Apsley Way, NW2

Place Name

This is a relatively new road, laid out over a former light industrial estate that itself was built on the Willesden Paddocks of Oxgate Fram. It comes off of Waterloo Road. The Duke of Wellington’s London home or after Henry Bathurst (May 20, 1714 – August 6, 1794), 2nd Earl Bathurst, and later Lord Apsley, was a lawyer and Whig politician who served as Lord High Chancellor from 1771 to 1778. After negotiating the lease of land from the Crown, he had Robert Adam design a new house, the first on the north side of Piccadilly, located opposite a turnpike with toll houses, and consequently it became known as Number 1, London. In 1807 he sold the property to Richard, Marquess Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington’s older brother. Having paid £16,000 for the property, he spent more than £20,000 remodelling and refurbishing the house as well as fitting it out with furniture. The Wellesleys moved in with their children in 1808, but by 1817 the couple had separated, and the Marquess was on the brink of bankruptcy. Unbeknown to him, he was saved from ruin by his brother the military tactician and general whose successes against Napoleon’s armies on the continent had won the thanks of the nation. Parliament voted him £700,000 to build a new Waterloo Palace. Instead of embarking on a new building, however, he submitted an anonymous bid to buy Apsley House for £40,000 to help resolve his brother’s financial difficulties. The Duke made more changes to the property and successfully negotiated with the Crown Commissioners to buy the freehold of the site, which was agreed in January 1830 for a cost of £9,532. Later that year, he was forced to install iron shutters and railings around the house to protect it after its windows were smashed during riots. A fact that English Heritage suggests may have been the origin of his famous nickname, the Iron Duke. Apsley House later became the residence of the dukes of Wellington in whose ownership it remained until 1947 when it was sold to the nation. Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names writes that the Duke of Wellington was “such a productive source of street names for nineteenth-century builders that he almost came to rival the royal family in this respect”. Indeed, the A to Z Atlas of London listed more than 50 streets named after him, plus many more after his famous battles. Bebbington adds: “After Waterloo Wellington, like Churchill after the 2nd World War, lost a lot of support during an unsuccessful term as Tory Prime Minister, and there were violent demonstrations near Apsley House, his town home at Hyde Park Corner. However, also like Churchill, public respect for his military leadership remained undiminished, and streets and pubs named Apsley and Walmer, after his country residence of Walmer Castle in Kent, continued to appear through his declining years.”

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