The last time we were on Kenington High Street in the last few years of the 19th century and the first of the 20th we were around here, in the stretch of the street east of Kensington Church Street:
Number 59 Kensington High Street, home of Lorberg and Turpin.
A slightly closer view:
Grinding of all kinds is occuring within and a woman is leaning slightly to one side examining something fascinating in the window. Mr Lorberg’s assistant (or is that the lower case Mr Turpin?) is examining the photographer. My favourite though is the man on the left. Has he sneaked into the picture of his own volition or has the photographer, Mr H or Mr S Stiles included him to add some local colour?
I promised you more of the High Street so let’s move on.
I used this picture last time but repeating it gives another chance to mention Mr Jubal Webb once more (sign on the awning) but also to note how narrow this section of the busy High Street was at this time. Road widening did not take place until the early 20th century.
This image is several hundred yards further back.
The Town Hall Tavern is there, opposite the Town Hall itself (demolished in the 1980s). If we look closer:
A slice of retail life. A horse takes a meal break ignored by the passers by and the driver (waiting for a fare?). A trio of workmen deep in conversation. A couple of elaborately dressed girls being addressed by a shop keeper while their parents look in the shop window. In the foreground a lone woman looks after two more similarly dressed girls.
The next picture is essentially the same view but from slightly further away.
You can see a clearer view of the intersection with Kensington Church Street and the Civet Cat. You can also see more of the Station in its original form before the familiar arcade was built around it. The sign reads “City and back 4d”. That’s four old pennies for those who can’t remember pre-decimal coinage.
In the background by the single storey kiosk (A picture of it here), a trio of women all wearing white blouses. In the foreground, a pair in darker clothes with a weary looking small dog between them. In the centre a couple of men, one of whom has only one leg. He’s using a single crutch to move along. These details always seem surprising, although they shouldn’t as these kind of visible disabilities were more frequent then.
The next picture takes us back even further:
The street is crowded with horse drawn vehicles. On the right you can see the awning of Ponting’s store on the corner of Wright’s Lane. (We caught a glimpse of it here). On the right:
A more impressive dog, with his man. The number 11 is still advertising Pear’s Soap.
Further back still:
This is the southern side of the street. The Town Hall Tavern sign is barely visible in the distance. (It’s there – I just checked the original scan). You can read the sigh on the delivery wagon though:
Pearson and Sons. The milk churns show what line of business Mr Pearson was in – urban dairies were big business on high streets in the days before refrigeration. I believe the rest of the sigh reads: “Cows milked on the premises”. I’ll do a post on urban dairies sometime in the coming months – they were usually assiduous in promoting their services.
I don’t know what the girl in the foreground is doing – hiding her face from the camera? Possibly. Note the woman on the right holding the umbrella, wearing her hair down. An adult but maybe younger than the other women you see in these photographs.
This picture is taken from a viewpoint even further west.
The retail and buiness section of the High Street is now in the distance. The building on the left is the Holland Arms. (see a print of an earlier version here , from the post on Hosmer Shepherd in Kensington) The trees beyond it are in the grounds of Holland House, still of course a private estate at this time. The trees on the right belong to more private houses and gardens behind iron railings. This is the road to Hammersmith. There’s a certain amount of traffic, private and public:
I can’t make out the lettering on the horse bus but as we’ve seen before it could easily be a route we recognise from today, a 10 or a 73.
On the other side:
To the scanner’s dismay those two strolling ladies remain in the shade of the tree. No amount of coaxing from me will get them to take a few paces forward so we can see them properly. I’ve reached this point with old photographs many times before. The fascination is as much with what you can’t see as what you can.
To compensate for this, let’s remain in the general vicinity of Holland Park and move back to the gates to the public path way on the east side of the park. We’ll have to jump forward a hundred years or so to another summer day and another pair of women walking side by side unaware that the photographer was taking a picture of the gate.
The fashions of 1972 are different but the wide pavement and the foliage are not dissimilar and ladies are still taking a leisurely stroll away from the busy High Street.
If the pictures seemed a little blurred this week my apologies. I suppose you can only zoom in so much. Actually I feel a little blurred myself. After last week’s successful exhibition launch I came down with an infection involving much coughing and a general feeling of feverish lassitude so it’s a wonder I got this written. I had a few more ambitious ideas but they’ll have to wait for another week. I owed you a return visit to the High Street anyway. I’m not finished with the Stiles brothers either. But possibly something more exotic next week.
A reminder that as many of you already know this year’s City Read book is the excellent Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch, the first in his series about the adventures of the Metropolitan Police’s apprentice sorcerer Peter Grant. If you haven’t read any of these (and why haven’t you?) this is a good time to start as many London libraries, including Kensington and Chelsea are giving copies away this month. Ben Aaronovitch is appearing at Kensington Central Library on April 20th.