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Tolmers Village

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An urban community in West Euston, with Tolmers Square in its south-west corner. The square was laid out with housing from 1861 to 1864 on land belonging to the New River Company, and named after a Hertfordshire hamlet near the river’s source. The properties were built to a standard that was designed to attract the middle classes, but with its close proximity to Euston station this was an irredeemably poor area, and the homes were soon subdivided for multiple occupation. By 1871 5,000 people were crammed into a twelve-acre area, which continued to evolve in a piecemeal fashion with many properties undergoing several changes of use. The square’s Congregational church became a cinema in 1923. Greeks and Cypriots came here after the Second World War, followed a few years later by the first Asians, who began to open restaurants on Drummond Street. From the late 1950s the neighbourhood attracted the interest of property developers who saw the potential for the replacement of houses with offices, and residents began a long campaign of resistance. In the early 1970s the struggle to save Tolmers Village – as it was dubbed – became a cause célèbre with the left, and students from nearby University College joined with squatters and trade unionists in resisting evictions. The activists failed to prevent the destruction of much of the original housing, but succeeded in persuading Camden council to compulsorily purchase the site from the property company Stock Conversion. Plans to construct half a million square feet of office space were abandoned and Tolmers Square was rebuilt with council flats and a Young’s pub.
click for area map (opens in a new window)
Tolmers Square today is stupendously dull

Postal district: NW1
Further reading: Nick Wates, The Battle for Tolmers Square, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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