Council block to be named after spy hero Noor Inayat Khan

Mary Prince and Antony Grey will also be honoured

Monday, 14th March — By Dan Carrier

Noor Inayat Khan

Noor Inayat Khan

IT was, said one resident, a little like the game where you have to chose the invitation list for your ultimate dinner party.

And this week the results of a survey to name three new council-owned blocks in Maitland Park can be revealed.

Resistance fighter Noor Inayat Khan, LGBTQ+ campaigner Antony Grey and former slave Mary Prince, will be remembered on the new homes.

The names were chosen by residents on the Maitland Park estate from a shortlist of famous Camden people who, the Town Hall says, represent the borough’s diverse communities.

The development is part of the council’s Community Investment Programme, with 119 new houses built in place of the now demolished Aspen House block. The ribbon is due to be cut on the development next year.

Camden drew up its shortlist with the help of historians.

Camden’s equalities chief, Labour councillor Abdul Hai, said he had “great pride” at the final three, which he described as “remarkable, inspirational individuals who showed immense courage in their lives and left lasting legacies for us all”.

“We hope residents enjoy living in these brand new blocks and being part of the modern-day Camden community.”

There had previously been suggestions that Cecil Rhodes House in Somers Town might be renamed in Ms Khan’s honour following racial injustice protests.
Residents opted not to name their block after anybody on that occasion – and it is now called Park View House.

Instead Ms Khan’s name will go above the door at Maitland Park.

During the Second World War she had operated as a spy in occupied France, having leapt out of a moving aircraft.

She lived in Bloomsbury and had trained as a radio operator for the Women’s Auxillary Air Force before the Special Operations Executive recruited her in 1942.

Ms Khan was the first woman operative to be sent to work undercover and provided vital information until she was caught by the Gestapo.

She was murdered by the Nazis in 1944, and awarded posthumously the Croix de Guerre by France and the George Cross by Great Britain.

Meanwhile, Mr Grey, a civil rights campaigner, who lived in Broadhurst Gardens, West Hampstead, travelled the length of the UK speaking at meetings and events as he sought to illustrate why the laws that criminalised being gay should be consigned to history.

His work helped bring about the Sexual Offences Act 1967 and helped kick start an open and active liberation movement.

Mr Grey, who died in 2010, has been called the most important gay activist of the 20th century.

Ms Prince’s story shocked Georgian London. Her tale was the first time a black woman had an autobiography published in the UK – The History of Mary Prince, A West Indian Slave (1831). It laid bare the extraordinary cruelty she had lived through.

Born as a slave in Bermuda, her “owner” John Wood brought her to Camden in 1828.

She escaped, and while living in Malet Street, told her story to the Anti-Slavery Society. In doing so, she helped bolster public opinion against the evil trade and helped abolition be passed in 1833.

Related Articles