Down at the World’s End

There is more than one World’s End. As a name for inns and taverns it seems to have emerged in the reign of Charles II and been used in other parts of London and elsewhere in the British Isles.  But the Chelsea World’s End tavern which gave its name to the area around it has been on local maps since there have been maps of Chelsea. The narrow alley which ran down diagonally to the river has been called Hobs Lane and World’s End Passage. This route was important as many of the tavern’s customers came by boat from London to enjoy its gardens and its hospitality. It is mentioned in Congreve’s play Love for Lover in 1695.

The surrounding area was farmland and nurseries in those days. The tavern was an island of leisure and a safe haven for travellers. (The water route was preferred – the area called the Five Fields between Chelsea and Knightsbridge was notorious for street robbery) By 1836 there were houses along World’s End Place and new streets nearby, Lackland Place and Riley Street. To the south west Baron de Berenger had started his National Sporting Club in the grounds of Cremorne House. Thirty years later at the time of the first Ordnance Survey map there were houses around the tavern and the Sporting Club had become the Cremorne pleasure gardens. By 1894 the Pleasure Gardens had gone and a network of streets had grown up to the south of the tavern – Blantyre Street, Vicat Street, Raasay Street, Dartrey Road, Bifron Street, Luna Street and Seaton Street all clustered in the triangle between the King’s Road and Cremorne Road.

Here is the tavern in the early 20th century:


And here is a view from the 1930s looking south with St John’s church on the left and the chimneys of Lots Road power station in the distance:



Hardly any of those street names are familiar today because the streets themselves are gone, all demolished to build the World’s End Estate which now covers the entire area. Work began building the estate in 1969 and by 1975 tenants had begun moving into what was then the largest Council housing estate in Europe.

For the purpose of this post everything I’ve written so far is a preamble to the photographs which follow which show some of those gone but not forgotten streets just at the point when demolition had begun. Here is a view showing the same block of shops in Dartrey Terrace in 1969:

The former Home and Colonial store has become the home of the famous counter-cultural emporium Gandalf’s Garden.

At the same date demolition was well under way in Dartrey Road:

The Chelsea Flower Mill is visible at the rear of the picture and if I’m not mistaken Lots Road Power Station has lost at least one chimney. (The chimneys of Lots Road are probably a story in themselves.)

In another view of Dartrey Road children are playing near the now empty houses:

But in two streets east in Luna Street normal life proceeds:

At the end of the street the Battersea  side of the river is just visible.

The final photo below also of Luna Street shows a woman looking out of an upstairs window. Thanks to an enquiry from one of our customers I know her name and that the van in the picture was her husband’s. This is one way of reminding us that the pictures of old buildings which are part of my stock in trade are important, but what truly makes history live is the people inside the buildings.

(While I was selecting pictures for this post I noticed that boy on the bike who got himself into several pictures the photographer took that day.)

The title of this post comes from the theme song to BBC2’s short lived 1980s Chelsea soap opera World’s End. It centred on a pub called the World’s End but was actually filmed at the Cross Keys in Lawrence Street. Anyone remember it?

41 responses to “Down at the World’s End

  • Michael Gall

    Another great post David…very enjoyable.

    I have a proposal with regard to the photographs taken in Lots Road in the Seventies that I would like to talk to you about. When I was in the Local Studies a few weeks ago I noticed that many of the photographs were taken in Lots Road on the same day….29th of April 1972 I think.
    My proposal is that I would like to take photographs from the same positions where possible on the same day 29th April 2012…forty years later. I am an ex- artist…but not a real photographer. Let me know if this is something that might interest you.

    Kind Regards


  • Chris Pain

    I remember the TV series and I can still hear the theme song in my head. Pity it was so awful! The series I mean … the song too. Short-lived, as you say, and deservedly so. I remember it well, all about a fictitious pub, called the Mulberry I think, full of arty types, with a few token proletarians thrown in for good measure.
    The Cross Keys was a great pub with a lovely garden out back and I personally misspent many youthful hours in there, but the series was doomed from the start, misappropriating the name “World’s End” like that. The Cross Keys was a great pub but, by any stretch of the imagination, it certainly ain’t “down at the World’s End”.

