This is a short alley halfway between Euston and St Pancras station that offers a convenient link between two busy roads.

When all was fields, this patch of not-yet-London was known as The Bruel. What’s quite remarkable though is that this alley popped up when most of the area was still fields, and the very earliest developments had just started appearing. Chalton Street was the first to be laid out, and Church Way was laid out as a gap in the houses giving access to the fields behind.

R. Horwood map 1799

Within 30 years though, the whole area was fully built up, although Euston station hadn’t arrived yet. The area to the south was a notorious slum with tightly packed housing in narrow streets, but the area was cleared at the turn of the 20th century by the London County Council to build better flats for the residents.

When Euston station arrived, the alley was linked with Drummond Street, the long road that ran in front of the station. However, when the station was enlarged in the 1960s, Drummond Street was cut in half, and the end closest to the alley was renamed Doric Way, after the Euston Arch.

The alley today is lined, pretty much as it has always been with houses and former shops — although the houses on one side are clearly modern, the opposite still has the air of earlier buildings, albeit quite shabby these days. An Islamic education centre occupies most of the southern side of the alley, and one building looks empty and shows the decay of disuse.

The street lamps and pavement though give the alley an air of heritage that if this was for example, Spitalfields would probably see the shop fronts filled with cafes and the paving slabs of York stone instead of concrete. If standing at the western end, do pay attention to the building here, a gothic terrace with some tiles indicating it was built in 1882.

Opposite the alley is a curved block of housing that was until 2005 the Lion and Lamb pub, but has since been converted into flats with an additional floor added on top. (there’s a small blurry photo of the pub here)

Opposite the alley on the other side is the Somers Town Coffee House – a pub that was badly damaged in a 2018 fire.

Although there’s been a coffee house in Somers Town pretty much since the area was developed in the late 1790s, it was a couple of doors to the south, and a noted meeting place for French Protestant refugees fleeing religious persecution. As the traffic increased, it became a posting-house, uniting the business of an inn with the profits of a tea-garden. Gradually the demand for coffee fell off, and that for malt and spirituous liquors increased.

However, the whole row of houses here was cleared in the 1930s, and the coffee house, by then a pub of the same name was rebuilt in its current corner location.


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One comment
  1. Claire Milne says:

    In the early 1970s there was still a shop on the south side selling buttons and ribbons, plus (I think) a couple of other shops.

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