Maida Vale, W9 - where I've called home for the past 7 or so years, and in my opinion the best area of London :)
"I don’t want to be an outcast. I don’t want to be some funny woman living in Maida Vale that people talk about." Lady Edith, Downton Abbey
The area took its name from a pub which opened on nearby Edgware Road in around 1810, called "The Hero of Maida", which in-fact was in W2. The pub was named after John Stuart, Count of Maida who was famous for leading the British Army to victory against the French at the Battle of Maida, 1806 in Calabria, Southern Italy.
The area starts to build up at around 1807, when small blocks were constructed by local builders along Edgware Road.
We'll start at the Underground station, which is on the Bakerloo line (zone 2) and just two stops up from Paddington railway station. It opened in 1915 when the Bakerloo railway was extended from Paddington onto Queens Park. Make sure to have a look at the mosaics of the early underground logo, which were first used in 1908, but a decade later had changed into the one we see across the underground today. You can spot the mosaics in Alfred Hitchcock's film Downhill as well as a few other films. On the topic of movies, About Time (Richard Curtis) also featured Maida Vale, and also in Paddington (2014) you might notice the exterior, but the station was actually renamed Westbourne Oak.
If you're already after some lunch (or a beer) head across the road to The Elgin, my favourite pub in the area. If not carry on walking down Elgin Avenue, noticing the red brick mansion blocks which line the street. These were built in the early 19th century, to provide luxury accomodation for the increasing upper middle class population.
A little way down you'll reach some shops, hungry? Grab a pizza at Le Cochonnet on Lauderdale Road, or if you're after a lighter option take a couple of steps back and walk down the road parallel ; Castellain Road for a tasty bagel at Bon Appetit.
Walk back onto Elgin Avenue, and take the next left onto Delaware Road and you'll reach the BBC Maida Vale Studios. The building was constructed in 1909 originally as the Maida Vale Roller Skating Palace and Club!
Carry on walking onto Warwick Avenue and take a left onto Formosa Street. Have a quick half at Real Ale, or stock up on a few beers for later, or if your in need of a rest visit the Prince Alfred pub which I wrote about here.
At the end of Formosa Street take a right, and on the side of The Colonnade Hotel there's a Blue Plaque "ALAN TURING 1912-1954 Code-breaker and Pioneer of Computer Science was born here".
Carry on until you reach the main road and take a right, passing Warwick Avenue tube station on your left. Notice the Cabman Shelter which is a Grade II listed building.
They came about in 1875, when the Cabman Shelter Fund was established to provide shelters for cab drivers. It was against the law for the drivers to leave their cab stand whilst their cab was parked there, so an ingenious idea from the Earl Of Shaftesbury was to set up a charity to construct and run shelters situated at the main stands.
Carry on straight past until you come to the entrance for Clifton Nuseries. This is Londons oldest garden centre, and it's also home to Quince Tree Cafe which is a perfect setting for elevensies or afternoon tea.
Carry on to the end of the road and take a left. This is now Little Venice - thought to be named by Robert Browning, where the Grand Union Canal meets the Regent's Canal. It doesnt have much on Italy's Venice but it's a beatiful area with some of the grandest houses in London!
On the opposite side of the canal is the Canal Cafe Theatre - a renowned comedy and theatre venue since 1979. Carry on Blomfield Road around the corner and you'll reach the Puppet Theatre Barge which does what it says on the tin. A converted barge puts on puppet shows and has been doing so for 30 years!
So you've reached the end of the little introduction to my area, but why not take a boat ride to Camden with Jason's Trip and explore a completely different side to London, or retrace your steps back to Warwick Avenue tube station.