The neighbourhood shopping street of Queen’s Crescent, built around 1865, opens out at the junction with Malden Road so as to invite people in- the space formed by the buildings is like a funnel. Unfortunately over the years the architectural detail of the original facades has been lost by haphazard development, and the original grandeur of the street diminished, although its original spatial qualities still exist, along with the kerb stones to the pavement.
Present day Queen’s Crescent is cut off from Malden Road by an accumulation of street ‘clutter’- an unnecessary amount of signage, railings and an automated toilet. The street is generally not well maintained: the buildings look dilapidated and facilities required for the functioning of the market (the electricity supply and gates) are often damaged and left unrepaired.
Consultation by Friends of Queen’s Crescent shows that people would like the appearance of the street to be improved, so that it does not look so neglected and untidy. It has been proposed that the street scene needs to be better managed as a setting for the market, and actively curated with interesting things going on, such as activities for children, and arts and crafts. The history of Queen’s Crescent could be celebrated, eg. as the birthplace of Sainsbury’s .
John Sainsbury’s second shop at 159 Queens Crescent.
No. 159 Queen’s Crescent was subsequently turned into a printing studio, run by Dorothea Wight from the late 1960s until 2011, and was visited by artists including Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and RB Kitaj. For three decades Studio Prints was effectively printer to the surviving ‘School of London’. Today various artistic endeavours in the neighbourhood offer the possibility of reinvigorating Queen’s Crescent.
The infrastructure of the street needs investment to allow flexibility for future development of the market and other commercial activities. The Good Growth funding obtained by Camden can hopefully be used to address some of these issues. The co-design process organised by Camden is starting this process with a series of proposed interventions, including making the entrance to Queen’s Crescent from Malden Road more welcoming.
At a more mundane level there are practical things that can be done to make a difference, for example providing protection to the electricity bollards so that they are not repeatedly damaged by vehicles. There are many low cost interventions that can be taken to improve the street facades: removal of redundant signs, and the selective repair and redecoration of walls that impact immediately on the experience of visitors to the market.
After a market day the street is swept clean, given a wash and brush up, and Queen’s Crescent feels renewed.