Lots Road 1972: the L-shaped street

Lots Road is that rarest of street configurations, an L-shape so it has a north side, a south side an east side and a west side. So where do we begin? Here?Lots Rd (rear of) W side looking S Chelsea Creek 1972 KS 4029

This is the view looking south from Stanley Bridge, just to the west of the junction with the King’s Road and right on the border of Kensington and Chelsea. The rail line which was constructed on top of the filled in section of the Kensington Canal is on the right but it looks as though a small section of this part of the creek survived.

But let’s not go that way. What about starting at the other end?

Lots Rd looking W 1972 KS 4056

That’s the junction with Cremorne Road. The Power Station is visible with two of its chimneys intact. On the right, a small corner shop. There were still plenty of those left in 1972, the year John Rogers took these pictures for the Library. Another summer day at the tail end of the long 60s.

Lots Rd N side corner with Cremorne Rd 1972 KS 4053

Just as in Hurstway Street a few years before Tizer is still popular. Above the door is a lager advert featuring Henry VIII and one of his wives, uneasily drinking a pint of Harp under the motto Keep a cool head. I must have drunk Harp, one of those generic British lagers but I can’t remember the taste, if any.

The north side of the street was destined to survive in the face of redevelopment but came perilously close to meeting the fate of Bifron Street, Raasay Street and the rest. A little way down the road you can see one of the towers of the World’s End Estate rising. In 1972 it would become the largest council estate in Europe.

Lots Rd N side 12 1972 KS 4051

It’s often assumed now that the large housing developments of this period were a bad thing. It’s certainly true that the houses in the World’s End which were demolished at this time would probably have been gentrified had they survived and would now look pretty good. But almost none of them would be in use as social housing. I’ll do a post on the construction of the estate one of these days.

The south side of the street was occupied largely by commercial buildings of one kind or another.

Lots Rd S side 9-7 1972 KIS 4048

The easternmost part of Chelsea had been an industrial zone since the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even when the high and the low were at play in Cremorne Gardens, raw materials were being landed and unloaded at the various wharves on the river and on Chelsea Creek which continued north as the Kensington Canal, a never quite profitable venture created by the then Lord Kensington. Lots Road the former Poole’s Lane followed the  line of the canal northwards to the King’s Road hence the L shape. The wharves were still in use in 1972.

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharf W 1972 KS4054

Note the  cobbled surface redolent of the 19th century even  clearer in the picture below.

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharfe 1972 KS 4055

Behind the crane you can see the south side of the river. Just visible above the head of the man on the right is St Mary’s Church which has been a significant landmark in images of the south bank foe more than a century. I think I’m right in saying that all the other building visible on the south side of the river are now gone. (I should apologise for any inadvertent inaccuracies in this post by the way. I know that many people know the history of this bit of Chelsea far better than me. I meant to have a walk along Lots Road before writing this but couldn’t quite find the time. However it looks as though at this pace this post is going to end up as a two-parter so I may have time for some field work yet)

Here’s another view looking south:

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharfe 1972 KS 4052

This shows the warehouse across the river in better detail but as you can also see there are two churches visible so it’s possible the one in the previous picture was not St Mary’s. Comments are welcome on this point and any other details in the pictures.

ng Stn 1972 KS 4046

Some of the Wharf buildings have been redeveloped but the Pumping Station has survived as has the building below (although it has been seriously modernised) :

Lots Rd S side Frenlite Hse 1972  KS 4049

For me what makes this picture fascinating is the two pigeons strolling into view from the right. It may have been a quiet moment of the day but in many of the pictures from this period you see a quieter version of London where lazy birds can walk in the street without being disturbed.

A man can also wheel a barrow down the street.

Lots Rd S side 1972 KS 4042

The large windows in the foreground belong to the Power Station. Unlike its more famous counterpart in Battersea, Lots road Power Station is right on the street where you could walk by and glimpse the massive machinery within.

Further west we reach the end of the east to west section of the road.

Lots Rd S-side 1972 KS 4038

Another view of the ranks of tall windows.

It does look as though we will have to pause here with a view of one of the famous pubs of Chelsea.

Lots Rd E side 114 Balloon Tavern 1972 KS 4019

The Balloon has gone under a few names including one very long version when it was part of the Firkin chain of real ale pubs. How did that name go? Oh yes, “The Ferret and Firkin in the balloon up the creek”, which had definite local connotations.

If I do manage to walk down Lots road before next week I’ll take some pictures, but if anyone has any modern ones of their own they’d like to share feel free to send them to me at dave.walker@rbkc.gov.uk or post them in the comments section.

21 responses to “Lots Road 1972: the L-shaped street

  • miranda seymour

    Love this, although your pheasantry one was my favourite – partly because I remembered it from long ago days living in Carlyle Square back in the madcap Sixties.

  • Chris Pain

    Some fine photos of the westernmost end of Chelsea here, Dave, I especially like the one of The Balloon. Being a youngster of 54, I only remember it as the Ferret & Firkin in the Balloon up the Creek, as you say, in the later 70s. Welcome back to SW10!

