A shoot in Ladbroke Grove: Part Two – W10

Last week we left off at Ladbroke Grove station. This is the dark looking entrance on the north side of the bridge in the shadow of the Westway.

Ladbroke Grove station 1980s 01 - Copy

Note the tiny branch of the record shop Dub Vendor right next to the entrance.

This is the W10 section of Ladbroke Grove. The tall houses of the southern end of the street have been left behind. The 19th century housing at this end of the road was built to accommodate local workers and commuters after the district line came to the area.The major part of the growth of the area took place in the 1870s.

Ladbroke Grove E side 152-154 1970 KS 564

Nevertheless this was still an area of desirable housing and in the period I worked around here it was ripe for the process of gentrification. There are a few shops but Ladbroke Grove was and still is a road of houses, although the Victorian town houses in this part of the road had mostly been converted into flats.

Ladbroke Grove E side 194-196 1970 KS 568

Below, the bus stop by Chesterton road.

Ladbroke Grove E side 204-206 1970 KS 569

Opposite that, the Earl Percy, no longer a pub but a hotel /bistro called the Portobello House.

Earl Percy

The buildings here were solid but a little run down, awaiting that wave of improvement.


Ladbroke Grove E side 226-228 1970 KS 384

I don’t have as many anecdotes for the w10 section of Ladbroke Grove. But my wife and I did have an encounter with the angriest taxi driver in the world after spending the evening with some friends who had a flat along the eastern side of the road. It was late at night and we’d had a couple of drinks. The driver was one of those who abhored stopping at traffic lights so was forever turning into side streets, flinging us from side to side, causing a fit of giggling which just seemed to make him drive faster. A tour of obscure streets between Ladbroke Grove and Beaufort Street ensued which served to improve my growing knowledge of the Borough.

This picture puzzled me for a while and I briefly wondered whether it had been mis-labelled as 240 Ladbroke Grove.

Ladbroke Grove E side 240 1970 KS 382

I showed it to a local expert, we zoomed in on the door and she identified the Raymede Clinic, a welfare centre for mothers and children which stood where the new fire brigade station is now located on the corner of Telford Road. (Not the only street in the vicinity named after a scientist/engineer.)

It feels like a long road at this point. On the western side there is some postwar housing in front of the gothic tower of St Charles’ Hospital but the photo survey doesn’t have many pictures of that side from this period


Ladbroke Grove E side 252-254 1970 KS 380

Moving north we cross a railway line. North of that was one of the big industrial structures in the area, the Gas Works. For more on that see this post. The Works originally stood in isolation but was surrounded by the northward development of housing. In 1936 the Gas Company itself moved into housing with the construction of Kensal House

Kensal House Ladbroke Grove fp - Copy

We won’t linger here. I’m going to give Kensal House a post to itself shortly.

The final northernmost section of Ladbroke Grove has seen the most changes, The area looks completely different now from pictures in the 1970s and 1980s. The most dramatic change was the building of the large branch of Sainsburys on the gas works site. But other features have changed too as you can see in these planning photos from the 1980/90s.


320-322 Ladbroke Grove

A row of shops and houses on the eastern side of the road.

320-322 Ladbroke Grove 1989

A closer look shows a then well known establishment.

Hamrax Motors Ladbroke Grove 1999

Hamrax Motors (their motto, as I recall it on the side of their van: “You bend’em, we mend’em”), a crowded room where owners of Japanese motorcycles could go to be patronised by scornful middle aged men who preferred Triumphs and other British bikes.. There was a workshop below it accessible around the back where I took one of my bikes was repaired after my most damaging accident.

On the other side of the road the gas works site, cleared in this picture.

Gas works site Ladbroke Grove

The building just visible on the right is Canalside House, almost the sole survivor.

Below the edge of Kensal Green cemetery, the Dissenter’s Chapel over the wall.


Ladbroke Grove near Cemetery 1991 2 - Copy

Behind that gate is a path to the canal.

Canal - Gas works site

The path is just about visible here in this photograph of 1961 from a private collection.



Note the water tower which  has also survived and been convertrd for residential use. On the left a building I was particularly glad to see – a pub called the Narrow Boat which was a stopping off point for people like me heading north towards the pub desert of Kensal Rise.

There was another pub right at the end of Ladbroke Grove seen here, the Plough. Another one I never entered, now gone. These pictures come from the 80s or 90s.


