The Polygon, NW1

Block in/near Somers Town, existed between 1784 and 1894

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Block · * · NW1 ·
August
29
2021

The Polygon was an earky housing estate, a Georgian building with 15 sides and three storeys that contained 32 houses.

In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon, Clarendon Square, amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The area appears to have initially appealed to middle-class people fleeing the French Revolution.

Clarendon Square occupied the site formerly covered by the barracks of the Life Guards.

Two of the most famous residents of the Polygon were William Godwin and his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, who died giving birth to Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein. Another former Polygoner was Charles Dickens, who lived at No 17 in the 1820s shortly after his father, John Dickens, was released from debtors prison. Dickens later made the Polygon a home for his ’Bleak House’ character Harold Skimpole, and he in turn may well have been modelled on Godwin. As late as 1832, Somers Town was full of artists

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.

It was demolished in the 1890s, by which time Somers Town had become a cheap and run-down neighbourhood, almost entirely because of its location next to Euston station - built in the 1830s.

The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court, which features a commemorative plaque for Wollstonecraft.




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CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY



Reg Carr   
Added: 10 Feb 2021 12:11 GMT   

Campbellite Meeting
In 1848 the Campbellites (Disciples of Christ) met in Elstree Street, where their congregation was presided over by a pastor named John Black. Their appointed evangelist at the time was called David King, who later became the Editor of the British Millennial Harbinger. The meeting room was visited in July 1848 by Dr John Thomas, who spoke there twice on his two-year ’mission’ to Britain.

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Scott Hatton   
Added: 11 Sep 2020 19:47 GMT   

Millions Of Rats In Busy London
The Daily Mail on 14 April 1903 reported "MILLIONS OF RATS IN BUSY LONDON"

A rat plague, unprecedented in the annals of London, has broken out on the north side of the Strand. The streets principally infested are Catherine street, Drury lane, Blackmore street, Clare Market and Russell street. Something akin to a reign of terror prevails among the inhabitants after nightfall. Women refuse to pass along Blackmore street and the lower parts of Stanhope street after dusk, for droves of rats perambulate the roadways and pavements, and may be seen running along the window ledges of the empty houses awaiting demolition by the County Council in the Strand to Holborn improvement scheme.

The rats, indeed, have appeared in almost-incredible numbers. "There are millions of them," said one shopkeeper, and his statement was supported by other residents. The unwelcome visitors have been evicted from their old haunts by the County Council housebreakers, and are now busily in search of new homes. The Gaiety Restaurant has been the greatest sufferer. Rats have invaded the premises in such force that the managers have had to close the large dining room on the first floor and the grill rooms on the ground floor and in the basement. Those three spacious halls which have witnessed many as semblages of theatre-goers are now qui:e deserted. Behind the wainscot of the bandstand in the grillroom is a large mound of linen shreds. This represents 1728 serviettes carried theee by the rats.

In the bar the removal of a panel disclosed the astonishing fact that the rats have dragged for a distance of seven or eight yards some thirty or forty beer and wine bottles and stacked them in such a fashion as to make comfortable sleeping places. Mr Williams. the manager of the restaurant, estimates that the rats have destroyed L200 worth of linen. Formerly the Gaiety Restaurant dined 2000 persons daily; no business whatever is now done in this direction.

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Comment
Carol   
Added: 7 May 2021 18:44 GMT   

Nan
My nan lily,her sister Elizabeth and their parents Elizabeth and William lived here in1911

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Lived here
Julian    
Added: 23 Mar 2021 10:11 GMT   

Dennis Potter
Author Dennis Potter lived in Collingwood House in the 1970’s

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Comment
Jessie Doring   
Added: 22 Feb 2021 04:33 GMT   

Tisbury Court Jazz Bar
Jazz Bar opened in Tisbury Court by 2 Australians. Situated in underground basement. Can not remember how long it opened for.

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Justin Russ   
Added: 15 Feb 2021 20:25 GMT   

Binney Street, W1K
Binney St was previously named Thomas Street before the 1950’s. Before the 1840’s (approx.) it was named Bird St both above and below Oxford St.

