Before the Paddington branch of the Grand Union Canal was opened in 1801 the fields here did not attract much attention. Over the next few years, the Hill House fields were considerably developed and the first villas built, along with the Hero of Maida pub, which stands at 120 feet above sea level, the highest point in Paddington. On the Italian plains of Maida in 1806, British troops led by Major-General Sir John Stuart defeated a French force.
1810 marks the arrival of maida as a place name. Shortly afterwards, construction started on the Regent’s Canal, which took its beginnings at Little Venice, a branch of the Grand Junction Canal.
Having been built in 1812, the Maida Hill tunnel is the second longest tunnel in South West London, after the one in Islington. The Portman estate had to be avoided since they would not allow access to their property.
The area that is currently known as Little Venice is part of the Edgware Road corridor, which was originally Maida Hill and prior to that, Maida Hill East. Although Maida Avenue doesn’t exist nowadays, it used to be known as Maida Hill West.
The joke that God created Yorkshire this way – ‘Maida Hill before Maida Vale’ – indicates the order in which this district was built, as most of the houses were built here first, and then in the northward direction. Italianate style buildings predominates in these early properties, which distinguish them from Maida Vale’s later look.
In 1868 the whole stretch north of the Canal that had previously been Edgware Road became known as Maida Vale, and for a while the name of Maida Hill vanished from existence. A variation of the name was later used to identify an area west of Shirland Road, miles to the south of its original site. When Maida Hill was constructed, between the mid-1860s and the mid-1900s, it was called St Peter’s Park. During the 1970s, it was a hotspot for squatting, and nowadays, it is a popular locality among young singles.
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