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History of North Kensington

We cannot look at the history of the Bays without looking at the history of the area. We only have to look at the fact that the Bays' existence comes from the legacy of the Westway. 

The construction of the motorway had an irreversible impact on North Kensington. This becomes obvious when we look at how it is now compared to before the Westway.

The legacy of Westway

The Westway's construction was itself an act of failure to the community.


North Kensington had long been affected by overpopulation and poor housing conditions. Slum landlords, like Peter Rachman, would buy property and kick out all the old tenants, replacing them with immigrants from the West Indies, as they would not protected by rent-control laws and so could be charged extortinate rents.

What was the government's solution to this? They decided to build a motorway over the area, so that people travelling into London could ignore the area. This required the demolition of many of the houses, and the rehoming of thousands.

The Westway remains controversial to this day, and is still a source a concern and protest in the community. It has been since the day it was opened.

With that in mind, Maxilla City is aware that we are following decades of community-led iniatives. 

The Motorway Development Trust was formed in May 1968 from the North Kensington Playspace Group. Adam Ritchie, one of the founding members, described the MDT's process:

“We had lots of public meetings. We got a big map of the motorway about 15 foot long. It was put up on the wall so all the cross streets were marked so people could read them and to make it very clear. We asked people what they wanted put under the motorway."



This process bares remarkable resemblance to what we are doing now, more than half a century later.

However, these iniatives have not always ended up being in the best interests of local residents, or done with their cooperation or trust. This mains that when on organisation like us reaches out to the local community, we're aware that we have to earn your cooperation and trust, and the only way we can do that is keeping true to our word and to always listen to the community.

That is why the history of North Kensington we present to you here is grounded in the concerns you told us. It is centred around the your responses to our question, "What does North Kensington need to thrive post-Covid?" 


In this History we explore how your concerns and desires were approached in the past, and the way those approached failed and succeded, to ensure that Maxilla City does not make the same mistakes.

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