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History and background

History of the area around Craven Hill Gardens

For a general history to the area, refer to the excellent material on the Corringham website (from which this paragraph is based).

In 1733 William 3rd Baron Craven bought Upton Farm with its 9 acres of land in the common fields of Bayswater. He replaced the farm with a large house and accompanying grounds, ponds and buildings, the construction of which were permitted provided that in the event of another plague, the buildings would be converted to a hospital. This estate was passed as whole through the family until 1825 when it was divided amongst the heirs of William 7th Baron Craven. These parts were then variously developed and/or sold in tandem with the growth and development of the surrounding area, what was referred to as a "great aristocratic town" during the mid to late 1800's. During this period Whiteley's grew as a luxurious shopping destination (although the present building was not completed until 1911), and both Paddington Station and the Underground were introduced into the area.

Also worth reading (in this order):

Various historical materials relating to the area

John Cary's "Actual Survey of the Country Fifteen Miles Around London on a Scale of One Inch to One Mile" was one of the first London maps, and "The area including Hampstead, Kensington, Paddington and Hammersmith in 1786" shows the location of Craven Hill.

Later, Christopher and John Greenwood's "Map of London ... from an Actual Survey made in the years 1824, 1825 and 1826" reveals in the "Detail of area south of Westbourne Green and north of Hyde Park" further developments on Cravenhill Lane, which appears to co-incide with the modern day Leinster Terrace.

Colton's "The Environs of London" from 1855 clearly shows the increased development on the north side of Hyde Park around Craven Hill Gardens.

Photographs portray the Construction of the Metropolitan District Railway around Craven Hill and Craven Hill Gardens in 1867-68. The 'cut and cover' technique was used, requiring roads to be dug up.

Charles Booth's "Poverty Map of London" published in 1889 clearly shows that the streets of and around Craven Hill Gardens are coloured green for "Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy".

The Pocket Atlas & Guide to London of 1900 reveals in Section VI, what could easily be mistaken for a contemporary map, although some detail around Craven Hill Gardens is elided.

The following two postcards from around 1908 and around 1910 show firstly a view along Craven Hill Gardens to Inverness Terrace (looking at where the Hempel is presently located) and secondly a view east down Craven Hill Gardens (taken in the location aside where Corringham is presently located).

From the London Transport Museum's photographic collection is an image of "Four storey building at 42 Craven Hill Gardens, near to where the Circle line runs", from 1934, looking to the east.

History of the building(s) at 38 to 41 Craven Hill Gardens

Prior to the present building (to 1971)

It is unclear when the Craven estate gave way to townhouses, but an estimate based upon dated maps and dates in other materials, suggests the 1840s at the latest. Records show individuals who lived on the property in the late 1800s, a random sampling of which includes Mr Hodding (Proceedings of the Royal Horticultural Society of 1861), George Turnbull (List of Members - Institution of Civil Engineers, 1867), Admiral Robert Hall C.B. (Journal of the Royal Geographic Society, 1871), Miss Anderson (Charitable Ten Thousand of 1896), Gregor McGregor (Royal Blue Book: Fashionable Directory and Parliamentary Guide of 1903), John Kennedy, Inspector General of Hospitals (Medical Press and Circular of 1880).

It appears that after WW2, the property was owned by the St Clement Danes Holborn Estate Charity. Records from the charity relating to the property are held in the City of Westminster Archives Centre and access has been requested but not yet granted. There seems to have been turmoil in the charity in the early 1970's which coincides with the sale of the property and the construction of the present building, but more evidence is needed to confirm this.

The City of Westminster Planning Team holds detailed records relating to the property, and they provide some insight into the post WW2 period.

The property had been "under requisition for housing purposes" by Paddington Council since 1944, but the basements remained empty and unsuitable for living accommodation as a result of dampness and insufficient light. In April and July 1952, applications were made to use the basements at No. 38 and No. 39 as storage, referring to the basements as having been released from requisition because of their unsuitability for living accommodation. The applications were refused as inappropriate and undesirable. In the correspondence, the property was described as a "terrace premises with basement ground and four floors over", stating that floors other than basement were occupied for residential use.

In November 1958, an application was made to use the basements as offices, but refused on grounds that the premises are in an area zoned for residential purposes. In this application the property is described as having been previously used as a hotel, presumably prior to its requisition. The decision was appealed but in September 1969 the Minister of Housing and Local Government upheld the refusal.

In September 1960, an application was permitted for the "3rd and 4th floors of 38 for use as a students hostel and alterations in connection with". It is unclear what occurred in the years following this, but correspondence in 1969 addressed to "Charles Deane Productions Ltd" at No. 39 shows that the medical officer was not happy with the building, reminding Mr Deane of its enforcement powers. A letter sent on 14th September 1969 is titled "Hill Court, 38 to 41 Craven Hill Gardens, Hyde Park W1", and the author Charles Deane writes to say that the Court Youth Trust are ready to rebuild the premises to make them one of London's finest youth hostels.

