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?


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:


19 responses to “Side streets of Chelsea: part one

  • Carrie Starren

    Thanks Dave yes I was born at 173 Pavilion Road in the top one room ‘flat’, you can just see the building on the right. My second home (from 1953) was built on a bomb site just behind the wall of the backwater off Christchurch Street.

    Straight off the press the Cross Keys has been purchased and will be reopened as a pub with residences above.

  • Brenda Caraco

    David, I hope you soon recover from your accident. Your continuing with your Blog is much appreciated! Very much enjoyed this one; and would love to see / read about any you any older Chelsea photos if you have any(especially around St Luke’s church area / Manor Street) one of these days! Many thanks and best wishes, Brenda Caraco

  • Tracy

    The car in the last photo could possibly be an AC Cobra, or one of its predecessors.

  • Jamie Davis

    I have to admit there’s some room for error in identifying these vehicles, however I believe the following makes can be seen;

    In photo 2, I believe the car is a Datsun Cherry 100A.

    In photo 4, the white car is a Renault 16.

    In photo 6, the L-registered vehicle is one of the BMW 3.0 family, (I can’t be sure exactly which one).

    In photo 7, the car on the left is a Rover P6 2.0L.

    In photo 10, the car just right of centre is a Ford Cortina Mark III.

    In photo 12, the truck on right of frame is a Bedford, (not sure which model, possibly a Bedford TK?).

    In photo 13, I believe the car on the left is an Austin A60 Cambridge. The car on the right is a Vauxhall Viva HB.



  • Jamie Davis

    I’ve been trying to make out the registration number on the estate car in photo 5, but without success, so can only partially identify it – it’s either a Morris 1100 or 1300 Traveller.

  • Debbie Robson

    Dave, I hope you are on the mend! Thanks for another trip into the past. I was in London in 1976!

  • James Butler

    Hi David, I grew up in Notting Hill, went to primary school in Clareville Street, just off Gloucester Road, then went to secondary school in Chelsea (namely St. Thomas More’s in Cadogan street) from 73 to 78. Then form 83 to 96 I was a PC at Chelsea nick. I’ve got a Q for you, can you remember (‘cos I can’t) what Crazy Larry’s was called in the early 80s just before it became Crazy Larry’s?

    best regards

  • Peter

    Dear Dave,

    The Austin Cambridge ( 45 FLC) in picture thirteen is mine. I lived on the opposite corner 12a Tadema Road ( there was no number 13, superstition I suppose.) from 1964 to 1975. All of your photo’s are superb, thnks for the memories.

    Peter Collins

  • Robert Bruce

    There was a lot of gentleman & professional racing teams who based themselves from mews garages in that period (60s/70s). My late father and friends had a garage preparing race cars for themselves and others at a premises in Cadogan Lane, 59a to be precise. Would love to know if anyone has any recollections or photographs from that time.

  • Susan Finding

    Dear Dave,
    Thanks for these. My maternal grandmother’s family were from Chelsea. I have a Dickensian story from The Spectator 1847 about my grandmother’s grandfather being sent to prison for a stealing a bag of flour aged 6. He then lived in Oakham St. and later Church St. I wish I’d learnt that when I was younger, and used to go to Biba’s in Ken. High St!

  • iluvcruz

    I’ve just come across this site and have become quite nostalgic. I was born in Burnaby Street and lived there until I married – so between 1957-1978. I went to Ashburnham Primary school in Upcerne Road (now Chelsea Academy secondary school). I had friends in Meek Street and prefabs in Uverdale Road – both streets long gone. I was in the choir at St John’s Church and remember cutting through the side streets which were later demolished to make way for The Worlds End Estate. I spent my teens strolling up and down Kings Road browsing in the “groovy” shops – especially loved The Great Gear Tracing company. So many memories evoked so thank you.

  • John Eavis

    The “quiet backwater” off Christchurch Street was known as Procters Yard. I used to park my Mini 1275 GT in there.

  • Paul Gray

    Belatedly catching up with these wonderful pictures. We lived until 1968 at 531 Kings rd when it was part of Brown and Pank wine merchants. My father recalled that the house had been rebuilt after extensive damage from nearby bombing -there was a large bomb site opposite now occupied by a health centre.
    I’ve never come across pictures pre war of that corner of Kings rd and Tetcott rd. That would be a treat.
    Thanks for the memories!
    Paul Gray

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