Maida Vale is a residential district comprising the northern part of Paddington in west London, between St John’s Wood and Kilburn. It is part of the City of Westminster. The area is mostly residential, and mainly affluent, consisting of many large late Victorian and Edwardian blocks of mansion flats. It is also home to the BBC Maida Vale Studios.
The Maida Vale area is usually regarded as being bounded by Maida Avenue and the Regent’s Canal in the South, Maida Vale road to the north east, Kilburn Park Road to the North West, and Shirland Road and Blomfield Road to the south west. The southern part of Maida Vale around Paddington Basin, a junction of two canals with many houseboats, is known as Little Venice. The area to the south-west of Maida Vale, at the southern end of Elgin Avenue, was historically known as ‘Maida Hill’, and was recognised postal district bounded by the Avenues on the west, the Grand Union Canal on the south, Maida Vale to the east and Kilburn Lane to the north. Parts of Maida Vale were also included within this. The name of ‘Maida Hill’ has since fallen out of use, although has recently been resurrected through the new 414 bus route (which terminates on Shirland road and states its destination as Maida Hill), and a new street market on the Piazza at the junction of Elgin Avenue and Harrow Road.
Just to the east of Maida Vale is St John’s Wood and Lord’s Cricket Ground.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Maida Vale was a predominantly Jewish district, and Lauderdale Road in Central Maida Vale contains the 1896 Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (a Grade II listed building) and headquarters of the British Sephardi community. The actor Alec Guinness was born in this road. The first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben-Gurion, lived within sight of the synagogue on Warrington Crescent, and the pioneer of modern computing, Alan Turing, was born a few hundred yards further down this same road.
Maida Vale tube station was opened on June 6, 1915, on the Bakerloo Line.
Maida Vale is home to some of BBC network radio’s recording and broadcast studios. The building is in fact one of the BBC’s earliest premises, pre-dating Broadcasting House, and was the centre of the BBC radio news service during World War II.
Maida Avenue, Warwick Crescent and Blomfield Road, the streets in the south of Maida Vale overlooking Browning’s Pool including the section of Randolph Avenue south of Clifton Gardens are known as Little Venice. The name is reputed to have been coined by the poet Robert Browning, who lived here from 1862 to 1887. However, this was disputed by Lord Kinross in 1966 and by London Canals. Both assert that Lord Byron humorously coined the name, which is now applied more loosely to a longer reach of the canal system. Browning’s Pool is named after the poet, and is the junction of Regents Canal and the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal.
South Maida Vale is one of London’s prime residential areas, and it is also known for its shops and restaurants, as well as the Canal Cafe Theatre, the Puppet Theatre Barge, the Waterside Cafe and the Warwick Castle pub. A regular waterbus service operates from Little Venice eastwards around Regents Park, calling at London Zoo and on towards Camden Town. Since 1983 the Inland Waterways Association has hosted the Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice.
Central Maida Vale is characterised by its wide tree-lined avenues, large communal gardens and red-brick mansion blocks from the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. The first mansion blocks were completed in 1897, with the arrival of the identically-designed Lauderdale Mansions South, Lauderdale Mansions West and Lauderdale Mansions East in Lauderdale Road. Others quickly followed in neighbouring streets: Elgin Mansions (Elgin Avenue) and Leith Mansions (Grantully Road) in 1900, Ashworth Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Grantully Road) and Castellain Mansions (Castellain Road) in 1902, Elgin Court (Elgin Avenue) and Carlton Mansions (Randolph Avenue) in 1902, and Delaware Mansions (Delaware Road) and Biddulph Mansions (Elgin Avenue and Biddulph Road) in 1907.