THORPE BANKS

29 December, 2021

Another article from the pen of Peter Trott showing just how development happened.

Thorpebank Road, Shepherd’s Bush was named after Thorpe Banks, also sometimes written as Thorpebanks or Thorpe-banks. The name originally referred to a large area of land where the northern end of Willow Vale now stands. A large house that was later built on the land was named Thorpebanks.

The earliest record I can find of the property named Thorpebanks is an electoral roll of 1859 listing the artist William Samuel Parkinson Henderson at the property. The 1861 census shows William living there with his wife Emma and two servants. I can find no reference to Thorpebanks in the 1851 census and it is not shown on an 1853 map. This would indicate that the house was built between 1853 and 1859.

On the 1865 OS map it appears as a large estate with ornamental gardens and orchards. The 1871 census lists William Biggar, his wife Jane and their six children living in Thorpe Banks, Willow Vale.

1865 OS map

In November 1881 Thorpe Banks was officially numbered as 24 Willow Vale.

On 30th December 1898 Thorpe Banks, Willow Vale, was sold by William Biggar, journalist, of 91 Shepherds Bush Road, and his mortgagor, to John Williams and William Henry Wallington, contractors of 132 Shepherds Bush Road. The Kelly’s local directory of 1896-7 lists Williams and Wallington as sand merchants, living on the west side of Willow Vale. So presumably they were already in the road when the conveyance took place.

The sale documents stated:

‘….all the piece or parcel of freehold land, parts whereof are, or were, recently covered with water, situate at Willow Vale, Shepherds Bush, in the county of Middlesex, formerly known as The Fisheries, but now as Thorpe Banks …..’

John Salter’s map of 1830

The 1830 map clearly shows a very large brickfield lake that covered the area. The newly created fishery can be seen north of Willow Lodge on the 1848 map by James Wyld. It also appears on a later 1853 Parish map and can be seen as part of the gardens on the 1865 OS map (marked as 77).

James Wyld’s map of 1848

On the 1901 census Thorpe Banks was occupied by crane driver John Starr with his wife Mary, daughter Elizabeth who worked as a laundress, and son William. They were probably the last tenants to live in the house before it was demolished and the land cleared.

1915 OS map

The 1915 OS map clearly shows the vacant plot that was eventually developed as the northern end of Willow Vale.

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