Leith Mansions

Leith Mansions, Maida Vale
Leith Mansions, Maida Vale
Leith Mansions, Maida Vale

We know Leith Mansions

Leith Mansions was built between 1899 and 1900 and occupied by 1901. When it was first built Leith Mansions was described as ‘of modern construction and fitted throughout for modern requirements’. This included coal sheds!

From the start Leith Mansions attracted well-off residents. In the 1901 Census the most common occupation of the residents in the mansion block was ‘living off own means’, meaning a private income. Other occupations included a quantity surveyor, army and navy officers, authors, journalists and an actor.

In 1901 Miss Florence Almond of 8 Leith Mansions advertised in The Times that she was holding a ‘dramatic and musical recital’ at ‘Steinway Hall’. She was obviously well connected as she was ‘under the immediate patronage’ of the Duchess of Abercorn and a good number of other titled patrons.

Later on Lewis Leon Meredith of 44 Leith Mansions advertised the Cricklewood Dance Hall and Skating Rink that he ran.

Perhaps Leith Mansions’ most famous Resident was the British Comedy actress and novelist, Irene Handl (1901-1987) who was born and brought up in 13 Leith Mansions overlooking the recreation ground. Coming late to the entertainment world in her mid-thirties she was an immediate success in the 1940 film ‘George and Margaret’, a role that set her up for a film career of mothers, cooks and landladies, to all of which she lent her own touch of eccentricity.

Irene Handl was never out of work, appearing in no fewer than 150 films, TV series and shows. After appearing with a number of top comedians, she became a star in her own right in a TV series of the 1960s. She also wrote two popular novels. In her later years Irene Handl reflected on her childhood in the ‘new’ style of living in mansion blocks. ‘These mansion flats were some of the first flats and respectable people in those days didn’t live in flats. A lot of them were occupied by what they used to call actresses but were really tarts, ladies who’d been what they call “installed”. But of course my parents weren’t English and they didn’t think about houses in the way they did over here.’ Irene was the second daughter of Frederick and Maria Handl who both came from Austria.

The script writer and comic actor Dennis Goodwin, well-known in the 1950s and 60s, lived at Leith Mansions in the 1960s.

Throughout the 1970s various articles were printed in the Paddington Mercury concerning tenants of Leith Mansions waging a rent war with the then landlords (Freshwaters) who were trying to double the rent from £750 to £1,500. The rent tribunal inspected each flat but the outcome of the appeals was not reported. The general increase in car ownership from the 1950s is reflected in the building of new lock up garages at Leith Mansions in 1960.

Today, Leith Mansions consists of 104 of the most popular and sought after apartments in Maida Vale. Well located opposite the Paddington Recreation Ground, the block has a feeling of luxury benefiting from the nearby diverse blend of smart shops, trendy restaurants and stylish wine bars.

The Property Ombudsman