Survey of London: Volume 47, Northern Clerkenwell and Pentonville. Originally published by London County Council, London, 2008.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
CHAPTER XII. King’s Cross Road and Penton Rise Area
In terms of historical character, the area considered in this chapter can best be described as marginal, lying as it does at the edges of the old parish of Clerkenwell and of three important former Clerkenwell estates: Penton, Lloyd Baker and New River Company (Ills 3, 385). It consists in large part of a broad and shallow triangle, sloping steeply to the south from Pentonville Road—the southern ends of Henry Penton’s fields, severed by the making of the road in the 1750s. From here King’s Cross Road winds southward, following the line of the Fleet river, which, more or less, separated Clerkenwell from the parish of St Pancras. Only the Clerkenwell side of the road is discussed in detail here, together with the adjacent Vernon Square.
Although largely built up in the late eighteenth century, the area retains no building fabric to suggest this, the last original remnant having been erased as recently as 1995. Pentonville Road, Penton Rise and Weston Rise were formerly lined by good houses of the period, many of which, long déclassé, survived until after the Second World War. A large part of the ground is now occupied by public housing and later large blocks of building, chiefly residential or offices. Industry, an increasingly important presence from the mid-nineteenth century, has entirely disappeared over the past few decades, leaving little trace. The area of Lorenzo Street was always poorer, and more meanly built up. King’s Cross Road itself acquired an increasingly dense and gritty urban character in the course of the nineteenth century, its hostels and lodging houses indicative of a poor and transient population. Today it presents an incoherent panorama of buildings dating variously from the early nineteenth century to the present, some preserving the original narrow plots, others on a larger scale.
The account opens with a chronological résumé of development and the area’s changing character since the eighteenth century. This is followed by a topographically arranged inventory of existing buildings. The original development of the Pentonville Road frontage is sketched in Chapter XIV, where accounts of the present Pentonville Road buildings (excepting the Weston Rise Estate) are also given. The history and character of the Penton estate, which mostly lay on the north side of Pentonville Road, are discussed generally in the next chapter, while general accounts of the New River Company and Lloyd Baker estates are given in Chapters VII and XI.
The area before general development
Before the late eighteenth century there was little building, apart from nine houses present by 1746 at Battle Bridge, as King’s Cross was then known. It was not in the main a desirable site, partly on account of the marshy nature of the ground close to the Fleet river, which ran along the western side of what is now King’s Cross Road. This patch had been known since at least 1660 as Bagnall’s Marsh, or Bagnall’s Wash as the Fleet was called at this point. (fn. 1) Nevertheless, such was the demand for more building that many houses had been erected by 1825, when this part of the river was converted into a sewer. (fn. 2)
The pattern of land-ownership at the time of first development consisted of three large freehold estates on either side of what is now King’s Cross Road, and three small patches of waste ground belonging to the manor of Cantlowes, a prebend of St Paul’s Cathedral. On the east side of the road, though with almost no frontage to it, was part of the Penton estate, and south of that the New River Company and Lloyd Baker estates. On the west side were the Battle Bridge, Swinton and Calthorpe estates. (fn. 3) The waste ground consisted of a piece on the west side of the road, where the Holiday Inn now stands, and two narrow strips on the east side: one at the north end, developed as Hamilton Row, and a smaller one to the south, where Bagnigge Place was built, now the junction of Great Percy Street.
Though an ancient route, King’s Cross Road acquired its name only in 1863. (King’s Cross, the name given to the area around the intersection of the Euston—Pentonville Roads, Gray’s Inn Road, and York Way, had been in use only since the late 1830s, after Stephen Geary’s derided structure, surmounted by a statue of George IV, erected at the junction in 1836.) Until then it was Bagnigge Wells Road, this name applying to the way as far south as Coppice Row and so including part of what is now Farringdon Road. Cromwell and Pinks both identify Bagnigge Wells Road as part of ‘the old and auncient high waie to High Bernet from Port Poole now Grayes Inn as also from Clerkenwell’, mentioned in John Norden’s Speculum Britanniae of 1598. (fn. 4) In the eighteenth century the northern part of the road was referred to variously as the road to Bagnall’s (or Bagnigge) Marsh, the road to Battle Bridge or the turnpike road from Battle Bridge to Bagnigge Wells; the southern part is shown on Rocque’s map of 1747 as Black Mary’s Hole, the name of an old well or spring there (see page 23).
