Fire, Dragons and Gods: Chiltern Street History
It’s home to ‘cult’ restaurant Chiltern Firehouse and super trendy shops and cafés. But remarkably very little is written about the history of Chiltern Street.
Well, you’ve got to look up to spot it!
Chiltern Street History
Let’s start at the beginning, Chiltern Street was laid out as a service street in the 19th century to complement Baker Street (built by William Baker) which had appeared in the 1700s.
Looking at the Ordnance Survey Map of 1875, you won’t spot Chiltern Street, but you will see an East Street in pretty much the same spot.
The name ‘Chiltern’ is probably from an area of Buckinghamshire that the Portman Estate owns. As well as a further rural estate in Herefordshire, they also own 110 acres of Marylebone.
The first concrete bit of history I could unearth was that the Manchester Square Fire Station was built in 1889.
Today it’s the uber-fancy Chiltern Firehouse restaurant and 26-bedroom hotel. It was renovated after the fire station closed in 2005.
Thankfully though, there’s still plenty of lovely original details that you can admire from outside, including the particularly fancy watchtower (pictured above). That was the 19th century way of spotting nearby fires!
There’s the slightly more obvious lettering on the outside (as well as the fire engine-sized doors) and lovely little red lamp.
Other clues include the LCC (London Country Council) and MFB (Metropolitan Fire Board) acronyms.
As well as this hunky fireman face below one of the windows!
Gods of Chiltern Street
Seemingly on a Fire (or at least element) theme. Faces of Neptune, God of water can be seen further along Chiltern Street.
These decorate Wendover Court, 1890-1900 as a philanthropic project to give working classes good homes at cheap rents. They were ‘associated flats’ (ie no ensuite bathroom) but are now pretty swanky private flats with – I assume – ensuite bathrooms!
It Get’s Weirder…
Continue up Chiltern Street towards Marylebone Road and – almost literally – all hell breaks loose.
The Victorian ‘Portman Mansion’ blocks seem lovely enough, all terracotta finish with white detailing.
But then you look up…
Then look a bit closer…
I wish I could tell you the reason behind these strange figures. but so far I’ve been unable to discover even the vaguest hint to their existence.
But for now at least you can have a little look up and ponder.