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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Lucas Estate

Estates in Bloomsbury

1 Duke of Bedford
2 City of London Corporation
3 Capper Mortimer
4 Fitzroy (Duke of Grafton)
5 Somers
6 Skinners' (Tonbridge)
7 Battle Bridge
8 Lucas
9 Harrison
10 Foundling Hospital
11 Rugby
12 Bedford Charity (Harpur)
13 Doughty
14 Gray's Inn
15 Bainbridge–Dyott (Rookeries)

Area between the Foundling and Harrison estates: Church land

Grey areas: fragmented ownership and haphazard development; already built up by 1800

About the Lucas Estate

This seven-acre estate in the north-east of Bloomsbury was originally part of the Peperfield area of the Harrison estate, but became separated from it in the eighteenth century (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Its owner at the beginning of the nineteenth century was Joseph Lucas, a tin plate worker, who decided in 1801 to develop the land (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The estate was a small strip with a curved top, stretching from the area of the Boot pub to Gray’s Inn Road

Its main street when developed was Cromer Street, which was begun in 1801, and known as Lucas Street after the landowner until 1834 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The origin of other street names on the estate remains obscure

Cromer Street

Also known as Lucas Street

Not to be confused with Lucas Street, Commercial Road, East London

It is in the north-east of Bloomsbury, running east from Judd Street to Gray’s Inn Road

It was developed between 1801 and 1815 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Six houses were built in 1801, another eight in 1810, and ninety-one more in 1815; they were all occupied by 1818 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Eighteenth-century maps show only Bowling Green House, rural dwellings, and the adjoining Golden Boot alehouse, tea room and skittle alley, the Golden Boot being the predecessor of the Boot pub

The part of the road opposite the Boot pub is named as Greenland Place on Horwood’s maps

It was originally named Lucas Street after the estate’s owner and developer of the land, but the street supposedly had such a poor reputation that it was soon renamed Cromer Street; East of Bloomsbury (1998) says in 1828, the Survey of London, vol. 24 (1952) says in 1834

In light of the success of the builders and contractors Lucas Brothers of Greenland Place, who may have been related to Joseph Lucas, this seems unlikely

There was a advertisement in The Times of 22 August 1817 for the sale of nos 11, 12, 90, and 93 “Lucas-street, otherwise Cromer-street”, so both names were in use by 1817

And on 2 July 1836, another house in “Lucas-street” was advertised for sale in The Times, showing that the old name was still being used then

Horwood’s map of 1819 shows its numbering system as follows: on the north side, even numbers from 4 to 122, running from east to west; and on the south side, odd numbers from 1 to 133, running from east to west

It was designed for anyone who would buy houses between the Harrison brickfields and dust heap

The houses advertised for sale in 1817 at nos 70–71 and 76–82 were all brick-built eight-roomed dwelling-houses with gardens, some with shops (The Times, 21 April 1817)

If all the houses were occupied by 1818, as the Survey of London asserts, it must have been popular...but it could be rough

On 14 January 1818 one Daniel Stockwell, aged 19, was indicted for breaking into the shop of Thomas Walklett, boot and shoemaker, at no. 88, the previous December, and stealing one boot, value 3 shillings; he was found guilty and executed (Old Bailey Proceedings Online, January 1818, Daniel Stockwell, t18180114-23)

According to evidence given in frequent Old Bailey trials in the early part of the century, other occupiers included tinmen, ironmongers, and braziers, as well as a cheesemonger

The radical activist Henry Vincent lived here in the 1830s; on 7 May 1839, he was arrested at his home and charged with participating in a riotous assemblage in Newport, Wales, for which he received the sentence of a year in prison (The Times, 13 May 1839; Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Other occupants of the street, according to Boyle’s Court Guide of 1832, included a new pub, the Marquis of Wellesley, and, rather surprisingly, a police station

Another pub, the Silver Cup, opened here around 1834

A Baptist chapel opened here in 1839

No. 100 was the family home until 1846 of the painter Edward Williams, whose six sons also all became landscape painters (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography)

Other occupiers were in trade as bakers, grocers, an egg merchant, a plumber, a gas fitter, and a saddler, and there was a surgeon (Post Office Directory, 1841)

There were four public houses by the 1840s

Occupiers in the 1850s included William Fletcher, importer of Italian produce, as well as a musical instrument case maker and the established bakers and grocers (Post Office Directory, 1851)

There was a Post Office at no. 27, run by John Borley in 1852 (The Times, 5 May 1852)

By now there was also Cromer Street British School, run by Miss Adelaide Ford Lucombe, and coffee rooms at the west end

In the 1860s residents included a hairdresser, oil and colourmen, marine stores, a new academy and ladies’ school run by Mr and Mrs Curd, a marble mason, a cow keeper, and the coffee rooms (Post Office Directory, 1861)

The Baptist chapel was demolished in 1868

Established trades persisted into the 1870s, such as the oil and colourmen, the food shops, and the marine stores; there was also a maker of pianos (Post Office Directory, 1871)

By the 1880s it was extremely crowded; there were 130 buildings containing 465 separate households and a total of 1695 people here on the night of the 1881 census (3 April 1881)

The Tonbridge School Club was founded on the corner of Judd Street in 1882 and rebuilt in 1932 (David Hayes, East of Bloomsbury, 1998)

Holy Cross Church was dedicated in 1888 and replaced the old mission hall in Argyle Walk (East of Bloomsbury, 1998; Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

In early 1891 The Times reported that Albert Carolan, a printer, of 7 Cromer Street, had been brought up on a charge of assaulting his apprentice, Albert Moore, with a hammer, intending to kill him (The Times, 28 January 1891)

The attack took place at 7 Cromer Street (The Times, 28 January 1891)

At his trial, it was said that without the prompt treatment he received at the Royal Free Hospital in Gray’s Inn Road, the boy would have died (The Times, 28 January 1891)

Carolan was found guilty of a lesser offence and sentenced to ten years in prison (Old Bailey Proceedings Online, March 1891, Albert John Carolan, t18910309-300)

The street was heavily bombed in the Second World War

In 1952 the Survey of London noted that “Practically the whole of the street has been re-built. Its eastern end runs between the residential flats erected by the St Pancras Borough Council”

It has also lost part of its frontage to an extension of Harrison Street on its south side, next to Holy Cross Church

In the early twenty-first century, only the Boot pub, Holy Cross church, and a few old houses remained

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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