More For Your Money: Tufnell Park, N7

A very well-kept secret
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The Independent Online

Despite an abundance of large period homes on pleasant tree-lined streets near central London, Tufnell Park's numerous strengths have been a well-kept secret. The area is dominated by the seriously unglamorous Holloway Road, and Tufnell Park itself is overshadowed by Kentish Town and Camden Town to the south, and Hampstead to the west.

Tufnell Park is wedged between Holloway Road and Junction Road, which meet at Archway, but the Gospel Oak-Barking rail line effectively forms the northern boundary. The long Tufnell Park Road bisects the area and has many period conversions. The northern segment contains several parks and the popular Yerbury Primary School, but large single-family Victorian terraces and semis are located either side of Tufnell Park Road.

The University of North London has several facilities in this part of north London, and Tufnell Park flats are popular with students. The houses are slowly but steadily losing their long-time working-class inhabitants to doctors - the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals are nearby - and other professionals attracted to this quiet family-orientated area with good schools and parks. "This area allows people to live near to town without spending a million pounds on a house," says Carl Coade of Drivers & Norris estate agents.

John Roberts grew up in a house on Mercers Road where his widowed father still lives. Now, John, his fiancée Gina, and their children, Jade and Georgia, live in a five-bedroom house on Tiverton Road and they are about to complete on a larger five-bedder on Mercers Road. John is thinking of letting his current house after they move.

"We need a bigger house," says John, a cameraman for a market-research company who works from home. "I never want to move out of this area. I wanted my kids to go to Yerbury, as I did. We all know one another here. There are three local parks, no through-traffic, and my kids still play on the streets."

John's offer was accepted despite him being outbid by another buyer. "The seller knew my mum, and I've known her all my life," says John. "I was lucky. A developer offered more money but he was going to turn it into flats, and she wanted the house to go to a family. She is a widow who is moving to a ground-floor flat nearby. She wants to stay in the same area too."

What properties are available?

Many conversion and some purpose-built flats and Victorian houses predominate, along with some ex-council and modern properties. Anson Road has several purpose-built mansion blocks which, except for the single entrance, look like a row of three-storey Victorian terraces. Flats start at about £180,000, and houses needing work, £450,000.

What flats are currently available?

A studio flat with 18ft bedroom and communal garden on Carleton Road is £185,000 at Benham & Reeves. In one of the house-like mansion blocks on Anson Road, a one-bed top-floor flat has a 17ft bedroom with three sash windows overlooking the rear communal garden, £232,500 at Drivers & Norris. This block originally had eight flats; a developer divided them.

What about larger flats?

Many conversions have communal gardens but a two-bedroom lower-ground floor conversion flat on Tufnell Park Road has a private attractive 33ft garden; for sale at £265,000. On the same road, a three-bed two-bath flat on two storeys (the top is a converted loft) with no garden is £299,995; both at Winkworth.

How about houses?

Two four-bed houses of strikingly different appearance are in the same price bracket. A plain- fronted two-storey four-bedroom period house on Tavistock Terrace has a separate lower-ground level (1,790sqft, £550,000), whereas a three-storey bay-fronted Victorian terrace on Tabley Road also has a fourth basement level, and a roof terrace on the middle level accessed from the garden (1478sq ft, £535,000). A six-bed period house with bay windows on two levels, £629,000; all at Benham Reeves.

How's the transport?

Two Northern Line stations serve the area: Tufnell Park and Kentish Town (also Thameslink); zone 2.

What's there to do around here?

Pubs, gastropubs, a cinema and the 400-seat St George's Theatre in a redundant church are in Tufnell Park itself, and the lovely Hampstead Heath is nearby for walks. Local parks have playing fields and tennis courts, and a city farm is just to the west in Kentish Town.

What about schools?

Tufnell Park primary straddles the national average, and Holloway secondary is well below it. Yerbury is comfortably above, with a perfect 100 per cent in science. "The discipline is very strict. Everyone is scared of the headmistress, including the parents," says one local resident.

And one three-part question for the pub quiz

Where was wife-murderer Dr Crippen of 39 Hilldrop Crescent arrested, what was unusual about his lover, and how did he meet his maker?

(Dr Crippen was arrested in Montreal when his ship arrived. His girlfriend was disguised as a boy. He was hanged at Pentonville prison in 1910.)

Benham & Reeves, 020-7284 0101; Drivers & Norris, 020-7607 5001; Winkworth, 020-7485 9210