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De Beauvoir Town

De Beauvoir Town Area Guide

Author: Julie, 21/07/2016

De Beauvoir Town is a district of the London Borough of Hackney that partly falls within the London Borough of Islington. Its borders are Kingsland Road in the east, Southgate Road to the west, the Regent’s Canal in the south and Ball’s Pond Road to the north.

Until 1820 the area now covered by De Beauvoir Town was open country with a few grand houses. In 1821, stimulated by the opening of the Regent’s Canal the previous year, developer and brick maker William Rhodes (1774-1843), a grandfather of Cecil Rhodes, secured a lease for 150 acres of land from Peter de Beauvoir. Rhodes planned to build residences for the upper classes in a grid pattern, with four squares on diagonal streets intersecting at an octagon. However, work stopped in 1823 when Rhodes was found to have obtained his lease unfairly and after a court case spanning over 20 years the land reverted to the de Beauvoir family in 1834.

The delay in building had meant that Rhodes’ clientele had since moved on to the new suburbs of the West End. The scheme was scaled down and of the planned squares only the southeastern was built, as De Beauvoir Square, although the diagonals partly survived in Enfield Road, Stamford Road and Ardleigh Road. Occupied in the 1840s by the newly emerging middle classes, the estate was almost wholly residential except around Kingsland Basin and the south-west corner where a factory was leased from 1823.

In 1937, due to its easy access to Kingsland Basin, the southeast corner between Downham Road and Hertford Road was re-zoned for industrial use. Soon after, all the area south of Downham Road was included. This distinguished it from the north side of Downham Road, which was already zoned for business and acted as a buffer for the mainly residential streets beyond. In 1938 De Beauvoir Crescent was suggested as another business zone to protect housing to the north.

In the early 1960s the northern part of De Beauvoir Town between Buckingham Road and Tottenham Road was rebuilt as the Kingsgate estate. In the late 1960s a larger area west of the canal basin, which contained many small factories, made way for the De Beauvoir Estate. The east side of De Beauvoir Square was also rebuilt as the Lockner Road estate.

In 1968 the De Beauvoir Town association was formed. The rest of the square with the area bounded by Englefield Road, Northchurch Road, Southgate Road, Hertford Road, and Stamford Road became a conservation area in 1969. This area was later extended to cover most of De Beauvoir Town; the eastern edge, however, is in the Kingsland conservation area.

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