Bagnigge Wells, on the south-western side of the road (on the site of the present Holiday Inn), opened in 1758 at Bagnigge House, traditionally said to have been used as a retreat by Nell Gwynne and Charles II, and certainly in existence by 1680. One of the many resorts locally for entertainment and taking the waters, it remained famous and fashionable to the end of the eighteenth century, finally closing in 1841. (fn. 5) Already in existence by the 1740s on the Clerkenwell side was the Bull in the Pound public house, forerunner of the present Union Tavern.
A large brick- and tile-works grew up on the east side of the road in the late eighteenth century, on Lloyd Baker ground. It appears to have been started about 1769, and by the early nineteenth century was run by the Randell family. The original single ‘bottle’ kiln was joined by a second by about 1780 and by 1808 some twenty long buildings, most of them probably open-sided sheds, were clustered around them. A couple of small houses were built in 1807 in connection with the works. (fn. 6) The kilns’ distinctive profiles were a prominent feature of the topography for the next fifty years or so (Ill. 386), until the 1820s when, on the expiry of the Lloyd Baker lease, the business moved to Maiden Lane in St Pancras.
Building under Alexander Cumming and John Weston, 1779–c. 1802
Development of the Penton triangle south of the New Road (Ill. 387) began in 1776–7 with the construction under Act of Parliament of Penton Place, linking the New Road with Bagnigge Wells Road. The line of the new street was an extension of Rodney Street on the north side of the New Road, thus giving some continuation of the main Pentonville street-grid. According to Pinks, Penton Place (present-day Penton Rise) was formerly lower-lying than in his day and prone to flooding when the Fleet sewer was unusually full due to rain or thaw. (fn. 7) Old photographs suggest that, if so, the increase in level cannot have been very great (Ills 388, 389). A problem with groundwater may have persisted, however, for a description of a house on the west side in the early twentieth century notes that cellars under the front garden were ‘defective & swamped’. (fn. 8)
The eastern frontage of this ‘new cut’ was leased by Henry Penton in 1779 in three plots to the watchmaker and inventor Alexander Cumming, under whom it was mostly laid out with houses during the early to mid-1780s by a number of builders. The chief figures were the carpenters Thomas Vickers and John Symmonds, both of Clerkenwell, and Charles Douglas, of St Clement Danes. (fn. 9)
At the top end of the street a group of larger than usual houses were built facing north. Cumming himself occupied one of these until his death in 1814. He was also rated for an ‘organ-shop’ there for a few years in the mid-1790s, following his retirement from business in Clifford Street, Mayfair, and it was about this time that he bought and installed a machine organ he had made some years earlier for the Earl of Bute. Cumming’s house, completed in 1781, seems to have been the westernmost house of this group, shown on Hornor’s map of Clerkenwell as having several polygonal bays, but by the 1870s shorn of these and divided into two. It was originally detached, until neighbouring houses were built in 1792–3. (fn. 10) Cumming’s lessees in Penton Place included an organ builder, John Wright, who took ground for several houses at the south end of the street. (For Cumming’s musical connections locally, see also page 410.) Of the other houses on Cumming’s side of the street, one, later numbered 25, was double fronted. This house, probably built in 1784 and originally of three storeys over the basement, was distinguished by a Classical door-surround in Coade stone (Ill. 390). (fn. 11)
In 1786 John Weston the elder, who had a large brickfield on Penton’s estate north of the New Road, took a 99-year lease of all the Penton ground on the south side of the New Road west of Penton Place. (fn. 12) This extended nearly up to present-day King’s Cross Road, the frontage to the road itself being in different ownership, held as copyhold of the Manor of Cantlowes.
