Redevelopment: Notting Hill Gate 1958-60

The main drag at Notting Hill Gate is probably not one of the most architecturally distinguished parts of London. The north side of the road, west of Pembridge Road is a plain row of shops with the  incongruously tall Campden Hill Towers at the centre. But the pavements are pleasantly  wide and uncrowded most of the time and I like the convenience of having three small versions of well known supermarkets close to each other. In the past there were other useful branches of chains such as WH Smiths and Timothy Whites (remember them? My wife and I bought several kitchen items there which lasted us for years.). The south side of the street between the Gate Cinema and Kensington Church Street is possibly even less distinguished and hasn’t aged well. But that wide sunny road takes you to the West End and Pembridge Road takes you to Portobello Road. When I came to London in the 1970s it was one of the first places I added to my mental map of the city and I retain a certain affection for it. I’ve never known any other version.

Notting Hill Gate north side 92-164 1963 K63-1077

Of course now I know what it used to look like in the late 19th century and the early 20th, a classic Victorian/Edwardian high street.

This was it in 1956 looking west. The Midland Bank visible in the centre was on the corner with Pembridge Road where Jamie Oliver’s establishment now sits.

Notting Hill Gate 76-100 looking west 1956 K2454B

The Central line station was still above ground then and was little changed since this view from the early years of the last century.

Notting Hill Gate station PC 367This picture, from 1958 shows the south side of the road where the District and Circle line entrance was.


Notting Hill Gate development 1958 K4067B

The street frontage has already been stripped away to show the street behind the high street. There had been a plan to amalgamate the two stations, modernise the area,and widen the street since 1937 but this had been postponed by the war. The London Transport Executive took up the plan again in the 1950s and began buying up property from 1955.

The view below from 1957 is looking north up Kensington Church Street and shows the whole corner under demolition.

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1957 K61-211

This is a view from closer up. The two buildings on the north side of Notting Hill Gate are visible in both pictures.

Notting Hill Gate demolition October 1957 K61-213

This view is looking west. You can see the water tower in the distance and the top of the Coronet cinema.

Notting Hall Gate redevelopment 1958 K4064B

By contrast this is the view with the road partially closed. The interesting feature is the unobstructed  view of the block of flats on the right.

Notting Hill Gate Development 1958 looking east K4065B

The same is true of this picture showing the part of the street still in use. The block in question is Broadwalk Court, an art deco style building designed by Robert Atkinson and built in 1934. It’s fascinating to see it suddenly revealed when you’re used to the view being obscured by its surroundings.

Notting Hill Gate development 1958 K4066B

In the picture below you can see a sign saying District and Circle Line Entrance, but I can’t see an actual entrance. Behind the hoarding?

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958 K4068B

The building site also attracted an artist,

Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958 from a watercolour by Mrs M Werther K61-219

This architect’s model shows the whole development. One of the interesting features are the buildings and narrow streets behind the shops and the tower, which are hidden at street level. The 18-storey residential tower block was intended to replace some of the local housing that had been lost by the demolition work.


Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1958-61 K61-479

We have a couple of pictures which are my favourites from this set. This one shows the construction work well advanced, with a small truck ploughing through a nearly flooded street.


Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1960 K61-466

This one is looking from the west by Ladbroke Terrace, beyond the parade of shops.
Notting Hill Gate redevelopment 1959 K62-47B


It all looks very quiet as London sometimes does.


It’s now week six of the great scanning famine. I’ve been using our book scanner which uses a slightly lower resolution than I normally use but you don’t see too much difference. Once again crucial information about the development came from that Bible of local history, the Survey of London

75 responses to “Redevelopment: Notting Hill Gate 1958-60

  • havanagold

    Absolutely brilliant !! Thanks !! I live in this immediate area and have always wantes to see photographs like this. Thanks again. David M On 30 Jun 2016 08:35, “The Library Time Machine” wrote:

    > Dave Walker posted: “The main drag at Notting Hill Gate is probably not > one of the most architecturally distinguished parts of London. The north > side of the road, west of Pembridge Road is a plain row of shops with the > incongruously tall Campden Hill Towers at the centre. Bu” >

  • London Remembers

    Thanks for the post – it really was redevelopment on a major scale. We’d hoped your post would solve a long-standing puzzle but none of your pictures include the corner with Pembridge Gardens:
    There’s a very nice, large, crest on the flank wall at that corner. It looks familiar but we just cannot identify it. Can you help? Do you know which shop was on that corner?

  • nigeldviv

    It’s fascinating to see old Notting Hill as it used to be in the late 50s before the re-developers destroyed it. Your last photo looking west must have been taken right outside my old primary school called St Vincents, at 6 Holland Park Avenue and I can remember this view all to well! This school only lasted from about 1950 to 1965 but I have never managed to find any reference to it since then. I wonder if any of your readers remember it, or whether there are any records about the school in the RBKC archives? It was run by Mrs Bromley & Miss Reid, and teachers included Miss Kent and Mrs Monger. I can recall around 1955 being taken in a crocodile just up the road to the ABC cafe for lunch which featured lumpy mash potato served in unappetizing round dollops using an ice cream scoop! Many thanks for all your great posts, despite the scanner problems.