Ladbroke Grove - Harrow Road Plough 1991 - Copy

The narrow entrance onto the Harrow Road by the Plough. This takes us out of the Borough. But I’ve one more motoring story for you. On that bike ride I began with in the last post I would cross the Harrow Road and head up Kilburn Lane/ Chamberlayne Road to Kensal Rise. On one weekday afternoon, ascending the hill of one of the bridges over the railway I was caught in slow moving traffic. A yappy dog who must have had a particular dislike of motorcycles launched himself at me and sank his teeth into my leg piercing the boot on one side (quite a nice pair of boots from Lewis Leathers of Great Portland Street). Imagine me attempting to accelerate away while trying to shake the dog off my leg. When I got home it was decided I needed a tetanus shot so I was off again back down Ladbroke Grove to St Charles’s Hospital. So a set of photographic shots ends with another kind of shot.

Harrow Road c1981

(One final picture. One the right you can see the roof of the stone mason’s showroom, the only structure left from this 1981 picture.)


Thanks to Maggie for clearing a few matters up, and Barbara for unearthing some of the pictures. Also to Mr Peter Dixon for the canal photograph.

Wide awake, the cold cold light of day
Realize my taste
My taste just slips away
I say my taste just slips away

Song by Bob Stanley, Peter Stewart Wiggs and Sarah Jane Cracknell.

27 responses to “A shoot in Ladbroke Grove: Part Two – W10

  • Dave

    Bring backs memories of when I was a boy.Born in Kensal Road now in Cornwall,it was so run down then.

  • Benny

    I was born in the Plough pub in 1963

  • Geoffrey porras

    I remember the motorbike shop so well. Love these photos. Makes me reminisce so much. I know a lot of people won’t agree but i preferred the area when the old pubs were still standing.

    • Peter McNeill

      I couldn’t agree with you more, growing up on Ladbroke Grove during the 60s and 70s I love the place the way it was. Like most people I could never afford to live there now.

  • EuroButNotTrash

    Thanks for posting the pic of the Plough. My aunt and uncle ran that pub in the mid to late 1970s.

  • Tony Fellowes

    Dave, I’ve already commented on another blog where ‘Happy’ Hamrax was mentioned, but your description in this blog is spot on!

  • John white

    Jesus I used to go to school not far it brings back memories.i always had a sense of fear around the northern part of the grove but now it’s far too clean.

  • Jeremiah Cornelius

    I bought my first motorbike at Hamrax and my wife made me take it back after she’d watched me sail through the lights at Elgin Crescent. The Scaramanga sisters had their cottage on the bank of the canal not far from the gasworks in MOTHER LONDON (1988).

  • Cathy Heap

    The last two photo’s of Ladbroke Grove adjoining Harrow Road by “The Big” Plough as it was known as across the road in Kensal Road about 75/100 yards away there was another pub also called The Plough, it was a tiny little pub so was known as “The Little” Plough. The very last photo had the little newsagent shop owned by a funny little man named Ernie. He was a shroud business man, he had heard that the Council were thinking about widening the turning from Harrow Road to Ladbroke Grove, he held out for years turning down offer after offer, but the Council had to buy it otherwise all there plans were scuppered. Ernie left there a very rich man.
    On the picture directly before that you see a lady battling the weather carrying 2 shopping bags THAT IS OUR MUM. She had a cafe 50 yards up called Betty’s Cafe which was always packed. It was a really friendly place where everyone seemed to know everyone’s name. It was next to my Dads garage called P & H Auto’s my dads name was Harry. After the cafe closed down, my mum and dad turned it into one of the first video film rentals. Does anyone remember any of this. I hope so 😊😊

  • ray sunshine

    I used to go to Fred’s Café which was in the movie The L SHaped Room. Great big mugs of steaming hot tea, egg and chips-best in London. I was staying at a place called Pembroke House Hotel (across a foot bridge over the railway bridge that went into Westbourne Park tube etc). I think it was knicknamed Kinky Hall although there was nothing kinky about it-a cheap lodging house for office workers and aspiring theatricals owned by Keith and Anne Trevor. Ealry to mid 60s. Opposite Fred’s was a pub and a newsagents. I wonder if anyone remembers these places where I first stayed in London.

  • ray sunshine

    I realize Pembroke House Hotel (sadly demolished I believe was in Westbourne Park and I would love to find pictures of it as well as Freds Café and the pub and newsagents opposite Fred’s which took you down a little lane onto the footbridge across the railway to Pembroke House Hotel. Sadly I forget the names of specific streets-technically Fred’s may have been in Ladbroke Grove. Can anyone please help? Very sentimental and nostalgic memories of my days as a ten and 20, thanks

    • Lorraine

      Remember Bettys cafe!! Xx
      I’m trying to find pics of
      Kinky Hall as it was nicknamed big house just down from bridge in Ladbroke Grove it was a rooming house with a basement bar and Jack spot and the Kray twins drank there …as an innocent I rented there for about 3 months?
      Dave Walker your pics are awesome …especially my shop in woolwich new road opposite the tramshed

