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The Curse of Kenton Lane – A look at the history of this seemingly ordinary Harrow street

Today, Kenton Lane is a busy street made up of a mixture of family homes and business premises including the popular Duck In The Pond pub. While there may not seem to be anything exceptional about this Harrow street today, we’re going to be looking at some of the people who have lived here – and possibly lived to regret it.

Although, in 2024, it may be hard to imagine, before 1920, Kenton Lane was uninhabited and was, in fact, something of a wasteland and a muddy one at that due to the regular flooding from a small brook which made up part of the Lidding.

As well as being dank and dark, the area was described as being frequented by “marauding gypsies” who would hide in the undergrowth in order to assault and rob unsuspecting revellers making their way home from The Plough pub – some of whom, it is said, did not survive the experience.

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James Bransgrove was a hard working man who, along with his wife, was proprietor of the Rising Sun pub in Sudbury. When James decided to turn his hand to farming, he moved his family to a farm on Kenton Lane.

Unfortunately, James would soon realise that he had bitten off more than he could chew with the farm’s large acreage and he began to struggle to keep up with its demands. James therefore decided to sell the farm and buy a smallholding but, sadly, before the negotiations could be completed, James died in his fields while driving a pony and trap.

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Following the death of her husband, Betty Bransgrove remained on Kenton Lane and remarried but would fall victim to alcohol addiction which would see her selling off all of her family’s possessions and Betty would, sadly, end her life in an asylum. James and Betty’s son, James Samuel, had been a sickly child and so the farming life wasn’t for him. Having spent a few years in a Watford orphanage following his mother’s admission into an asylum, James Samuel would return to Kenton Lane to open a butcher’s shop but he would die young as a result of complications from his childhood illnesses.

The Curse of Kenton Lane - A look at the history of this seemingly ordinary Harrow street Harrow Online
Duck in the Pond pub, Kenton Lane. Image: Nicci Rae

One of Kenton Lane’s most famous residents was Walter Robert Cowen – an alderman (high ranking official of The Crown) and Harrow’s very first Mayor. Walter was made Mayor of Harrow in 1954 but would die just five years later at his home on Kenton Lane.

While, in the past, bad luck seems to have travelled along Harrow’s Kenton Lane, thankfully today’s residents enjoy comfortable homes with great local businesses and convenient travel links – putting the Kenton Lane curse firmly in the past where it belongs.

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