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Home > Life In London Magazine > London's Neighbourhoods: Then and Now (Page 1)

London's Neighbourhoods: Then and Now

We take a look at some of London's most desirable turfs.





Most Londoners aspire to live in a neighbourhood filled with pretty houses with bay fronted windows, well-kept parks and quirky boutiques, however unfortunately most of these areas are way beyond what most of us can afford. Were they always cracked up to be this good, or did they evolve into the desirable turfs they are today?


Primrose Hill

Then: Once highly desirable, when the railways arrived in the 19th century so did a lot of soot, which understandably put a lot of the area’s wealthy inhabitants off. The grand houses of Primrose Hill became subdivided to provide lodgings for the railway workers, and the fact that many of the local inhabitants were male meant it was a profitable area for prostitutes; there is evidence to suggest there was once a brothel on Gloucester Avenue. The smoke from the railway lines gave Primrose Hill a grey, unhealthy air, with the local primary school being branded the “Smoke School”, until they became electric in the 1960s, alleviating the lungs of many.

Now: Thanks to overpriced delicatessens, greenery and brightly coloured terraced houses, Primrose Hill couldn’t be further away from its mid-20th century incarnation. Gloucester Avenue is now home to a smart hair salon, gastropub The Pembroke Arms and rather more incongruously, the Gorilla Organization; Regents Park Road is inhabited by a dozen cafes and expensive boutiques and the area is one of London’s most sought after, made famous to the rest of the country thanks to residents Kate Moss, Sadie Frost and Co, whose haunt of choice is the too-snooty-for-its-own-good Engineer, also on Gloucester Avenue. In the summertime hoardes of sunseekers gather on the hill to picnic, depleting the local supermarkets of hummus.

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