Regents Park Estate, 2011, Nicobobinus

Regents Park Estate


A town should be for a citizen what a country estate is for a rich man: a pleasant place to walk in. A council apartment should be to a citizen what a urban mansion is to a rich man: a pleasant place to live.

The tower blocks in Regents Park Estate have been called rabbit hutches.

Regent’s Park Estate: A Toff, A Soldier and an Immigrant

The white stucco villas at the northern tip of Regent’s Park Estate provide a slightly surreal environ, all Venetian like, in this leafy part of London, east of Regent’s Park. Whilst there are only two streets worth - in Park Village East and Park Village West – walking amongst the villas is an endearing experience and will have you wishing the architectural style would turn into a devastating contagion and gobble up the dull streets of Camden, forming an Italian mini-state in north central London.

In contrast the southern part of Regent’s Park Estate is a variety of colourful council flats, laid over the landscape like an assortment of giant wafer biscuits. The inhabitants of the southern parts of the estate are immigrants with huge families, drug addicts, the unemployed and chain smoking, string vest wearing, working classes.

I like the cleanliness, orderliness and wealth of the northern tip, but the character of the southern part.

Separating the rich from the poor, the stucco from the council flat, deterring the working class bully from shaking the pennies out of the young schoolboy toff, is Regent’s Park army barracks. The barracks dominate the upper part of Albany Street, a sterile beeline to central London, reminding us of how the shape of our so-called civilised society is held together by the threat of a well tooled aggressor, rarely seen in its own land, but more familiar through its human right atrocities and aggression in lands thousands of miles away. I once saw a soldier waiting for a bus at a bus stop on Albany Street. He was dressed in his kit, big green army socks tucked into his big black boots, his proud composure, his attention to every detail, his sense of pride in his achievement in controlling those very few things his mind could grasp, contrasting with the every day slouch of the mooching civilian.

Interestingly, in 1970 the Albany Street barracks were the target of a successful bombing campaign, apparently launched by a collection of people, who called themselves The Angry Brigade. a group who were reportedly inspired by the American invasion of Vietnam in the late 1960s, and the protest which took place in Grosvenor Square in 1968.

Mental Health Problems, an Ostentatious Prince, and a Bankrupt Architect

The making of Regent’s Park Estate involved a regal dose of mental health problems, several spoonfuls of ostentation from a self-aggrandising Prince, a bankrupt architect and the development of the New Road. The estate’s development took shape at the end of the eighteenth century when King George III began to develop mental health problems, exacerbated by the death of his daughter, and compounded by cataracts and rheumatoid arthritis. The King’s failing health precipitated the throne being handed to his son, who went on to become King George IV, but who, whilst his father was alive, was known as the Prince Regent. The Prince Regent was an ostentatious leader with a desire for lascivious living. He didn’t mind exacting the labour of the poor for the glorification of his friends and himself. During his reign the Prince Regent announced plans for the development of a part of London which stretched from his home in the Mall all the way up to what was then known as Mary Le Bone Park (Lovell and Marcham, 1943).

John Nash, a government architect in the Woods and Forests Department was awarded a grant of one thousand pounds to complete the Prince’s work. Nash would have been glad of the opportunity having failed in his first attempts at architecture and having then gone on to squander an inheritance on bad investments. He drew up an architectural plan called ‘the Regency Metropolitan Improvements’. Mary Le Bone Park, previously used for grazing, was converted into a royal park and renamed Regent’s Park. Nash, knowing that Regent’s Park was one of a number of areas in north London opened up to residential development by the building of a northern circular which is today called Euston Road, set about creating a new urban village, a ‘garden city for the aristocracy’ around the park. The development of Regent’s Park estate included properties built on the Inner and Outer Circles of Regent’s Park, two Park Villages consisting of smaller houses in Gothic and Italian styles. However Nash was also keen to build housing for the workers who would service the aristocrats. He built a street full of workmen’s cottages in Augustus Street and Munster Square in central Regent Park’s Estate.

