Maitland Park, Camden
A collection of Victorian and post-war estates located on the western side of Kentish Town
Maitland Park is named after Ebenezer Maitland, who was president of an orphanage that moved to Haverstock Hill (as most of this area was then known) in 1847. The orphanage was surrounded by open fields to its east at that time, when local landlords the Southampton family published a plan for building homes for the wealthier classes. What they actually produced was a more densely built-up estate for the less well-off.
Some of the homes were built on plots bought by working people with the help of loans from co-operative buildings societies such as the Friends of Labour, which opened a branch in Maitland Park in 1866. The grocers John James and Mary Ann Sainsbury opened their second shop at 159 Queen’s Crescent in 1873 and lived upstairs here until 1886.
In the 1960s many of the area’s original homes were demolished in a wave of council developments, of which the largest was the Maitland Park estate, flanking Maitland Park Villas – including on the former site of the orphanage.
Kentish Town City Farm was founded in 1972, when it was the first of its kind. It has subsequently served as a model in the development of the city farm movement as a whole. The farm is located on a four-and-a-half acre site off Grafton Road, on the edge of Gospel Oak, where it uses some original buildings from the time the railway was built.
Queen’s Crescent is one of London’s hidden cockney communities, with a street market held on Thursdays and Saturdays and plentiful independent shops. Nevertheless, it is an indication of the area’s absence of amenities that the mayor of Camden cut a celebratory cake when she officially opened the street’s first free cash machine in 2005.
Estate agents – and even some renegade cartographers – have recently begun to reinvent Maitland Park as ‘Lower Belsize Park’, in an attempt to distance the locality from Kentish Town and move it closer to Hampstead.
However, it better suits live music venue the Fiddler’s Elbow (shown in the photo at the top) to describe itself as being ‘in the heart of Camden.’ As is often the case with such terminology, ‘in the heart of’ actually means ‘somewhere near’.
The political philosopher Karl Marx lived at addresses in Grafton Terrace and Maitland Park Road from 1856 until his death in 1883.
Postal districts: NW3 and NW5
Station: London Overground (Kentish Town West, zone 2)
Website: Queen’s Crescent community association