Bedford Park

Bedford Park is a distinct estate in Acton. Its boundaries are Bath, Blenheim, Esmond, and Abinger Roads.

A cloth merchant called Jonathan Carr bought Bedford House, an old Georgian estate, and developed it as a garden suburb in the 1870s. He had the idea of creating a garden suburb – a village where middle-class office workers could live and easily commute to London. Work began in 1875 and the estate was largely completed by 1881.

It was the first garden suburb in London. The original houses were built in the late Victorian style known as Dutch or Queen Anne Revival style (a rebellion against the Gothic style fashionable in earlier decades). The Dutch style involved gabled roofs, often including dormer windows, and buildings were constructed in good-quality red brick. (Much of the Cadogan Estate is in the same architectural style.) The overseeing architects were Norman Shaw and his pupil Maurice Adams, but individual houses had their own architects. Bedford Park as a whole is a conservation area, and most of the houses are listed buildings as well.

The various streets contain about 400 houses. There are some very large detached houses with up to seven bedrooms, and also terraces of smaller houses, right down to workers’ cottages. Very few of the houses have been turned into flats, and there has been a tendency in recent years to convert those that were flats back into single houses. St James’s Court in Bedford Road is a more modern flat development. Saint Catherine’s Court is a block of flats dating from the pre-War period.

Estate agents refer to “Bedford Park borders” or “West Bedford Park”, to try to include nearby streets within the cachet of Bedford Park proper. Such streets include the little roads between Bath Road and Flanders Road, such as Gainsborough Road and Lonsdale Road. There are later houses and mansion blocks in the streets north of Blenheim Road. The streets running west from the Park towards Acton Lane also contain similar houses which are not part of the Park itself.