Nash’s work was groundbreaking; he rejected the contemporaneous trend of uniform terraced housing and squares and became the first to situate single detached houses amongst park settings in an urban environment. He was, in effect, the inventor of the suburb.

The privilege granted Nash to develop Regent’s Park and its surrounds seemed to provoke a great deal of envy from his contemporaries. His work was heavily criticised, by the Duke of Wellington in particular. It would seem that contemporary criticism of Nash’s designs sometimes led Nash to withdrawing and changing his plans. According to Rob Humphreys and Judith Bamber writing in the Rough Guide to London: “Fifty-two statues depicting British worthies were planned for the façade of Chester Terrace, but Nash decided the ridicule they provoked was “painful to the ears of a professional man” and ditched them.”

In 1830 Nash’s sponsor, King George IV died and Nash lost some of his commission, most significantly the job of converting Buckingham House to Buckingham Palace. Nash died five years later in 1835. It has been said that the Victorians despised his work. Even today criticism abounds, the Crown Estate, which manages a lot of Regent’s Park Estate claim, “To an extent Nash's architecture represented grandeur on the cheap. The spectacular frontages with their columns, statues and pediments were merely stucco. Even his classical facades, to a purist, showed inattention to detail. The structure behind was all stock brick and thin deals like any other London terrace.” Nevertheless John Nash is for many an inspiration and whilst controversial retains the respect and admiration of many lovers of architecture today. There is no shortage of buyers for his properties; in 2007 one of his properties in Park Village West went for six million pounds.

Cast of John Nash, All Souls Church London, Mark Massey

Park Village

Outside of Regent’s Park itself and situated in what is today known as Regent’s Park Estate, Park Village East and Park Village West are the remaining legacy of the contributions that Nash made to the Regent’s Park Estate. Park Village East was built in 1820, a long tree lined street which stretches from the centre of the estate to the northern tip. Today it has more than just Nash villas running alongside it, there is a range of affluent looking flats, which move southwards from the middle of the street and merge into the Council estate of central and southern Regent’s Park (Southworth and Ben-Joseph). The eastern side of Park Village East, including fifty Nash villas, was torn down at the beginning of the twentieth century to make way for the London and Birmingham railway, which terminates at Euston Street. As a result Park Village East has a peculiar lob sided feel to it with posh residences on the west side and a large wall with creepers growing over it on the right.

In contrast to the large stretch that is Park Village East Park Village West is a little enclave of opulence curled into a horse shoe shaped road, off Albany Street. The street takes you into its bosom and for the five minutes that it takes to walk around you can stare in awe at the grandeur of the windows, the airiness and magnificence of the rooms, the way in which the verdant foliage tickles the pure white skin of the houses, and the way in which the luxury cars parked outside the villas purr with contentment.

Horse's head, Park Village East, Pete Riches

Porsche parked in Park Village West, Ravish London

Park Village West, An Enclave of Opulence, Jamie Barras

Park Village East, Opulence Leading to Estate, Pete Riches

Cumberland Arm of the Regent's Canal

Originally Park Village West and Park Village East were constructed either side of the Cumberland Basin Arm of the Regent’s Canal, a cul-de-sac terminating in central Regent’s Park Estate at Cumberland Market. The canal, built in 1816, serviced the market and the barracks. According to Wikipedia the canal had proved to be a very efficient means of bringing in stone to the Cumberland Basin and a number of monumental masonry and statuary businesses had sprung up in the Euston Road to take advantage of this. However, the advent of the railways, which bought coal into London, meant that by the 1850s, a major part of the business which travelled along the canal had disappeared. Wikipedia reports that, “Although still in use the Regent’s Canal carried less and less until by the 1850s the Cumberland Basin was described as “no better than a stagnant putrid ditch”. Cholera spread through the families of men who were employed on the barges and in the wharves around it and took hold in the overcrowded neighbourhood.”

