Over the weekend I had the opportunity (read: forced my boyfriend to accompany me) to visit a small cul-de-sac in Kentish Town – “Little Green Street”. The street, which was immortalised by The Kinks in the music video of their 1966 hit Dead End Street had spiked my interest for a number of reasons and I wished to see it for myself.
I was intrigued by LGS, as it is one of the last intact Georgian streets in London. These ten houses were built in the 1780s… to put that into perspective, it was the decade in which my country was “discovered” (using inverted commas as the Dutch and our Indigenous population would certainly not agree with this statement and to be honest… neither do I!).
These houses are protected historical buildings. Unfortunately, they are located near the site of a former rail worker’s social club. This patch of land was purchased in 2000, with the intention to build luxury homes there, along with an underground car park. Problem is, there was no method of accessing the area without driving straight through the 2.5m wide cobblestone road. The wear and tear over time would inevitably destroy the road and buildings along with it.
The community rallied together for years, protesting the development. They acknowledged that something needed to be done with the social club site, ideally without ruining a little piece of London’s history in the process. As a website devoted to the cause pointed out, the houses “survived (both) the Blitz and more than two hundred years of wear and tear from the generations who have raised their children in the narrow cobbled terrace.” Investors, as it turns out, would be one hell of an opponent.
I am not sure of where the current fate of this little cobblestone street lies – countless searches online came up with naught. Behind the buildings, some sort of construction was taking place. I can only guess that the developers got their way.
As we headed back south of the river, I made a remark to my fella. I don’t find central London to be particularly pretty (Sydney has ruined me for life). The shades of brown and grey do nothing to spike my imagination and there is always some sort of construction or development going on, often at the expense of the history and people of this city.
My boyfriend, who has called London home for twelve years, shrugged in response.
“That’s just London isn’t it? It’s a progressive city.”
What developers seem to fail to understand, is that the appeal of destinations like London does not lie in the towering skyscrapers (The Walkie Talkie recently proved to be a testament to this fact), luxury apartments or state of the art facilities.
Rather, you find the charm and beauty of this city lodged between the cobblestones of tiny little lanes like this one. Streets that hold a history that I as an Australian, cannot even begin to comprehend.
That’s exactly what I like about London. It is at its most beguiling when you least expect it.
As custodians of the past, it is important to protect these examples of bygone eras. Yet, to quote my favourite Australian film of all time, sometimes you just “can’t stop progress”. Greed is good and money rules.
At the expense of streets like Little Green Street in London.