Belsize Park

This posting covers only the south west portion of this square.
The north west portion is South End
The north east portion is South End and Gospel Oak

Post square to the west Hampstead
Post square to the east Gospel Oak  and Gospel Oak and Kentish Town

Aspern Grove
Local authority housing on the site of Russell and Aspern Nurseries and sports grounds. Built in 1980s on land previously owned by the railways, designed by Bill Forrest and Oscar Palacio, Camden Architects Department in post-modern style. It was the borough's last new-build housing; plain pale brick terraces. Previously this area was owned by the railway and a tunnel runs underneath. Post war it was leased to John Russell (Hampstead) Ltd., who developed here a nursery garden, jazz club and public tennis courts plus some light industry. In the 1980s it was developed for housing and following community action the three woodland areas were created alongside.

Belsize Avenue
The road was originally the carriage drive to Belsize House. At the Haverstock Hill end of the road the road surface is lowered and footpaths are raised with railings.

Belsize Wood
These sites are at the eastern end of the Aspern and Russell Nurseries estates and are between them and Lawn Road
Belsize Wood is a Local Nature Reserve is a steeply sloping site. There are two parts, one which is always open and another only open at weekends. It stands above the London and Midland railway Lismore Circus railway tunnel built in the 1860s. There are forest trees and an understorey of hawthorn and elder
Railway ventilation shaft in the North West corner of Belsize Wood
Russell Nurseries Woods. These have a network of paths and steps and some biodiversity enhancements. There is a bird feeding area and some Stag Beetle loggeries as well as an owl box.
Belsize Sensory Garden. Associated with this is a Green Gym.

Belsize Lane
5 Hunters Lodge. Gothic building from 1810 built for a merchant, William Tate.  Designed by Joseph Parkinson.

Fleet Road
Fleet Road is said to follow the Fleet River. However, a tributary to the river appears to have run to the north of this section of the road, only joining it to run alongside in the square to the east.  In this section the south side of the road is entirely covered with outbuildings and sub entrances of the Royal Free Hospital, including a long stretch of wall which may date from its fever hospital predecessor
154 White Horse pub. This pub is said to have been established early in the 18th. It was rebuilt in 1904 as a big prominent corner put with a clock at the pinnacle of the frontage. Inside original ironwork features survive.
Byron Mews. This new housing is on the site of the tramway depot (in the square to the north)
77 Royal Free Hospital Recreation Centre and Club.  Run by the Royal Free Charity this provides sports and swimming facilities as well as studio and other spaces.

Hampstead Green
This area was described as manorial waste land in the 18th and became the site of big houses and was adjacent to others.  There appears at one time to have been a small green here and in 1746 was an open space with an avenue of trees and a few buildings and a railed triangular site is now managed for wildlife, planted with a wild flower meadow. The site was owned by St Stephens’s church from 1869-75. Later it was called the Pond Street Enclosure and protected under the London Squares Act of 1931.
A Cabman's Shelter stood near the Green in  1935.
Bartram House. Bartram’s had been an ancient estate in this area with various buildings. Bartram House was built around 1806 north of the copyhold estate. It was the home from 1849 of Sir Rowland Hill whose family continued to own the site. Land to the south was purchased by the Metropolitan Asylums Board for a fever hospital and following objections in 1883 the board bought Bartram House and it was then used as a nurses' home but was exchanged in 1901 for land belonging to Hampstead General Hospital
Hampstead General Hospital. This had been founded in South Hill Park in 1882 but needed to expand. Land opposite Hampstead Green was acquired in 1901 and then exchanged with the Hampstead Fever Hospital for Bartram House which was then demolished.  It opened as Hampstead General Hospital in 1905 in a building by Young & Hall and in 1907 merged with the North-West London Hospital and began to expand its services.  In 1948 it joined the NHS and was closed and demolished in 1975 to be replaced with buildings of the Royal Free Hospital. The site became a car park and a small garden adjacent was dedicated to Dr. W. Heath Strange, the hospital’s founder.
Strange Garden. This memorial garden to Dr. Strange and the Hampstead General Hospital includes the frieze which was on the facade and which is laid out on a sloping lawn. There are other memorials on site: a Mulberry tree donated by the League of the Royal Free Hospital Nurses to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Hospital; a tree in memory of Broderick Dewhurst, clinical nurse manager 1990; a stone n memory of Helen Hendrick; a plaque in memory of Annette Mendelsohn. This garden is being moved because of redevelopment plans.
The Institute of Immunity and Transplantation is now being built on the car park and will be called the Pears Building after its donor. Along with this will be a new development, some of which will be sheltered housing ‘retirement living but not as you know it’.

