Murray Mews is the twin of Camden Mews, built in the 1840s behind the houses on the south-east side of Camden Square. Today it is shorter than Camden Mews, stretching from Murray Street in the south-west to Cantelowes Road in the north-west. Originally the mews extended almost up to Camden Park Road, since it was intended to serve the houses planned for the upper portion of Camden Square which was never implemented. By the 1870s, the land was occupied by the back gardens of the new houses in South Villas and St Augustine's Road, together with a short terrace of houses in Cantelowes Road.
Originally called 'Camden Mews South', by the 1890s it was renamed 'Murray Mews' after the adjoining Murray Street.
From the 1860s, the new Midland Railway was detrimental to the south-west portion of Murray Mews. The southern entrance to the tunnels was constructed directly south of the mews close to its Murray Street junction; and the cutting running south was to blight the immediate area. The impact worsened after the widening of the railway in 1898.
The first development occurred in small amounts in the late 1860s on the south-east side, serving houses in St Augustine's Road rather than Camden Square (reflecting the declined status of the square due to the railway). It was over a decade later before a building was to be put up on the Camden Square side. This former coach house survives, in the form of No. 21, a two-storey studio' house conversion. The original building is constructed from London stock brick, with front facade featuring a gable end, two arched windows and a circular window. The ground floor has been reworked to give a modern treatment appropriate to its new use. By the 1890s, a row of three workshops had appeared on the south-west side over the railway tunnel (on the site of the Irish Centre), and there were two buildings on the south-east side (including the building on the site of No. 20). By 1900 only six coach houses or workshops had been built. In the early 20th century, the few new buildings were confined to the south-east side. Indeed, many of the plots backing onto the south-east side of Camden Square remained undeveloped until the 1970s. Approximately thirty houses have been built since the 1950s, leaving only a couple of vacant sites. Where there are gaps, there are views through to the back gardens of St Augustine's Road.
Although essentially urban in character, Murray Mews is more residential than its opposite number, Camden Mews, which retains more light industrial uses. On the north-west side, several houses are set back from the pavement behind garden walls, resulting in a more recessed building line and a higher level of greenery and trees than in Camden Mews. The built form is predominantly two-storey, although there are some part three-storey buildings. Brick is the predominant building material, in sympathy with the small scale of the mews and with the traditions of the neighbourhood. Postwar development includes the following examples.
At the south-west end, stands No. 12, a design dating from 1988 by Sean Madigan and Steven Donald. It displays a return to architectural formality in contrast to its earlier postwar neighbours, and takes the form ofa busy symmetrical front with square openings.
Nos. 15-19 (odd) are situated opposite, adjacent to the 19th century mews building at No. 21. They consist of a terrace of three houses dating from 1964-65, designed by Team 4 (the early Norman Foster and Richard Rogers partnership). In the 19th century studio tradition, a stark windowless red brick wall to the mews conceals a double height space behind top-lit by a sloping glazed roof.
On the south-east side, No. 20 is a small house of 1965-69 by Richard Gibson. In Pevsner's view, it was 'the trendsetter' in Murray Mews [pevsner, p391]. It is a self built reconstruction on the foundations of an original stable, and is therefore built up to the back line of the pavement. The L-shaped front is formed from rough stock brick behind tall matching garden walls, a clever concession to the planning requirement for a set-back.
No. 22, dating from 1967-71, is a brick-built house designed by Tom Kay for his own family; Built between two other mews houses, the house was intended to act as a transition between the building line of its two neighbours. The front elevation is articulated by the layered-planes of an external staircase and by roof terraces.
No. 30, dating from 1992, was designed by, and for, Jeff Kahane. Of brick construction, it has a projecting circular concrete porch roof.
No. 43, at the north-east end, is a family house by Rock Townsend, dating from 1975-77. The design was determined by a combination of height restrictions, plot ratio and a preservation order on an adjacent tree. A small,..scale front elevation in brick lies behind a forecourt enclosed by a high brick wall conforming to the street line. Ibis conceals a totally glazed tilted roof at the rear, maximising light and space
Notable Past Residents
- Camden Square Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Strategy
- Page on Murray Mews from modernarchitecturelondon.com
- LB of Camden; Camden Square Conservation Area Statement, 2001