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LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

Lived here
John Neill   
Added: 25 Nov 2021 11:30 GMT   

Sandringham Road, E10 (1937 - 1966)
I lived at No. 61 with my parents during these years. I went to Canterbury Road school (now Barclay Primary) and sang as a boy soprano (treble) in the church choir at St Andrew’s church, on the corner of Forest Glade.
Opposite us lived the Burgess family. Their son Russell also sang in my choir as a tenor. He later became a well-known musician and the choirmaster at Wandsworth Boys’ School.
Just at the end of WW2 a German rocket (V2) landed in the grounds of Whipps Cross Hospital, damaging many of the houses in Sandringham Road, including ours.

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Comment
Tim Stevenson   
Added: 16 Nov 2021 18:03 GMT   

Pub still open
The Bohemia survived the 2020/21 lockdowns and is still a thriving local social resource.

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Comment
STEPHEN JACKSON   
Added: 14 Nov 2021 17:25 GMT   

Fellows Court, E2
my family moved into the tower block 13th floor (maisonette), in 1967 after our street Lenthall rd e8 was demolished, we were one of the first families in the new block. A number of families from our street were rehoused in this and the adjoining flats. Inside toilet and central heating, all very modern at the time, plus eventually a tarmac football pitch in the grounds,(the cage), with a goal painted by the kids on the brick wall of the railway.

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STEPHEN ARTHUR JACKSON   
Added: 14 Nov 2021 17:12 GMT   

Lynedoch Street, E2
my father Arthur Jackson was born in lynedoch street in 1929 and lived with mm grandparents and siblings, until they were relocated to Pamela house Haggerston rd when the street was to be demolished

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Sir Walter Besant   
Added: 11 Nov 2021 18:47 GMT   

Sir Walter adds....
All the ground facing Wirtemberg Street at Chip and Cross Streets is being levelled for building and the old houses are disappearing fast. The small streets leading through into little Manor Street are very clean and tenanted by poor though respectable people, but little Manor Street is dirty, small, and narrow. Manor Street to Larkhall Rise is a wide fairly clean thoroughfare of mixed shops and houses which improves towards the north. The same may be said of Wirtemberg Street, which commences poorly, but from the Board School north is far better than at the Clapham end.

Source: London: South of the Thames - Chapter XX by Sir Walter Besant (1912)

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Comment
   
Added: 6 Nov 2021 15:03 GMT   

Old Nichol Street, E2
Information about my grandfather’s tobacconist shop

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Comment
tom   
Added: 3 Nov 2021 05:16 GMT   

I met
someone here 6 years ago

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Comment
Fion Anderson   
Added: 2 Nov 2021 12:55 GMT   

Elstree not Borehamwood
Home of the UK film industry

Reply

NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Ossulston Estate The Ossulston Estate is a multi-storey council estate built by the London County Council in Somers Town between 1927 and 1931.
Regent’s Park Estate The Regent’s Park Estate is a large housing estate in the London Borough of Camden.
Rhodes Farm Rhodes Farm was situated on Hampstead Road.
Somers Town Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.
St James Gardens St James Gardens were used as a burial ground between 1790 and 1853.

