Kensington Hippodrome: Ladbroke Grove’s Racey History in maps

The Hippodrome Racecourse in 1841, looking north to Notting Barns Farm (right), The London Survey, British History Online

Before Christmas I decided I wanted to get involved with the Londonist‘s calling for hand drawn maps . It seemed like a great way to celebrate London and I love looking at maps! To add even more excitement to the project there was the possibility of being involved in a future exhibition at the Museum of London – how could I not jump at the chance??!!

So the next question was – what do I draw a map of? Well being a history geek, it had to at least has a link to the historical, and being a dweller of West London I wanted to incorporate lovely Ladbroke Grove. It’s at times like this that previous niggling questions, pieces of information that have been acquired then set aside, come back looking for attention.

This information was that there had been a racecourse that ran down Ladbroke Grove in the nineteenth century, back when Notting Dale was a slum area filled with potteries and pigs, before the grand Ladbroke Estate was built. So I asked the question, what would modern day Ladbroke Grove look like if the Victorian racecourse, the Kensington Hippodrome still existed?

This led to internet research and there are some great information on Wikipedia, a HistoryTalk publication (link to PDF), and my favourite British History Online.

As well as giving the history, which is fascinating, they also offered up very usefual maps that helped to inspire me. I liked them so much I thought I’d share with you. They are, after all, some excellent hand drawn maps themselves!


Plan for the Hippodrome Racecourse, 1841. Survey of London, British History Online

1841 map of Kensington Hippodrome by BR Davies, HistoryTalk


One of the planned developments of the Ladbroke Estate, based on the Ordnance Surveys of 1863–7 and 1894–6. British History Online

If this has inspired you I think the deadline for possible inclusion in the Museum of London exhibition has now closed, but don’t fret, I do believe the Londonist is still taking hand drawn maps so get drawing!

To finish off here is the fruit of my labour, not the finest piece of art, but I really enjoyed creating it!

Modern Ladbroke Grove, W10, with Victorian Racecourse, the Kensington Hippodrome 1837-1842


[Update: Since writing this I have learnt that my map was chosen by the Museum of London! Here is a link to the exhibition, ‘Hand-drawn London’ that opens this month (21 April 2011). Will write a seperate post for it soon!]

6 Responses to Kensington Hippodrome: Ladbroke Grove’s Racey History in maps

  1. Pingback: The History of My Hand-drawn Map at the Museum of London « The History Student: Kathleen's History and Culture blog

  2. Does anyone recall the address of Island Records in the ‘Grove? Westborne Park Road or close? I lived opposite their bldg in the most miserable slum basement imaginable, was trying to recall where it was, I think it’s all been demolished now.
    David Wills tells tales

  3. Roger Hall says:

    Hello Kathleen,
    I was fascinated to read your history of the Kensington Hippodrome racecourse. I am currently researching my family history and I have come across some old family info that suggests my Great Grandfather, Alfred Mitchell, actually won the final steeplechase at the course, depicted in the painting by Samuel Henry Alken. However, I cannot find proof of this as no mention of the winner seems to be made on the web sites I have found regarding the race. I wondered if you had happened to come across the name of the winner during your research?! If you do have any information i would be delighted to hear from you. Please send to my email address at
    Good luck with your research and career,
    Best wishes, Roger Hall

    • kathleenmcil says:

      Hi Roger,
      Thanks for the comment. That’s a great discovery in your family history!
      However I’m afraid I haven’t come across a list of winners, but the local archives at Kensington Central Library might have some more information.
      Their website is:
      If I do come across something in future I’ll get in touch. Apologies I can’t be more helpful right now.

      Good luck with your future investigations!

  4. Pingback: Traces of the Kensington Hippodrome « The History Student: Kathleen's History and Culture blog

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