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Kilburn is an area of north-west London, England, which is divided between three London Boroughs: most of Kilburn is in Brent or Camden, but a small part is in Westminster. The main thoroughfare running northwest-southeast is Kilburn High Road, part of the modern A5 road which forms the boundary between the boroughs of Brent and Camden. The road dates back to pre-Roman times and is part of the Roman road known as Watling Street. The town of Kilburn has its origins in a 12th century priory on the banks of the Kilburn Brook. Kilburn today is a busy and multicultural London district. It has the highest Irish population of any London area, as well as a large Afro-Caribbean population. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
Kilburn High Road originated as an ancient trackway, part of a Celtic route between the settlements now known as Canterbury and St Albans. Under Roman rule, the route was paved. In Anglo-Saxon times the road became known as Watling Street.
Kilburn grew up on the banks of a stream which has been known variously as Cuneburna, Kelebourne and Cyebourne, which flows from Hampstead down through Hyde Park and into the River Thames. It is suggested the name means either Royal River or Cattle River ('Bourne' being an Anglo-Saxon word for 'river'). The river is known today as the River Westbourne. From the 1850s it was piped underground and is now one of London's many underground rivers.
The name Kilburn was first recorded in 1134 as Cuneburna, referring to the priory which had been built on the site of the cell of a hermit known as Godwyn. Godwyn had built his hermitage by the Kilburn river during the reign of Henry I, and both his hermitage and the priory took their name from the river. Kilburn Priory was a small community of nuns, probably Augustinian canonesses. It was founded in 1134 at the Kilburn river crossing on Watling Street (the modern-day junction of Kilburn High Road and Belsize Road). Kilburn Priory's position on Watling Street meant that it became a popular resting point for pilgrims heading for the shrines at St Albans and Willesden. The Priory was dissolved in 1536-7 by Henry VIII, and nothing remains of it today.
The priory lands included a mansion and a hostium (a guesthouse), which may have been the origin of the Red Lion pub, thought to have been founded in 1444. Opposite, the Bell Inn was opened around 1600, on the site of the old mansion.
The fashion for taking 'medicinal waters' in the 18th century came to Kilburn when a well of chalybeate waters (water impregnated with iron) was discovered near the Bell Inn in 1714. In an attempt to compete with the nearby Hampstead Well, gardens and a 'great room' were opened to promote the well, and its waters were promoted in journals of the day as cure for 'stomach ailments':
|“||Kilburn Wells, near Paddington.—The waters are now in the utmost perfection; the gardens enlarged and greatly improved; the house and offices re-painted and beautified in the most elegant manner. The whole is now open for the reception of the public, the great room being particularly adapted to the use and amusement of the politest companies. Fit either for music, dancing, or entertainments. This happy spot is equally celebrated for its rural situation, extensive prospects, and the acknowledged efficacy of its waters; is most delightfully situated on the site of the once famous Abbey of Kilburn, on the Edgware Road, at an easy distance, being but a morning's walk, from the metropolis, two miles from Oxford Street; the footway from the Mary-bone across the fields still nearer. A plentiful larder is always provided, together with the best of wines and other liquors. Breakfasting and hot loaves. A printed account of the waters, as drawn up by an eminent physician, is given gratis at the Wells.||”|
—The Public Advertiser, July 17, 1773.
In the 19th century the wells declined, but the Kilburn Wells remained popular as a tea garden. The Bell was demolished and rebuilt in 1863, the building which stands there today.
The Kilburn stretch of Watling Street, now called Edgware Road and Kilburn High Road, was gradually built up with inns and farm houses. However, despite the discovery of a medicinal well in 1714, and the creation of gardens and a fine room to exploit the water, Kilburn did not attract any significant building until around 1819 in the area near St John's Wood.
Between 1839 and 1856 the newsagent and future First Lord of the Admiralty William Henry Smith lived in a house to the west of Kilburn High Road. Much of the area was developed in the last decades of the nineteenth century by Solomon Barnett, who named many of the streets after places in the West Country (e.g. Torbay) or after popular poets of the day (e.g. Tennyson) in honour of his wife.
The boundary between the boroughs of Camden and Brent runs along the middle of Kilburn High Road. The electoral wards of 'Kilburn (Camden)' and 'Kilburn (Brent)' cover most of the area.
Kilburn has a number of different ethnic groups, including people of Irish, Afro-Caribbean, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, and Somali backgrounds. Because the area is split between more than one London borough, statistics are gathered from different parts of Kilburn.
The Kilburn area is most strongly associated with its Irish population and culture; 13% of the population were born in Ireland with an even higher percentage of Irish descent, giving it the highest Irish population of any London area. The Irish presence is evident in Irish community activities, Irish pubs (many of which attract custom by screening Gaelic games), local GAA sports clubs, newsagents selling a wide range of Irish newspapers, and the annual St Patrick's Day celebrations in the area. The area is sometimes jokingly referred to as County Kilburn. The 2007 Irish-language film Kings has also been associated with Kilburn and is based on Jimmy Murphy's play The Kings of the Kilburn High Road.
Kilburn High Road
Kilburn High Road is the main road in Kilburn. It follows a part of the line of the Roman route, Iter III in the Antonine Itinerary, which later took the Anglo-Saxon name Watling Street. This was based on an earlier Celtic route from Verlamion to Durovernum Cantiacorum, modern day St Albans and Canterbury.
