Tag Archives: Justice Walk

Side streets of Chelsea: part one

Most people have heard of the King’s Road, and when these photographs were taken it was at the height of its cultural / historical significance, Chelsea was one of the fashion / youth culture centres of the world. But off the main road were ordinary streets, home to the affluent and the less than affluent. These pictures were taken by the library photographer John Rogers in the early 1970s as a contemporary record of how Kensington and Chelsea looked. It was then a relatively new borough, the result of an amalgamation of the old separate Metropolitan Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, so the photo survey was one of the first attempts to show the character of the new entity.

The pictures have that quiet mood we’ve seen before in the survey pictures. They remind us that this is now a historical era, even if some of us think we can remember it. There are less people and fewer cars. And there’s an atmosphere about them, the hint of a more optimistic, less frantic time.

Markham St 1970

Markham Street, off the northern side of the King’s Road. A young woman with a string bag goes shopping. Further west in Burnsall Street a man checks out some jackets.

Burnsall Street

As always in these photo survey pictures I’ll be very pleased if you can identify the cars even when they’re not exactly classics.

Further south there are more traditional scenes.

Danube Street from the east

This narrow street is Danube Street, off Cale Street. The building on the right still has that shop front almost the same except for a different paint job.

On the south side of the King’s Road you could have found your way to this quiet autumnal backwater, off Christchurch Street.

Christchurch Street east side 1974, KS 4175Something about this photo takes me back to  my 1974 when I had been in London for less than a year.

So does this tranquil spot in Dilke Street:

Dilke Street north side 1974 KS4347

Dilke Street, which runs parallel to the river, deserves a second look:

Dilke Street south side 1974 KS4344

This distinctive house can still be found on Google Maps. The trees behind the wall are in the Chelsea Physic Garden.

The trees below on the other hand are in Margaretta Terrace. This street, rumoured to be the site of a plague pit was built by Dr John Samuel Phene and named after his wife.

Margaretta Terrace east side 26-27 1973 KS 4534

But in 1973 as John passed by, a small child ran between a Rover and a Citroen, two cars characteristic of middle class life at that date.

Margaretta Terrace is behind Oakley Street which I used to walk down on my way home from working at Chelsea Library, past the site of Dr Phene’s famous house heading along Upper Cheyne Row towards this narrow passage:

Justice Walk from west KS 3083Justice Walk may get a post of its own one day, or maybe my whole walk home. You can see a view from the other end in this post on WW Burgess.

If I’d turned left I’d have walked down Lawrence Street.

Lawrence St W side The Cross Keys P.H 1970 KS 3197

This is the Cross Keys, a public house dating from 1708. In 1970 the existence of a large number of pubs in Chelsea was taken for granted but many of them have gone now. The Cross Keys avoided being turned into a residential property in 2012 but is currently closed and up for sale again.

When I was walking home in those days my journey finished in Beaufort Street. Further west back in 1970 a major building project was in progress.

Cremorne Road looking west 1972, KS 3920Cremorne Road was just as busy in 1972 as it is today. The World’s End Estate was rising and places like this were gone:

Dartrey road 1969 KS1835A doorway in Dartrey Street just before demolition.

Some of the old neighbourhood still survived in 1972:

Burnaby street south side 1972, KS 3993

Burnaby Street, at the intersection with Upcerne Road (I think). Note the word Shed on the wall. Not a reference to the small building in your garden, but part of the Chelsea football ground, home to one of the original firms of football hooligans (according to Wikipedia  I’m sure one of my Chelsea readers could give us chapter and verse).

This nearby street is no longer on maps:

Meek St looking W 1972  KS3999A black cat crosses Meek Street in the thirteenth picture. He’s in no danger from passing traffic.

For the most part as we’ve seen the streets are calm. There are plenty of these pictures so expect a part two in the next few weeks. Let’s have one more for my friend Carrie, at the other end of Chelsea.

Pavilion Rd east side 107-103 1970Pavillion Road – what car is that, motor enthusiasts?