    • Chris Pain

      Came across this the other day!


      Quite right Chris,socially The Cross Keys was always light years away from The Worlds End.It has been a great boozer in it’s time but I always preferred The Kings Head and Eight Bells just along the way,much better crumpet especially on a sunny Sunday morning with the famous’Yellow Rolls Royce ‘ parked outside and Rex Harrison and the quite delicious Kay Kendall in attendance.
      Yrs,Reg Francis

  • squidgybod

    Thank you very much Dave, fascinating and nostalgic.

    Don’t remember the soap opera but I do remember taking my turn to get the bread early in the morning, walking further and further afield; first to the bakery on the corner of Raasay Street, as shown in the wonderful photograph above. When that closed, the nearest shop was in the Worlds End, which later on, for a time, became Granny Takes a Trip. Finally a fair walk to get the ‘split tin’ in Forrests in the Kings Road, still there today.

    Thanks again and regards


      Hi .sqidgybod,’up the steps’ {granny takes a trip}Schillings,German family of bakers,not interned during the war ,as far as I know.Fantastic bread.I would party the night away,aged 20/21 at the posh end of Kings Road and Lower Belgravia where the pubs closed half hour later,Buy a dozen warm bread rolls ‘up the steps’ at about 4.30/5am,back to my flat in Dawes Road Fulham,big pot of strong tea ,eat the lot and go off to work in Pimlico.Sleep was for the weekends!We are talking 1957\58,my rent for what was really a very nice flat was Two Pounds ten shillings a week.

      Yours, Reg Francis

  • David warren

    I am trying to find an old friend John Anderson, who lived with his parents at 9 Lacland House on the Cremorne Estate 1960-70s, would be around about 70 years of age now. Any information would be appreciated if anyone knew him please.

    • Chris Pain

      David, I was brought up in Riley House in the 60s. I knew a couple of people in Lacland House: Stan Smith, who used to do stuff with the Chelsea Boys’ Club, and the Osbornes, who were friends of my parents’. With your permission I’ll post your query on the Facebook page all about the World’s End I manage. Let me know if you’d like me to.
      Chris Pain


        Dear Chris,I’m late into this quite wonderous nostalgia.Are you still running ‘The Worlds End’?Born in Slaidburn street in 1937and fully marbled up !Dear Stan Smith was married to my cousin Eileen Hainsby.Sorry, me that was born in 1937 not Stan!I have recently emailed David Walker who looks to be a very busy chap,not heard back yet.I even know the name of one of the horses being led along the Kings road to their stable in Edith Terrace;see,The Ruined Guiness Trust sketch by Francis Griffen 1943.I walked through that lot from Uverdale Road to Slaidburn street on my own aged seven and can remember that dreadful night vividly.
        Best Wishes,Reg Francis

      • anglosardo

        Dear Reg, I suppose you mean “Are you still running the World’s End Chelsea page on Facebook?”, then the answer is yes. If you’re asking if I run the pub or the whole area, then you’ve got the wrong person, though a girl I went to school with at Park Walk does run Oxfordshire (chief executive). If you’d like to see more pictures and articles about Chelsea and Fulham and if you’re on Facebook, besides my World’s End Chelsea page take a look at the new group I helped create entitled: History and Memories…our West London Connections.


        Odd that Chris,you say The Worlds End to me ,and that “I manage”and I have you behind the bar.New to this medium but I shall learn.Deeply suspicious of Facebook and shall not join.You Park Walk,Me Servites in the Fulham Road and Salesian College in Battersea.Most interested in your CEO Oxfordshire as just negotiating to buy a week-end cottage in Dorchester on Thames.Let us keep in touch.
        Yours, Reg

  • david eglintine nee holmes

    I am in search of a syd shanks who was a regular drinker in the worlds end pub 30 years ago as I am after information on a family member if any body could or knows of Sydney shanks could u please contact me david on07563329442 thank you.