  • Michael Gall

    Mr Walker the Mind Reader. I will try to post the forty years on photographs that I took last year. with kind ones.What a great post David.

    • Dave Walker

      Nice to hear from you again. I was in Lots Road on Monday this week, and I’ll be including some of my pictures in this week’s post for comparison but I was taking them randomly without the guidance of the 1972 pictures so I’d love to see your pictures.

  • William

    Hi Dave, As a young man in 1962 I had a bedsit in Cedarne Rd but was looking for another one. I saw an ad for one in Lots Rd. Coming into it off Kings Rd there were tall terraced houses down the left hand side and a high brick wall down the right. The houses probably had not been painted since before WWI, and were very shabby. At the end of the road was of course the mighty power house.It was utterly depressing & I never went to the address. Instead I went to Nevern Sq Earls Court, where I met my future wife – & we’re still married!

    • Dave Walker

      Thanks for your heartening story. I imagine Lots Road in 1962 was a fairly grim looking place. I’ll be quoting you in this week’s post and showing some pictures of that section of the road in 1972 and Monday this week. If you haven’t been back since you’ll be surprised at the changes.


      Does anyone remember my Father ALAN COOPER he was married to English actress DIANE LANGTON in 1963 I am researching my birth Father I am told they lived off Lots road in the sixties, she was quite successful by now so I am desperate for contact as they had a Son Jaymie, who I am trying to trace…thank you for reading

  • James

    Just found this. If you watch a little known spy thriller called The Deadly Affair (1966) James Mason and Harry Andrews go to interrogate Roy Kinnear at this pub.

  • Shereena khelawon

    I absolutely love looking at your pictures of chelsea!! They are truly amazing. I was born in 1988 on the worlds end estate and it would be amazing to see more photos of the contruction of this place!!

  • Minkie Best

    St Mary’s Church was built by Sir Christopher Wren.

    When I lived in Luna Street as a child, I sometimes dared to go to that corner shop. The whole area was dark, dingy with lots of grubby working(-class) men. I was much too scared to go down into Lot’s Road, which I believed inhabited by dangerous criminals.

    Decades later, I visited the new gym complex further down Lot’s Road, and happened on a balcony with a view of the Thames near the Lot’s Road power station. There were at least forty herons in the mud and water near the power station outfall, fishing (I would guess) for eels.

    • Dave Walker

      Thanks for your recollections. The water near the power station was consistently warmer than the river in general because of run-off from the station. A colony of carp thrived there until the station was closed. Humans fished there for the carp. Maybe the herons enjoyed them too, along with the eels.

  • Sean Kaye-Smith

    The comment above by James about ‘The Deadly Affair’ (1966): there are some good shots of the pub and the house adjoining it, looking very much like it did in the 1972 photograph. Is it the pub interior in the film? And is the garage in the film nearby? Or, I guess, was it? because guessing it’s not there any more.

  • Sean Kaye-Smith

    PS. I spoke to soon. The ‘garage’ premises clearly were in the same street on the opposite side of the road but further from the junction.

  • Arthur

    MY cildhood was lived out in number 39 Uverdale Road top floor flat. Left there never to return in 1956 when my mum died. Many happy memories of hours spend huddled together with our girl friends on the bag wash door step.

    • Linda James ( was Duffield)

      Hi Arthur, I grew up at 38 Uverdale which was probably opposite where you lived. I left in 1967 to get married. Can you remember any neighbours and if it’s ok to ask, what is your surname. I was born in St Stephens in 1948.
      Kind regards.

    • Lesley Bairstow

      Hi Arthur
      I never see references to the bagwash shop. Was it on the corner of Burnaby street? I seem to recall sitting on the windowsills of what I think was a laundry on this corner. Do you by any chance remember the shops in Burnaby street? That would be a great help.
      Regards Lesley (Dunning) Lots Road 1950s

  • Douglas G Liverpool

    We were the only black family to live in meek st in the fifties it had a great community then .

  • Richard

    I lived for a while with a girl in the flat above Fens, the furniture shop on the corner with Ahsburnham Road, now a high end rug shop. Harp lager is Irish btw, a Guinness brew, but from Park Royal so perhaps British after all!

  • raypoolpoetry

    The film “The Optimist of Nine Elms” starring Peter Sellers (1970)
    includes the Kensington Canal and Lots Road and many shots of the area. Well worth a look and for the atmosphere . Hard to get hold of but I have a VHS copy of it.

  • Andy Patrick

    I was born in a prefab down Shawfield St in 61. My dad worked at Lots Rd power station as a shift supervisor and was there from when he left the navy in the late forties until he retired in 85. I used to visit him at work so I’ve been in the basement and up on the roof. There used to be a model of the power station kept up there in the top room. Sometimes on a Sunday in the summer I would walk along the embankment with my mum to meet my dad from work. We lived on Lucan Place at the time and moved out of Chelsea in 1971. My mum had lived in Chelsea all her life up to that point. My dad was from Fulham.

  • sean fullerton

    Wow ! The two pictures of the cobbled area are the refuse transfer station where the dust carts tipped household waste before it was loaded by the crane into barges and taken down river to be used in landfill. As 17 year old I had a summer job operating the weighbridge .

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