Up until 1874 the areas surrounding Canal Terrace were vast fields and classed as a rural area outside of London. In 1874 the Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company purchased four parcels of land to the west of London amounting to 76 acres.
The Artizans, Labourers & General Dwellings Company was a nineteenth-century philanthropic model dwellings company. The Artizans Company was established in 1867 by William Austin with the objective of building new houses for the working classes. The company aimed to fuse the designs of rural planned suburbs such as Bedford Park with the ethos of high-quality homes for the lower classes pioneered at Saltaire.
Whilst earlier philanthropic housing companies such as the Peabody Trust and the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company focused on multi-storey blocks of flats in the inner cities, the Artizans Company aimed to build low rise housing in open countryside alongside existing railway lines to allow workers to live in the countryside and commute into the city. Their prospectus was promoted with the motto "this company was established for the erection of improved dwellings near to the great centres of industry, but free from the annoyances arising from the proximity of manufactures."
The site was chosen due to its proximity to the railway line out of Paddington (Queen's Park Station opened 1879). The London ordnance survey map of 1870 shows that this was an area of open fields and was known as the parish of St Luke Chelsea, set just north of the village of Kensal New Town. This area was bounded by the Grand Union Canal and Harrow Road to the south and the London North Western Railway to the north.
The construction of the Queen's Park Estate took place over the next dozen years. The company built over 2,000 gothic revival cottages in a regular grid of streets centred on two broad, tree-lined avenues, Ilbert Street and Fifth Avenue. The six north-south streets, opening onto Harrow Road, were called First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues, and the east-west streets, mostly parallel to Harrow Road, were called A Street, B Street, C Street and so on through to P. The lettered streets were soon given proper names starting with the original initial letter and representing some person or place connected with the company. Droop, for example, was one of the directors, and Alperton was the location of the company’s brickworks.
One amenity not provided, although mentioned in the initial prospectus, was an open space for recreation. Farrant Street was demolished in the 1970s to create a small park in the midst of the estate. Further demolition took place at this time along Harrow Road and Third Avenue resulting in the loss of several more blocks of the estate.
Presently around 1,200 houses remain. The Queen’s Park Estate was designated as a Conservation Area in 1978 with 53 properties given Grade 2 listing status. The majority of listed buildings are located along Fifth Avenue.