    • neil harrison

      Hi David. Bit late replying, only just read your post – Syd Shanks passed away quite a few years ago.

      • David Eglintine

        Hi neil….its David Eglintine nee Holmes you replied on my e.mail two years ago when i was looking for syd shanks and thanks for that.. i was wondering if you know or knew my dad patrick craine known as pat, i knew he was from ireland surname might of been spelt different but on my adoption papers its spelt that away..He was in the Bayswater area in 1957.58..onwards my mobile number is 07563329442. Thanks for your time on this matter.

    • David Eglintine

      Hi neil..Sorry to bother you but i received a reply 2 years ago on anybody knowing- syd shanks and appreciated it gladly…Could you tell me if you knew of my dad patrick craine he was irish known as Pat..if so could you phone me on 07563329442 thanks for your time on this matter he drank in worlds end pub to.

  • Cath Ollerton

    I remember the TV series – I loved it! It was on late at night and centred on a group of people who worked in antique/junk shops and hung out at the local arty pub. God, how I wanted to be one of them and live in Chelsea! Would love to see it again – I’m sure it’s not half as good as I remember!

  • Paul Grace

    the photo looking down Luna street was taken very near to where I lived in Blantyre Street. Wonderful memories.

  • patrick collins

    i was born in luna st,behind where the photographer stood no2,we moved into seaton st,in 60s,worlds end was a great place to grow up,not the rich part of chelsea but great fun for youngsters.

  • Margaret Robinson

    My grandad grew up at Worlds End Pub, I believe his aunt and uncle ran it. He was born in the early 1900s. I was wondering if anyone knew the names of the landlords through that time?

  • Ray wright

    Just like to say this brings back some good memoies as most of my family we used to live in dartery road the pic of that bike was my dads jimmy wright.
    I am trying to find more we moved away in 1968 many thanks ray

  • Travelling Coral

    I lived on Dartrey Terrace, the Rag and bone scrap metal shop looks like the place I lived. It was a cafe/shop and boarding house. The Rolling Stones stayed there.

  • Mary watkins

    I lived in 1 vicat street from 1920 to 1931. The Barwells lived next door and the Cassilys upstairs Tootsie, bubbles and Alec. Does any one remember the wells family. I am Mary wells…95 years old. I also lived in Gilray house on the Cremorne estate from 1952 to 1955. Any memories would be great to hear from you

  • Mary watkins

    We lived in Gilray house from 1951 to 1953. Would love to hear from any one who also lived on the Cremorne estate at that time

  • John Beaumont.

    I Lived at 11 Luna street from 1951 till they knocked our place down, and we were moved to Henry Dickens Court Notting Hill, I hated the place so I moved to Australia. I went to school at Ashburnham primary, I see they have knocked that down, best thing they did, then went to Kingsley secondary modern, last time I looked that had become a girls school. If we had not been forced to move I would still be living in Chelsea, it was a great place to live. Our neighbours were actors from the theatre’s in London, mum was a cleaner for them, on a Friday night we used to go in there to have a bath, they had hot and cold running water, the first time I had seen that, saved us having to go to the Town Hall where you could get a bath for threepence.

  • Paul Gadd

    I lived a 26 Luna Street from 1950 until 1961 when we moved to Clapham. I went to Park Walk School from 1955 (nursery) until I left primary school in 1961. What a great place to grow up as a kid, plenty of other kids to play with and many adventures and interesting places to play, from bomb sites to Battersea Park. I remember the fun fair in Battersea park and used to save my pennies and then go and have a great time at the fair.

    • Dave Watson

      I Paul, I remember you. I lived in Elm Park Road when I was at Park Walk School and then moved to Westfield House, Cremorne Estate once I left juniors. Our memories are similar, playing on bomb sites, going to Battersea Park and also going to Play Centre at Park Walk after school.

