Friday, 17 December 2010

107 Camden Road, London NW1

When I went up to University College London I stayed for my first year in Ifor Evans Hall of Residence at 109 Camden Road, London NW1, from where it was perfectly possible to walk in to college; taking what we used to call the 'scenic route' (down through Somers Town). There was a fellow in my corridor who wore a beard and a tweed coat and seemed not to socialize much. One evening, some way into the first term, the students' bar (which happened to be at the end of my corridor)was becoming extremely noisey and there was a knock on my door. I shouted out "Enter!" and this fellow came in. He told me his name 'EB' and explained which room he was in and I said "So that's who you are." I think that he laughed at this. Anyway, he wanted to raise support to complain about the noise and asked whether I would join forces. Of course, I did and a complaint succeeded in bringing a return of peace. Gradually, I got to know EB, who was a philosophy student, and he told me this story about the derelict house next door to the Hall of Residence at 107 Camden Road.

EB's paternal grandfather had been a dentist and had lived and practised at 107 Camden Road. He had died an early death and left the house to his wife. In the garden there was a workshop/laboratory where the dentist had done his work. After he died his widow had let this building to none other than star of stage and screen Jack Hulbert, who had used it to house his model railway. Not only that, but his grandmother, left somewhat short as a result of the early death, took in a female lodger who was a mid-wife and, on the day that the present Prince of Wales was born the house was surrounded by the press because she delivered the Prince of Wales.

Backing on to the house are school grounds and a scheme was devised to extend the school out to the road but 107 Camden Road was in the way. A compulsory purchase order was made and the local authority took possession of the house for demolition.

Thirty years later it was still there and, for all I know, it still is.

Today's picture is of Camden Town Underground station from the Kentish Town Road side.

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