Living in Kilburn

By Kate Ainscow

Kilburn is bordered by Maida Vale in the South, Cricklewood in the North, West Hampstead on the right, and Queen's Park, Kensal Rise and Brondesbury on the left. It has excellent transport links, for tube, trains and buses. The High road runs sraight up the middle and is crowded with different ethnic groups, traffic and shops. The north end is more of a drinkers haven whilst the southern end is for the shoppers and a bit more rubbishy with a McDonalds, Burger King and street traders selling DVDs.

Women say they don't feel safe on the streets at night. There are quite a few dodgy people around including groups of hoodies but the high street is never empty and safety is made up for in numbers. Newspaper headlines of drug and gun related cime only serve to scare- it really is the type of crime that only affects those involved. On the whole Kilburn is an up and coming area - easy to live in - though some would find a bit rough.


Kilburn has a big residential area. There is a huge council estate right in the middle and then leafy quiet streets. There are detached and terraced houses with plenty of bedsits and rooms to rent. Starting price for a room is about 70 a week. Flats start at 175 a week. Cheap ones can be found above some of the shops on the high road.


Although Kilburn has been traditionally Irish for a long time, reflected in the pubs and musical scene, it is now not so noticable. A couple of Irish pubs have closed recently and there has been a surge of people coming over from eastern block countries. There is also a large Muslim and black community, especially in south Kilburn. Kilburn is diverse. Some of the people here seem to be quite poor and then others, well off. It is not the type of area where you see young working proffessionals hanging about except at a few of the barsin the evening. It is the gritty hard working locals you see having a pint at lunch time.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

The three main pubs near Kilburn tube are Brondesage, The Black Lion and The North London Tavern. Brondesage is a spacious modern pub, comfortable to have a drink at any time. There is good grub on the menu here, with various platters to share- meat and vegetarian at a reasonable price. It is never empty and has a variety of interesting paintings and furniture including a giant wooden hand to sit on in the back room. Watch out for screened football matches - it gets really crowded!

Further down is the Black Lion, which is my mate's favourite. Staff are really friendly here. Once you are seated you notice the decor which is absolutely amazing. The ceiling is Grade 2 listed and embellished with intricate gold and burgundy carvings. There are open fireplaces, mirrors, unusual furniture and even hotel rooms upstairs. It gets quite busy in the evening and the atmosphere is very traditional. The adjoining dinning room serves quite upmarket food.

There is an excellent cinema and theatre 'The Tricycle', roughly in the middle of Kilburn with it's own art gallery. Tuesday film at 6.30 is pay what you can, starting at 1.50. The Luminaire is a nightclub which has regular bands all week and lastly, there is a massive bingo hall called Mecca.


There is one park in Kilburn called 'Grange Park'. Medium-sized, it holds tennis courts, a children's play area, a netball court, and a large grassy area to sunbathe on. Every July sees the Kilburn Festival here which is free. Last year there was world live music including reggae, jazz and traditional Irish tunes, numerous stalls and lots of visitors.

Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways

Kilburn has plenty to offer in terms of restaurants and cafes. There is an excellent restaurant in the north called 'Small and Beautiful', serving Mediterranean style food which does special deals before 7pm, Monday to Friday. For something cheaper, try 'Speedy Noodle', which is fast food chinese and serves large tasty soups. Many of the pubs do good food too. Then there are the African and Indian restaurants worth a try, 'Buka', and 'Kovlam' on Willesden Lane and the plentiful cheap cafes and kebab takeaways. There really is something for everyone.

As for the shops, these make up the area. There are a lot of cheap shops like Pound Stretcher where you will find all sorts of bargains like household cleaning products and useful things for the house. There is an excellent fishmongers, a regular market, street traders and then the bigger stores like Marks and Spencers, Sainsburys and Primark. The abundance of cheap shops gives the area a poor feel and everyone from the young to pensioners comes out to scavenge for a bargain.


Kilburn and Kilburn Park tubes both run into central London every few minutes. Brondesbury and Kilburn Park trains run every fifteen minutes across London and are usually quite reliable. Richmond upon Thames is only 20 minutes away. Buses are very frequent. The majority run directly to the west end or north/north west London. Numbers are 16, 316, 28, 31, 98, 32, 189. All modes of transport get very busy at rush hour.

Good Points

  • vibrant area with plenty of pubs
  • good shopping facilities
  • reasonable rent rates
  • excellent transport links

Bad Points

  • area a bit poor and trashy
  • very crowded in south Kilburn
  • not enough large supermarkets
  • unsafe feeling at night, especially for women


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