Our history


This cartoon, drawn by Peter Pilkington, appeared in the 1979 Newsletter as a warning to property speculators to beware of the power of the Pembridge Association.


Historical background

The area covered by the Pembridge Ward was built on during the three decades between 1840 and 1870. An article in the Pembridge Association Newsletter in 1979 by Dr John Hayward, a noted historian, said that “the houses represent the style of a country which exercised a dominating influence throughout the world. That style was determined by the attempt to combine grandeur with economy of means. The facades, though constructed of stock brick, are covered with stucco, rusticated to imitate stonework, and are completed with complex mouldings, window frames, friezes and cornices”.

Francis Radford, a builder from Bayswater, was only 27 when he first leased part of the Robert Hall estate to the north of Notting Hill Gate. A year later he was joined by his brother, William, and the two became one of the most successful of the many groups of builders who developed North Kensington during the nineteenth century.

Pembridge Square was built between 1856 and 1864, partly by imported Italian workmen, and Francis Radford was himself likely to have been the architect. The central garden was laid out rapidly and was fully planted by 1865 and surrounded by heavy iron railings; a Garden Trust was set up in the same year to look after it. At his death in 1978, at the age of 97, William Irving (1881-1978) was the last of the seven trustees of the Garden who had been appointed in 1953. He had sent a sealed letter to the Pembridge Association in 1976 with instructions that it was not to be opened until after his death. The letter was opened by Councillor David Campion, the then Chairman of the Pembridge Association. Mr Irving had written: “The garden should continue to be maintained as an ornamental “oasis” for the relaxation of authorised users, considered now to be more important than ever, having regard to the increasing speed, noise and stress of London life”. He asked the Pembridge Association and the Kensington Society to give “what assistance and support may be necessary” for the Trust Deed to be amended by the High Court to make it workable in present day conditions. Ultimately, with the support of the Council, the Garden Square was brought under the control of the Kensington Improvement Act which allowed the raising of a “garden rate” to pay for the maintenance.

Conservation area designation

The Pembridge Conservation Area was one of the earliest to be designated within the Royal Borough, in January 1969, under the Civic Amenities Act 1967.

The initial designation covered Pembridge Gardens, Pembridge Square, Pembridge Crescent, Chepstow Villas, Pembridge Villas, Dawson Place, Pembridge Place and the West side of Chepstow Place.

Linden Gardens, Clanricarde Gardens, the west side of Ossington Street, part of Pembridge Road and Portobello Road (up to Chepstow Villas) were added in November 1974.

Denbigh Terrace was added in October 1977.

Notting Hill Gate (North side), between Pembridge Gardens and Clanricarde Gardens, was added in July 1982. Subsequently, Denbigh Road and Westbourne Grove (both sides between Colville Road and Ledbury Road) and Ledbury Road (between Chepstow Villas and Westbourne Grove) were added to form the more complete conservation area that exists today.

Boundary of area

The area is bounded by Notting Hill Gate in the south, Pembridge/Portobello Road in the west, Denbigh Terrace/Westbourne Grove in the north, and Chepstow Place/Ossington Street in the east.
Pembridge Conservation Area map

Conservation area policy statement

The Council’s Conservation Area Policy Statement (No. 4) (known as the CAPS) for the Pembridge Conservation Area was produced in 1969. It sets out the factors which led to the designation of the area as a conservation area and the statutory provisions and Council policies by which it is hoped they may be conserved.

It draws attention to the danger that the distinctive character of the area could all too quickly be eroded by careless alterations, both large and small, and also by lack of repair and maintenance to the buildings.

Possibilities for improvements, extensions and alterations have been defined in the Statement for guidance to householders wishing to improve their properties.

The Statement indicates that it is hoped there will be a better appreciation of the historic character which it is sought to enhance.

The Pembridge Association

The inaugural meeting of the Pembridge Association was held in St Peter’s Church Hall on 12th October 1972 attended by 125 residents. Alan Greengross was elected as the first Chairman, Peter Pilkington as Hon. Treasurer and Simon Linton as Hon. Secretary. In 1975, the Rev. Douglas Richardson (the then Vicar of St Peter’s) was elected as Chairman and Peter Chapman took over as Hon. Secretary when Simon Linton moved to a new job in Dubai. In 1978 Tim de Zoete was Hon. Treasurer and John Hayward the Hon. Secretary. In 1979 Douglas Richardson left the parish and was succeeded as Chairman by David Campion. Since that time there have been a number of chairmen including John Croft (1985), David Hales (1987 and 1995), William Clarke (1990), Vicky Butler (1997), David Campion (2002) and Richard Payne (2016).


The first Pembridge Association newsletter was produced in the Spring of 1973. That edition of the Newsletter recorded that this was the year during which the residents parking scheme was introduced and the Gaumont Cinema (formerly the Coronet) was listed following a public meeting held in the Town Hall attended by over 700 people.

The newsletters from 2000 onwards are held on our website in the Newsletter archive under Downloads and can be viewed with any PDF viewer; free examples are Adobe Acrobat Reader and Nitro PDF Reader.

Other milestones

In 1979 the underground lavatories in Westbourne Grove were closed and a poor replacement added at ground level which was roundly condemned by the Association. It was John Scott who commissioned the architect, Piers Gough, to design the present “Turquoise Island” building that has been much admired as a replacement.

Updated 15 Aug 2018


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