The Origins of Tufnell Park
Tufnell Park Road runs along the line of an old Roman road which stretches from the Roman camp beneath Barclays Bank and Batten’s Carpets on the Holloway Road up Dartmouth Hill and over Hampstead Heath. For centuries the area was renowned for its dairy farms which kept London to the south supplied with milk.
It kept a rural air well into the 19th Century in its important role as a base for a number of dairies supplying the capital. In 1753 the area became the property of William Tufnell who was granted the manor of Barnsbury by his father in law. The manor (now demolished) stood on the site of the Holloway Odeon. The manor’s gateposts can still be seen however on Tufnell Park Road. Tufnell petitioned parliament for permission to develop his estate but the leases he was granted were left unused.
The estate passed to his brother George who married into a fortune owned by Mary Carleton in 1804, hence her maiden name appearing as two street names in N7. Serious building began in the 1845 with a scheme sponsored by Henry Tufnell and designed by John Shaw Jun – who had laid out the Eton Estate in Chalk Farm. This initial work was largely limited to the area around Carleton Road. In 1865 the scheme was taken up by George Truefitt who developed most of the local villas and St. George’s Church (1865) – built for Anglican secessionists. The housing stock was of a solid nature, and Tufnell Park kept its good name until the end of the century. Charles Booth in his survey of London Life and Labour reported that the older streets (Anson Road and Carleton Road) housed a mixture of retired merchants and music hall artistes who were rich enough holiday abroad over winter. He believed that second wave of building around Hugo, Corinne, Huddleston and Archibald Roads threatened to create a metropolis “from which the rich would soon be going”. The private girl’s school established at the corner of Carleton and Brecknock Road was closed in 1878 after many of its pupils drowned in the Princess Alice disaster.
Tufnell Park was more fortunate than several of its neighbours. Whereas roads and railway lines were sliced through Kentish Town and Camden in the 19th century, they mostly passed through Tufnell Park in tunnel, and Junction Road railway station provided a direct link with central London. The shabby genteel reputation of Tufnell Park made it a standard comic reference in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. George and Weedon Grossmith locate their aspirational Mr Pooter in Tufnell Park (Upper Holloway) in Diary of a Nobody. Julian and Sandy the camp BBC home service comedians frequently referenced Tufnell Park as did the Guardian Newspaper’s Biff cartoon in the 1980s. Between 1999 and 2001, Tufnell Park was the location for Channel 4′s comedy drama, Spaced.
The Boston Arms at the centre of Tufnell Park looking towards Archway on the right
In the 21st century the area is becoming more and more of a desirable area to live. It has the highly rated Yerbury Primary School, a secondary school Acland Burghley School, and has high-quality local amenities as well as good transport links to more central areas. The area is home to many people who work in the media, including many journalists, writers and professionals working in film and television. It is one of the most expensive areas in London, along with Holland Park, Kensington, Hampstead, Camden Town and many others.