If you know South Kensington you’ll have seen this car park on the corner of Queen’s Gate and Harrington Road. it’s basically a patch of land gradually sloping down into a depression with a hut at the entrance and cars parked at various angles. The current owners have made some efforts with the boards that surround the site, commissioning an artist to paint cryptic phrases on them, which are mildly diverting as you pass them on the bus. The site has been a car park since before 1989. I recently had a conversation with a customer who had been researching Queen’s Gate who asked the rhetorical question why had it never been developed in the last 25 years? Since 1989 we’ve had the fall of the Soviet Union, the entire Prime Ministerial career of Tony Blair and the entire vampire killing career of Buffy Summers, but no-one has built on this site.
I said that although it wasn’t a reason, the clearing of the site has given us a side view of St Augustine’s Church, an interesting building which would previously have been obscured.
I’ve used this picture before in another context but it does illustrate the point.
The church looks quite hemmed in by the block on the left which includes the Hotel Imperial. The view below shows the church frontage. The church occupies a narrow site which aligns with the street behind it, Reece Mews, rather than Queen’s Gate. it looks a little squeezed in early pictures.
The clearing of the site behind the Hotel Imperial was the first step to visibility. These pictures from 1989 show the hotel closed and boarded up. The the lower floors are covered in corrugated iron.
We must have sent our photographer John Rogers down there especially for these images.
An NCP car park already occupied part of the site.
Quite why the Hotel Imperial was demolished I can’t say. It doesn’t quite qualify as a “forgotten building” in the way I use the term on this blog, but it is certainly a vanished building, and therefore worth noting here. And, as I noted, its absence shows us the decorative (Byzantine?) style of the full length of St Augustine’s
Along with a number of enigmatic statements constituting a form of graffiti. My personal favourite:
But I’m a Talking Heads fan.
There is no particular connection with the church or the parking space and our soft toy picture of the day:
But Happy Christmas from three gorillas all called Tumba. See you tomorrow.