Backwaters 2

I was going to do a sequel to Backwaters a couple of weeks ago when I got sidetracked onto Pelham Street so this week we’re going back to the mewses crowded with parked cars and street names you can’t quite place back in the early years of the 1970s.

Like Ledbury Mews North, featuring the usual cluster of cars awaiting servicing, men at work and cramped first floors, offices or homes reached by odd looking staircases:


Ledbury Mews North south side 1972 KS3654

Or names like Sheldrake Place.


Sheldrake Place garages behin 17- east leg 1969 KS2877

A sunny  little spot off Duchess of Bedford’s Walk not all that far from the Library. Or Morton Mews:


Morton Mews KS5842

A semi-residential alley in Earls Court, a stone’s throw from Cromwell Road, dominated by the rears of apartment blocks in Barkston Gardens and Knaresborough Place. It’s the element of seclusion which is the essence of a backwater. They can be close to major thoroughfares or hidden away.

Russell Mews looking north 1972 KS21

This was Russell Mews in 1972, now known as Russell Gardens Mews, a cul-de-sac which sneaks away from the north end of Russell Road. Take a virtual walk up Russell Road on Google Maps these days and you see a residential street with comparatively modern housing on its western side. There is a discreet gap which leads to a footbridge over the railway to the station at Olympia but in 1972…

Russell Road west side Olympia 1972 KS144

The area by the footbridge was an open space mostly used as a car park. You can see the station at Olympia and the great curved roof of the exhibition hall.  There was a fine selection of 70s vehicles.

Russell Roadwest side Olympia 1972 KS124

A lone VW camper van parked outside the fence.

Russell Roadwest side Olympia 1972 KS174

A triumph Herald, parked next to the fat more stylish Ford Capri (see this post for my quest for this particular car). The mark 1 version I think (the mark 2 had a hatchback as I remember it. Car experts can correct me if I’m wrong). I wonder what TWA stood for? Not the airline I assume.

Our photographer got as close as he could without crossing the border into Hammersmith.

Russell Road Olympia station looking north from garage courtyard 1972 KS20

Park between the lines? I can’t see any lines.

Here you can make out a sign.

Russell Roadwest side Olympia 1972 KS124

“Motorail Terminal” Now look back at the picture featuring the Capri. Are cars lined up on a platform waiting to be loaded onto a train?

Not one of these:

Russell Road Olympia station looking north from garage courtyard 1972 KS194

A regular tube train I think, but I’m happy for further information from rail enthusiasts.

I seem to have got stuck in this particular backwater, but before we move on, one more picture.

Russell Roadwest side Olympia 1972 KS104

This shows Russell Road looking south, leading down to Kensington High Street. The house just visible to the right of the trees are on over the railway bridge on the south side of the street, and they’re in Hammersmith.

We’ll stay on the border though, heading north to a street off Holland Park Avenue, just before the roundabout at Shepherd’s Bush.

LOrne Gardens Duke of Clarence 1977 KS2

Lorne Gardens, with the Duke of Clarence pub.

Lorne Gardens 13 and wall 1977 KS8

There is another of those residential enclaves but there is also this paved open space.

Lorne Gradens looking north rear of Beacon House 1977 KS17

Note the abandoned bike and on the rear of a building called Beacon House some graffitti, including a name: Chico.

And unusually this concrete staircase which looks as if it belongs in a much wider space.


Lorne Gradenssteps to Kensington Hilton 1977 KS20

It forms part of the unexpectedly brutalist rear of the Hilton Hotel in Holland Park Avenue which had a much milder front facade. It looks distinctively late 60s / early 70s.

Lorne Gradens looking north 1977 KS19

Did it ever appear as a film/TV location? I’m thinking Man in a Suitcase, or possibly Edge of Darkness.


We’ve been having a few technical problems with the computer linked to our scanner so at the moment there’s no scanning being done. Hence an early appearance for this post. I have a few posts in draft form in various stages of completion some of which are a bit left field so if it takes a while to sort out our computer you might see some slightly odd or tangential posts in the next few weeks. The longer it takes, the stranger the posts. Bear with me, and expect the unexpected.

7 responses to “Backwaters 2

  • Roger J Morgan

    All these photographs of 1970’s streets are presumably down to the heroic John Rogers, the library photographer (those were the days!) who decided it would be a good thing to photograph EVERY street in K&C. Of course, at the time, the images seemed mundane and pointless; why would one want to see what one could see every day? But 40 years on they become fascinating historical documents.

    • Dave Walker

      I’ve never asked John about the origins of the Photo Survey. I always assumed it was at least partly the brainchild of the long serving Local Studies Librarian Brian Curle to whom we owe so much else. But I agree that the work of tramping the streets with a keen eye for detail and the skill of an experienced photographer was all John. It’s a shame the project wasn’t quite finished butthe Survey is still a key tool for modern historians and amateur researchers alike.

  • mikegreens

    “Park between the lines? I can’t see any lines.”

    The lines are on the fencing to the right – odd place for them…

  • Saul Greenberg

    TWA had an office at 380 Kensington High St untill early 80’s. Provided check in facilities and transfers for Heathrow.

  • Saul Greenberg

    ‘I wonder what TWA stood for? Not the airline I assume.’

    The Airline it was! TWA had a check-in and transfer office – for Heathrow – at 380 Kensington High St until early 80’s

  • Andy Gibbs

    Glad I found these excellent photos. I am currently building a model railway layout based on Kensington Olympia 1980 and photos of the Russell Road side of the station are as rare as hens teeth.

  • brownsthlm

    “I wonder what TWA stood for? Not the airline I assume.” – As pointed out by a couple of others above ‘T’WAs’ indeed the airline’s check in car park. If you fancy a blast from the past, a bit of the action from this classic episode of Minder from ’79 (s01e03) takes place there.

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