The lease mentioned ‘a new intended street’ to bisect the site from north to south with buildings set back 15 ft on either side—this was to become Weston Street, renamed Weston Rise in 1937. Over the next few years Weston farmed out the development of the ground to a number of undertakers, including his brickmaker son William Weston; John Weston the younger, victualler; Thomas Vickers; Thomas Stevens; and Thomas Hindle, a stonemason who had built in St Pancras. Most of the builders took plots for no more than three houses. (fn. 13) The greater part of the New Road frontage was developed as York Place and Clarence Place (see Chapter XIV). On the west side of Penton Place, mostly built up between 1788 and 1793, the houses varied in size, more than half of them being on frontages of 19 ft; others were as narrow as 13 ft or 14 ft (Ill. 388). Two or three windows wide, they were of three storeys over basements, some with an additional mansard floor, and some with Coade stone decoration. (fn. 14) The houses were of a good class and well appointed, as expressed in an advertisement of 1796 for No. 42:
an excellent Dwelling, in good Repair, and elegantly fitted up in the modern Stile … the Attick Story contains three good Servants Rooms, with suitable Closets, and Trap Door to go on to the Leads; Two Pair Story two Bed-Chambers, Closets, and Marble Chimney Pieces—The Floor is completely and elegantly furnished, and Register Stoves fixed … Ground Floor two Parlours, with Closets, Marble Chimney Pieces, and fixed stoves; Basement Story two boarded Kitchens, a Wine Cellar … in the front Area are two arched Vaults and a Pantry; a paved Yard back of Dwelling, and a Garden well stocked with choice fruit trees about 38 yards long. (fn. 15)
The Weston Street houses, built between 1791 and 1802, were generally smaller, on 15 ft or 16 ft frontages, with two storeys over the basements and mansard floors (Ill. 391). (fn. 16)
More modest were the houses built along York (now Lorenzo) Street, a short, steep, slightly curving street laid out after 1786, between the New Road and what was then Bagnigge Wells Road. Building began in about 1795 and was largely complete by 1802. Still smaller were the houses in courts off Weston Street and York Street. (fn. 17)
Building in Bagnigge Wells Road, 1790s–1840s
While Weston’s ground was being built up, development was also taking place on the manorial ground to the west under the builder Joshua Hodgkinson. The ground here, a piece of unenclosed manorial ‘waste’, had been assigned to three different tenants between the 1660s and 1740s. (fn. 18) But no tenant could be traced in the 1770s, and Hodgkinson was admitted as tenant in 1790. (fn. 19) The main portion of his ground was a strip about 600 ft long and 40 ft or so deep, running along the north-east side of the road from Battle Bridge to Bagnigge Wells (in modern terms, between the west end of the former Welsh Tabernacle, in Pentonville Road, and Penton Rise). Along with this there was a sliver 150 ft long and 20 ft wide at its greatest, where Great Percy Street now meets King’s Cross Road.
Hodgkinson, described as a lime burner of Lewisham, had previously lived at Battle Bridge, working in the 1780s as a bricklayer for the Highgate and Hampstead Roads trustees. (fn. 20) He was very active as a developer, building in Winchester (now Killick) Street and elsewhere in Clerkenwell and St Pancras, including Somers Town. (fn. 21)
The terms of Hodgkinson’s copyhold allowed him to demise the ground for up to 63 years. In 1791–2 he filled most of the frontage to Bagnigge Wells Road west of Weston Street with Hamilton Row, a terrace of small houses on 16 ft frontages, sub-letting them typically for the full 63-year term (Ill. 406). (fn. 22) On the sliver to the southeast, adjoining the New River Company’s ground, he oversaw the building of Bagnigge Place, a row of tiny houses (Ill. 386). (fn. 23)
St Pancras Vestry considered Hodgkinson’s houses to be in their parish, and marked out their boundary in 1791 with a line of posts running behind, and in some cases through, the back gardens. (fn. 24) This led to a dispute with Clerkenwell Vestry, which came to a head in 1800–2 when Clerkenwell attempted to extract the poor rate from the residents, who took the matter to the quarter sessions and lost. The upshot was that the two parishes agreed a boundary running down the middle of Bagnigge Wells Road. (fn. 25) A ghost of the contested demarcation line survives in the uneven southern boundary of No. 146b King’s Cross Road. Hamilton Row and Bagnigge Place soon passed out of the Hodgkinson family’s hands. Joshua died in 1816 and his widow in 1823, following which Joshua Hodgkinson junior, scavenger, sold those houses he still owned. (fn. 26)
