Community Pinboard: A Kentish Town boundary?


1. Why West Kentish Town Matters No Talacre (Kentish Town’s much-fought over ‘Green’)? No Kentish Town City Farm? On Tuesday …



1. Why West Kentish Town Matters
No Talacre (Kentish Town’s much-fought over ‘Green’)? No Kentish Town City Farm? On Tuesday we attended the first Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum consultation at St Luke’s Church in Oseney Crescent. We admire everything that the KTNF is trying to achieve, but are bemused that West Kentish Town – NW5 at its most diverse, creative, multi-cultural and, of course, deprived – has been excluded from the supposed Kentish Town boundary outline (which currently runs along the Overground railway line).

West Kentish Town is home to many NW5 gems of which KT residents are so proud, from the pioneering City Farm, the first of its kind in the UK and this year celebrating its 40th anniversary, to leafy Talacre Gardens with its acclaimed sports centre, and vibrant developments like Streetfeast, Zabludowicz Collection, Rankin’s Annroy Gallery and the hip Camden Brewery bar. Not to mention it’s where the only twice-weekly street market in NW5 takes place, itself something that could really benefit from some intelligent and constructive re-thinking. And, as any of you know, it’s also home to The Kentishtowner.

If we’re looking at real change beyond cosmetic improvements to the immediate Tube station area (which admittedly are needed) then surely we all need to remember the diversity of the whole postcode, and consider the more challenging issues in our neighbourhood too. The boundary of the map for the Neighbourhood Forum should simply be NW5: this is, and always will be, synonymous with Kentish Town, from its western fringes at Grafton Terrace to its eastern tip at Brecknock Road.


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2. A Comic Opera at Lion and Unicorn Theatre. Following the last few weeks of their hugely successful production of Macbeth, Kentish Town’s acclaimed theatre is hosting the world premiere of The Wolves Descend, an hour-long modern opera about an eccentric Croation guesthouse whose staff concoct a macabre plan to entice more visitors. (24-28th July only).

3. A Local History Book Launch. ‘Camden Town & Kentish Town Then & Now’, a new book of rare archive photos which compares scenes from the eighteenth century and later with their 21st century counterparts, is being launched at the Owl Bookshop on July 12th. We’ve already had a sneak peak – and it’s the perfect companion for devotees of our Wednesday Picture features.

4. Music at the Map Studio Cafe The multi-floored space with charming rickety rooms and terraces has soulful sounds aplenty this month. Every Thursday evening at 8pm (£10) see talented folk like Zeeteah Massiah (tonight), The Simians of Swing (12th), or Sam Coombes Trio (19th).

5. Six Quid In The Manor. A delicious sandwich feast at Tolli for £4.60 packed with chicken, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes. On the food and coffee front this place never fails to impress, but why oh why can’t they sort out that decor? Still, it’s £4.60 well spent with smiley service too (extra points for letting dogs in). So please don’t do a well-known chain when Tolli is waving politely next door.

Finally, don’t forget the Zabludowicz launch tonight, if you like a knees-up with your smattering of art. But first we’d like to hear your thoughts about the Neighbourhood Forum plan in particular below. Did you go to the consultations? Is the proposed boundary of interest?


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  • Tim

    Staggered that West Kentish isn’t seen as ‘Kentish Town’ – what was the rationale behind that decision? If you need a boundary, maybe Malden Rd would be more appropriate? It’s not a real neighbourhood forum if it excludes half the neighbourhood

    • Lottie

      Agree absolutely with Tim on all points.

    • Thom

      I’d agree that Malden Rd is a logical boundary. After that you’re in Belsize or Chalk Farm. Or Steeles Village as my part of the world has now been rebranded.

      It definitely smacks of trying to disassociate from the less desirable areas around Queens Crescent, an area which is much more part of KT than Dartmouth Park or Tufnell Park are.

  • stewart

    I’ve long wondered if there are any firm boundaries for Kentish Town, Tufnell Park, Dartmouth Park, etc. The map you’ve attached indicates that the KTNF have not only neglected those in the west, they’ve also claim a good chunk of Tufnell Park in the north.

    Now, I’m not sure how much this kind of stuff really matters but the history and identifications of the area do interest me.

    You’ve suggested Kentish Town is NW5; where does this leave Tufnell Park, Dartmouth Park and Gospel Oak? Are they not distinct areas?

  • Kentishtowner

    Good responses – and I think it’s also worth questioning how much of this stuff, as you say Stewart, ‘matters.’ We believe Tufnell Park, Dartmouth Park and Gospel Oak are very much distinct areas, all falling within NW5, and can either be KT or not (as they wish). But West Kentish Town is well…Kentish Town isn’t?