The canal was used to supply military hardware to the barracks between Woolwich Arsenal and the Barracks. By the beginning of World War II the business in and around the canal had fallen into decline, and a decision was taken to damn and drain off the Cumberland arm. The canal was used to deposit rubble from buildings damaged during the bombings, and to bury a number of old barges, the remains of which are found from time to time. The canal was covered with a layer of top soil and is now used as an allotment.

Gloucester Gate Bridge, which opened in 1878 conveying traffic over the canal, still stands as a ghostly reminder of the presence of the canal. The junction of the two canals, known as Cumberland Basin still exists. Here a bizarre oversized floating Chinese restaurant barge is situated. One website states of the restaurant that ‘Its canal-less style and patently oversized upper structure would tip over if it were not for the addition of support struts to stabilise the whole thing”.

Cumberland Market remains only in name denoting the residential square built after World War II upon which the market was once situated. The market area was laid with cobblestones, which were still present in 2008, although plans were afoot to replace them with grass. In the early fifties the Crown Commissioners sold Munster Square, Clarence Gardens and Cumberland Market to St Pancras Borough Council for the building of social housing. The market was in operation until the 1920s selling hay and straw.

Gloucester Gate, which the Cumberland Arm of the Regents Canal once ran beneath, Ravish London

Chinese restaurant at Cumberland Basin, Regents Canal, Myopic Fish

Augustus Street Allotment - where the Cumberland Branch of Regents Canal once stood, now a burial ground for barges and a one time source of cholera in the city, Pete Riches

Albany Street

Albany Street is a long road which starts at the north eastern tip of Regent’s Park and makes a beeline for central London ending at Euston Road. Its northern length is dominated by Barracks and buildings belonging to the Crown Estate. The street was constructed in the 1820s as part of Nash’s development of the area, and is named after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, the younger brother of King George IV.

Albany Street plays host to Christ Church, which was consecrated in 1837 and designed by James Pennethorne, who worked under James Nash. It has since become a Greek Orthodox Church and is now called St George’s Cathedral. Britain’s most influential twentieth century writer, George Orwell had his funeral service here. The British History Online has a photograph of the church in 1949 where it appears white. Pollution has since infused the surface brickwork with browns and grey.

There is a second church in the areas, known as St Mary Magdalene Church, consecrated in 1852, which was originally the daughter church of Christ Church.

Albany Street, Ravish London

Mary Magdalene, Munster Square, Chris Goddard

Mary Magdalene, Munster Square, John Clarke

Post-war development of Regent’s Park Estate

Following the end of World War II, much of the housing built by Nash had fallen into disrepair. During the twentieth century, across London, post-war developers had a murderous desire to erase the architectural feats of the early nineteenth century. In Regent’s Park a battle was waged between those who wanted to save the legacy of Nash and those who wanted to replace it with a utopian vision of high rise functionalism. John Betjeman, poet laureate at the time, raised an army of civil servants and politicians to preserve a whole range of buildings including St Pancras Train Station and Nash’s estate. Betjeman and his ‘depressives’ as they were disparagingly called by the new wave of architects, were successful in saving a large part of Nash’s legacy. Nevertheless a number of terraced houses built by Nash, originally built for workers, but which had fallen into disrepair over the war period, and which were said to be built on flimsy foundations, were knocked down to make way for social housing. The central and southern parts of Regent’s Park Estate, being constituted of social housing, were designed for the common people, from whose number many had died in sacrifice during the war. Being built during a time of rationed building materials, the new buildings were in stark contrast to what had preceded them.

Since the 1950s the estate has played host to the working classes, immigrant families and a collection of unsavoury types. Regent’s Park Estate also spawned Flowered Up, an avant-garde psychedelic flower power group from the late 1980s, who produced the anthem ‘Weekender’. According to Simon Reynolds, the group's name was a metaphor for youthful idealism struggling up through the cracked paving stones of the urban wasteland.

