio 4, 8:00pm Saturday 27 March 2010
- "My Perfect Weekend: Ben Miller". The Daily Telegraph. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
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