Plaques route 4 -Maida Vale station to St Johns Wood station


Maida Vale station – St Johns Wood station

Turn left out of station into Randolph Avenue, cross Sutherland Avenue, continue and then cross Clifton Gardens, turn left into Blomfield Road walking along the side of the canal with a café at the end. Cross over Maida Vale (A5) and continue along turning left at Aberdeen Terrace. No 32 has a plaque to

Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson V.C.,  D.S.O and Bar.,  D.F.C and bar  1918 – 1944   32 Aberdeen Place

Pilot leader of the Dambusters Raid lived here

Guy Gibson was a bomber pilot with 83 Squadron and by the age of 24 he had completed over 170 operations and been awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar and the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar.  In 1943, he was selected to lead 617 Squadron, known as the ‘Dambusters’, in their attack on the Ruhr Dams, when they had to fly low over mountains at night carrying Barnes Wallis’  bouncing bombs. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam and then Gibson led three of the remaining planes  to attack the Eder Dam.  Only 11 Lancasters returned of the 19 that set out, and 53 men were killed.

Gibson received the Victoria Cross, and subsequently embarked on a lecture tour of America.Then came a spell at the Air Ministry  – this was when he was able to have a home in Aberdeen Place with his wife, the actress Evelyn Moore , whom he had married in 1940 but had rarely seen. In September 1944 he was killed in a raid over Germany. For many years it was assumed he had been shot down, and later that he had run out of fuel. He is now thought to have been killed by friendly fire, when an English plane mistook his plane for a German one. After his death Barnes Wallis said “he had pushed his luck beyond all limits and he knew it.  But that was the kind of man he was  – a man born for war but born to fall in war.”

Follow road round to left past Crockers Folly restaurant/pub until  you reach no 17 Cunningham Place

Emily Davies 1830 – 1921 17 Cunningham Place

Founder of Girton College lived here

Emily Davies was a feminist, suffragist and pioneering campaigner for women’s right to a university education.  In 1862  she moved to Cunningham Place with her mother (and remained there until 1886) when she became editor of the Englishwoman’s Journal and set up a womens discussion group with , among others, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Dorothea Beale and Francis Mary Buss. In 1889 Girton College was established in Hitchin, Herts and moved to Girton outside Cambridge in 1873. Emily Davies was the co-founder and first Mistress of the college. In 1901 she was awarded an honorary DLl from Glasgow University.

Continue along Cunningham Place, turn left into St Johns Wood Rd and then right into Hamilton Terrace

Sir Charles Mackerras CH CBE (1925 – 2010) 10 Hamilton Terrace  

Sir Charles was the first Australian conductor  to be chief conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and  had a long association with the English National Opera and Welsh National Opera..  He arrived in England in 1947 and worked as oboist and cor anglais player at Sadlers Wells Theatre before studying conducting in Prague, where he came under the spell of Janacek’s operas. In 1959 he made a landmark recording of Handel’s music for the Royal Fireworks using original wind band instrumentation.  He  was an authority on the operas of Janacek and Mozart, and the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan.

Philip Jones CBE (1928 – 2000)14 Hamilton Terrace

Philip Jones was born in Bath on 12 March 1928 into a line of brass players, beginning by playing the bugle as a sea cadet at the age of nine before moving on to the trumpet and cornet two years later.  In 1951, he set up the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (PJBE), initially just a quartet of players from the Royal Opera House Orchestra, with his uncle playing second trumpet.  During the 1950s and 60s whilst building on the success of the PJBE, Philip Jones occupied the principal trumpet seat of several first class orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (1956-60), the Philharmonia (1960-64), the New Philharmonia (1965-7) and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1960-71). By the 1970s they were a 10-piece ensemble of 4 trumpets, horn, 4 trombones and a tuba, and they were touring all over the world.

Philip Jones was Director of the School of Wind and Percussion at the Royal College of Music in Manchester (1975-1977) and  at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London from 1983 -88 and then Principal of Trinity College of Music.