Flowered Up a band from Regents Park Estate; whose name was chosen to represent youthful idealism struggling up through the cracked paving stones of the urban wasteland; Regents Park Estate, Ravish London

Regent’s Park Estate: it doesn’t inspire Sarah McConnell

Regent’s Park Estate has been subject to insults. Some people say the flats there are like rabbit hutches. Sarah McConnell writing for The Times calls the estate’s architecture uninspiring. She sneers at the irony of naming many of the flats after Lake District beauty spots. She goes on to talk about the contrast between the Council estate and the ‘lovely white painted cottages’ of Park Village East. Nash’s villas were built for aristocrats, today his villas can trade for up to six million pounds a piece, the social housing of Regent’s Park estate are for people who are surviving from day to day. What is the point that McConnell is trying to make here? That the social housing of working class people should not be situated within walking distance of the aristocratic suburbs?

Of course, it would have been more appropriate for McConnell to have compared Regent’s Park Estate, with other such estates, built for the working classes, but if this article is anything to go by the readership of the The Times are, in their insecurity and fear, more into subtle denigrations of the working classes than they are interested in the realities of working class lives.

There is a certain beauty to the flats in Regents Park Estate. In some places it is aesthetically pleasing, although in others it is, frankly, drab and depressing. McConnell fails to note the beautiful two toned sky blue colours of Langdale. It is a real treat to look at, its blues contrasting beautifully with a smooth cloudy white or grey sky or resonating with a crystal clear blue day. Taking a walk through the estate is like taking a walk through some kind of abstract art exhibition at the Tate Modern.

The most important issue is whether people enjoy living in Regent’s Park Estate, and on that I know very little, for very little is said.

Until 2007, a drugs business, operated across Camden, was administered from an apartment in Waterhead flats in Regents Park Estate. The Camden New Journal reported that the gang of dealers operating from the flat ‘sold crack and heroin to queues of drug addicts at bus stops and on estates across Camden until police launched an undercover operation to break up the supply line’. The paper reported that in a raid that the police carried out on the flat in 2007, “the man in the flat at the time of the raid was reported to have spat out a total of 40-plus wraps of heroin and cocaine after a police officer punched him in the face”. The trial concluded with the gang leader going down for nine years.

Regents Park estate is not to everyone's taste, J@ck!

Sky blue colours of Langdale, J@ck!

Is there any beauty in the Council Estate?Jamie Barras

Regents Park Estate, Ravish London

Regents Park Estate, Ravish London

Development of Camden and the Regents Park Area

Accounts of the development of Camden and Regents Park suggest that in the nineteenth century the arrival of the railways transformed the area; from a pleasant middle class area to an urban hell hole, where every last building was shoved to the rafters with poor labourers. Wikipedia points out that, “The growth of the railway network and the opening of Euston Station in 1837 caused enormous upheaval and was one of the factors that led to the rapid decline of the area. Bringing in “noise, dirt, Irish navvies, and semi-itinerant railway workers”[13] Charles Dickens likened the railway works cutting their way through Camden Town to a “great earthquake”. More industry developed in the area than was originally planned as factories began to spring up near the canal and railway and this put even more pressure on land for housing. Houses that were originally built for middle class families were taken over by incomers. The terraces of Mornington Crescent and Arlington Road, for example, were ideal for multi occupation for as many as nine or ten people could be accommodated in each.” Wikipedia also reports that by 1852 the Midland Railway was transporting around a fifth of the total coal to London through both Euston and King’s Cross.

Furthermore in 1868 some 4,000 houses were demolished in the area to the east of Cumberland Market to make way for the new St Pancras Station in 1868. As many as 32,000 people were displaced, most with no form of compensation. By the late nineteenth century a dramatic social divide had developed in this part of London with Cumberland Market in the middle. Just over one hundred metres to the west were the wealthy occupants of Nash’s Chester Terrace while a short distance to the east were areas characterised by Charles Booth, the social commentator, as being occupied by the very poor, of those in “chronic want”.This divide is evident today, in 2011.

