Agar Town, Camden

The former name for the canalside locality situated east of Camden Town, remembered now only in Agar Grove

Lulworth House, Agar Grove Estate*

Lulworth House, Agar Grove Estate*

From 1789 this was the private estate of William Agar of Elm Lodge. In the 1810s Agar fought a desperate battle to prevent the cutting of the Regent’s Canal through his property, although his underlying motive may simply have been to maximize the compensation he received.

William Agar died in 1838 and his widow soon began to grant building leases on part of the estate, while retaining Elm Lodge.

The jerry-​​built settlement that took root here was later described as a ‘suburban Connemara’ for its allegedly predom­inantly Irish population, and nicknamed ‘Ague Town’ for its poverty and ill health. Depictions of Agar Town as the worst kind of filthy slum may have been exaggerated but the residents were undeniably poor and conditions were insalubrious.

The church of St Thomas, Agar Town, was built on Wrotham Road in 1864, at the very time that the old town was disap­pearing beneath the tracks and goods yards that accom­panied the opening of the Midland Railway’s St Pancras station. The displaced inhab­itants mostly moved to neigh­bouring districts like Kentish Town.

St Thomas’s was damaged by wartime bombing and demolished in the early 1950s, when its parish was united with that of St Michael’s church, Camden Road.

The Agar Grove estate was built in the mid-​​1960s. It consists mostly of four storey blocks, plus the 19-​​storey Lulworth House, which is shown in the photograph above.*

After the goods yards became redundant, part of the site was opened as Camley Street natural park in 1984, while Fairview Estates developed Elm Village, an award-​​winning mix of social and private housing. Much of the remainder of Agar Town was lost with the creation of the King’s Cross ‘railway lands’, which have in turn been erased by a massive redevel­opment programme, now in its latter stages.

Postal districts: NW1 and N1
Further reading: Steven Denford, Agar Town: Life and Death of a Victorian ‘Slum’, Camden History Society, 1995
Website: Victorian London - Districts - Agar Town


* The photograph of Lulworth House, on the Agar Grove Estate, Agar Grove, on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Stephen Richards, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-​​ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.
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