Monday, June 1, 2015

Kensal Green

This is the 17th post in my series on 'Above the Underground'. I am out of Central London now and the trains no longer  travel underground. Arriving at Kensal Green station was different, as the train is much lower than the platform so it was quite strange to step up onto the platform.

The driver has a large mirror to help him/her ensure passengers alight safely.

Opera was drifting down the stairs as I made my way to the exit not something I was expecting, nor was the beautifully written thought for the day on the notice board. In 2005 London Underground announced that it would 
play classical music at problem stations to dissuade youngsters from loitering and causing a nuisance. This station achieved notoriety in 2006 when a young lawyer was brutally murdered by two teenagers. His killers were traced from CCTV footage at the station where they had previously mugged a passenger prior to committing the murder. The station was declared unsafe as it was unmanned at night and the ticket barriers were left open. The two murderers are currently serving life sentences. Is the station still unmanned at night? I doubt it  but I won't be travelling there to find out.

The station frontage is so different from the ox-blood red tiled buildings of the previous stations. This  new station replaced the old one in  1980 and has no charm at all.

Kensal Green is probably best known for the large cemetery there. It is the largest of the ring of 'Magnificent seven ' cemeteries that were built to cope with the lack of space in parish churchyards in the mid 19th cent. There are a few well known personalities buried here including the engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his father; the inventor Charles Babbage;Charles Blondin who crossed Niagara Falls on a tightrope; Sir William Beatty surgeon to Admiral Lord Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar.

Sir Archibald Galloway (1779-1850) He was director of the East India Company and was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1848.

There are some very large mausoleums at the cemetery including this one of the Duke of Cambridge.

This is the Dissenters' chapel completed in 1834 and was well used until it was bombed in the WW2. The cemetery allocated 39 acres of consecrated ground and 15 acres of unconsecrated ground for those who were not of the Anglican faith. The chapel is now used for the community with lectures and exhibitions organised by the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery.

This is the Anglican chapel


There have been stone masons and sculptors in the Landers family since at least 1676. Everywhere you look in the cemetery there is evidence of their work. Originally from Dorset they moved to this area in 1832 and work from this listed building next to the cemetery.

Not far from the cemetery is a small street with 2 pubs. This one has the unusual name of 'Paradise by way of Kensal Green'. The phrase is from a poem by GK Chesterton and Kensal Green is referring to the cemetery.

The Rolling English Road
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.
I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.
His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.
My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

On the door at the side of the pub is evidence of its previous name, Ye Old Plough

The other pub on the same street is The Grey Horse which has some good reviews for its food

Running alongside the cemetery is the Paddington branch of the Grand Union canal

This is the local library

This former old warehouse next to the canal has been converted into cafes and design studios and offices.

This white building on the corner of Kensal Road is known as 'Fruit Towers' and is home to Innocent the makers of fruit smoothies. The company was started by 3 graduates who began on a very small scale making smoothies from just fruit and no additives. They sold them at a stall at a music festival and asked their customers to put their empty bottles in either a 'yes' bin or a 'no' bin depending on whether they thought the trio should leave their jobs to concentrate on making smoothies. At the end of the day the 'Yes' bin was full and so began a very successful business. So successful that it has now been bought by 'Coca Cola'. I wonder if their smoothies are still so Innocent!

Returning to the station I passed this building on the Harrow Road. It is the main factory of Holland and Holland Ltd Gunmakers. The building was deliberately built to be tall and slim with large windows to give as much light as possible. There is no signage on the building advertising its usage.


  1. Sounds like another great cemetery to visit if I get the chance. Do love the name of the pub

  2. I love the houses on the canal bank. I hope they have good damp proofing. I wonder what will happen to the skeletons of the gasometers.

  3. Fascinating post and beautiful photos rich with such history ~ Bravo to you for continuing this great series!

    Happy Week to you,
    artmusedog and carol

  4. Thanks - very interesting! I like the poem and the boats on the canal are great.

  5. Great set of images at the station and around.

  6. Lots of interesting and historical buildings there. Thanks for the tour.

  7. Thank you for the tour of a beautiful place. the buildings are gorgeous.

  8. Love the images of the area around the station.

  9. Beautiful series of photos. I always found the British stations very charming. Some of them have baskets of hanging flowers. Thanks for your visit and comment.
    Wil, ABCW Team

  10. So much to see when you take the time to look and research! Thank you!

  11. I think I would have alot of fun exploring the cemetery - love your photos :-)

  12. So are you planning on exploring some of the other tube lines when you are done with this one? I do miss loving in London so very much and I love the idea of what you are doing here. If I had more time I would be very tempted to do my own version


  13. I think it's wonderful that you explore on your own like this even in broad daylight and I wish I were as smart and as brave. I loved the poem and I think some of those drinkers came over to this side of the pond to lay out some roads I could name, I see from the poem why the pub is named as it is and why the Gargoyle. The canal boat is wonderful. We think a summer cruising on one of those would be a dream vacation. (So many places ......)

  14. A very entertaining and interesting tour. Thanks for taking us along!


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