The Midlands Railway cut its way through Regents Park Estate bringing poor labourers into the area in the 1830s, Tig

The Crown Estate

The Crown Estate, one of the largest property owners in the United Kingdom, owns great swathes of Regent’s Park Estate. But fear not thinking that the gains from these estates merely prop up the Royal Family and allow Prince Harry to spend lavish amounts of money renting out Nazi commander suits for his public school boy get ups. In the late eighteenth century King George III surrendered the Crown Estate to Parliament and the surplus revenue from the Estate is paid each year to the HM Treasury. So, the Crown Estate, which sounds like the administering office for a royal land grab, is actually the vanguard for what we would call, if it was going on in an eastern European country, communism. The Crown Estate states “We have two main objectives: to benefit the taxpayer by paying the revenue from our assets directly to the Treasury; and to enhance the value of the estate and the income it generates.” Part of the Crown Estate includes the army barracks which are situated on the site of the old Cumberland Branch of the Regent’s Canal.

Chester Terrace

Chester Terrace comprises 42 residential homes in the better off northern part of the Regent’s Park Estate, bordering the eastern side of Regents Park. At each side of the terrace is a Corinthian arch; the northern arch containing a bust of architect John Nash. According to Mouse Price, in 2008, Chester Terrace was one of the more expensive parts of Camden with house prices being on average over six hundred thousand pounds.

Chester Terrace, Ravish London

Regents Place

To the south of Regent’s Park Estate sits an area of land which is being developed into a semi-corporate, semi-gentrified area called Regent’s Place. Regent’s Place was formerly part of the Crown Estate, but is now under the ownership of British Land, a massive property development and investment company.

The bunch of high rise tower blocks erected by British Land reflect off each other, distorting each others’ images, as if they were a gaggle of ugly sisters all trying to do the other one down. What has already been built at Regents Place is dull and uninspiring, a microcosm of the most uninspiring architecture from the City of London or Canary Wharf.

Already developed, Triton Square “opens to the sun and the south but it is engulfed by noise from the Euston Road and battered by gusting winds generated by the high buildings” The Square provides a chance for the soft skinned fleshy business animals, who work in the nearby office blocks, to relieve themselves of their glass and concrete shells for a half hour or so – and bathe in the grey skies of London and pollution of Euston Road. The animals sit on the bum high walls, engage in an uneasy rest and drift into a meditative state; which the bland taste of their sandwiches does little to interrupt. The animals dissociate momentarily from the neuroses of office based life, from the heady brew of anxiety, focus, survival, meetings and spreadsheets. Zombie like, munching on their take away sandwiches, they re-fuel, numb, preparing to get back into the machine, to do battle once again – busy making money for people. Triton Square has been called a ‘popular 24-hour attraction and destination’. You’re having a laugh. Tiananmen Square is visually dramatic – all the more so when hundreds of protestors are being shot to death by the Chinese mafia – but Triton Square is nothing like that. Triton Square is so lacking in drama – that some people barely find the motivation to direct their lunch time sandwiches to their mouths.