Always prone to flooding, the Fleet did so spectacularly in 1809 and 1818, when the whole area from the bottom of Penton Place to the Smallpox Hospital at Battle Bridge was flooded, and again in 1846. (fn. 27) The salubrity of the area was also compromised by a high concentration of activities such as bone-boiling, slaughtering and tanning, and poverty may be inferred from a high incidence of crime. In 1819 two residents of Hamilton Row were sentenced to death for sheep-stealing. (fn. 28)
When Bagnigge Place was put up for auction in 1827 it was snapped up by the New River Company, which already owned the adjacent land. But it was not until the early 1840s that the company was ready to develop this western portion of its extensive estate. The little houses were then demolished and the whole of the company’s frontage to Bagnigge Wells Road built up with threestorey houses with shops, now all gone. (fn. 29)
By this time the frontage to the south, belonging to the Lloyd Baker family, had itself been built up. At the south end, the rebuilding of the Union Tavern in 1819–20 began the development of the Lloyd Baker estate generally. Within a couple of years the tile-maker George Randell, whose works still occupied part of the frontage as well as much of the immediate hinterland of Bagnigge Wells Road, entered into negotiations to build there. (fn. 30) Nothing came of this immediately because his lease had some years to run and he wanted an extension on part of the site. But between his ground and the Union Tavern work was already in progress by 1823 on a first group of houses, a terrace of four, extended to six by 1830, called Union Place. The builder was the pub’s landlord, John Carr. (fn. 31) None of the houses survive—the present Albert House stands on the site of the southern two—but a seventh house which Carr added in the 1830s is still there (No. 4 King’s Cross Road, see below and Ill. 397).
The only surviving plans to show what Lloyd Baker and his surveyor John Booth originally had in mind for Bagnigge Wells Road are for the central section—northwards of Union Place—which Randell was interested in developing. Dating from the early 1820s, they show seven houses in continuation of Union Place, and another seven (in one version ten) to the north, the two rows being separated by ‘Lightfoot Street’ leading into ‘Sharp Square’. On the north and south sides of Lightfoot Street (subsequently Granville, now Gwynne, Place) are sites for two pairs of houses. (fn. 32) When the development of this central portion finally went ahead in the early 1830s, George and his partner John Randell elected to build only the southern terrace, and the two houses on the south side of Lightfoot Street. This three-storey terrace (eventually numbered 18–30 King’s Cross Road) was a seven-house continuation of Union Place, and the building agreement, dated 1830, states that the houses should be in all respects similar to those already built by Carr. (fn. 33) Union Place was later renamed Union Terrace. None of these buildings survive.
Between Lightfoot Street and the northern boundary of the Lloyd Baker property two more terraces were built along the Bagnigge Wells Road frontage in 1831–2 (see Ill. 348 on page 266). These were King’s Terrace, a row of seventeen houses later numbered 32–64 King’s Cross Road, and, north of Wharton Street, Upper Terrace, later renamed King’s Terrace North and from 1863 numbered 66–74 King’s Cross Road. The greater part of King’s Terrace survives (see Nos 44–64, below) but the original King’s Terrace North was demolished in the 1860s for the Metropolitan Railway.
King’s Cross Road and the Metropolitan Railway
From the early part of the nineteenth century Bagnigge Wells Road was sometimes referred to as Lower Road, Pentonville. In 1862 formal renaming was proposed by the Clerkenwell Vestry on the grounds that the old name was constantly misspelled on letters, leading to confusion. (fn. 34) With the completion of Farringdon Road then in prospect (see Survey of London, volume xlvi), there was a suggestion that its name should be applied to the whole of the way up to Pentonville Road. But in 1863 the Metropolitan Board of Works gave the new name King’s Cross Road to Bagnigge Wells Road north of Lloyd Baker Street. The raft of subsidiary names, including on the Clerkenwell side Hamilton Row, Vernon Place, King’s Terrace and Union Terrace, were abolished, and the whole street renumbered in odd and even sequences. (fn. 35)
In the early 1860s more than fifty houses on this side of the road were acquired for the construction, by cut-andcover, of the Metropolitan underground railway. (fn. 36) They included Nos 4–8 and 34–74, of which Nos 66–74 were demolished, to be rebuilt in 1874 following completion of the railway. The Lloyd Baker houses in Granville Place were among the other casualties. The railway has had a continuous adverse impact on King’s Cross Road, for the inadequate backfilling over the lines—described in 1992 as ‘spongey clay’ (fn. 37) —has led to many houses having to be repaired or rebuilt.