Haverstock Hill
Stretch of road linking Chalk Farm and Belsize Park. The name – which dates to at least the 17th - means the place where oats are grown and it seems to have referred to the whole slope of the hill. It was also called Hampstead or London Road.
250 The George.  Established in 1666 and on Red Lion Hill in 1826. It was rebuilt in the 1920s in 'brewers' Tudor' style and has latterly been called The Rat and Parrot.
238 Rosary Roman Catholic primary school. This was originally Bartram’s Roman Catholic School and part of the orphanage run by the Sisters of Providence in Rowland Hill Street. Although it received a parliamentary grant it was not recognised as a public school but was maintained by the London County Council after 1921. After the Second World War it became Rosary School as a Roman Catholic voluntary aided primary.  It is a 19th red brick building set back from street with four storeys and an attic.
230 Maternity Welfare Centre. This was extant in the 1950s but the building is later described as a ‘Spastic Centre’.  The site appears now to be part of the Rosary School.
George V pillar box. This is on the corner with Ornan Road. It has ornate lettering cast into the door and ‘GR’ set below a crown.
WAC Arts, Arts trainbing organisation in the old Town Hall.  This was the Vestry Hall of 1877-8 built by Hampstead Vestry following a competition won by I. F Kendall and Frederick Mears. It is in red brick and stone, with a pediment on two of its sides and a corner tower. Inside is an imperial stair with cast-iron balustrades to a public hall on the first floor – the fireproof back arched floor of the hall is visible in the vestry room -later the council chamber – below. .  Alterations by Frederick Nie in 1886 included a large new committee room. In 1910-11 Hampstead Borough Council extended the building along Belsize Avenue to designs by John Murray. In 1965 the new London Borough of Camden chose St Pancras Town Hall as its main headquarters. In 1998 this was converted to an Arts Centre by Burrell, Foley
210 Shelter at the end of a drive alongside a shop – currently a Costa. This is a circular concrete pillbox with a square brick ventilation shaft on the roof. To the south is an open vertical shaft surrounded by corrugated iron with a system for dropping items into the tunnels by pulley. To the west is a low concrete structure which was probably a water or fuel tank. This was built during the Second World War with sleeping accommodation and facilities for 1,200 people. These shelters were designed as two parallel tunnels, so that they could be part of a future – but never built - express railway. Tunnels were on two floors with iron bunk, first aid facilities, wardens, and lavatories in hoppers under the works.
Ventilation shaft – modern structure painted white the brick is unpainted.
Odeon Cinema.  This opened in 1934 and with an Art Deco interior by T.P. Bennett & Son. It also has a Compton 3Manual/6Rank theatre organ with solo cello and an illuminated console. It was badly German bombed in 1941 and was. It reopened in 1954 and was by then a Rank Organisation Cinema. It closed in 1972 and was demolished leaving its adjacent shops and flats, one of the original shop units became the entrance to a new Screen on the Hill.
203 Screen on the Hill, this is in part of the site of the former Odeon Cinema, The entrance is in one of the parade of shops that was built as part of the original Odeon and retains the cream faience tiles from it. It opened in 1977 by Mainline Pictures. It has since been expanded and is now known as the Everyman Belsize Park
Belsize Park Station. Opened in 1907 this lies between Hampstead and Chalk Farm on the Northern Line. It was an original station on the Charing Cross, Euston and Hampstead Railway taken over by Yerkes and now known as the Northern Line. It is a Leslie Green designed station with with rows of arches and ox-blood glazed tiles. It was refurbished in the late 1980s and although the lettering above the fa├žade has gone there are bronzed poster surrounds from the 1920s and the original clock has been restored.  The staircase to the emergency stairs also survives in its original tiling and the original wooden lifts survived into the 1990s.  . The station was built back from the building line and this has left a small forecourt with Edwardian railings and stone plinths.
210 Deep Shelters. A quarter of a mile of twin tunnels lie below the station, constructed in n1944 as war rooms. In 1940 it was announced that a limited programme of deep public shelters would be available.
Shelter. At the junction of with Downside Crescent. This is a circular pillbox giving the northern entrance to the tunnel complex. There is a brick extension in Downside Crescent which is the current entrance and behind it a brick tower with a door at the bottom. There also a low rectangular concrete structure which is, probably a water or fuel tank. Most of the structure is painted white.