  • tim t

    It’s just a council ward thing isn’t it? That’s Kentish town ward, west Kentish town is haverstock ward and gospel oak ward.

  • Jamie

    +1 for NW5 being the least-worst definition of Kentish Town. Do we need to start a campaign? I’m in..

    @ Stewart it’s worth bearing in mind that most of what people think of as Tufnell Park is by any definition other than ‘nearest tube station’ actually Kentish Town. Tufnell Park proper is more centred to the east along Tufnell Park Road. Most people glaze over when I launch into my spiel about this…

    @ Kentishtowner – KTNF seem to have already changed the boundary once (compare the northern boundary on the map posted here with this leaflet: http://www.transitionkentishtown.org.uk/newsletter/KTNFLeaflet.pdf) so they must have deliberated a bit about this already.

  • stewart

    Jamie, I’m pretty sure I’m geeky enough about maps, etc. to appreciate your spiel.

    OK, time to reveal my ignorance. I had assumed the Tufnell Park boundaries were something like (clockwise from the north-west): the railway line, Whittington Park, Holloway Rd, Parkhurst Rd, Hilldrop Rd, Brecknock Rd, Raveley St, Lady Somerset (I’d love to claim the Junction for Tuffers but I suspect that’s pushing my luck), Burghley Rd, Acland Burghley school. Ish.

    Reading the above comments, I suspect I’ve undertaken a one-man mission of aggressive expansionism on behalf of Tufnell Park! Come the revolution, etc…

  • Jamie

    The whole what-defines-an-area thing is fascinating. Are some places ‘more’ or ‘less’ Kentish Town?

  • Tim

    It depends on how well people know North London (and who you’re talking to – Estate Agent-spiel would describe Archway as ‘Highgate Borders’. To people from out of the London, I just say I live in Camden. For someone in London, I’d say Kentish Town. For a north-londoner, you could be even more precise, e.g. QC.

    But I don’t know anyone who would classify West KT as not in Kentish Town. Where-else is it? Queen’s Crescent is a community, but not a distinct area.

    • Jamie

      We definitely all agree on West-Kentish-Town-gate. A scandal!

  • Dudisimo

    Unfortunately it’s only too easy to believe that West Kentish Town has been omitted because of its reputation; it wouldn’t be the first time that a community organisation in NW5 didn’t exactly bother to involve those living in social housing within its area of operations.

    Forty years ago, when I moved into NW5, the Talacre area and Interaction were about the only dynamic things in the entire neighbourhood – I can remember going to a festival there where Mike Westbrook (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Westbrook – then resident in Bartholomew Road) played.

    I live in one of the more privileged areas of KT, and I find the idea of creating what would seem to be a ghetto between Belsize Park and KT pretty abhorrent, apart from it being stupidly illogical.

  • Nick Harding

    Perhaps one of the committee would like to explain officially. I was contacted by someone who is in catchment area of the forum to say she had been surprised at west KT’s omission. I contacted the moving force behind the forum and got pretty short shrift. as did at least one other. The failure seems to have been of imagination. They wanted a small area but had the audacity to call it Kentish Town. It got worse as it got bigger when some areas asked to be added to the original area. I suggested they called it something more local like East KT or KT High St but was told it was too late and anyway West KT overground station was in it so it couldn’t call itself East KT.

    I asked in a pub round Queens Crescent where people reckoned the western boundary is and pretty well universally it was Haverstock Hill. As I live between Malden Road and Haverstock Hill and have always proudly thought of myself as a citizen of KT I am in full agreement.

    I agree that the best definition is NW5 with a bit of tweaking.

    Nick

  • Catriona Gray

    I do feel that Queens Crescent has a different feel and perhaps even a tighter community but I’ve lived in both east and west kt and it never occurred to me that one is kt and one isn’t. Kentish

  • Catriona Gray

    I do feel that Queens Crescent has a different feel and perhaps even a tighter community but I’ve lived in both east and west kt and it never occurred to me that one is kt and one isn’t. Kentish Town City Farm??

  • Nick W

    I read your blog post and the comments underneath it on the way to the Thursday meeting (having missed the previous sessions) and I nearly turned back to go home, already disillusioned. But I’m glad I went; they’ve turned the opinions of locals into some interesting proposals which seem, to me at least, realistic.