Construction and lease of the present building (1971 to 1976/1977)

In March 1971, an application for a "Redevelopment of the sites of Nos. 38/42 Craven Hill Gardens, 18/22 Craven Hill and 9/12 Craven Hill Mews, W.2. by the erection of a building of ground, part 5 and part 6 floors over for use as a hotel with basement car park and ground and three floor over to form 12 self-contained flats". This application was refused on four grounds, all generally citing the negative impact to the residential atmosphere and character of the area.

The application itself was very detailed, with multiple drawings showing different layouts. In one, the area adjacent to No. 41 was the location of a driveway and circular entrance to a car park. The simplified site plan for the proposals is illustrated in the following drawing [Larger size: 1868x1254, 285KB]. The development was later involved in a Westminster City Council scandal blown up through the media.

In June 1971, Verilo Securities Ltd wrote to Westminster City Council indicating that they were considering purchasing the property and wanted to look at any available detail.

In October 1971, an application was made by Daracain Properties Ltd (20 Piccadilly, W1V) for the "Erection of new rear additions and new fifth floor" for 38 to 41 Craven Hill Gardens. This was refused on three grounds, citing overdevelopment, loss of light, and a design not commensurate with the architectural character of the building.

In April 1972, Seventies Property Investments Ltd writes to confirm that it has acquired the property from Hartcombe Estates and that architects Northwest Eight Design Associates (123 Park Road, NW8) is taking it on, with Parkway Design Partnership no longer the architects [this is unclear, because it seems Hartcombe Estates did retain ownership]. In the same month, an application for "The erection of a new fifth floor and back additions and conversion of Nos 38/41 Craven Hill Gardens into 44 Self-contained flats and maisonettes" was approved for development on conditions around external finishes and fixings.

This work appears to have begun, and in October 1972 it was reported that the front wall is being taken down due to its dangerous and dilapidated condition, but measurements and photographic survey were being made and the original mouldings were being taken.

In November 1972, an application was submitted for the "Redevelopment of Nos. 38-41 Craven Hill Gardens W2 by the erection of a basement and six storey building for use as 44 self-contained flats and maisonettes". This was approved for development on conditions around the facade to be approved by the council. Complications ensued and in March 1973 problems arose concerning retention of the facade and application was made for its demolition and building in replica. The works for this were complicated because of vibrations resulting from the building of a basement swimming pool at a property in Craven Hill Mews.

In July 1973, Hartcombe Estate Ltd (1/3 St Pauls Churchyard EC3) writes to confirm that total demolition had taken place. Later that month, confirmation is received from A.W. Rogers the Architect that the facade will be restored to its original appearance to match No. 36 and No. 37. In September 1973, an application is made, and conditionally approved for, "Alterations to the rear elevation of the building in course of erection at 38/41 Craven Hill Gardens W2".

On 17 December 1973, permission for the current building (based upon drawings from March and October 1973) was granted.

In July 1974, comes confirmation of a reduction from 44 to 36 units is to take place: there will be four maisonettes with 3 bedrooms, four flats with 2 to 3 bedrooms, twelve flats with 2 bedrooms, and sixteen flats with 1 bedroom for a gross floor area of 2550 sqm. The applicant was Seventies Property Investments Ltd (123 Park Road NW8) using architects of Archinta (2 Needham Road W11 2RR).

In September 1974, Archinta write to confirm that the main structure completed, but internal finishes etc are not yet complete.

In June 1976 the developer apparently collapsed and sold leases, leaving the mortgagee, Barclays Bank Limited, to complete development.

On 19 August 1976, a completion notice was issued, as certified by the District Surveyor.

The original leases for the flats are dated 25th March 1976 (describing a Legal Charge dated 1st February 1972 between Hartcombe Estates Limited and Barclays Bank Limited as registered on 21st April 1972), and the planning files contain numerous letters from across 1977 by buyers' solicitors requesting confirmation that the property had met planning consents.

The stranglehold period before acqusition of freehold (1976/1977 to 2000)

Various correspondence appears in the Westminster City Council planning file over the years, but none of it of note. Several owners of flats write to clarify whether certain works require planning consent. There was one enforcement investigation in January 1992 regarding an alleged use of No. 41a by an escort service.

Acquisition of the title to the present building (2000 to present)

The title to the property was acquired by 38/41 CHG RESIDENTS CO LTD in 2000, and the original 99 year leases (dating from 25th March 1976) were made convertible to 999 year leases (dating from 25th December 2000). Of the 36 flats in the building, a total of 34 own a share of the freehold and thus have a direct influence on the management of the property, and a total of 30 have made the conversion to a long lease. Barley Chambers (103a Westbourne Grove W2) were appointed managing agents.

On 1st August 2009, F.W. Gapp (91-95 Campden Hill Road W8) took over as appointed managing agents and their address also becomes the registered office of the limited company. The directors intend to charge F.W. Gapp to take forward a program of maintenance and improvements.