Local History Group Meeting 29 May 2021

Notes of a meeting of the Inkerman Area Local History Group 29.5.2021

Present: David, Debby, Vivienne, Hilary, Sara, Martin.  And by Zoom, Trisha and Samantha

Apologies: Mary

  1. Introductions and thanks to Vivienne for hosting.  David explained the background.  There had been a meeting in 1980 and then a group met between 2002 and 2004, researching the area at the Camden Archive at Holborn Library. 

    We then discussed what each of us had done so far.

  2. 27 years ago Vivienne had researched the history of her house and some of Willes Road.  Her house was built before the Crimean war, in 1851 or 2, and was originally called Bradbury Villas.  Other earlier terraces had names including Caroline Villas (nos.26 – 36) and Cornwall Villas at the lower end of Willes.  The 1834 map shows Grafton Rd was called Anglers Lane at that time, and Holmes Road was Mansfield Place in 1874, when the school was built for £9,856.  Vivienne has the original indenture document for her house, dated 9.5.1859.

  3. Sara has looked at the census records for Ryland Road from 1881 (the first after it was built) to 1911 plus the special one that was done in 1939, and has also looked at electoral registers, street directories, newspaper archives, school and church records (all via Ancestry.com).  During lockdown she contributed a number of very interesting pieces to a daily, then weekly, newsletter for Ryland Road.  Some of these are on the IARA website and there is a plan to produce a collection of some of them in print form for next Christmas.

  4. Martin is a reader at the British Library, which gives him access to much of the source material, and he is happy to look specific things up for anyone who needs that.  He co-authored a book “Curious Kentish Town” which contains a lot of stories from local history, and is working with Sara on the Christmas book.

  5. Samantha is an experienced researcher and writer.  She was Editor at the Whitechapel Society for two years and Assistant Editor for two years, and has written many articles on Victorian history in the East End for the Whitechapel Journal.  She has lived in Holmes Road for several years and suggests that it would be good for enough people to be involved to cover all the streets in the Inkerman Area. She has experience of all the online resources available and a subscription to some of these. 

  6. Trisha has compiled an index of everything that appeared in the Ryland Road newsletters so local history contributions from residents can be easily found.  She is particularly interested in information about the commercial properties and sites in the area – the piano factories, Bird and Davis, Windsor and Newton, Claudius Ash etc., and especially food and drink establishments.  She also suggested a section for adding short films (and has some about the Bedford Theatre in CT as well as Talacre) and then linking those to written pieces.

  7. Hilary has lived in the area since the ‘60s and is most interested in getting the stories of older residents who may not all be on line.  Some of this had started to happen when Jean Hart set up some storytelling workshops in the Independent Elders Group, and Debby will look for any records of this.  Sadly, this project ended with Jean’s death and was never recorded in the way we had planned. Hil also recommended a book by Buchi Emecheta “In the Ditch”, which the author describes as “Life as a black single mother in the slums of 1960s London” and is set in Kentish Town.

  8. Debby had researched the history of 31 Alma Street from the census records 1861 to 1901, which showed the way the street had changed from the relative prosperity of 2 small households in a 3 storey house to multiple occupation.  It also showed how people were employed, and where they came from originally.  Debby had also transcribed the CDs sent to IARA by a former resident, Cyril Luck, who tells the story of his family, starting with the marriage of his grandparents in 1875 and then living in a house his grandfather had built (which may be Alma Cottage).  We will put this on the website.

  9. David had put together a history of the area in maps, starting in 1801 and showing how the area changed and developed.  He has put this, and much other material, on the IARA website. He also, with Mary Hill, interviewed another long-term resident Fred Cunningham, born in Raglan Street in 1921 and died there in 2011.  (This was included in one of the Ryland Road newsletters, and is on the IARA website).

  10. We decided as a group that, rather than a grand plan, members would follow their particular interests and we would meet again to share where we are up to.  There is so much of interest in the area, and some of the subjects identified include:

    – Hampstead Gates – former home of retired governesses, who moved away when the   railways came.

    – Claudius Ash false teeth factory.  (Sara took David’s copy of the history to look at).

    – Talacre open space and Ed Berman (just outside our area but there is a fascinating film about how it was saved in the’70s)

    – Holmes Road Hostel.  We tried to get this listed in 2010, and the response from English Heritage summarises some of its history.  Debby will let Samantha have a copy.

    – CFBL (the French School) – there is an existing history of the building

    – Kentish Town Sports Centre – ditto.  A good history by former resident Gerry Harrison

    – the coming of the railways

    – the Fleet river (see the maps)

    as well as all everything already mentioned

  11. Resources


David has already sent (by photo to the Local History WhatsApp group) details of all the books, journals etc. we have at 31 Alma Street which he is happy to lend.  Mary has also sent a list of hers (see below), and is happy to discuss with anyone interested.

Census records and a lot of other resources, including the British Newspaper Archive, can be accessed via Ancestry and Find my Past.  Some of the group have subscriptions and are happy to help others, as well as Martin’s offer to use the BL resources.  You can also access Charles Booth’s map of poverty at https://booth.lse.ac.uk/map/17/-0.1392/51.5476/100/0

Mary’s list:
Camden History Review No. 3 1975
Camden Town 1791 1991 A pictorial record
Camden 50 Retrospective celebrating 50 years of Camden
Kentish Town Past by John Richardson (illustrated)
The growth of Camden Town AD 1800 – 2000 by John Whitehead
Betjeman’s London – poems with reference to KT
12 photos of old Camden inc.KT saved from a calendar
Kentish Town, small booklet published by Camden History Society in 1979
Curious KT by Martin Plaut and Andrew Whitehead
Camden Town and Kentish Town – Images of London
Streets of KT – Camden History Society
Camden Town and the Market – Caitlin Davies
St.Pancras – A journey through 150 years of history
2 Old Ordnance Survey Maps – 1870 and 1913
Kentish Town Map Wellers 1862
87 Holmes Road (now the French School) – The Story of one Building’s contribution to the life of KT …London Board School to Camden Institute.
A collection of articles saved from local newspapers re history of KT, the Crimea War etc.
Also a collection of leaflets and articles about Belsize Park and Hampstead.
Copies of Census returns featuring 28 Raglan Street.