Somers Town, London
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Somers Town is a district in central London. It has been strongly influenced by the three mainline north London railway termini: Euston (1838), St. Pancras (1868) and Kings Cross (1852), together with the Midland Railway Somers Town Goods Depot (1887) next to St Pancras, where the British Library now stands.
Historically, the name Somers Town was used of the larger triangular area between the Pancras, Hampstead, and Euston Roads, but it is now taken to mean the rough rectangle bounded by Pancras Road, Euston Road, Eversholt Street, Crowndale Road, and the railway approaches to St Pancras Station; that is to say, the area about 200 metres east and west of Chalton Street. Somers Town to some extent overlaps with the parish and district of St Pancras.
St Pancras Old Church is one of the oldest Christian sites in England. The churchyard remains consecrated but is managed by Camden Council as a park. It holds many literary associations, from Charles Dickens to Thomas Hardy, as well as memorials to dignitaries, including the remarkable tomb of architect Sir John Soane.
18th and 19th centuries 
In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. Mary Wollstonecraft, writer, philosopher and feminist, lived there with her husband William Godwin, and died there in 1797 after giving birth to the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein. The area appears to have appealed to middle-class people fleeing the French Revolution. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court, which features a commemorative plaque for Wollstonecraft. The Polygon deteriorated socially as the surrounding land was subsequently sold off in smaller lots for cheaper housing, especially after the start of construction in the 1830s of the railway lines into Euston, St Pancras and King's Cross. In this period the area housed a large transient population of labourers and the population density of the area soared. By the late 19th century most of the houses were in multiple occupation, and overcrowding was severe with whole families sometimes living in one room, as confirmed by the social surveys of Charles Booth and Irene Barclay. Dickens lived in the Polygon briefly as a child.
When the Church of St Luke's, near King's Cross, was removed to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway Station, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the Church was re-erected in Kentish Town. However, in 1868, the Victorian merchant and philanthropist, George Moore, built, at his own expense, a new church, known as Christ Church, with an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about eight hundred children. Christ Church and the adjacent school were destroyed in a World War II bombing raid and no trace remains today, the site being occupied by a children's play area and sports court. St Mary Eversholt Street is today the parish church.
The recently transcribed diaries of William Copeland Astbury describe daily life in and around the area in great detail 1829-1848 
20th century 
Improvement of the slum housing conditions, amongst the worst in the capital, was first undertaken by St Pancras Council in 1906 at Goldington Buildings, at the junction of Pancras Road and Royal College Street, and continued on a larger scale by the St Pancras House Improvement Society (subsequently the St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association, the present owner of Goldington Buildings) which was established in 1924. Its founders were Church of England priest Father Basil Jellicoe, and Irene Barclay, the first woman in Britain to qualify as a chartered surveyor. The Society's Sidney Street and Drummond Street estates incorporated sculpture panels of Doultonware designed by Gilbert Bayes, and ornamental finials for the washing line posts designed by the same artist, now mostly destroyed or replaced with replicas. Further social housing was built by the London County Council, which began construction of the Ossulston Estate in 1927. There remains a small number of older Grade 2 listed properties, mostly Georgian terraced houses.
In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the 'right to buy' scheme, and bought their homes at a substantial discount, later moving away from the area. This led to an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.
Somers Town once included a number of hospitals, such as the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and the National Temperance. These have all closed since 1980, with the exception of St Pancras Hospital, which still occupies the site, including some buildings that date back to its former life as the workhouse, adjacent to the old church. The large red brick building fronting the complex to the north of St Pancras Gardens is still residential, chiefly as a rehabilitation hospital for the elderly. Its other buildings house the headquarters of Camden NHS Primary Care Trust. It also accommodates parts of Islington Primary Care Trust, the Huntley Centre (a mental health unit), and St. Pancras Coroner's Court.
21st century 
Major construction work along the eastern side of Somers Town was completed in 2008, to allow for the Eurostar trains to arrive at the refurbished St Pancras Station. This involved the removal of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred elsewhere.
Land at Brill Place, previously earmarked for later phases of the British Library development, became available when the library expansion was cancelled and was used as site offices for the HS1 terminal development and partly to allow for excavation of a tunnel for the new Thameslink station. It has now been acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute being established by a partnership of Cancer Research UK, Imperial College London, King's College London, the Medical Research Council, University College London (UCL) and the Wellcome Trust.
A number of significant films have been set in Somers Town: the 1955 Ealing comedy The Ladykillers with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers; Neil Jordan's Mona Lisa of 1986, featuring Bob Hoskins; Mike Leigh's 1988 film High Hopes; Anthony Minghella's 2006 romantic drama Breaking and Entering starring Jude Law and Juliette Binoche; and in 2008 Shane Meadows' Somers Town, which was filmed almost entirely in and around Phoenix Court, a low-rise council property in Purchese Street.
Somers Town has a flourishing street market, held in Chalton Street every Friday. The START (Somers Town Art) Festival of Cultures is held on the second Saturday in July, on the site of the market. It is the biggest street festival in the Camden borough and attracts about 10,000 people, bringing together the area's diverse cultural communities.
The children's charity Scene & Heard is based in Somers Town. It offers a unique mentoring project that partners the inner-city children of Somers Town with volunteer theatre professionals, providing each child who participates with quality one-on-one adult attention and an experience of personal success through the process of writing and performing plays.