Pond Street
15 Roebuck pub. Probably dates from the mid-19th and was a Hoare’s house
Royal Free Hospital.  This originally opened in Hatton Garden and later Gray's Inn Road from 1840. It had been founded in 1828 to provide free healthcare to those who could not afford medical treatment. The title 'Royal' was added under Queen Victoria in 1837 because of work done with cholera patients. It was then the only hospital in London to offer medical training to women and work began with the London School of Medicine for Women, later renamed the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine.   A decision was taken to move out of central London after the Second World War. The site here had been occupied by the North Western Fever Hospital, which begun in temporary buildings in 1870, and the Hampstead General Hospital.  The first phase was by Watkins Gray Wood International, was built 1968-75.  These are wards in tower blocks of eighteen storeys with concentric balconies. The hospital has expanded enormously since.  In April 1991 the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust was established. Outside is a decorative iron tympanum of 1894, brought from Gray's Inn Road.  Sculpture by Jesse Watkins, two interlocking curved forms, 1974.  .
Marks and Spencer.  This is on the site of the Hampstead Picture Playhouse which opened in 1914.  It closed in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War and, despite opening again, was closed in 1940 and re-opened in 1946 as the Hampstead Playhouse. It was taken over by the Classic Cinemas chain in 1965 and then re-named Classic Cinema  It was modernised in 1968 and frontage changed and then converted into a triple screen in 1978. In 1985 it was taken over by the Cannon Group and re-named Cannon. There was a bad fire in 1986 and in 1991 it became the MGM and in 1995 taken over by Virgin.  It went on to a management buy-out and was re-named ABC. It closed in 2000 following which it was used for illegal raves and squatters. It was then bought by the Royal Free Hospital and demolished. The new building has hospital staff accommodation as well as the shop.

The Belsize Tunnel and the Belsize New Tunnel run under much of this area, east/west. The first was built for the Midland Railway by William Barlow in 1865. It was duplicated in the 1880s. It lies between Kentish Town and West Hampstead Stations.

Rosslyn Hill
St. Stephen's. This was designed by S.S.Teulon as his most expensive project.  It opened in 1870 and was funded by local Lord of the Manor Thomas Maryon Wilson. It was constantly prone to subsidence from its hillside location and by the late 1960s there were real concerns. It was closed in 1977. It was not demolished because of its listed status and instead it was squatted. It has since been refurbished following fund raising appeals and is in use by Hampstead Hill School and as a community lifelong learning centre. It is also available for community and other events.

Rowland Hill Street
North Western  Hospital. The Metropolitan Asylums Board purchased part of the Bartram’s estate for its earliest smallpox and infectious diseases hospital.  Temporary wooden and corrugated iron huts were built in 1869 and the   Hampstead Smallpox Hospital opened in 1870. Nursing care was provided by the Anglican Sisters of St Margaret, from East Grinstead.  The Hospital closed when the epidemic subsided, but reopened for a smallpox epidemic later that year. Additional huts had to be built. There were complains about possible infection and the Hospital was closed in 1872.  the Hospital buildings were then used to accommodate mentally handicapped children until Darenth Park School was ready and permanent hospital was planned for the Hampstead site.  In 1876 another smallpox epidemic began and local residents took to the courts.  Following a Royal Commission in 1881 it was renamed the North-Western Fever Hospital, treating scarlet fever and diphtheria. Bartram House was sold to them who used it as a Nurses' Home.  More land was acquired and more wards and other blocks were built.  In 1930, control of the Hospital was transferred to the London County Council.  It joined the NHS and was renamed the North-Western Hospital and became a branch of the Royal Free Hospital then still in central London.  The first kidney transplants were performed here in the 1960s, as well as the development of home dialysis was pioneered here too. The North-Western Hospital was demolished in 1973 and its site was used to build the new Royal Free Hospital.
Convent by the Sisters of Providence of the Immaculate Conception bought part of Bartram’s in 1867. they opened a private boarding school for girls in Belle Vue house and an orphanage and day school for girls in Bartram House, A new block was added in 1887 – still in use as a school. The old house was demolished and a hostel with a chapel built
Bartram’s Residential Hostel
Bartram Park. This was a large house to the south of Bartram House. it was sold to Midland Railway Co in 1867,

Borer. Hampstead and Highgate
British History on line. Camden. Web site
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Camden History Review 
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Disused Stations. Web site
GLIAS  Newsletter, 
Hillman. London Under London
Historic England. Web site
Grace’s Guide. Web site
Leboff. The Underground Stations of Leslie Green
London Borough of Camden. Web site
London Gardens On line. Web site
London Remembers. Web site
Lost Hospitals of London. Web site
Parks and Gardens. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry.  London North
Pub History. Web site
Royal Free Hospital.  Web site
St.John's Church. Web site
Subterranea Britannica. Web site
Wade. Hampstead Past
Wikipedia. As appropriate


June said…
I attended Bartrams R.C. Primary School, as it was then known, from 1946 - 1950 It was my first school. The school, being funded by the old LCC, had to take pupils who were not RC.
I remember my first day, clutching my pennies as milk money. I was taken to the school gate by my grandfather who had carefully explained why I was being left and so on.
At 10.30 a.m. those pupils staying for school dinners were taken to be shown the dining room. I lived near enough to go home for lunch. I thought the others were actually going for food - so I went home. Naturally I had to be taken back to school until the proper time.
As rare treats we were taken to the grotto in the garden behind the school, no doubt the site of the Bartrams hostel built later on. At Christmas-time we were taken into the small house ( adjoining the shops) then housing for the nuns. The crypt of it had a Nativity scene set up for our visit.

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