Forgotten Chelsea: scenes you’ll never see

More photographs of old Chelsea this week but these are quite different from the Hedderly pictures. In Hedderly’s day Chelsea was still a suburb. The market gardens and nurseries were still there, some of the big houses and grounds survived, and Cremorne Gardens was still going strong. Thirty years or so later Chelsea was part of the city, only a few of the nurseries were left and Cremorne was already erased, the Gardens covered with housing. The open spaces have been filled in.

You can still see many of the places in Hedderly’s pictures, Rossetti’s house, Belle Vue House, the embankment, a reasonable facsimile of the Old Church. But the remarkable thing about these pictures is that almost everything you see in them is now gone.

You will never look at the north side of the King’s Road from Paultons Square and see houses and gardens like these or take a walk towards Beaufort Street and see the King’s Road Forage Stores with its intriguing Steam Chaff Cutting and Crushing Mill.

Or Osborn and Shearman’s paperhanging manufactory at numbers 332-336. Light industry was cheek by jowl with housing – turn around and look at the south side of the street

These pleasant and permanent looking dwellings on the corner of the King’s Road and Beaufort Street are also gone.

The block below looks familiar.

The buildings look a little like parts of the Fulham Road today but this is the corner of King’s Road and Edith Grove which looks quite different now. That woman striding along with an air of determination is walking past a missing piece of London.

This was Camera Square, off the northern section of Beaufort Street.

It was thought to be a bit of a slum at the time and after the Great War it was demolished and replaced by the rather more upmarket dwellings in the garden suburb style Chelsea Park Gardens.

Here is another side street off the King’s Road:

I think this is the eastern side of Manresa Road showing Wentworth Villa and Studios where several artists worked undisturbed through a large part of the 20th century. This is a view a little further down the road:

These buildings were opposite the first Chelsea Library which has survived through the years although it is no longer a library.

Moving eastwards you come to Sydney Street.

The Wilkinson Sword Company had their Oakley Works here. Just beyond it is this row of buildings:

The street on the right is Upper Manor Street. Later there was a Post Office on this site.

Turn back to the south side again. This is the south section of Manor Street in 1901:

Demolition is under way. The whole street has an air of impermanence as if it hadn’t yet decided what sort of street it was going to be.

There is more than a hint of what is to come at the Sloane Square end of the road.

This picture from October 1900 shows the previous incarnation of the Peter Jones store, a building gone but definitely not forgotten.

One final place for you to go, up Sloane Street and into Sloane Terrace.

The Wesleyan Chapel, replaced by the grander Christian Science church which is now Cadogan Hall. But don’t linger, there’s something I want to show you round the corner.

This is D’Oyley Street, and that is the Woodman Tavern. As I promised you at the start almost everything in these pictures is gone. But do you see that hanging sign? That is still with us in a library archive room, a survivor against the odds.

One of these days I’ll show you a close up of it as it is today.

22 responses to “Forgotten Chelsea: scenes you’ll never see

  • Laura Morrigan

    These make me sad, I find modern architecture so boring and dull, and I love all these old buildings. While I understand the need for skyscrapers, could we not at least add some gargoyles and colonades?

  • Chris Pain

    Fascinating photos, Dave! As regards photo number 2, showing part of the block on the north side of the King’s Road between The Vale and Beaufort Street, the Post Office Directory 1902 gives the following:

    328 Laffeaty Thomas John, cycle ma (sic) (this must have been the original Laffeaty’s, a name familiar to all aficionados of the King’s Road)
    330 Ball James, beer retailer (looks like the pub’s name was the William the Fourth)
    332, 334 & 335 Wall Paper Manufacturers Lim, paperhngng. mfrs
    338 Billings Wm. Chas, corn dealer
    340 Humphreys Edward, dairy
    342 Bolton Percy, chemist
    344 & 346 Boothroyd & Marson, draprs
    348 Fells Mrs. Isabel Marian, dressma
    … here is Beaufort Street

    As for the fourth picture it says:

    502 Reus John, baker
    504 Denton Joseph, bootmaker
    506 & 196 Brazil Walter, pork butcher
    508 Cross Wm. Francis, confectioner
    510 Riches Geo. Robt, newsagt, POST, Money Order Office & Saving Bank
    512 Jupp James, wine merchant

    This must be roughly when the photos were taken.

    All the best,
    Chris Pain


      Hi Chris,
      do you have any photos of Harcourt Terrace and Elm Park Road, both in Chelsea?
      Many thanks for these beautiful images.

  • dawn

    do you have any photos of the star & Garter P,H on sloane sq where Peter jones stands now. my ancestor Samuel Raven 1844-1911, licensed victualler, ran it c1891 along with a tobacconist shop at no25?

