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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury Streets, Squares, and Buildings

Battle Bridge 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 Battle Bridge Estate

The Battle Bridge field was originally a field to the west and east of Gray’s Inn Road, sharing its name with the name usually applied to this part of London prior to the erection here of the memorial to King George IV in 1830, when the area became known as King’s Cross instead (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The development of the New Road (Euston Road) in the middle of the eighteenth century cut across the 18-acre part of the field west of Gray’s Inn Road, leaving most of it south of the new road (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This land was owned by William Brock in 1800 and continued to be used for gardens and meadows until the early 1820s, when it was purchased by Thomas Dunstan, William Robinson, and William Flanders (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The entire site they purchased was 16½ acres, 15¼ of them south of Euston Road but also including part of the north side of the road around what later became St Pancras station, in the north-east corner of Bloomsbury (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Dunstan, Robinson, and Flanders subsequently applied for an Act of Parliament to develop the land, in 1824, at the same time as the neighbouring Skinners’, Cromer, and Harrison estates were being developed, although development of the Battle Bridge estate proceeded more slowly and was not completed until the 1840s (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Development was delayed in part by the failure of the ambitious Panarmion scheme, a large entertainment complex with a theatre, galleries, and reading rooms as well as gardens and pleasure grounds, opened in 1830 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

This would ultimately have filled a large area bordered by Argyle Street, Liverpool Street, and Derby Street but which closed after two years in 1832 and was demolished, without ever having all been built (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The subsequent residential development was not particularly high-class: “Although the houses which they built have the charm inherent in diminutive dwellings of the early 19th century, with picturesque balconies and fanlights, the Battle Bridge area was never ‘highly respectable’ in the social sense of the day” (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

The main part of the estate, comprising Liverpool Street, Manchester Street, Derby Street, and Belgrave Street, was reported to be healthy in 1842 (J. Worrell, 28 October 1842, Appendix to Fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1843)

This was in marked contrast to the neighbouring Cromer estate to the south, the courts at the northern end of the Foundling estate, and the other part of the original Battle Bridge field to the east of Gray’s Inn Road, which had the highest death rate of the local areas (J. Worrell, 28 October 1842, Appendix to Fifth Annual Report of the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Sessional Papers of the House of Lords, 1843)

However, the whole area was reported to be overcrowded and squalid in 1848 (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952), and the coming of the railways in the latter half of the century, with the opening of the stations at King’s Cross and St Pancras, rendered it particularly vulnerable to the conversion of its houses into lodging-houses and cheap hotels, many of which rapidly acquired a dubious reputation which continued well into the twentieth century

Chichester Place

Also known as Gray’s Inn Road, of which it became part in 1862

It was in the north-east of Bloomsbury; it formed the terrace at the top of Gray’s Inn Road, on the west side

It is named on Cruchley’s map of 1827; its precise extent is difficult to gauge from this map, but presumably if it had more than 50 houses it also extended south of Derby Street, possibly as far as Argyle Street, thus forming the whole of the west side of the estate’s holdings on Gray’s Inn Road

Horwood’s map of 1819 shows scattered buildings, fields, and a “Nursery” here prior to development in the 1820s

The origin of the name is unknown

The 1841 census has listings for nos 4–53

It was well-built but never particularly respectable (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

Nos 31 and 32 were leased by a baker and a dairyman respectively in the 1820s; they were advertised for sale by Mr Burton, possibly the builder James Burton, who developed so much of Bloomsbury (The Times, 25 January 1826)

The terrace south of Derby Street included the entrance to the North London Horse Depository, home to Robert Owen’s Equitable Labour Exchange briefly in 1832, and subsequently the first permanent London home of Madame Tussaud’s waxworks (Survey of London, vol. 24, 1952)

There was a dairy at no. 2 in the early 1860s (The Times, 7 Novembe 1861)

In 1862 it was integrated into Gray’s Inn Road proper and renumbered

Some of its original houses still survive

This page last modified 14 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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