Running roughly north-west to south-east, it forms the boundary between the London boroughs of Camden to the east and Brent to the west. It is the section of the Edgware Road (itself part of the A5) between Shoot Up Hill and Maida Vale.
There are three railway stations on Kilburn High Road: Kilburn tube station (Jubilee Line) at its northern end and a little to the south Brondesbury station (London Overground on the North London Line). Approximately 1.25 km (nearly a mile) further south is Kilburn High Road station (also London Overground, on the Watford DC Line). Kilburn Park tube station, on the Bakerloo Line, lies a little west of the southern end of the High Road.
The green space of Kilburn Grange Park is located to the east side of Kilburn High Road.
Gaumont State Cinema
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A landmark in Kilburn High Road is the Grade II* listed Art Deco Gaumont State Cinema, designed by George Coles and opened in 1937. It was the biggest auditorium in Europe at the time, with seating for 4,004 people. For twenty years, the building was run as a bingo hall by Mecca Bingo. At present it is used by an Evangelical church.
The Tricycle Theatre
In 1980 the Tricycle Theatre was opened in a converted Forester's Hall on Kilburn High Road north of Buckley Road. The Tricycle is a renowned arts centre, now including a gallery, cinema and theatre. It has a particular reputation for political dramas including dramatisations of significant court cases and a play about the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, which subsequently transferred to the West End and to New York City. Reflecting the culturally diverse local community of Kilburn - and in order to qualify for an Arts Council subsidy - the Tricycle theatre presents many international pieces and films, often in original language with English subtitles, and hosts or runs social and educational programmes.
To the south, the Kilburn skyline is dominated by the Gothic spire of St. Augustine's, Kilburn. Completed in 1880 by the architect John Loughborough Pearson, the church has an ornate Victorian interior, a carved stone reredos and screen and stained glass, adjacent to its partners, St Augustine's Primary and Secondary School. The church is sometimes nicknamed "the Cathedral of North London" due to its size - at the time of construction, it was the third-largest place of worship in London, after St Paul's Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Kilburn is also home to Zog House, the revolutionary split-level eco home. It is located on Donaldson Road and was designed and developed by Solidspace.
Location in context
|Queen's Park||West Hampstead|
|Maida Hill||Maida Vale||St John's Wood|
- Kilburn Station (Jubilee line)
- Kilburn Park Station (Bakerloo line)
- Brondesbury Station (London Overground - North London line)
- Kilburn High Road Station (London Overground - Watford DC line)
Kilburn is served by many bus routes that go along the High Road. Most routes come south from Cricklewood, and serve various points in central and west London.
- Kilburn is the home of Kilburn Gaels Hurling Club.
- Kilburn is also home to Kilburn Cosmos RFC, one of the few rugby clubs in inner London.
- South Kilburn F.C. play in the Combined Counties League.
- Kilburn Football Club play in the Middlesex County League, and hold regular training sessions in Grange Park.
- One of the 12 founder members of the Football Association was formed in Kilburn in 1863. It was referred to as the N.N. Club or N.N. Kilburn, "N.N." being thought to stand for "Non Name". It supplied the first president of the Football Association.
Notable people who live or have lived in Kilburn include:
- Oni Akerele
- Lily Allen
- Gerry Anderson
- Simon Bird
- Roderick Bradley
- Thomas Canty
- Todd Carty
- Edwyn Collins
- Rupert Degas
- Brian Eno
- Matt Lucas
- Annie Mac
- A. A. Milne
- David Mitchell
- Kate Moss
- Gavin Rossdale
- Zadie Smith
- Tommy Sparks
- Josiah Stamp, 1st Baron Stamp born there 1880
- Robert Webb
- Bradley Wiggins
- David Winner
- Mayor of London (February 2008). "London Plan (Consolidated with Alterations since 2004)". Greater London Authority.
- "The Virtual Tour of Kilburn". Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- Edward Wedlake Brayley (1834). The Graphic and Historical Illustrator: An Original Miscellany of Literary, Antiquarian and Topographical Information (JPG, PDF). J. Chidley. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- C R Elrington (Editor), T F T Baker, Diane K Bolton, Patricia E C Croot (1989). "Kilburn, Edgware Road and Cricklewood". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 9 (sourced from British History Online). Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Kilburn". Brent Heritage. 2002. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- "Kilburn and St John's Wood". British History Online. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Brent Council (2001). "Kilburn Ward 2001 census". Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- Camden Council (2001). "Kilburn Ward 2001 census". Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- Louise Ryan (February 2002). "In the Green Fields of Kilburn: Reflections on a Quantitative Study of Irish Migrants in North London" (PDF). Anthropology Matters Journal. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
- "Kilburn Gaels Hurling Club". Retrieved 2007-11-18.
- Ferriter, Diarmuid (2007-09-27). "Paddies’ pain: the film that captures lonely lives of men who built Britain". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2011-12-30.
- "Saint Augustine’s Kilburn". Retrieved 2007-11-11.
- Transport for London (2002-10-07). "Buses from Kilburn High Road" (PDF). Bus route map. Retrieved 2007-11-11.
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