These eleven houses are the surviving portion of King’s Terrace, a row of seventeen erected in 1831–2 on Lloyd Baker leases by the building partnership of Edward Garland and Philip William Perkins (Ills 392, 393). Perkins was the lessee of Nos 56–64 and Garland (at Perkins’s direction) of Nos 44–54. (fn. 67) Occupying the whole frontage between the former Granville Place and Wharton Street, King’s Terrace was designed as a symmetrical range of three storeys over a basement and was topped with a bracketed cornice, which survives only at Nos 52–58 and 62. The three central houses broke forward slightly, and originally carried a raised parapet incised with the name King’s Terrace. They had single, segmentheaded windows on the upper floors. (fn. 68) The ends were intended likewise to project and have different fenestration, but were not finished exactly to this plan. (fn. 69) All the houses, like many buildings adjacent to the Metropolitan Railway, have suffered structural damage and some have been completely rebuilt, No. 60 in a utilitarian neoGeorgian manner that pays little heed to the design of the rest. (fn. 70)
Between Wharton Street and the Lloyd Baker estate boundary the frontage was originally developed in 1831–2 by Philip William Perkins, who built a row of seven three–storey houses at first called Upper Terrace and then King’s Terrace North. (fn. 71) Doubtless similar in appearance to Perkins’ surviving houses in King’s Terrace, they were all demolished for the Metropolitan Railway in 1865. The present five houses, of three storeys with steeply canted bays to the ground floors, were erected in 1874 under leases from the railway company, like the similar houses at the western ends of Wharton and Lloyd Baker Streets. The builders were Walter William Wheeler, Arthur Mazzini Wheeler and William Warren of Notting Hill; No. 66 may have been the work of John Ambrose of King’s Cross Road. They seem to have been let in tenements from the beginning. (fn. 72)
Nos 76 and 78, formerly King’s Cross Police Station and Clerkenwell Magistrates’ Court
Of the original early 1840s police station and police court on this site only the front portion of the court building survives. This is flanked by a replacement police station of the late 1860s, to the south, and a new court-house of 1903–6 (Ills 400, 401). Both court buildings were being converted into a hotel at the time of writing (2007), while the police station was still in use for operational work. (fn. 73)
‘G’ division of the Metropolitan Police, covering the parish of Clerkenwell, was created in 1830, its first station being in the old watch-house in Rosoman Street. (fn. 74) In October 1840 the Metropolitan Police Office acquired from the New River Company a building plot on Bagnigge Wells Road, backing on to Percy Yard, for a court and station house, to be enclosed by a high perimeter wall. Initial plans for constables’ houses as well, facing Great Percy Street, were soon abandoned. (fn. 75) The station was under construction by February 1841, and the court, one of a number of magistrates’ courts reconstituted as police courts in 1839, transferred to its new building here from Hatton Garden in December 1842. (fn. 76)
The front of the old court, though not the rear, also survived the arrival of the new Clerkenwell police court alongside in 1903–6. (fn. 81) The architect of this was John Dixon Butler, surveyor to the Metropolitan Police since 1895. Butler admired Norman Shaw and worked with him on the extension of New Scotland Yard in 1904–6, at the same time as he was working here. His own manner has been described as ‘a crisp austere version of the prevalent Free Classic or Anglo-Classic—the civic style doffing its regalia and donning a uniform’. (fn. 82) The Clerkenwell court is more formal and monumental than some of his work. The front has a giant semi-circular Portland-stone pediment supported by oversized brackets, above a shallow recessed bow flanked by bays of fine orange brickwork. The rising return along Great Percy Street is plainer and more domestic in scale, though with a touch of fin de siècle brio in the oversized swooping brackets of the two secondary entrances, a feature of several other Butler police courts.