Postscript

This is a topic I’ve had on the back burner for a while, but for a couple of reasons, one medical (I’m not at work right now after a small accident on Monday night) and one practical (our scanning equipment is locked up in the Library basement during some building repairs), I’ve decided to go with it this week.

While at A&E I had an idea for a post which may be next week’s. This is the blogger’s life – everything you see makes you ask: is there a blog post here?

Stop press: I’ve just seen a tweet saying  the Cross Keys is to re-open. Story at:

http://chelseasociety.org.uk/cross-keys-reopen/

 


Late in the afternoon: Walter William Burgess

You have been here before. You have stood on this foreshore, seen those beached barges waiting for the next tide. You’ve walked those streets. But the last time you were looking through the eyes of the photographer, an artist who worked through light falling on a glass plate. This week you’re seeing the scenes below through the imagination of a man who worked with pencil and ink, and by scratching lines on a sheet of metal. Just as William Cowen created a rural idyll in the area between Kensington and Chelsea (Idle days in southern Kensington – see list of posts opposite) so Walter William Burgess created an urban fantasy out of what he saw in Chelsea in the second half of the 19th century.

Here is Lindsey Wharf again, the barges with their sails furled and the men walking on the mud up to the stairs.

Back on solid ground this is Lindsey Row looking west echoing the view we saw in the Hedderly post Tales of the Riverbank.

The tide is in and there seems to be more activity in the street. To me it looks like an afternoon scene. Smoke from the chimneys and people on their way home. That same horse and cart waiting in the first picture are now on their way. The sky is full of clouds, birds are on the wing. The guys from Green’s boatyard have moved a tricky job out into the street.

Past the bridge in Cheyne Walk the high tide touches the road.

A milkmaid heads towards the Old Church. Two men with time on their hands relax and talk just feet from the water. This picture has the feel of an earlier period than the others, perhaps the 1830s or 1840s when Chelsea was still half rural full of market gardens and nurseries. Burgess has slipped us into a time machine of his own.

We’re moving away from the waterfront now. This is Justice Walk. The Wesleyan Chapel building is still there even that strange cage like structure over the basement yard. The building has also  a court house been a wine merchant’s house. The street may take its name from a resident of nearby Lawrence Street the famous magistrate and founder of the Bow Street Runners Sir John Fielding. A story persists that it has a tunnel in the cellar which leads to the river. Chelsea has quite a few of those rumoured hidden passages. Very few of them can be found today.

I used to walk through this alley every evening on the way home from work. it’s quiet, tranquil rather than spooky although I once saw two of the modern equivalents of the Runners in action there. I can’t say more than that here.

Now we’re looking south down Old Church Street. There are cafes, shops, houses. A woman I think I should recognize from a Hedderly photograph walks with her son. Some other children are playing with hoops. Hoops are a bit of a craze in Burgess pictures. It looks like another late afternoon. The hint of growing shadows, more smoke in the air.

Burgess’s Chelsea has secret places too behind the public streets.

The Moravian burial ground. If you remember this patch of green has been used in our century for exercising a lion. But it has obviously always welcomed animals. Who is the figure in black on the path?

I’m not good with botany but I know that’s a cedar tree looming over the Sloane statue. In our archive room there is a cedar box made from wood from this garden. A couple of potted plants sit in front of Sloane like some kind of offering. At the left another stone deity stands surrounded by plants.  From the Physic Garden you can move on to the Royal Hospital. In the picture below two Pensioners have left the Hospital to stroll up Franklin’s Row. It’s one of my favourite Burgess pictures.

It’s the sheep that make the picture for me. But go back and look through these pictures again. You’ll find animals in every one. Horses, chickens, dogs and cats. The goat. If he couldn’t insert four legged creatures Burgess made do with birds. He couldn’t keep the animals out. Perhaps it was part of urban life in those days. Even in the city we shared our space with them. Is there an unknown animal among the exotic plants in the Physic Garden? WWB might know for sure.

Walter William Burgess lived from 1845 to 1908. Very little is known about his life but given the time he was in Chelsea it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that he knew Hedderly, the Greaves brothers and maybe Whistler as well. Many of Burgess’s pictures are collected in a folio volume called Bits of Old Chelsea.


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