Sir Joseph William Bazalgette (1819 – 1891) 17 Hamilton Terrace

 Civil engineer lived here

Sir Joseph Bazalgette was the civil engineer responsible for designing London’s sewers. After working on projects in N Ireland he set up in 1842 as a consulting engineer in Westminster.  In 1849 he joined the London Metropolitan Commission of Sewers, becoming chief engineer by 1852 and in 1855 to its successor the Metropolitan Board of Works, which had control of the building of a new London sewer system.  83 miles of intercepting sewers were finally completed in 1884.  Bazalgette was also responsible for the design and construction of the Victoria Embankment, under which the new sewers were to lie. A bust of Sir Joseph by the sculptor George Simmonds  still exists on the Embankment near Charing Cross.

 Sir George Alexander Macfarren  (1813 -1887)  20 Hamilton Terrace

Macfarren was the son of a dancing master and author who suffered all his life from poor sight and had to have an amanuensis.  He was Principal of the Royal Academy of Music, Professor at Cambridge, conductor at Covent Garden, programme-note writer for the Philharmonic Society and editor of Handel and Purcell. He wrote eighteen operas, thirteen oratorios and cantatas, nine symphonies and one hundred and sixty two songs despite going blind in 1860.  He married Natalia 1827-1916 who was born in Lubeck but studied at the Royal Academy and was an operatic contralto and composer.

Macfarren is one of the most fascinating lost masters of nineteenth century British music.  A cultured musician in every sense, he brought formidable energies to bear upon almost all aspects of mid-Victorian musical life, being at various stages Principal of the  He was knighted in 1883. As a composer he was technically superior to most of his British contemporaries and, in view of the total blindness which struck him in 1860, extraordinarily productive.  An output which included eighteen operas, thirteen oratorios and cantatas, nine symphonies and one hundred and sixty two songs might well be thought impressive by any standards.

William Strang 1859-1921   20 Hamilton Terrace 

Painter and etcher lived here 1900 – 1921

Scottish painter and etcher William Strang  worked for eighteen months in the counting house of a firm of shipbuilders before going to London in 1875 when he was sixteen. There he studied art under Alphonse Legros at the Slade School for six years. Strang became assistant master in the etching class, and  had great success as an etcher.  He was one of the original members of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers, and his work was a part of their first exhibition in 1881. Some of his early plates were published in Portfolio and other art magazines. Some of his best etchings were done as series – for example illustrating Kipling’s stories – and many distinguished people sat for him, most notably Vita Sackville-West entitled Lady with a Red Hat which is in the Glasgow Museum. The Tate Gallery has one of his best-known paintings, Bank Holiday,. He lived at no 20 from 1900 until his death.

Continue along and turn right into Hall Road . No 10 is on the left hand side

John Waterhouse 1849 – 1917    10 Hall Road

 Painter lived here 1900 – 1917

John Waterhouse was born in Italy, the son of two English painters who soon returned to England ; he studied at the Royal Academy and began exhibiting large works depicting scenes of life in Ancient Greece and Rome. At first he painted in the style of Alma Tadema and Leighton but gradually adopted the Pre Raphaelite style, though the Brotherhood had broken up many decades before. His paintings often showed the psychological division between a single figure and a group, and he was fascinated by enchantresses.

He taught at the St John’s Wood Art School and shared 5 Primrose Hill Studios with  painter Collier Twentyman Smithers, the grandson of Albert Twentyman who developed St John’s Wood Park.

Continue along until you reach Grove End Road, turn left and in the middle of the road is a

Statue in honour of Sir Edward Onslow Ford (1832 – 1901)

by his friend, Andrea Carlo Lucchesi.  The mourning figure at the front is based on Ford’s statue The Muse of Poetry.  Ford lived and died at 62 Acacia Road in St John’s  Wood.

