Emperor’s Gate is believed to have been named in honour of the German Kaiser. The Metropolitan District Railway Company discovered there was a little triangle of land left over after they had built a tangle of railway lines in the 1860s and they decided to develop it. Grenville Place (which was first Attwood’s Lane, and then Greenville Place, before they settled on Grenville Place) was the dividing line between the railway company’s land and land owned by the Alexander estate to the east.
The project was taken on in 1871 by Joseph Clark “an Australian gentleman”, who does not seem to have built anywhere else in central London. Matching the shape of the roads, a triangular block of houses was built in 1874 containing Nos. 5 to 7 Grenville Place and Nos. 1, and 4 to 10 Emperor’s Gate.
The buildings were in grey brick with stucco at ground floor level, with wrought iron balconies, and were intended to emulate the style of French town houses of the time. Nos. 1 to 4 Grenville Place and Nos. 2 and 3 Emperor’s Gate, between Cornwall News South and the church, were built in 1872.
At about the same time, John Wilkins constructed houses on the Alexander estate side of Grenville Place. In 1875 Clark was also given the right to develop the south west side of Emperor’s Gate, but he assigned them to Henry Harris, a builder of Warwick Road, and Matthew Scott, a builder from Earl’s Court Gardens. Harris built Nos. 37 to 47 Emperor’s Gate, in the northern section, in 1876-8. These buildings are on five storeys above ground level, and may have been designed by a local architect called George Edwards.
Matthew Scott built Nos. 26 to 36 on the south west side of Emperor’s Gate in 1876-8. The facade has detailed patterns with a Gothic feel. The terrace has continuous balconies above the ground floor bay windows, and the balconies also have hoods above the first and second floor windows. It is believed these houses were designed by Edward Habershon & Brock, who were mainly known as church architects.