  • Sue Bloomfield

    My Mum’s side of the family lived in Luna Street, The Barrett Family. My Mum Louise was born in no6 Worlds End Passage in 1928. My family, the Bloomfield’s lived in Milman’s Street, Chelsea until my Mother sadly died in 2002. Some of my Aunts & Cousins still live on Cremorne Estate. I miss home so much, but wasn’t the same after Mum died & my brother Paul. Wouldn’t it be lovely to go back in time & relive the close community spirit that Chelsea once had.

    • Paul Hurley

      Hi Sue
      Reading your comment brings back so many memory’s.
      researching my family found your comment.
      I was born in 51 in brickbarn close, left Chelsea when I was 15.
      Moved to Wellingborough Northants.
      my close friends were Paul Bloomfield and his younger brother.
      they lived just across the kings road, from me we all went to.
      Ashburnham primary and Chelsea central school.
      Cant remember a sister but were you related, my mother.
      Lily Hurley grew up with Paul’s mother
      Me and Paul would play football for hours, happy days.

      • Sue Bloomfield

        Hi Paul,

        Lovely to hear from you. I’m the baby of the bunch, Paul, Barry, Adam & myself. I was born in 1968, Paul & Barry were 15 & 17 years older than me. Sadly we lost Paul in 2002, a month after losing our lovely Mum. Barry moved to Norfolk last year & Adam moved to Oregon USA over 20 years ago. Do you have any old photos of my brothers?

      • Paul Hurley

        Hi Sue
        What a surprise so sad to hear of Pauls passing,all those.
        Child Memory’s came flooding back.
        Pictures of us together, I will check that out if there is any.
        Pics my sister Sandra would have’ them Sadly my parents passed away within 6 months of each other.
        In 1994.
        I live in Milton Keynes now, retired a year ago.
        Picked up what a uncle of mine started a few years ago.
        The family tree.
        Stay in touch all the best.

    • Paul Hurley

      Hi Sue
      Sorry for the delay in coming back to you on any pics.
      of Paul Checked with My sister, none to be found.
      But reading your previous Post, your mum came from the Barrett.
      My great aunt Edith married Fred Barrett any relation.
      I will still keep looking for pics of any interest too you.
      as I dig into the family past.
      Take care all the best

  • Miinkie Best

    I lived at no.6 Luna Street from 1954 until the demolition in the early 70s. We were probably the last to go, a good part of the northern end of the street had already been pulled down.
    Here’s a paper on why that area was eventually destroyed, and later much else of our King’s Road:

  • Richmond and Esme Fleming

    Richmond Fleming,
    I had the fish and chip shop for some years, some lovely people lived there.
    Richmond Fleming


    my mother, olive dickens, was the daughter of Charles Dickens who was a missionary for the London city mission and they lived in Lacland Hall, Worlds end passage, around 1910/1930
    Any pictures of the passage around that time ?

  • M crossley

    Loved reading and looking at all the old pictures lovely memories of being bought up in dartry rd
    Can I find anymore information or pictures as my brothers 70 birthday coming up so wanted to put all about Chelsea and world’s end pub and kings road together for him

  • Andy Patrick

    My great grandad was a Chelsea copper back in what must have been Victorian times. My mum said they patrolled around the Worlds End in threes because it was so rough.

  • Graham

    I was born at home which was on the Kings Road, almost opposite Slaidburn Street. I remember Chelsea Boys Club (in the basement of the former Chelsea Police station) and the then leader Stan Smith. Wonderful memories of ‘our Worlds End’, the people, the shops and pubs and visiting the pie & mash shop in Langton Street every Saturday morning (can’t remember the name of the shop though). I used to attend the Servite primary school and then St Thomas More secondary school. Many films, and tv series were shot in and around the World End during the 60’s and early 70’s and often appear on the ‘Talking Pictures’ channel. Stills from them can be found on the ‘Reelstreets’ website. Well worth looking through.

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