Veer to the right along continuation of Grove End Road and on the left hand side at No 31

Sir Thomas Beecham Bt, CH (1879-1961) 31 Grove End Road

Conductor and impresario lived here

Beecham was an English conductor and impresario, best known for his founding of and association with the London Philharmonic and the Royal Philharmonic orchestras. From the early 20th century until his death Beecham was a major influence on the musical life of Britain.  He lived with his first wife at 32 Upper Hamilton Terrace (1910-1911) and used his access to the family fortune to finance opera from the 1910s until the start of WW2, staging seasons at Covent Garden, Drury Lane and His Majesty’s Theatre.  From 1946-48 he lived at  39 Circus Road and later (1950-54) at 31 Grove End Road with his second wife, Betty Humby.

Opposite is no 44 home of

Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema OM 1836 – 1912 44 Grove End Rd

 Painter lived here 1886 – 1912

Sir Lawrence was born in the Netherlands and trained as an artist in Antwerp, where he found fame as a painter of scenes of life in ancient Egypt. Discovered by the London art publisher Gambart, who arranged an exhibition of his work in London in 1865, he moved to London in 1870 , met the Pre Raphaelites, (who brightened his palette,) was made a Royal Academician in 1870 and became one of the most successful Victorian artists, painting classical scenes with amazing detail.   After visiting Pompeii he painted scenes of daily Roman life and his meticulous archaeological research meant that every building featured on his canvasses could have been built using Roman tools, and became source material for many Hollywood films. He taught at the St John’s Wood Art School and was a member of the St John’s Wood clique.

In 1883 he moved from Townshend House to Grove End Road, where he lived in what had been Tissot’s house and became obsessed with designing its interior, spending £70,000  to create a classical interior.

Retrace steps down Grove End Road to statue and turn right into Abbey Road past the World Heritage site of the Beatles Abbey Road zebra crossing. Further along on the left are the Abbey Road studios with a plaque on the front to

Sir Edward Elgar Bt  OM GCVO(1857 – 1934)  Abbey studios, Abbey Road

Edward Elgar was the classical composer who first took the gramophone seriously, using acoustic recording from 1914 – 1925 and then adapting to the microphone and realising its possibilities. On the wall of Abbey Studios is a plaque from Westminster City Council saying Sir Edward Elgar opened and recorded in these studios 12 November 1931. There is a film on YouTube showing him with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, conducting  his Pomp and Circumstance March (Land of Hope and Glory). He begins by saying  Good morning, Gentlemen. Good to see you all. Very light programme this morning. Please play this tune as though you’ve never heard it before. In June 1932, he recorded his Violin Concerto there with the young Yehudi Menuhin, a recording which has remained in print on 78 rpm, LP and CD ever since.

Continue along Abbey Road, passing the Abbey Road Baptist chapel (the former home of Abbey Road Building Society and now flats) and turn right into Marlborough Place.  Walk up the hill to the Finchley Road, turn right and passing Apsley House  reach the side wall of Eyre Court where you will find the plaque to

Oscar Kokoschka CBE 1886 – 1980 Eyre Court

Painter lived here

Oscar Kokoschka was an Austrian artist, poet and playwright, particularly noted for his expressionistic portraits and landscapes.  He studied at the School of Arts and Crafts in Vienna where he developed an original style  of innovative oil painting anchored by earlier traditions,  and in 1926 visited London where he painted the Thames and the Zoo in Regents Park. He had an affair with Alma Mahler and although they broke up after a few years he never stopped loving her.  Having fled to Prague to escape the Nazis he  then had to flee to England with his girl friend Olda, thirty years younger than himself.  They lived in Boundary Road and in 1941 married in an air raid shelter that was being used as a makeshift registrars office because of the air raids. He taught at the Anglo French Art Centre in St John’s Wood and received the CBE in 1959.  He lived at Eyre Court from 1946-1953.

St Johns Wood station is on the other side of the road.


47 minutes   2.7 miles  4.4 km


This page was added on 28/08/2020.

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