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Maida Vale ( MAY-də vayl) is an affluent residential district which forms the northern part of Paddington in West London, England. It is to the west of St John’s Wood and south of Kilburn. It is also the name of its main road, on the continuous Edgware Road. Maida Vale is part of the City of Westminster, 3.1 miles (5.0 km) north-west of Charing Cross. It has many late Victorian and Edwardian blocks of mansion flats. The area is home to the BBC Maida Vale Studios.
The name of the area is derived from a pub and an Italian battle during the Napoleonic Wars. The pub called The Maida stood on Edgware Road near the Regent’s Canal until about 2000. In the early 19th century, its hanging board displayed the likeness of the Georgian era General Sir John Stuart, under which was the legend Sir John Stuart, the hero of Maida. General Sir John Stuart was made Count of Maida (a town in Calabria) by King Ferdinand IV of Naples and III of Sicily after the British victory at the Battle of Maida in 1806. As the expansion of London gathered pace, the name stuck as the farmland around the pub was used for urban development in the 1820s.
The area is bounded by Maida Avenue and the Regent’s Canal to the south, Maida Vale Road to the north-east, Kilburn Park Road to the north-west, and Shirland Road and Blomfield Road to the south-west: an area of around 1 square kilometre (0.4 square miles). It makes up most of the W9 postal district.
The southern part of Maida Vale, at the junction of Paddington Basin with Regent’s Canal with many houseboats, is known as Little Venice. Paddington Recreation Ground is also located in Maida Vale.
The area to the south-west of Maida Vale, at the western end of Elgin Avenue, where it meets Harrow Road, was historically known as “Maida Hill”, as a recognised postal district bounded by the Avenues on the west, the Regent’s Canal to the south, Maida Vale to the east and Kilburn Lane to the north. Parts of Maida Vale were also included in this. The name “Maida Hill” had fallen out of use, but was resurrected since the mid-2000s by way of the 414 bus route (which from 2005 to 2021 gave its destination as Maida Hill and terminated on Shirland Road), and a new street market on the square at the junction of Elgin Avenue and Harrow Road.
Just to the east of Maida Vale is St John’s Wood, with Lord’s Cricket Ground.
The area was originally owned by the Church, initially as part of St Margaret’s, Westminster, then later by the Bishop of London after the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
In 1742, a lease for future development was signed by Sir John Frederick. His daughter later married Robert Thistlethwaite, a Hampshire landowner, whose Hampshire holdings including Widley and Wymering are commemorated in Maida Vale street names.
In 1816, an Act of Parliament allowed the trustees of Sir John Frederick’s estate and the Bishop of London to begin developing the area. This began in the 1820s with development along Edgware Road. The area was first named on maps as Maida Vale in 1827. John Gutch, surveyor to the Bishop of London, produced a plan for the area in 1827, which roughly corresponds to current road alignments.
By 1868, a stretch of Edgware Road near the area had been officially named Maida Vale. In 1960, the ownership of the area’s freehold passed from the Bishop of London to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, whose function was to administer the church’s assets.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Maida Vale was a significant Sephardic Jewish district, to the extent that an 1878 magazine report reported that it was commonly called “New Jerusalem”. The 1896 Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue, a Grade II listed building and headquarters of the British Sephardi community, is on Lauderdale Road. The actor Alec Guinness was born on this road. The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, lived within sight of this synagogue on Warrington Crescent. The pioneer of modern computing, Alan Turing, was born at what is now the Colonnade Hotel in Warrington Crescent.
Maida Vale tube station was opened on 6 June 1915 on the Bakerloo line. Warwick Avenue tube station on the same line had been opened a few months earlier.
Maida Vale is home to some of BBC network radio’s recording and broadcast studios. The building on Delaware Road is one of the BBC’s earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and was the centre of the BBC radio news service during World War II. The building houses seven music and radio drama studios. Most famously it was home to John Peel’s BBC Radio 1 Peel Sessions and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
In 2018 the BBC announced plans to close the Maida Vale studios and relocate its functions to East London.
Little Venice is a comparatively recent name for parts of Maida Vale and Paddington in the City of Westminster. It consists of the area surrounding the Little Venice basin and its canals. It is known for its Regency style white stucco buildings and its canals and moored boats. The name Little Venice is applied to Maida Avenue, Warwick Crescent and Blomfield Road, and the streets in the south of Maida Vale overlooking Browning’s Pool, including the section of Randolph Avenue south of Warrington Crescent.
According to one story, the poet Robert Browning, who lived in the area from 1862 to 1887, coined the name. However, this was disputed by Lord Kinross in 1966 and by London Canals. Both assert that Lord Byron (1788–1824) humorously coined the name, which now applies more loosely to a longer reach of the canal system. Browning’s Pool is named after the poet. It forms the junction of Regent’s Canal and the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal.
South Maida Vale, a prime residential area, also has a reputation for shops and restaurants and for the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge, the Waterside Café and the Warwick Castle pub. A waterbus service operates from Little Venice eastwards round Regent’s Park, calling at London Zoo and on towards Camden Town. The Inland Waterways Association has hosted since 1983 a Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice.
Maida Vale is noted for wide tree-lined avenues, large communal gardens and red-brick mansion blocks from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. The first mansion blocks were completed in 1897, with the arrival of the identically designed Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Mansions West and Lauderdale Mansions East in Lauderdale Road. Others followed in neighbouring streets: Elgin Mansions (Elgin Avenue) and Leith Mansions (Grantully Road) in 1900, Ashworth Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Grantully Road) and Castellain Mansions (Castellain Road) in 1902, Elgin Court (Elgin Avenue) and Carlton Mansions (Randolph Avenue) in 1902, Delaware Mansions (Delaware Road) and Biddulph Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Biddulph Road) in 1907 and Randolph Court in 1910.
Among the buildings of architectural interest is the Carlton Tavern, a pub on Carlton Vale. Built in 1920–1921 for Charrington Brewery, it is thought to be the work of the architect Frank J. Potter and is noted for its 1920s interiors and faience tiled exterior. The building was being considered by Historic England for Grade II listing when it was unexpectedly demolished in March 2015 by the property developer CLTX Ltd to make way for a block of flats. The pub was subsequently rebuilt and re-opened following a community campaign and planning appeals.
Maida Vale has a namesake electoral ward and in the 2022 local election returned three Labour councillors for Westminster City Council. The 2011 census counted a population of 10,210 in the ward. Ethnicity-wise, 62.4% of the population were White (38% British, 3% Irish, 22% Other), 11.7% were Asian, and 7.1% were Black. Maida Vale also had a large Arab community, who formed 9.2% of the population, and by far the most spoken foreign language was Arabic. Of the 4,480 households, the number of homes owned or privately rented were about even, with socially rented a bit less but still significant. Properties are predominantly in the flats/maisonettes/apartments category (over 90 percent of the households). The median age was 33. Being in the inner city, the majority of residents do not own a car or van.
The principal church in Kilburn is St Augustine’s, sometimes referred to as “The Cathedral of North London”; the area is also served by St Mark’s parish church, Hamilton Terrace and by St Saviour’s Church, Warwick Avenue, a building constructed in 1972–1976 in a “modern” style. The latter building was referred to by some local residents as “the God Box”. Between 1870 and 1906, the incumbent at St Mark’s was Robinson Duckworth.
Lauderdale Road Synagogue, a Sephardic Jewish place of worship, is in Maida Vale. Saatchi Shul, an independent Orthodox Jewish synagogue, was founded in Maida Vale in 1998.