      • Ray Smith

        Hi Lorriane, I was a semi permanent resident of Kinky Hall. Worked in the provinces and returned to London between gigs. If anything, it was used a lot by travelling and ‘resting’ theatricals. So it was home base.Often drank in the ‘basement’ bar. Heard all the rumours about Krays etc drinking there but if so, I never saw any sign of it. I rented a room whenever in London. Keith and Anne Trevor owned it and although Keith appeared to be as hard as nails(and I daresay he was) if you really needed help he was always there for you-if he liked you! I remember huge a huge pot of beans and masses of toast set out for breakfast in the basement bar. And Keith always did an evening meal. He was a smashing cook. If only we could ‘live’ on memories. I have lived in Canada for years, in solid respectability but will never forget my times at the ‘notorious’ Kinky Hall.

      • Lorraine Savy

        Thanx for your input Ray..remember the Dyke who was a shoplifter ? and had a wall of stolen shoes,if she liked you, you could buy from her, really like you she’d give a pair, she enjoyed John Lewis in Oxford street for thieving
        Martin Dean also cooked , was the first person I spoke to there
        , we are still friends years later
        I’m not living in respectability ;*) live in London still so don’t have to pretend, I’m still a punk, albeit somewhat frazzled
        Possible to still see a corner of kinky hall house over the bridge..
        They were slum houses then, now worth millions
        If I find pics I’ll send on to you
        Same for you please?
        Stay safe and well!

      • Ray Smith

        my God Lorraine, you mean Martin is still alive? I worked for him at Kinky when I was broke, Mark, Peter Jones, Lloyd, old Doreen who was a friend for life, Ricky Gibney, Ricky Shepherd, Bert Sellars, Wally MacQueen, all were room mates from around that period and a few more I cant name but remember them with fondness. I do indeed thank you for reminding me of Martin who was also very kind and patient with the young out of work touring puppeteer

      • LORRAINE

        Wonder how many are still around, Kim a friend I arrived with to Kinky hall sadly died last year , so she lasted out well, I had run away from home and joined the R A F , was in for a day and a half decided it was a wrong move and met Kim there, we both did a runner and found Kinky Hall,
        was GiGi the stripper in Kinky when you were there ?
        and Avis a lovely red haired northern girl?
        London Soho Covent Garden was awesome then, everything was exciting
        I’ve sent your answer on to Martin he may remember something

      • Ray Smith

        Martin might remember me as the shy young Scottish puppeteer-I was about 18. Another 2 more names Martin will remember from Kinky that I forgot to mention were Eithne(Edna) and Gerry Baker, 2 glamorous sisters from Ireland. I am still in touch with Gerry. She had a long career as a front line social worker and is retired these days around Mitcham in Surrey. I don’t remember the stripper. My time period at Kinky was from 1960 to 1966 and I was working on gigs so always returned to Kinky between them

  • Bill Stevens

    Very interesting to me ,I knew this area very well in the 60 s one of my family’s friends had the ice cream shop in Ladbroke Grove just by Barlby. road . I just found out recently that the Admiral Blake pub (the cowshed) on the corner of Barlby Road has been demolished .

  • Chris

    I remember happy hamrax, I worked there for a couple of decades up till the end, if you have been there i was the tall one. Oh the memories.

  • Ray Sunshine

    still have had no word on memories of theoriginal Fred’s Café and was just watching an old dvd of The L Shaped Room in which Fred’s was featured. Again, I am on this site to ask if anyone has memories of it. They are likely like myself in their mid 70s now

  • John Menzies

    Very nice, a lot of memories. Born in Paddington hospital in 1947, lived for 16 years at 4 St Charles Sq. Known locally as in the golden Catholic triangle, Pub on Ladbroke Grove, church on St Charles Sq and brothel also on St Charles Sq. Great fun watching all the Irish stagger from church to pub to brothel, and back to church. Ah happy days, then came Rackman (sorry about the spelling) and all his Caribbean clients.
    Still it eventually gave us the Notting Hill Carnival, so all’s well that ends well.
    Oh me, moved to Texas, been there of nearly 40 years now, still love to visit the UK but will not return to Kensington until they improve on their choice of Mayor!!!

  • Princess Pink

    Oh my goodness!!! Thank you so much for these beautiful pictures! I was born and brought up at 184 Ladbroke Grove, and the picture of Jackson..one of our local shops, brought back lovely memories. Tavenners was the shop at the other end of the block.

  • Ray Smith

    still; looking for more info on my request for a photo of Kinky Hall back in the 1960s. I stayed there off and on during 5 years in London

  • Lorraine

    Ray .me too
    Kinky Hall…someone must have some pics
    Stay safe

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