Malden Road has a history as an important contributor to the economic, cultural and religious life of Gospel Oak and West Kentish Town. A main route into the centre of London- the B517- it was once lined with shops, small businesses, a cinema, school, two churches, public library and numerous pubs. It has operated tramlines and bus routes for 140 years- the 24 bus is part of the ecology of the neighbourhood.
Malden Road looking north from Prince of Wales Road, early 1900s
Malden Road, 1910, at the junction with Modbury Street (where Cheriton is now)
Malden Road 1958
St Andrew’s church, demolished 1953
In 1861 Cardinal Wiseman invited the Dominicans to establish a major Roman Catholic Centre here. St Dominic’s Priory, opened in 1883, still terminates Malden Road.
Procession, Malden Road, 2017
The library at no. 43 Malden Road, 1946- 1967
The Newberry Arms, 1965
Unfortunately much of Malden Road’s economic diversity was lost when the area was comprehensively redeveloped by Camden Council in the 1960s- 1970s. Wendling estate, at the north of the road, and and Southfleet estate at the south provided no replacement commercial space and became 100% residential. A small amount of commercial space is provided at the base of Leysdown and Cheriton, but this is miserly compared with what was lost. The shops and businesses that remain just north of Prince of Wales Road, on the west side south of St. Dominic’s Priory and on Southampton Road (linking Malden Road with Fleet Road) are under constant threat of change-of-use to residential and need support.
East side of Malden Road just north of Prince of Wales Road
West side of Malden Road north of Queen’s Crescent
The Gypsy Queen, Leverton’s funeral parlour and Sharp’s Fishing tackle shop (nos.162-166 Malden Road)
Aerial view of Wellesley Road Care Home and Bacton estate redevelopment site in relation to Malden Road
The redevelopment of Bacton estate and the Wellesley Road old people’s home was an opportunity to recreate a meaningful connection with Malden Road, unfortunately missed: these have been redeveloped on the same footprint with no improvement to the road layout or connection with Malden Road.
The Court Services station, the site of the Court Cinema
Wellesey Road Care Home
The regeneration of Wendling estate is another opportunity to reinvigorate Malden Road, by reintroducing commercial and retail uses, and reconnecting the interior of the urban block with a public face to the street. It is interesting to think how this could be achieved with a retrofit scheme. At present it its Camden’s preference to demolish the estate and start again. However, this may not be the best solution for the residents of the estate who appreciate the quality of their existing homes. Whether new-build or retrofit, the regeneration of Wendling estate can make a better contribution to the urban design of the area.
Unfortunately Camden does not have a strategy for Malden Road and it is continually neglected, subject to poor quality planning decisions such as the underground flat with no light at no. 2 Malden Road, the Wellesley Road Care Home, the new build housing at the corner of Golden Crescent with no gardens or outdoor space, and illustrated most recently by the poorly built development no. 3 Malden Road. Where is the vision for Malden Road?