Rebirth of Kensal Rise
Evening Standard | 18 Feb 2009
Ever since the tornado ripped through Kensal rise, north-west London, two years ago – damaging 150 homes and rendering 50 (including ours) uninhabitable – the area has become well known.View transcript
Ever since the tornado ripped through Kensal rise, north-west London, two years ago – damaging 150 homes and rendering 50 (including ours) uninhabitable – the area has become well known.
For more than a year, the streets most affected looked like building sites. Yet since disaster struck, the rise and rise of Kensal rise has continued unabated.
Whether it was due to some creative local energy being stirred up by the cyclone, the final “coming” of a formerly up-and-coming area, or prohibitive rents in nearby Notting Hill prompting the relocation of hip shops, much has happened since the storm. The biggest changes have been in Chamberlayne road, now dubbed by vogue magazine as “one of London’s coolest streets”.
For starters, Sally Wilton opened Pinkham Lighthouse, London’s first not-for-profit arthouse digital cinema and community venue, in an edwardian theatre. And Miro Davda opened Miro’s Grocery, London’s first seasonal, locally sourced, organic grocer.
Still on the foodie front, The Diner, with outposts in Shoreditch and Soho, has just arrived, offering well-priced classic American fare (burgers and shakes). And worth the detour for the décor is Paradise by Way of Kensal rise, with live music, poetry readings and ambitious food.
Indeed, Chamberlayne road is now considered the new Portobello, encapsulating the real flavour of the area.
Among other shops there is Howie & Bell for vintage clothes, lampshades and chairs, and Niche, which offers fashionable, shabby-chic French and english stock.
My family and I moved there five years ago from Holland Park, wanting more space for less money. Our house was badly damaged by the 2006 tornado but after a rebuild we have moved back into an area we love. We got 2,100sq ft of victoriana with a 100ft garden for the price of a threebedroom leasehold in the royal Borough.
“Despite the recession, there’s a huge demand and a shortage of property here now,” says Alan Isaacs, director of estate agent Queen’s Park Partnership. “Prices £ 460,000: three- bedroom NW10. Through Marsh & have dropped by about 20 per cent compared with 30 to 35 per cent in many parts of London,” he adds.
The leading Tricycle fringe theatre is close, Queen’s Park is nearby and the swish Notting Hill Harbour Club is but a quick jog away. Plus there are good transport links and a regular farmers’ market.
It has more than its fair share of cool residents. Jade Jagger has a pad in a groovy former telephone exchange, while the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens resides in gated splendour.
Nearby, emma Thompson has a victorian house, so, too, does vogue editor Alexandra Shulman, while Lily Allen lives just moments away.
Many of the area’s former inhabitants, Irish immigrants and Afro-Caribbeans, have moved away as Notting Hillbillies colonised the area, but Kensal rise remains authentic and ethnically mixed. It has a vibe: it is creative, energetic, bookish and home to writers, artists and media folk.
Delicatessens and BBC employees notwithstanding, the area still retains its appealing edginess and alternative flavour.
Alternative? Well, you can probably find more yoga here than in India. Indeed, little beats the Mother Nature Clinic with its world-class massage by Krenoula evripidou.
The Notting Hillified Gorgeous hair salon has relocated from Westbourne Grove and there’s a brocante-cum-tea shop opening soon in “one of the coolest streets in London”.
Council tax: London Borough of Brent. Band D, £ 1,343.
Schools: Kensal Rise Primary.
Public transport: Tube stations are Kensal Green Queen’s Park, both on the Bakerloo line. Silverlink rail services from Kensal Rise station to Euston take 15 minutes and go to Richmond and Stratford.
Restaurants: The Diner (020 8968 9033); Paradise by Way of Kensal Rise (020 8969 0098). Delicatessens include Miro’s Grocery (020 8968 2298) and L’Angolo
(020 8969 5757).
Market: a farmers’ market is held every Sunday in Salusbury Road.