The station opened on 1 April 1867 as "Kentish Town", was renamed "Kentish Town West" on 2 June 1924, and closed after a serious fire on 18 April 1971. Despite an announcement in 1976 that the station would not reopen, it was rebuilt and re-opened on 5 October 1981. The most widely accepted explanation of the name of Kentish Town is that it derived from 'Ken-ditch' meaning the 'bed of a waterway'. Kentish Town was originally a settlement along the River Fleet which flowed through the area, and today runs underground. Kentish Town is first recorded during the reign of King John (1207) as kentisston. By 1456 Kentish Town was recognised as a thriving hamlet, and in this period a chapel of ease is recorded as being built for the inhabitants. The early 19th century brought modernisation, causing much of the area's rural qualities, the River Fleet and the 18th century buildings to vanish, although pockets still remain, for example Little Green Street.
To allow four-car trains to run on the London Overground network, the North London Line between Gospel Oak and Stratford closed in February 2010, and reopened on 1 June 2010, in order to install a new signalling system and to extend 30 platforms. After the reopening the work continued until May 2011 with a reduced service and none on Sundays. The station is managed by London Overground, which also operates all services from the station. The basic weekday service is six trains per hour in each direction, calling at every station. Four are Richmond to Stratford North London Line services, the remaining two are West London Line services between Clapham Junction and Stratford. Services are formed of Class 378 Capitalstar electric multiple units, which replaced the older Class 313 EMUs. The station is in Travelcard Zone 2 and has wi-fi, payphones and a waiting room, but no toilets.
Connections: London Buses routes 46 and 393 serve the station.