NEARBY STREETS
Aldenham Street, NW1 Aldenham Street – Richard Platt, 16th century brewer and local landowner, gave land for the endowment of Aldenham School, Hertfordshire.
Ampthill Square, NW1 Ampthill Square is a name which has existed in two different time periods.
Bagley Walk, N1C Bagley Walk is a location in London.
Barclay Street, NW1 Barclay Street led from Aldenham Street northwards to Medburn Street.
Barnby Street, NW1 Barnby Street is a street in Camden Town.
Beatty Street, NW1 Beatty Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Bidborough Street, NW1 Bidborough Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Bridgeway Street, NW1 Bridgeway Street is a street in Camden Town.
Brill Place, NW1 Brill Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Brill Row, NW1 Brill Row was one of many small streets which became the basis for a Somers Town market.
Cardington Street, NW1 Cardington Street is a rare London street in that it closed for good as late as 2017.
Chalton Street, NW1 Chalton Street was formerly Charlton Street.
Charrington Street, NW1 Charrington Street runs south to north and is a continuation of Ossulston Street.
Chenies Place, NW1 Chenies Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Chill Lane, N1C Chill Lane is a location in London.
Christopher Place, NW1 Christopher Place is a street in Camden Town.
Church Way, NW1 Church Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Churchway, NW1 Churchway is a street in Camden Town.
Clarendon Grove, NW1 Clarendon Grove ran south from Clarendon Square.
Coach Road, N1C Coach Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Cobourg Street, NW1 Cobourg Street is a street in Camden Town.
Cooper’s Lane, NW1 Cooper’s Lane is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Cranleigh Street, NW1 Cranleigh Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Crowndale Road, NW1 Crowndale Road was at first called Fig Lane and then Gloucester Place.
Denton Street, N1C Denton Street disappeared under the construction of St Pancras station.
Doric Way, NW1 Doric Way is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Drummond Crescent, NW1 Drummond Crescent is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Duke’s Road, WC1H This is a street in the WC1H postcode area
Dukes Road, WC1H Dukes Road is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Elstree Street, N1C Elstree Street once laid off of St Pancras Road.
Euston Square, NW1 This is a street in the NW1 postcode area
Eversholt Street, NW1 Eversholt Street connects Euston with Camden Town.
Everton Buildings, NW1 Everton Buildings is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Flaxman Terrace, WC1H Flaxman Terrace connects Burton Street with Cartwright Gardens.
George Mews, NW1 George Mews lies within the NW1 postcode.
Godwin Court, NW1 Godwin Court is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Crescent, NW1 Goldington Crescent is a street in Camden Town.
Goldington Street, NW1 Goldington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Goods Way, N1C Goods Way runs from Pancras Road to York Way.
Grafton Place, NW1 Grafton Place is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Granby Terrace, NW1 Granby Terrace was previously called Granby Street.
Gridiron Building, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Hamilton House, WC1H Residential block
Hampden Close, NW1 Hampden Close is a street in Camden Town.
Hampstead Road, NW1 Hampstead Road connects the Euston Road with Camden.
Harrington Square, NW1 Harrington Square is named after the Earl of Harrington, one of whose daughters married the seventh Duke of Bedford.
Harrington Street, NW1 Harrington Street leads north from Varndell Street.
Hastings Street, WC1H Hastings Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Judd Street, NW1 This is a street in the NW1 postcode area
Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Lancing Street, NW1 Lancing Street is a street in Camden Town.
Lidlington Place, NW1 Lidlington Place is a street in Camden Town.
Mabledon Place, WC1H Mabledon Place is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
Mayford, NW1 Mayford is a street in Camden Town.
Medburn Street, NW1 Medburn Street is named after a farm between Elstree and Radlett in Hertfordshire.
Midland Road, N1C Midland Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Midland Road, NW1 Midland Road is a location in London.
Mornington Crescent, NW1 Mornington Crescent was named after Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington.
Netley Street, NW1 Netley Street was formerly called William Street.
Northam’s Buildings, NW1 Northam’s Buildings was swept away by the building of St Pancras station.
Oakley Square, NW1 Oakley Square is a street in Camden Town.
Oakshott Court, NW1 Oakshott Court is a road in the NW1 postcode area
One Kings Cross, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
One Pancras Square, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Ossulston Street, NW1 Ossulston Street is a street in Camden Town.
Pancras Road, N1C Pancras Road is a road in the N1C postcode area
Pancras Road, NW1 Pancras Road is a street in Camden Town.
Pancras Square, N1C This is a street in the N1C postcode area
Penryn Street, NW1 Penryn Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Perry Street, N1C Perry Street was buried by St Pancras station.
Phoenix Road, NW1 Phoenix Road is a street in Camden Town.
Polygon Road, NW1 Polygon Road is a street in Camden Town.
Prince Of Wales Passage, NW1 Prince Of Wales Passage is a street in Camden Town.
Prince Regent Mews, NW1 Prince Regent Mews is a street in Camden Town.
Purchese Street, NW1 Purchese Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Sandwich House, WC1H Residential block
Seymour House, NW1 Residential block
Sinclair House, WC1H Residential block
Smith Street, N1C Smith Street was buried under St Pancras station.
Somers Close, NW1 Somers Close is a road in the NW1 postcode area
St. Philip’s Way, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Stanhope Parade, NW1 Stanhope Parade is a street in Camden Town.
Stanhope Street, NW1 Stanhope Street is a street in Camden Town.
Starcross Street, NW1 Starcross Street is a street in Camden Town.
Thanet Street, WC1H Thanet Street is one of the streets of London in the WC1H postal area.
The Circle, N1C The Circle is a road in the N1C postcode area
The Gridiron, N1C A street within the N1C postcode
Unity Mews, NW1 Unity Mews is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Varndell Street, NW1 Varndell Street is a road in the NW1 postcode area
Watford Street, NW1 Watford Street was cleared away in the 1860s to make way to St Pancras station.
Werrington Street, NW1 Werrington Street is a street in Camden Town.
Whittlebury Street, NW1 Whittlebury Street once laid to the west of Euston station.
William Road, NW1 William Road dates from 1799 or before.
William Street, NW1 William Street appears on the 1860 map west of Hampstead Road.
Wilsted Street, NW1 Wilsted Street was the original name for the lower end of Ossulston Street.

