Sunday, February 1, 2009

Little Green Street

Save Little Green Street!

We're kind of museumed out (we hit the Natural History Museum last weekend, which I meant to write about but never did) so were looking for something a little different to do this weekend. Along came Diamond Geezer's post about Little Green Street, one of those little hidden London gems you hear about and say 'hey, I should go see that sometime' and never get to. It is, in DG's words:
    a rather special Georgian terrace called Little Green Street. It's a very short road, only about ten families live here. It's very old, dating back more than 250 years to the early 18th century. It's pretty much intact, untouched by the Blitz and modern development. It's rather photogenic, indeed you can imagine the BBC shooting a costume drama here (so long as they painted over the yellow lines and covered the bollards). It's Grade II listed, as you might hope and expect. It's cobbled, and you don't get a lot of cobbles in Camden. It's also very narrow, less than three metres wide.
Cool, but worth a weekend trip? Well yes. I first heard of Little Green Street a few months ago when its story hit another blog (although I can't recall which one, and my Google Reader is being persnickety.) Little Green Street is facing what so many other slices of historic London face - progress. Little Green Street is the only access to an old slice of road that also has an old slice of undeveloped property, where a developer would like to put in some houses.

The problem is that Little Green Street is so narrow that the construction equipment wouldn't leave room for people to walk as it drove down the street, or it would require that the houses be knocked down (they're Grade II listed so I doubt that would happen.) The residents have their own website and blog explaining their ongoing struggle with the Camden council to save Little Green Street, and there is a massive banner with their website facing Highgate Road.

The street itself is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it little alleyways London has so many of, and there is definitely a different and quiet vibe there despite the massive council estates right next door and the busy street on the other side. I wish the residents all the best luck in fighting the development; the PR does seem to be on their side, which is good.

For us, it was close enough to make a Saturday jaunt - between our flat and Hampstead Heath, so only about 20 minutes away. It also offered a good excuse to check out nearby Kentish Town, which turned out to be a really hip and vibrant community - surprising, since it was known just a few years ago as being rife with gang warfare and drugs. It's practically a model of urban renewal in London and we both had neighborhood envy just from walking around. We found a nice pub, had a pint and just talked away the afternoon. Then walked back to Camden Town to catch the bus home.

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