  • P Taylor

    No traffic, no crowds, no skyscrapers. Wonderful photos, it all looks very serene. I cannot say that the modern buildings that exist in the same area now are an improvement at all. In the early 80’s I remember having a chat with an elderly chap at the Worlds End pub, he could remember when there were farms in the area, sheep grazing off the Kings Road!

  • silverboy67Brian Wright

    Thank you so much for the whole catalogue you’ve assembled. as a taxi driver, I often ride around my beloved Chelsea wondering how blocks such as Swan court came about in such an obvious Georgian and Victorian area? Even in the singing Sixties, King’s Road was very much a local high street–see the film the Lion Cub From Harrods for great shots. Also, how many cinemas were there along the King’s Road, now gone many of them. the Classic on the corner of Markham Street? I had my 21st birthday party in the bar of The Pheasantry in 1972 and it was still a proper dive for nouveau pauvre artists and posh types. Keep them coming, please! Brian.

  • LornaHen

    Fascinating thank you. I’m researching a nurseryman/gardner James RUNCIEMAN who came to Worlds End Cottage around 1839 after having lived in Wales for a while.
    The 1841 census shows his widow Elizabeth living in Worlds End Cottage with her family, the enumeration schedule showing the prior entries as in Britannia Terrace, following entries respectively: Worlds End nursery (William DENNIS, florist); out house (SALTER, m.s. in the florist’s household); Exotic Nursery (Joseph KNIGHT occ. nursery); Out house (servents in nursery hsehold); Stanley House; Stanley Place;

  • anglosardo

    Interesting Lorna. If you’re on Facebook check out the page I run all about the World’s End:

    Have you got all the maps you need? I’ve got a nice on of the World’s End from 1836. If you get in touch with me on:

    we can exchange information.

    i found Elizabeth Runcieman on the 1841 census at World’s End Cottage, as you say. What happened to her and James’s children, William Andrew, Mary and John? Did they stay in Chelsea?


  • Donna Spratt

    Do you have any photos/pictures of W & T Spratt Coachbuilders, Sloane Square? They were my great and great great grandads.

    Thank you
    Donna Spratt

  • Peter Barron

    Does Manor Street mean Chelsea Manor Street?

    • Dave Walker

      It does. Like many Chelsea people I frequently omit qualifications like the Old in Old Church Street and the Chelsea in Manor Street. Chelsea people know the Chelsea street is the important one. There’s a Church Street in Kensington? Don’t care. (Although I will be doing a post om Kensington Church Street soon.)

  • Martin Clark

    Thank you for posting the photo of The Woodman D’Oyley St before 1897 – in the background is T Day Bootmaker, that is my GGGrand Father

  • Norman Finnimore

    Any photos of the upmarket shops that Dewhurst butchers bought, Wood, Atkins, Francis, Bellamy, Cobb, I can add informed text, Andrews of Chelsea belonged to John Manson ltd,

  • Norman Finnimore

    Have you any photos of Andrews of Chelsea butchers please. They were part of John Manson butchers group, (hobby historian)

  • Marcia Howard

    My father had a business called Chelsea Traders in the late 1940s/early 50s, which if I recall address was 1 & 2 Paultons Street. He was an engineer, and the business looked like little workshops. They’ve long gone too!

    • Mr James Buchanan

      The is a picture on instagram of Paulton’s St with some of the crew from the ambulance station in 1941. I think this may show the garage entrance on the corner by Paulton’s Square. If you have instagram find it at naomi_clifford , there are quite a few posts about the ambulance drivers.

  • Tom Knowles

    Just browsing in Covid lockdown! Lovely historical photos – as a Chelsea boy born (Wellington Square) and bred, I wonder if anyone remembers Berzolla, the glorious sweetshop in the King’s Road, opposite the Duke of York’s and probably where Boots now stands? Also Victor’s toyshop where M & S are now. The Fifties and Sixties were the last golden days of the King’s Road!

    • Christopher Leich

      I’m so glad that someone else remembers Berzolla. In the early 60s (62-65) I used to stop in there for a quarter of a pound of Jersey toffees on my way home from school. Sometimes half a pound! No sweets will ever taste as good again.

  • B Thompson

    Would be interested, like Donna Spratt, to see any photos/pictures of W & T Spratt Coachbuilders, Sloane Square. I have William and Thomas Spratt in my family. They were coachbuilders, and very likely the same family.

  • Mrs Sharon Nurse

    Hello, I’m wondering wether you will be able to help me please? My fathers grandad Arthur Nurse used to own the Greengrocers at 436 Kings Road in 1920’s. I would love to know if there are any pictures of the Greengrocers. My father-in-law has just passed an we are looking for history regarding his father during this time. Anything would be of great value and help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: