The High Road occupies a section of historic Watling Street, an ancient road paved by the Romans. Once known as Music Mile, this is where pubs used to vye for the attention of the local Irish community with pipe and fiddle players. This summer’s day-long festival will feature music stages and food stalls along the length of the road.
Another highlight of this year’s cultural festival will be the first play from Kilburn and Willesden’s favourite daughter, Zadie Smith. The best-selling author promises a reimagining for the 21st century of Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, who may well have travelled to Canterbury along the High Road.
Smith’s play, The Wife of Willesden, promises a reflection on women’s lives in 21st-century Brent and will be performed in November at the theatre once known as The Tricycle, which reopened a year ago with the new name of Kiln, following a multimillion-pound redevelopment.
Kilburn High Road is the busy spine running through the middle of a district which finds itself caught in a pincer movement between two better-off neighbours, Queen’s Park and West Hampstead.
Kilburn’s one- and two-bedroom period conversion flats are popular with first-time buyers. They can expect to pay between £400,000 and £500,000 for a one-bedroom flat, often bought with a financial contribution from their parents.
Especially popular is the North Kilburn conservation area where there are two- and three-storey Victorian terrace houses, west of Kilburn High Road and north of Willesden Lane, close to Kilburn Underground and Brondesbury Oveground stations.
Kilburn’s greatest building is the Grade I-listed Victorian Gothic Church of St Augustine in Kilburn Park Road.
Built by followers of the Oxford Sect or Tractarians who proposed a return to Catholic traditions in the Church of England, the tall spire is visible throughout the neighbourhood.
Designed by John Loughborough Pearson with an elaborately decorated interior, it is often called the “Cathedral of north London”.
Journalist and architectural writer Simon Jenkins recently argued that gems such as this one should be open to the public and buzzing with activity, rather than left empty for most of the week. He suggests “concert halls, coffee bars, drop-in centres, crèches, libraries, youth clubs, even farmers’ markets”.
Leonard Bernstein conducted an English Bach Festival concert at St Augustine’s in 1977. Had the church been on the other side of the road, it could again have had a starring role, in Brent’s year of culture. However, it sits in Westminster borough and so will miss out.
Kilburn is conveniently situated on the A5, or Edgware Road, which leads directly to Marble Arch. It is four miles from central London with West Hampstead and St John’s Wood to the east; Maida Vale to the south; Queen’s Park to the west and Cricklewood to the north.
The property scene
The regeneration of the South Kilburn estate, stretching from Kilburn High Road, down Kilburn Park Road, up Malvern Road to Queen’s Park station and then along south of the railway line, is at the halfway stage and due to complete in 2029.
It will bring 2,400 new homes, a new primary school, a health centre, shops, restaurants, a new park and a tree-lined boulevard on Carlton Vale.
Elsewhere Kilburn has mainly Victorian houses of up to four storeys, with most of the larger ones converted to flats.
Two-bedroom garden flats in North Kilburn conservation area start at £600,000, with two-bedroom first-floor flats from £500,000. Three-bedroom houses in roads such as Torbay Road start at about £1 million.
Kilburn’s most desirable houses are in the Mapesbury conservation area between Walm Lane and Shoot Up Hill, an Edwardian suburb with semis and detached houses. Doer-uppers start at about £2.2 million.
Park Place, by Godfrey, is a scheme of 45 flats with a residents gym behind Kilburn High Road overlooking Kilburn Grange Park.
One-bedroom flats start at £525,000 with two-bedroom flats at £635,000 and three-bedroom flats at £715,000.
Two-bedroom penthouses start at £940,000 and three-bedroom penthouses at £1.3 million. Call Savills on 020 7409 8756.
Next door to Park Place, Arbor Collection is launching soon, with 27 flats that also overlook the park.
One-bedroom flats start at £485,000; two-bedroom flats at £800,000 and three-bedroom flats at £1 million, with a three-bedroom penthouse with a 500sq ft terrace at £1.45 million. Call developer Victoria Taylor on 07825 984 675.
The Camden Collection are private homes being developed by Camden council.
Abbey Road Cross on the corner of Belsize Road and Abbey Road has 141 flats, of which 47 are for private sale, all move-in ready. The remaining two-bedroom flats start at £650,000.
Noma Westminster is a development of 26 two- and three-bedroom flats at the junction of Kilburn High Road and Oxford Road.
The developer is Latimer, part of housing association Clarion, and the scheme is part of the regeneration of the Tollgate Gardens Estate which will bring 229 new-build flats, of which 103 will be affordable.
Two-bedroom flats start at £756,000 and three-bedroom flats at £897,000. Call JLL on 020 7205 2496.
Brondesbury Mews off Brondesbury Park, from housing association Network Homes, has 17 shared-ownership flats.
The scheme is part of the South Kilburn Estate regeneration. One-bedroom flats start at £154,000 for a 40 per cent share of a home worth £385,000. Two-bedroom flats start at £210,000 for 40 per cent of a flat with a full price of £525,000. Call 0300 373 3000.
House shares range from £750 and £850 a month for a room.
There is also a good supply of one- and two-bedroom flats in period conversions. The entry level rent for a one-bedroom flat is £1,100 a month rising to around £1,500 a month. There are few houses to rent but one example is a five-bedroom house in Kenilworth Road, available at £3,200 a month.
Families will live in Mapesbury for a generation; elsewhere Kilburn can still be transitory.
NW6 is the Kilburn postcode which also includes Queen’s Park and parts of West Hampstead. Mapesbury, though, is in the NW2 Cricklewood postcode.
Anywhere in Mapesbury. And tucked away close to Kilburn High Road there is a pocket of white stucco villas in Priory Terrace and Priory Road.
Up and coming
Kilburn is still undervalued and still has some catching up to do to be on a par with Queen’s Park or West Hampstead.
Kilburn has two London Underground stations — Kilburn on the Jubilee line and Kilburn Park on the Bakerloo line.
There are also two London Overground stations: Brondesbury on the Willesden Junction to Stratford line and Kilburn High Road on the Watford Junction to Euston line. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 is £1,444.
Buses are a good option in Kilburn, with the No 16 to Victoria via Marble Arch; the No 98 to Holborn via Oxford Circus and the No 189 to Oxford Circus via Quex Road.
The boundary between Brent and Camden runs down Kilburn High Road, with Brent to the west and Camden to the east.
Brent council is Labour controlled and Band D council tax for 2019/2020 is £1,582.85. Camden council is also Labour controlled and Band D council tax for 2019/2020 is £1,562.35.