The new building contained two court-rooms, and the old building, partially reconstructed, provided some of the ancillary accommodation (Ill. 403). There were two sets of magistrates’ rooms, while the two upper floors facing King’s Cross Road and Great Percy Street were taken up with offices. The quality of finish was high: the entrance hall had a decorative mosaic floor, featuring the Metropolitan Police crest, and stained-glass rooflights. (fn. 83)
In April 1939 Butler’s successor G. Mackenzie Trench prepared plans to replace the 1870 station entirely with a new subdivisional police station on the site, but the war put paid to this scheme. (fn. 84) Other proposals for expanding the accommodation were abandoned because of cost, though Percy Yard was acquired. Entered via an archway on Great Percy Street through the 1906 court building, it was never used for much apart from parking. (fn. 85) Decades later, larger premises were obtained in the form of the new Islington police station in Tolpuddle Street of 1990–2 (see page 404). Since then, King’s Cross police station has been used for stabling police horses and as a traffic-warden centre, and has in recent years been used in connection with the anti-vice, drugs and street-crime initiative, Operation Welwyn. (fn. 86)
St Chad’s Court, No 146
This unusual two-storey office building, approached by gates between Nos 144–146 and 148 and all but invisible from King’s Cross Road, occupies a wedge-shaped site. Its southern edge follows the irregular northern boundary of Bagnigge Wash and of St Pancras parish, as defined by St Pancras Vestry in the late eighteenth century, while the forecourt perpetuates the entrance to Hamilton Court, a small court created here in the 1790s. (fn. 114) The present building stands on the site of a house in the court replaced by or incorporated into a two-storey workshop around 1890. From 1912 the premises were used by the Islington and North London Shoe Black Brigade, one of several such bodies founded in the 1850s that gave employment and accommodation to ‘necessitous or crippled lads or men’. (fn. 115) It was later a metal-plating works. (fn. 116) The building was converted into offices in 1985–7 to the designs of CZWG Architects for the builder Mike di Marco. Red-painted steel gates now give access to the narrow forecourt and entrance door. A single-storey triangular entrance lobby opens into a double-height reception area, which was partially re-roofed. There are two open-plan floors joined by a spiral staircase in the reception. At the far end an art deco-style steel and glass door at first-floor level opens on to a small balcony, with steps down to the yard. (fn. 117)
Gwynne Place is named after Nell Gwynne, who was supposed to have lived on the site of Bagnigge Wells opposite. Until 1936 it was called Granville Place, and before that, in the 1830s, Lightfoot Street, both names being associated with the Lloyd Bakers, the freeholders. Today it is little more than a way through the Travelodge Farringdon to ‘Riceyman Steps’ and Granville Square; either side of its short length is taken up with entrances to car parks for the hotel. Only one building survives from previous developments (Ills 410, 411).
Gwynne Place first appears on John Booth’s earliest plan of proposed building on the Lloyd Baker estate, of 1819, as the middle of three streets connecting Bagnigge Wells Road with what was to become Granville Square (see Chapter XI). The site was then still part of the Randell tile-works, and the excavations for clay and subsequent backfilling left their own legacy. When development did take place the square was larger than at first planned and Lightfoot Street correspondingly shorter, while the steep drop in ground level required the building of steps to link the two.