NEARBY PUBS
Cock Tavern The Cock Tavern is on the corner of Phoenix Road and Chalton Street.
Doric Arch This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Eastnor Castle This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Elixir Bar This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Exmouth Arms This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Lyttleton Arms This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Mabel’s Tavern This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
O’Neill’s This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Prince Arthur This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Royal George This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Secrets This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
Shaker and Company This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
St Aloysius Social Club This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Bree Louise This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Euston Flyer This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Place Theatre Bar This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Purple Turtle This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.
The Rocket This pub existed immediately prior to the 2020 global pandemic and may still do so.


Somers Town

Somers Town is a district close to three main line rail termini - Euston, St Pancras and King’s Cross.

Historically, the name Somers Town was used for 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 and Eversholt Street.

Somers Town was named after Charles Cocks, 1st Baron Somers (17251806). The area was originally granted by William III to John Somers (16511716), Lord Chancellor and Baron Somers of Evesham.

In the mid 1750s the New Road was established to bypass the congestion of London; Somers Town lay immediately north of this east-west toll road. In 1784, the first housing was built at the Polygon amid fields, brick works and market gardens on the northern fringes of London. The site of the Polygon is now occupied by a block of council flats called Oakshott Court.

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.

When St Luke’s Church, near King’s Cross, was demolished to make way for the construction of the Midland Railway St Pancras Station and its Midland Grand Hotel, the estimated twelve thousand inhabitants of Somers Town at that time were deprived of that place of worship, as the church building was re-erected in Kentish Town. In 1868 the lace merchant and philanthropist George Moore funded a new church, known as Christ Church, and an associated school in Chalton Street with an entrance in Ossulston Street. The school accommodated about six 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.

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. 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.

During the early 1970s the neighbourhood comprising GLC-owned housing in Charrington, Penryn, Platt and Medburn Streets was a centre for the squatting movement.

In the 1980s, some council tenants took advantage of the ’right to buy’ scheme and bought their homes at a substantial discount. Later they moved away from the area. The consequence was an influx of young semi-professional people, resulting in a changing population.

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 excavation of part of the St Pancras Old Churchyard, the human remains being re-interred at St Pancras and Islington Cemetery in East Finchley.

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 was then acquired as the site for the Francis Crick Institute (formerly the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation), a major medical research institute.


LOCAL PHOTOS
The British Library
TUM image id: 1482066417
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Camden Town 1920s.
TUM image id: 1557159163
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Agar Town (1857)
Credit: Percy Lovell
TUM image id: 1499434317
Licence: CC BY 2.0
All Saints, Camden Town, in 1828.
TUM image id: 1492970567
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Camden High Street
TUM image id: 1547918916
Licence: CC BY 2.0
Goods Way - old sign
TUM image id: 1526241892
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

Click an image below for a better view...
The British Library
Licence: CC BY 2.0
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Agar Town (1857)
Credit: Percy Lovell
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Cobden Statue, corner of Eversholt Street and Camden High Street (1905)
Old London postcard
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Camden Town, from the Hampstead Road, Marylebone (1780)
Credit: Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878)
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The Brill Market in Somers Town (1858) Centre stage in this engraving of a busy market scene is the Brill Tavern itself, situated at the end of Brill Row.
Credit: Illustrated News of the World, London
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The March Of The Guards To Finchley - outside the Adam and Eve Tea Rooms.
Credit: William Hogarth
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Harrington Street, NW1 about the turn of the twentieth century. This street runs parallel with Hampstead Road, one block west.
Old London postcard
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This painting bears the inscription: All that remained in the year 1844 of the once celebrated Rhobess Farm, Hampstead Road now Ampthill Square
Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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St. James Gardens
Credit: Google
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Wollstonecraft Street sign
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