    As for the East/West divide, the whole session focused on the improvement of Kentish Town
    Road and the streets just off it on either side (eg. Raglan Street, Holmes Road, Islip Street). The presentation never once wandered up into the far eastern parts of Kentish Town which were included in the boundaries of the project.

    I think they should have included the whole of Kentish Town from the start, or stated from the outset that their focus was Kentish Town Road. To be fair, the whole process seems partly experimental. After tonight I’m optimistic that it’ll benefit us all.

  • David

    Hi – We run the Inkerman Area Residents Association which you will know covers the west side of the High St across to the railway lines.

    you may have seen our website – http://www.inkermanresidents.org.uk/ (which BTW gives a plug for your blog…)

    IARA is the driving force behind the Alma St Summer Fair each year –

    ie point being laboured here is that we are OK folk and real Kentish Towners….(for 35 years..)

    AND … we are also a part of the Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum and came to the events this week.

    We missed you and were sorry to hear that you are very unhappy about the western boundary of the Forum Area being so far to the East – ie excluding West Kentish Town.

    This has been raised fairly recently by people from West Kentish Town and the reaction of some of the committee may have been discouraging. I think it may be good to explain. And this is written from our perspective as one of the local Residents’ groups and without consulting the committee or the Chair – so they may disagree.

    1. It has used an enormous amount of energy to get the Forum launched and Caroline Hill, as chair, has been the main driver. She has put in literally hundreds of hours of work – unpaid obvioulsy. There is a measure of exhaustion setting in and the present consultation is using up almost all the remaining energy.

    2. The idea of the Forum was floated early on and we thought people were aware of it. The meetings were reported in the CNJ. We did not hear from anyone west of Talacre who wanted to join in – until matters were already fairly developed.

    3. We had a presentation from the leading and very early Forum in Bermondsey who strongly told us not to grow too big and that we were big enough already.

    4. The constitution was then drawn up and approved at a widely attended public meeting and that included the definition of the area. That has been discussed with Camden Council and fixed and forms a part of the application.

    5. Some people mention the northern part – near Tufnell Park – and ask if we are expansionist. Far from it: When this small ‘northern triangle’ asked to join we were quite resistent for those reasons and it was only when the residents, with the help of local councillors, organised a meeting and survey that showed strong support from residents that we did enlarge it that limited amount – and that involved calling another Special General Meeting which was quite an undertaking.

    6. One of the people who suggested we enlarge the western boundary mentioned it going as far west as Haverstock Hill – which would be a huge enlargement and would include areas most people don’t think of as Kentish Town.

    I think it was at that point that Caroline and several of the committee said that we had to keep to what we have got. And this was endorsed by the committee and I think by the Special General Meeting.

    One question everyone asked was – what is the natural or obvious western boundary if we enlarge at all? ie where do we stop? It is good to hear the comments in your thread.

    Personally I think the issue could be reopened at some stage but I do not have any mandate to say that on behalf of the Forum committee.

    What I think is really important is that we do not fall out with people from the west of the area about this. If there is a disagreement it can surely be explored calmly and constructively.

    There is no attitude of keeping out the West area because it is less prosperous or is social housing. Many streets to the east of the High Street are solid Camden housing stock. There is a small Camden tower block on Holmes Rd and there are still a surprising number of Camden owned street properties

    I think the Forum will look forward to discussing this with you. But we make it clear again that we are not speaking on behalf of the Forum but as long term local residents and activists who do not want bad feeling to spoil an otherwise promising scheme.

    David and Debby

    Inkerman Area Residents Association

  • Noella

    I live in West Kentish town and adore my area but I’d still consider myself to be a resident of Kentish Town as a whole. I spend just as much time on the High Street as I do on the Crescent.

    For me the beauty of Kentish Town is in its diversity. I’d be more than happy to take somebody from KTNF round and show them some of the gems mentioned in the article. We could also swing by Frank’s Supermarket, check out the unusual and exotic fruit and veg on offer in the Crescent and finish off by having lunch at the Turkish place. How about it?

  • ben

    tricky. when I lived on Queen’s Crescent NW5 it was ‘Chalk Farm’ or sometimes ‘Kentish Town’; when I lived on Torriano Avenue NW5 it was ‘Kentish Town’; now I live on York Rise NW5 it is ‘Dartmouth Park’.

    the WKT ommission does seem odd, but perhaps some of that area will be in a Gospel Oak Neighbourhood Plan – anywhere north of QC/east of Malden Road is Gospel Oak. This is type of area that really needs a Neighbourhood Plan. Dartmouth Park has its own Neighbourhood Forum starting up.

    maybe this is the only solution to the boundary issue: thisisntfuckingdalston.co.uk

  • EatDrinkLoveThinkNW

    Just adding my vote for including ‘west kentish town’ in the boundaries. Or more importantly, including all parts of Kentish town in the Kentish town boundaries. Crazy.

