Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Natural Charm; (1) Kelly Street Is One of the Many Picturesque Streets That Lie Either Side of the Busy Thoroughfare of Kentish Town Road (2) Harry Mount at Chamberlaine Bike Shop, Where He Has Bought All His 17 Bikes over the Years

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Natural Charm; (1) Kelly Street Is One of the Many Picturesque Streets That Lie Either Side of the Busy Thoroughfare of Kentish Town Road (2) Harry Mount at Chamberlaine Bike Shop, Where He Has Bought All His 17 Bikes over the Years

Article excerpt

Byline: Harry Mount

MANY native Londoners are not quite sure where Kentish Town is. It's neither near Kent, nor is it a town. Instead, it's a ragged, down-at-heel chunk of Victorian terraces, surrounded by gold chip London: Hampstead to the west, Camden to the south, Highgate to the north and Islington to the east.

It wasn't always like this. A century ago, Kentish Town was the last word in middle-class prosperity. John Betjeman, baptised up the road at St Anne Brookfield, Highgate, remembered as a boy shopping at the baker's in Kentish Town and visiting its curious Anglo-Norman parish church now a Christ Apostolic church.

My flat, in an 1870 house in Caversham Road, is a product of those boom years, built by the old landowners, Christ Church, Oxford, before it was sold to the council in the Fifties.

Most London terrace houses owe their origins to 16th century Palladian palaces, and I like to think of mine as a full-blooded palazzo: Corinthian pilasters on the piano nobile, a rusticated lower-ground floor and an ornate cornice fringing the roof.

The area's principal artery, Kentish Town Road, is hardly palazzo territory, though. Heading north towards the M1, it is choked with traffic and has the dusty Seventies feel that main roads bring.

Still, it means Kentish Town is utterly unponcey, utterly unpleased with itself. You know the way people in smarter bits of London walk as though they constantly expect to meet someone immaculately turned out, head high, poised for the mwah-mwah double kiss? No one mwah-mwahs in Kentish Town Road; they have torrid snogs up against the plate-glass window of the Sardinian restaurant, Pane Vino, waiting for the N20 night bus to Barnet.

The shops along Kentish Town road are useful rather than showy. B&S DIY Homecare is one of those places that has everything, and half of that is tied to the shopfront. During my decade here, I have bought from there an enormous plastic zip-up tartan laundry bag, a bottle of sulphuric acid drain cleaner, lawnmower blades and a mop.

There is a fishmonger, B& M Seafoods, which also does fresh poultry and game. …

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