Streets of London: Lisson Grove, NW1

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Time Out on a canalside enclave of central London that‘s come up in the world since ’Pygmalion‘

  • Streets of London: Lisson Grove, NW1

    Largely ungentrified, Lisson Grove is a slice of central London that's still (just) affordable

  • For a prime slice of Zone 1, Lisson Grove (a street that lends its name to an area) barely registers on most people’s radars. Perhaps that’s because it doesn’t have a tube station named after it – even if it is served by Marylebone – and because its cultural cachet amounts to little more than a disparaging mention in ‘Pygmalion’ (‘Lisson Grove?’ It wasn’t fit for a pig to live in.’)

    Then, Lisson Grove was practically a slum, which is odd given its location between Marylebone, St John’s Wood, Maida Vale and Regent’s Park, but understandable given its proximity to the canal and railways which traditionally attracted poor, immigrant workers (previously Irish, now increasingly North African). Even today it remains resolutely ungentrified. It’s not until it becomes Abbey Road that it enters the public consciousness.


    Much of the housing stock is ex-council, but while the large Lisson Green Estate overlooking the canal can be intimidating, the streets between Lisson Grove and Edgware Road are more enticing. There are bargains to be had but you’d be recommended to visit the area at different times of the day so you know what you’re getting into. At the other end of the market, the Belvedere is a gated development on the Grove where two-bed flats go for £389,000, and there’s also a small supply of Georgian houses; there’s a three-bed currently on the market for £850,000.

    One good area to look is the small maze of streets north of Bell Street. Another alternative is to get hold of one of the houseboats along the canal. Your best bet here is to get down onto the towpath and ask around; you might just find somebody ready to sell, if the price is right.

    Bell Street is one of the more interesting roads in the area, with the area’s only art gallery (the Lisson) plus a couple of second-hand bookshops. The other stand-out is Church Street, which boasts a market at the weekend but is otherwise almost completely given over to antiques shops, drawn to the area by Alfie’s Antique Market (No 13-25; 020 7723 6066). Weekends here are colourful – a real slice of old London.

    Alfie’s has an excellent rooftop café, but otherwise Lisson Grove is short of eating and drinking destinations. There’s the ‘world famous’ Sea Shell (No 49-51; 020 7224 9000) fish and chip restaurant, which has traded on past glories for some time. The best boozer, the Victorian gin palace that is Crocker’s Folly, is now sadly boarded up; the best of the rest is probably The Perseverance (11 Shroton Street), so you’re better off heading west to the other side of Edgware Road, and the cracking pubs of Maida Vale and Warwick Avenue. For eating out, Edgware Road is also the place to head; particularly recommended is the Mandalay (No 444; 020 7258 3696), a brilliant Burmese café.

    Estate agents

    Hamilton Wood (020 7328 4561)John D Wood & Co (020 7722 5556/www.johndwood.co.uk)Maida Vale Properties (020 7724 6868/www.maidavale-properties.co.uk)Regents Park Property Services (020 7722 8876/www.saleslondon.com)

    Transport

    The 139 and 189 buses nip via Lisson Grove into the West End. Marylebone, Edgware Road and St John’s Wood tube stations are all within walking distance. Marylebone mainline is the quickest route to Wembley Stadium.

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