This week we’re on an excursion across the Kensington and Chelsea border into new territory. I hope you’ll forgive this incursion into unfamiliar streets but when I came across these pictures, which came with a donation of papers, maps, photocopies and photographs. I was fascinated by them. The late 1950s is a time which looks both familiar and alien to me as history overlaps with my my own timespan.
The locations themselves were not immediately familiar but the London of post war dilapidation and demolition was recognizable. A few street signs were visible so I gradually placed them in that area to the north and east of my home Borough on the far side of the Harrow Road. These streets in the old Borough of Paddington seemed like an alternative version of North Kensington.
This view reminds me of a section of Portobello Road. The curve to the left as the road goes up the hill. But that side street is Lord Hills Road in W2 not W11. I tried looking on Google Maps at the view today but couldn’t see any of these buildings.
This busy corner is from that same sector of the former suburb which had grown up along the main line into Paddington Station.
Behind the busy streets the process of demolition has begun. In this picture you see a first glimpse of a half byzantine half Gothic church which I saw in many of the pictures from different angles. I’m trying to avoid letting my imagination run away with me and put it into some kind of urban supernatural story.
In another kind of urban story, a kitchen sink drama or an angry young man a lone cyclist enters the construction zone where demolition has opened up a wide space.
And here’s another church backing onto an empty lot identified by these cryptic words: Lot 51 – basement to be demolished.
A small gang of boys go by. The sparse traffic enables them to walk down the middle of the street and claim it for themselves.
There’s the church again on the edge of the construction zone.
Bottom left,the sign of the Willett company, builders and developers (their headquarters in Sloane Square at this date) on the edge of the site. A number 18 bus passes by along the Harrow Road going between Sudbury and the West End.
The whole church, looking as though it was perched above a series of catacombs.
It’s there again in a wider view. I can’t quite orientate myself in this picture in relation to the rest of the city but those chimneys on the horizon should provide a clue to someone.
A last glimpse at one of the side streets from this area. The abandoned car, which we’ve seen in other posts ten or more years later, was already a feature.
I hope you haven’t minded visiting an area where I’m not much use as a guide. It’s an odd sensation for me feeling lost in an old photograph. That was part of the fascination. I know some of you aren’t limited by the same geographical boundaries as me so feel free to comment with your own identifications.
We’ll be back in our proper place next week.