This is a glimpse of Fortess Grove, a wonderful, hidden-away cul-de-sac just a couple of minutes walk from Kentish Town station. Who knew! It's tiny - but a real treasure.
This post is about Fortess Grove and another nearby hidden wonder of NW5, Railey Mews, and the former commercial building that unites them.
So first let's get our bearings -
So we're on the east side of Fortess Road. This map is from the Camden planning site - because the building outlined in green is being redeveloped.
As you can see, this buiding stretches from Fortess Grove to Railey Mews - though there's otherwise no direct pedestrian access between the two streets. It was a large but undistinguished vehicle repair shop - the home of M. & A. Coachworks until towards the end of 2015.
The building is difficult to date and an estate agent has declared it - with a sense of the past that would merit a place in 1066 and All That - to be a 'Victorian coachworks building from the 1920s'. It's address curiously was 36-52 Fortess Grove, which suggests a fairly dense residential development before the building went up, whenever that was.
As of 2017, planning permission was given to redevelop the building - hollowed out and with a new roof - with a business floor, and with a total of ten 2-bed or 3-bed dwellings. And that work is now well underway.
This is what the site looks like from Fortess Grove -
And here's the view from Railey Mews - and just to help you get your bearings, we've included another of Kentish town's hidden delights, the Pineapple on Leverton Street -
Fortess Grove has the charm of a serpentine curving access from Fortess Road, which keeps the residential part of the street very much a secret -
I've been able to find out very little about the history of Fortess Grove except that a bomb fell here during the Second World War. But as you can see, it has real charm.
Railey Mews isn't a dead end, but it is if anything even more tucked away - a mews street with its cobbles in tact. Residential, though with a couple of former industrial buildings - but it seems that none of the initial mews properties survive in tact.
If you have a spare half-hour in Kentish Town, then come and take a look!
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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