The development of Regents Place, Ravish London

The development of Regents Place, Anders Sandburg


  • St Marks, Regents Park Estate, London.
  • Crown Estate, Regents Park, London.
  • Google overview map of Regents Park Estate.
  • Regents Park History.
  • 'Marylebone Park and Regent's Park, east side', Survey of London: volume 19: The parish of St Pancras part 2: Old St Pancras and Kentish Town (1938), pp. 96. URL: Date accessed: 25 December 2008.
  • Graham Stewart; Modern architects try to dodge the wrecking ball; Past Notes: New brutalism faces the same fate as Georgian terraces, The Times, June 7th 2008.
  • Simon Reynolds, Generation Ecstasy: Into the World of Techno and Rave Culture, Published by Routledge, 1999
  • London Ancestor on Regents Park Estate
  • Park Village East, Regent's Park; Drawn by Tho. H. Shepherd; Engraved by W. Radcliff; Published Jan. 17, 1829, by Jones & Co.Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Square, London.
  • Park Village East in Camden.
  • Frank Auerbach sketch of Park Village East.
  • Michelle Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph, Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities.
  • Excellent photograph of Parkway taken by Stephen Mackay.
  • Excellent photograph of Parkway taken by Stephen Mackay.
  • Stone masonry news on Cloucester Gate Bridge.
  • Flippin Amazing, The Spectator, October 20th 2007, by Bar-Hillel, Maria.
  • 'Park Village west', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 153-155.
  • Michelle Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph, Streets and the Shaping of Towns and Cities.
  • 'Park Village west', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 153-155. URL: Date accessed: 25 December 2008.
  • Architecture of England, Scotland and Wales, by Nigel R. Jones
  • Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association
  • Cattle Troughs in the London Borough of Camden
  • 'Plate 86: Christ Church, Albany Street', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 86. URL: Date accessed: 25 December 2008.
  • 'Christchurch, Albany Street', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 150-152. URL: Date accessed: 25 December 2008.
  • Service Point website.
  • The Hawkshead Drip.
  • The Hawkshead Drip salutes the Queen.
  • Camden New Journal - By PAUL KEILTHY Published: 31 January 2008 Addicts ‘queued at bus stops for drugs’..
  • Camden New Journal - by PAUL KEILTHY Published: 7 February 2008 ‘Undercover cops joined addicts in drugs queue’.
  • Camden News - by PAUL KEILTHY Published: 24 April 2008 Drug dealer Frostie’s ‘office’ on streets of Camden Town.
  • Camden New Journal - by PAUL KIELTHY Published: 20 March 2008 STING NETS £Im CRACK RING 'MR BIG'.
  • Augustus Street on British History Online.
  • Take a look inside a flat in Augustus Street.
  • New look for historic Camden park, 27/09/05, A historic Camden park is to get a £140,000 makeover, with a design that retains many original features but improves its layout and landscaping,.
  • 'Cumberland Market', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 143. URL: Date accessed: 26 December 2008..
  • Cumberland Market on Wikipedia..
  • Sketch of Cumberland Market..
  • 'Primrose Hill and Chalk Farm', Old and New London: Volume 5 (1878), pp. 287-300. URL: Date accessed: 26 December 2008..
  • 'St. Mary Magdalene, Munster Square', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 140-141. URL: Date accessed: 26 December 2008..
  • A photo of the church from the 1940s.
  • Panoramic View of Clarence Gardens.
  • A painting made of Clarence Gardens from the early twentieth century.
  • Houseprice statistics on Clarence Gardens provided courtesy of Mouseprice.
  • 'Clarence Gardens', Survey of London: volume 21: The parish of St Pancras part 3: Tottenham Court Road & neighbourhood (1949), pp. 142. URL: Date accessed: 26 December 2008. .
  • Mouseprice information on Chester Terrace.
  • Chester Terrace on wikipedia.
  • Rob Humphreys and Judith Bamber (2003) The Rough Guide to London, Rough Guide.
  • John Nash – architect on wikipedia.
  • Prince Regent on wikipedia..
  • George III of the United Kingdom..
  • Marylebone on wikipedia.
  • Walking London: Thirty Original Walks in and Around London; By Andrew Duncan; Published by New Holland Publishers, 2006.
  • 'Marylebone Park and Regent's Park, east side', Survey of London: volume 19: The parish of St Pancras part 2: Old St Pancras and Kentish Town (1938), pp. 96. URL: Date accessed: 27 December 2008.
  • Angry Brigade, Documents and Chronology, 1967-1984
  • Video of Albany Street in 1968
  • Information on the Cumberland Branch of the Regents Canal

  • Regents Park Estate, J@ck!