Curtain call for WH Smith in Kilburn?

We have had confirmation today that all remaining businesses that trade in the 1964 shop units in Kilburn Square have had notice to quit by the end of April 2023.

This is to allow for the redevelopment of the shop units. At long last one might say, as these units have never been maintained and are definitely an eyesore! However the demolition of the rather pretty terrace of shops between Brondesbury Road and Kilburn Square only happened 59 years ago! Unlike the rest of the High Road, this “regeneration” was outdated from the onset. Sadly we fear the the replacement is completely ill tought out, ugly and akin to a development that would have happened in the 1990’s. Brent Council in all their wisdom approved the planning permission!

What is even more incomprehensible is that the market area, the public frontage plagued by pigeons, the redundant arial bridge and the Argos building will not be updated.

The agreed frontage is pictured below as per planning application 21/2210.

However a new planning application (23/0265) not yet decided, has been made that again significantly reduces the “quality” of the design, by adding fire exit doors to the frontage and adding louvres. See pic below

How the devoloper can consider that there is demand for large retail units on 2 floors is rather strange, especially in the current retail context. Additionally no improvements to the forecourt are planned, though desesperately needed.

Below is a postcard dated 1906 that shows what the area looked like. The Jelpke bookshop was at the corner with Brondesbury Road. The “Atlantis Furnishing Stores” are now Pret A Manger. The church, St Paul’s, was demolished before WW2.

WH Smith

WH Smith have had a presence in Kilburn since the early 20th Century. The WH Smith family even lived in Kilburn (1839-1856) in a grand house called “Kilburn House” between Glengall Road and Priory Park Road. Please see this blogpost for more information. WH Smith took over the Jelpke bookshop, pictured above in 1907 and rebuilt it to a maginificient frontage pictured below.

In 1964, after the demolition of their shop at the corner of Brondesbury Road, WH Smith opened in the then new Kilburn Square shops parade. They have been there ever since.

Sadly, the ill conceived redevelopment of the shop parade might be the end of WH Smith in Kilburn! The shop assistants today did not know if they were planning to open somewhere else in Kilburn. So this is the probably the end of an era!

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