Story of the BAM Site to 1923

The BAM Estate is built on the major section of what was long known as the Cock and Hoop field, so named after the pub which was on the site of the present Alexandra Mansions until about 1901. The field, was basically triangular in shape, as our site still is and was bordered on two sides by West End Lane and Finchley road. On the west side of the field was the Cock and Hoop Pub and the grounds of a cottage. Finchley New Road (or Finchley Turnpike Road) was driven through the top of the Cock and Hoop field in about 1836. In 1863 Charles Cannon acquired the copyhold enfranchisement from the then Lord of the Manor Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson, for the princely sum of 1321.

Initially it would seem Cannon wanted to build 30 houses but in fact, only Wellesley House was built. Charles Cannon died in 1876 and his wife died in 1881 leaving the property to their daughters.

In 1884 the footpath which ran across the Cock and Hoop field was diverted and Cannon Hill Road as it was then called was created. In 1896 agreement was reached to buiId on the site and the land was sold by Misses Cannon to a speculative builder, Mr Edward Jarvis Cave. After conveyancing was completed on 25th March 1897 the building of the Estate began.

Mr Cave was also involved in the building of Lyncroft Mansions and Cumberland Mansions in addition to houses and shopping parades on Frognal, Finchley Road and in other parts of London. He financed his protects with the backing of a local financial syndicate and it is thought that a number of local people lost money on his developments. The key player in the syndicate was Mr Ernest Owers, whose property and estate agency business was based for many years beside West Hampstead tube station. Mr Owers’ name appears on many of the original mortgage agreements for the Estate.

The plan was to build four blocks of Avenue Mansions, Marlborough Mansions East and the first three blocks of Buckingham Mansions (1-25). There were also to be two villas, one between Avenue Mansions and WellesIey House on Finchley Road and one between Buckingham Mansions and Wellesley House on West End Lane.

The conveyance was completed on 25th March 1897 and building began. If you look up at the brickwork on the side of 25-34 Avenue Mansions you will see the date 1897. By 1898, Cave had successfully acquired enough land to build on the western side of Marlborough Mansions. In 1899 Cave bought the Cock & Hoop and planned to extend Marlborough Mansions round the corner of Cannon Hill down to the Green, but he appears to have finally overextended himself and was declared bankrupt in May 1902. The Cock & Hoop site was sold to another developer who built Alexandra Mansions in 1902.

Wellesley House and its grounds were purchased by Mrs Elizabeth Cave in 1902 as Mr Cave had clearly gotten over his earlier bankruptcy. He abandoned the building of villas and instead built two more blocks of Buckingham Mansions (26-41). Mrs Cave died in 1909 leaving all her property to her husband. He died intestate in 1923 having not fully administered her estate.