  • John Dominic

    Intriguing as this debate is I can’t help wondering, in my cynical way, if this isn’t just another Kentish Towner fostered attempt to increase its hit rate and impress advertisers who aren’t exactly themselves representative of catering to the deprived areas of Kentish Town wherever its boundaries are. While it’s hinted at in the article, in the light of the responses I would like to hear from The Kentish Towner as to exactly where they think the western ( and maybe the northern, southern and eastern) boundaries of Kentish Town are. Is it Malden Road or Haverstock Hill or somewhere in between in the west please nail your colours to the mast Kentish Towner.

    Having said all that I can’t help thinking that the issue is what is needed to improve the lives of everyone working or living in this general area and that isn’t best served by a bunch of middle class people arguing over a map.

    • Kentishtowner

      Cynical indeed, John. We are passionate about Kentish Town otherwise we wouldn’t spend our working lives bringing you this website. The boundary/map issue is simply a way of opening discussion about ways in which NW5 can be improved.

    • PrinceofWalesDaniel

      “The boundary of the map…..should simply be NW5,” is what the pertinent article states. This is not a hint; it couldn’t be clearer, regarding north, south, east and west.

  • Nick Harding

    It’s refreshing to hear so much recognition of West KT. It is frequently said that the Forum is already larger than the optimum size so it seems unlikely that it could expand west. This subject wouldn’t have come up if the committee had decided to call it something more suited to its ambitions. I suppose it is rather petty of those of us in the west to complain – unless we lose out in some way by this. But I can’t resist suggesting that had “we” set up a forum with that name and excluded “you” on the other side of the tracks, you would have felt something wasn’t quite right?

    As for the west boundary, always good for a pub conversation, when campaigning to get traffic islands returned on Malden Road, I recall that we referred to it as going through the centre of West Kentish Town. Having lived between Malden Road and Haverstock Hill for 40 years I have always (proudly) claimed KT nationality.

    Nick.

    Nick

    Nick.

    Nick

  • Gavin Juniper

    ‘They’ wanted to rename Gospel Oak station as Parliament Hill a while ago. Local residents and others managed to stop that.

  • Dudisimo

    Years ago I would often visit friends who lived in Englands Lane and always considered that when I turned into Prince of Wales Road from Haverstock Hill I was back in Kentish Town, although I can see the reasoning behind limiting the area to the east of Malden Road.

    However, it would seem that this discussion is pretty irrelevant since the boundaries have been fixed by the KTNF (incidentally, referring to it as “the Forum” is perhaps not such a good idea – try Googling “Kentish Town Forum” and guess what you come up with).

    What’s ironic is that an article in the CNJ http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/jan/property-news-caroline-hill-new-local-routes-kentish-town-neighbourhood-forum-outlines
    states that “They also want to see pedestrian access from the top end of Regis Road to Arctic Road re-opened, creating a short cut-through to Queen’s Crescent and potentially helping to boost trade at the area’s street market.”

    So on the one hand the KTNF decided to reject late approaches from West Kentish Town – “We did not hear from anyone west of Talacre who wanted to join in – until matters were already fairly developed.” (see the message from the IARA above) and yet on the other seems to imply at least that it is in some way representing Queen’s Crescent and, indeed, the whole of Kentish Town.

    I do believe that the various local associations that have formed the KTNF could have done more to publicise what was going on and it’s important that they deal with this issue without delay.

  • Tim

    Re: item no.3.

    Although the Owl is a lovely bookshop, much frequented by my good self otfen, may i nudge your good readers towards over twice as many “Now and Then” photos, for 13 quid less than that book. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.153454315139.147776.588210139&type=3

    Doth enjoy the Borough’s history!

  • Simonson

    Let’s make Kentish Town as a whole the centre of independent cultural outlets that Camden Town now isn’t, course this needs some money as the council won’t want to let go of the money pot that is Camden High Street and Chalk Farm Road where you can buy the same hat, same OBEY tee shirt, same War is Over tee shirt, same shoes same everything from all the shops as they’re owned by the same people. Or maybe it’s better to keep quite and have a small independent island of difference far from the mass homogenisation of NW1 which I greive over as it has had such an interesting history negating the cash incentive but times move own lets holler for NW5!