Paddington Property, History & Transport
It is difficult to believe now, but in the 18th century Paddington was famous for its gardens. The Count and Countess de Vandes, exiles from the French Revolution, established notable gardens at Bayswater and the Hon Charles Greville, founder of the Royal Horticultural Society, lived in Paddington Green. Artists such as George Morland and Paul Sandby had studios here to record the pastoral scene.
Everything changed with the Industrial Revolution. First the canal arrived, providing London with its first direct trade route to Birmingham. Then Brunel built his masterpiece, Paddington Station, the cathedral of ‘God’s Wonderful Railway’, as the Great Western was nicknamed.
The area was rapidly built over, the southern part next to Hyde Park becoming a wealthy enclave centred on Connaught Square, the northern part a more industrial area that in the 20th century became very run-down.
The 21st century has seen a resurgence in fortunes for Paddington. The Connaught Square area has once again become fashionable, with the much-publicised purchase of a house by former prime minister Tony Blair.
The transformation of the northern part has been even more dramatic. Former marshalling yards have been built over to create a new quarter of high-quality flats over shops, offfices and restaurants. The old canal basin is now lined with dramatic new buildings, including the headquarters of major corporations including Marks & Spencer and Orange.