The first buildings in the new street were a pair of three-storey houses built on the south side in the 1830s by George and John Randell at the same time as their Union Terrace development; these became Nos 1 and 2 Granville Place. (fn. 138) The steps had not then been constructed. They were built, with vaults beneath, in the early 1840s by the builders of the western half of Granville Square, Benjamin Slipper and Joseph Cornick. Slipper and Cornick also found room for two low, flat-roofed tenements on either side of the steps, as adjuncts to Nos 32 and 33 in the square. (fn. 139)
The planning of this part of the Lloyd Baker estate, with the conjunction of Granville Square, Granville Place, Bagnigge Wells Road, Wharton Street and Baker Street, created spacious L-shaped backlands accessible from Granville Place. Over the years these have been used for stabling, crafts and light industry, garaging and parking. William Broder, a builder’s merchant, arrived in 1843 and in 1848 built stables in Granville Place; at the same time he was building houses in Albion Street, Islington. (fn. 140) Residents in Granville Place in the 1840s and 1850s included a solicitor, and George and John Randell. By 1845 No. 4 Granville Place had been built on the north side and No. 5 next to it by 1860. (fn. 141)
All these buildings fronting or leading from Granville Place were demolished in 1865 for the Metropolitan Railway, and the site remained empty and neglected for more than 10 years. When rebuilding began in 1873, the open character of Granville Steps and Place was altered irrevocably by the building by Charles Ardon Kellond of Nos 33 and 34 Granville Square on the site of the tenements that had previously flanked the steps. (fn. 142)
In 1875 a new school for St Philip’s Church was built on the north side of Granville Place, in connection with St Philip’s, Granville Square. A modest Gothic-style building by Walter E. MacCarthy, architect, it fronted King’s Cross Road. It was built in place of an intended larger National School building for the same site, designed by R. J. Withers in 1864 (Ill. 412). The school closed about 1924 and was demolished. (fn. 143) Opposite the school, on the site of the 1830s houses at Nos 1 and 2 Granville Place, two three-storey terraced houses were erected in 1876–7, with a yard and stabling adjoining (No. 1A). Nos 1 and 1A, and later No. 2 also, were occupied as a printer’s joiner’s workshop and from the 1920s as a haulier’s, when most of the yard was covered over. Parts were let as workshops to shopfitters and flooring contractors. (fn. 144)
On the north side of Granville Place, the Metropolitan Railway had not entirely been covered over, leaving part of the cutting and a signal box. On the yard adjoining, a small factory was built between Nos 38 and 38a Granville Square, at No. 4 Granville Place. (fn. 145) No. 3 Granville Place, a four-storey tenement house, was built about 1880 to the west of the yard. (fn. 146) From about 1919 Nos 3 and 4 comprised the Granville Works, occupied for many years by businesses concerned with footwear or footcare. (fn. 147) In 1924–5 the premises were rebuilt following a fire, and it was probably then that the present two-storey structure at No. 3, a factory with a red-brick front and stone or cement cornice, was erected or adapted from the old house. (fn. 148) In 1927–8 the yard was roofed over for the Scholl Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (fn. 149) It has since been cleared and left as an open yard.
King’s Cross Baptist Church
This church, formerly called Vernon Baptist Chapel, was built in 1843–4 by the Rev. Owen Clarke, Secretary to the British and Foreign Temperance Society. The New River Company granted him the whole of the principal side of Vernon Square for it and flanking houses. Clarke undertook to make the houses like those already on Vernon Street (now Vernon Rise), and the chapel Gothic, ‘so disposed as to harmonise as far as practicable with the buildings near it’. It is unclear to whom Clarke turned for his designs. It may have been to his builder, William Smith of White Lion Street, Pentonville—perhaps the same William Smith who had worked elsewhere on the New River estate in the 1820s calling himself a surveyor. Or James Harrison, the surveyor who in 1843–4 was active at Holford Square (see page 229), and had contact with Clarke, may have been involved. (fn. 153)
After Clarke’s death in 1859 the predecessors of the present congregation took over the chapel, boosting attendances. In 1869–71 the pastor, Charles Burt Sawday, oversaw its enlargement on the east side, raising capacity to more than 1,300 worshippers. For this John Goodchild was the architect. In 1937 concerns about the roof prompted extensive reconstruction, accompanied by the addition of Sawday Hall at No. 5 Vernon Rise, a scheme devised and carried out by C. W. B. Simmonds, a builder and member of the congregation. (fn. 154)
The chapel is a simple brick building with a heavily buttressed stone-dressed Gothic front, conceived as a kind of screen between the associated houses (Ill. 414). The façade was cut down several feet and otherwise altered in 1937. Only the central window survives, those to either side having been bricked up. The nineteenth-century interior had three galleries of the later 1840s, and an open queenpost roof. In 1937 the east end of 1869–70 was reconfigured, the galleries were removed and a low shallow–vaulted ceiling was installed. A western screen was inserted in 1985. The basement hall, relatively unaltered, was first used as a school.
Clarke’s flanking houses have gone. That to the north was replaced in 1933 by Vernon Hall, a low Gothic–fronted block built by J. Webb & Son. That to the south was bombed in 1941, and the site was redeveloped in 1962 with a low two-storey manse for which E. E. Swaine was the architect. This and Sawday Hall beyond are plain brick structures. (fn. 155)