Kensal Green in London

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Kensal Green, also referred to as Kensal Rise is an area of London, England. It is located on the southern edge of the London Borough of Brent and borders the City of Westminster to the East and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to the South.


Kensal Green is a residential area with good transport links to central London, surrounding districts include Willesden Green to the north, Harlesden to the west, Brondesbury and Queens Park to the east and Ladbroke Grove to the south. The names Kensal Green and Kensal Rise are used somewhat interchangeably by non-residents to denote the same district, although residents differentiate between the areas based on proximity to the local tube and railway stations.

Roughly speaking, the area west of Chamberlayne Road, north of Harrow Road and south of Kensal Rise railway station is considered Kensal Green while that to the east of Chamberlayne Road and north of the station is considered Kensal Rise. These boundaries are by no means fixed however and some residents are known to use both terms with little regard for geographical accuracy. For a 1920s map of what at that time was considered to be Kensal Green, see Brent Council local history.

A third area south of Harrow Road, around the area of Kensal Road is commonly referred to as Kensal Town. Since Harrow Road is generally considered to be the southern boundary of Kensal Green and Brent, most residents class Kensal Road and its environs as part of Westbourne Park.


Nestled between areas of prosperity and urban degradation, Kensal Green is a contradiction in terms typical of many inner city districts that has led to an eclectic mix of residents.

The largest self-identified ethnic group in Kensal Green and its environs (such as Harlesden, Willesden, Cricklewood and Kilburn) are Irish immigrants but the area also boasts a sizeable Afro-Caribbean born contingent. Since the 1980s, the Irish-born community has reduced in size, although the legacy of their presence remains, not least in the number of Irish pubs and organisations and the many thousands with Irish ancestry that continue to populate the area.

In the late-1960s parts of the area were reported to have gained an unenviable reputation as a run down and crime-ridden district. It was a reputation that led author John Preston to note: When he first moved to Kensal Green, Hugh had assumed that it would only be a matter of time before the area came up in the world. After all, it was close to fashionable areas such as Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove. But, as he'd discovered, there were certain parts of London that remained immune from any form of gentrification. Kensal Green was one of them; it seemed to have fallen off the property map altogether.

Owing to the explosion in the London property market and Kensal Green's central location and excellent transport links, large numbers of young professional couples and families with young children, as well as many artists and media sector employees have flocked to the area. This shift has been mirrored by the number of furniture stores, luxury delicatessens, 'trendy' gastropubs that have recently opened on Chamberlayne Road, upmarket restaurants and luxury new developments.

A popular new venue is Paradise by Way of Kensal Green, a pub on Kilburn Lane, which takes its name from the final line of the poem "", by G. K. Chesterton:

"For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, before we go to paradise by way of Kensal Green."

The Paradise is on the site of the historic Plough pub, which in the 1780s was a haunt of the artist George Morland. According to relevant statistics from the 2001 census, the area has a very high proportion of young residents (28.4% 25–44 years old) and a very high educational level (30.7% hold a first degree or better).


One of the key reasons that Kensal Green has proved so popular with young professionals in recent years is its excellent transport links.

Kensal Green tube station (Zone 2) on the Bakerloo Line is only 20 minutes from Oxford Circus and the West End. London Overground services also operate to London Euston, a journey that takes around 15 minutes.

London Overground (previously known variously as Silverlink Metro and the North London Line) also operates out of Kensal Rise railway station and provides regular services to Richmond in the west and Stratford in the east.

Extensive bus services also run from the area, including the No. 18 (Harlesden - Euston), No. 6 (Willesden Bus Garage - Aldwych), No. 52 (Willesden Bus Garage - Victoria Station) and No. 452 (Kensal Rise - Wandsworth Road).

For a time the London Congestion Charge extended into Kensington and Chelsea and reached as far north as Harrow Road, the southern boundary of Kensal Green. Most vehicles travelling south east down Ladbroke Grove or east along Harrow Road and into central London were liable to pay the £8 daily charge between 7.00 and 18.00 Monday to Friday.

Following a public consultation in autumn 2008, the western extension of the congestion charging zone, which had bordered on Kensal Green, was scheduled to be removed. Charging on the western extension effectively ended on 24 December, 2010. The effects of this on local trade are yet to be determined.


At a site just to the east of the Old Oak Common site, Kensington and Chelsea Council has been pushing for a station at Kensal off Ladbroke Grove & Canal Way, as a turn-back facility will have to be built in the area anyway. Siting it at Kensal Rise, rather than next to Paddington itself, would provide a new station to regenerate the area. Amongst the general public there is a huge amount of support for the project and Mayor Boris Johnson stated that a station would be added if it did not increase Crossrail's overall cost; in response, Kensington and Chelsea Council agreed to underwrite the projected £33 million cost of a Crossrail station, which was received very well by the residents of the Borough. TfL is conducting a feasibility study on the station and the project is backed by National Grid, retailers Sainsbury's and Cath Kidston, and Jenny Jones (Green Party member of the London Assembly).

Kensal Green Cemetery

Kensal Green is the site of Kensal Green Cemetery which is one of the finest cemeteries in London. It was consecrated on 24 January 1833 by the Bishop of London. The cemetery was the brain-child of barrister George Frederick Carden who was inspired by Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

Kensal Green Cemetery comprises 77 acre of beautiful grounds including two conservation areas and an adjoining canal. The cemetery is home to 33 species of birds and other wildlife, some almost unique on their representation at this site.

This distinctive cemetery has a host of different memorials ranging from large mausoleums housing the rich and famous to many distinctive smaller graves and even special areas dedicated to the very young.

With three chapels catering for people of all faiths and social standing the General Cemetery Company has provided a haven in the heart of London for over 175 years for its inhabitants to remember their loved ones in a tranquil and dignified environment.

Within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea survive two cemeteries dating from second quarter of the 19th century: Brompton, & Kensal Green. Of the two, Kensal Green is the earlier in date being more important historically, and pre-eminent nationally in terms of its influence, importance of people buried there, overall richness and the number of outstanding memorials.

Notable 'residents' include HRH the Duke of Sussex (a son of George III), his sister HRH the Princess Sophia, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Charles Babbage, William Makepeace Thackeray, Anthony Trollope and William Cavendish-Scott-Bentinck, 5th Duke of Portland. Architects who are buried at Kensal Green include Decimus Burton and the famous 19th century architectural families of Hardwick and Shaw. Philip Charles Hardwick, Philip Hardwick and John Shaw Junior are buried there, as well as Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter.

Every Sunday in the summer months (1 March to end October) and on the first and third Sunday of the month in the winter months (1 November to end February) the Friends of Kensal Green Cemetery run a tour starting at 14:00 at the Anglican chapel and lasting 2 hours. On the first and third Sunday of the month, the tour descends into the catacomb beneath the Anglican chapel.

Tornado on 7 December 2006

On 7 December 2006 at 11.00am, a tornado struck Kensal Green. Up to 150 houses were damaged, and six people were injured, one requiring hospital attention. Residential roads were closed off and residents had to seek temporary accommodation. Traffic was also diverted causing disruption. The cost of the damage is estimated to be at least £2,000,000.

See also

  • Crossrail
  • Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green
  • Kensal Rise Library

Nearest places:

  • Harlesden
  • Willesden
  • Kilburn
  • Brondesbury
  • Wormwood Scrubs

Nearest stations:

  • Kensal Green station
  • Kensal Rise railway station
  • Willesden Junction station


External links