The main state secondary school in the area, Regent High School was established in 1877 and has gone through several name changes, more recently as Sir William Collins Secondary School, then as South Camden Community School. Somers Town Community Sports Centre was built on part of the school playground. The building is leased to a charitable trust that is jointly managed by the school and UCL (UCL is based a few hundred metres to the south of Euston Road and is a major employer of local residents). It is used for 17% of available hours by UCLU's sports teams for training and home matches and for recreational sport by UCL students. As part of Building Schools for the Future plans to expand the school, it is probable that the sports centre will be reintegrated back into the school campus.
There are also three primary schools: Edith Neville (state), St. Aloysius (state-aided Catholic) and St Mary and St Pancras (state-aided Church of England). The latter has been rebuilt beneath four floors of UCL accommodation units.
Nearby areas 
- Camden Town to the north
- Euston to the west
- King's Cross to the east
- St Pancras to the south-east
- Bloomsbury to the south
Vehicular through traffic is not heavy, and is confined by traffic calming and other measures to a few north/south arterial throughways.
The nearest London Underground stations are Mornington Crescent, Euston and King's Cross St. Pancras. National Rail services operate from the nearby London King's Cross, London St. Pancras and London Euston stations. St. Pancras International is terminus for Eurostar services and was the London terminus for the Javelin fast train service to the London Olympic Park.
Notable residents 
- Andrés Bello, (1781–1865), Venezuelan poet, lawmaker, philosopher, and educator lived at 39 Clarendon Square, later at 9 Egremont Place
- Nell Campbell, actress and singer, lived in Charrington Street while appearing in The Rocky Horror Show
- Guy-Toussaint-Julien Carron (1760–1821), French priest who fled the French Revolution and established the chapel of St. Aloysius and other institutions in the area
- Joe Cole, England footballer
- Samuel De Wilde (1751–1832), portrait painter and etcher, lived at the Polygon
- Charles Dickens (1812–1870), lived at 29 Johnson (now Cranleigh) Street for four years, then moved in November 1828 to 17 The Polygon; he wrote of the gravediggers in St Pancras Churchyard
- Francis Aidan Gasquet (1846–1929), Cardinal, Librarian of the Vatican, scholar, was born there
- Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Mary Shelley) (1797–1851), most famous for her novel Frankenstein, was born at 29 Polygon Square
- William Godwin (1756–1836), Enlightenment philosopher, lived at 29 The Polygon, at 25 Chalton Street, and in Skinner Street
- John Gale Jones (1769–1838), English radical orator, lived and died at 10 Brill Terrace (now Coopers Lane)
- Samuel Mitan (1786–1843), engraver, died at The Polygon
- Sidney Richard Percy (1821–1886), one of the most prolific and popular landscape painters of the Victorian era, lived at 11 Johnson Street in 1842
- Antonio Puigblanch (1775–1840), author of The Inquisition Unmasked, London, 1816, lived at 51 Johnson Street
- Mary Ann Sainsbury (1849–1927) businesswoman, wife of Sainsbury's supermarket chain founder John James Sainsbury. Born in Little Charles Street (now part of Phoenix St), family shop in Chalton Street
- Edward Scriven (1775–1841), pre-eminent engraver of his generation, lived at the Polygon
- Benjamin Smith (1754–1833), engraver, lived and worked first at 21 Judd Place‚ then at 65 Ossulston Street
- Fred Titmus (1932–2011), cricketer, born there
- James Tibbits Willmore (1800-1863), engraver, lived at 23 The Polygon
- John Wolcot (1738-1819), as "Peter Pindar", the most prolific and successful burlesque poet of the late 18th century, lived and died in Latham Place (now part of Churchway)
- Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–1797), writer and philosopher, died at 29 The Polygon
- William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850), major Romantic poet, in 1795 lived at 15 Chalton Street
- Walford, Edward (1878). "Somers Town and Euston Square". Old and New London: A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources 5. London: Cassell Petter & Galpin. pp. 340–355. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
- Malcolm, J.P. (1813). "Origin and gradual increase of Somers Town". The Gentleman's Magazine 83 (November, 1813): 427–429.
- Somers Cocks, J.V. (1967). A History of the Cocks Family. Ashhurst, New Zealand: J. Somers Cocks. ISBN 0-473-06085-X. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
- Roland Jeffery, Housing Happenings in Somers Town in Housing the Twentieth Century Nation, Twentieth Century Architecture No 9, 2008, ISBN 978-0-9556687-0-8
- PM backs groundbreaking medical research centre
- Deal secures £500m medical centre
- French, Philip (23 Aug 2008). "Film of the week: Somers Town". The Observer. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Wroe, Simon (8 Jul 2010). "A summertime celebration of culture and art in Somers Town". Camden New Journal. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- "Five million passengers jump aboard for Paralympics". ITV News. 12 Sep 2012. Retrieved 2012-10-04.
- Sinclair, Frederick (1947). "The Immortal of Doughty Street.". St Pancras Journal (June 1947): 19–20.
- O'Donoghue, Freeman Marius (1894). "Mitan, James". In Leslie Stephen & Stephen Lee. Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900 38. London: Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- Maxted, Ian (2001). "The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members. Names S". Exeter Working papers in Book History. Exeter, UK: Devon Library Service. Retrieved 2012-09-20.
- an inside view
- Somers Town Community Association
- Somers Town slum clearance
- The Francis Crick Institute