    • John Robert

      I was at St.Vincents from about1948 until 1954. I remember well Mrs Bromley who was Mrs Drummond originally. The school in it’s earlier days was further down Holland Park Avenue. I also remember Mrs Reid and Mrs Monger. Our dinners were taken at a wartime British Restaurant further up Notting Hill Gate. I had happy days walking home from school with a couple of school mates and exploring bombed out house on Ladbroke Grove up by St. John’s Church. Get in touch if you want further info on old school.
      Best wishes, John

      • nigeldviv

        Many thanks for your reply John, I did not think I would ever come across someone else who had even heard of St. Vincents, let alone a former pupil! I guess you would have been a “senior” when in 1954 I started in the rather surprisingly named “kindergarten”, so you certainly would not have noticed me! I would be very interested in anything else you can remember about the old school back in your days. I recently did some research and at 6 Holland Park Ave. found Merville G. V. Drummond who inexplicably became Bromley circa 1950. Prior to 1947 his address was 6 Ladbroke Sq, so I wonder if this was the location you referred to? I wonder if you remember the formidable Mrs Bromley’s favourite phrase…. “Don’t be Vague”. I recall that it was not wise to upset her, she could be rather volatile! Exploring bomb sites was great wasn’t it!
        Best wishes, Nigel

      • Maya Bernardo

        I was at St Vincents from 1948 to 1953. I don’t remember “Don’t be vague” but I do remember Mrs Bromley well. I remember her complaining to my father about the way I looked at her. (Clearly my attempt at the “evil eye” worked!) I got away with it because I was considered “clever”….. but I can remember her humiliating so many pupils. She could be a very unpleasant lady when she tried. On the other hand, I have fond memories of Mrs Reid (her mother)
        I too remember the bomb sites particularly a large house on Ladbroke Grove. It looked fairly solid from the outside but upon entry it was all rubble except for an unsupported central staircase . I and other pupils from St Vincents took turns running up and down that staircase. How we didn’t manage to kill ourselves, i don’t know.

      • John Howell

        Hello Maya, I posted two items on the Notting Hill Gate site under the name John Robert and John Howell. However, you will remember me as John Moon as I was then.
        I remember you well, and as you say, you were clever winning a place at the Greycoat school along with Jacqueline Grant. I went to Westminster City School. We did meet very briefly at my school at a sixth form school dance.
        Mrs. Bromley could be very strict but she gave us a very good education. Sometime her aspirations for us were beyond our years. I remember her treat for us after our 11 plus was a trip to the cinema (the Coronet?) to see the Tales of Hoffman. Not really a film to excite 11 year olds.
        Your memories of that bombed house are exactly as I remember it. I wonder if it got rebuilt or demolished. Also Simone’s description of Mrs. Denny is exactly as she is in the school photo.
        Looking at the programme of the school concert on19th. July 1952, I see you were cast as second daughter in The Golden Goose. Maureen Brander was first daughter and Susan Frucht was third daughter. All the names from the past!
        I am hoping to scan the photos and any other literature that I have so keep an eye on the site.
        Best wishes, John

    • John Howell

      Hi Nigel,
      Further to my previous memories of St. Vincent’s School. I have looked through old papers left by my parents and have found much relating to the school. I have all my old reports from 1947 to 1954, and from them I have found that the school was originally at No.14 Holland Park Avenue and moved to No.6 in mid 1948. Mrs. Drummond was the principal and she became Mrs. Bromley in 1951.
      I have a school photo of all pupils taken in the garden of No.14, with me in the front row sitting on the ground, circa 1947/8. There are 83 children, with Mrs. Reid and Mrs. Drummond(as she was then) on one side of the children, and Mrs.Denny on the other. I also have a copy of the programme of the school concert, dated 19th. July at the Twenieth Century Theatre in Westbourne Grove.One member of the Kindergarten singers was Rima Horton who became Alan Rickman’s partner /wife. When I googled her I found references to the school (inaccurate) and her time at the school. Also got local paper cutting and photos of this school production.Hope this is of interest.
      Best wishes, John

      • simone

        Well swipe me…..I was a pupil at this lovely little school in a big beautiful house from about 1945 or 6 to 1951 when we did the dreaded 11 plus. Mrs Drummond’s brother Mr Reid, taught us art, and was a very inspiring man, I learned to love art and history through this wonderful man. Mrs Denny was such a picture in her brown mac, plaited hair (curled over the ears) and she used to ride home on a bicycle with a basket on the front. The other pupils were from smart homes – architects, surveyors, engineers, and were well heeled, we were not so fortunate. I can remember every word of the French lessons to this day, it was a great foundation for education. We lived down the road in Shepherds Bush, and used to walk home via the sweet shops. Does anyone remember John Harris? His parents owned the Sun in Splendour pub in Notting Hill Gate. Thank you so much for these memories as I live in Africa now. We were blessed to go to that school. Simone

      • Christine Hamand

        My husband Mike Hamand just found some school reports from his time at St Vincent’s in 1947. Would love a copy of the photo please.

    • Lauren

      Hi I was wondering since you live in the area whether you could possibly fill out my quick 5 min survey. I’m currently investigating what it’s been like to live in NH over time for my A level geography coursework.
      Many thanks 🙂

      • xavi

        hey Lauren, I’m doing an A-level gentrification study on Notting Hill and was wondering if you had any resources on the area that might prove useful.
        Thank you!

    • Andrew Cattin

      I went to St. Vincent’s….had to be late 1960’s. I lived in Hillcrest flats, 51-57 Ladbroke Grove….have fond memories of that school.

  • dave clemo

    I lived just off Ladbroke Grove in the 60s. In the early 70 I was living in Minford Gardens in Shepherds Bush and would sometime go and visit a friend who worked in the co-op at Notting Hill Gate. It was just along from W H Smith on the corner. On the same parade of shops there was a shop that sold second hand LPs as well as some new ones. This was the first Virgin Record shop. At the back there was a display of stereo hi-fi kit. I took the plunge and bought my first stereo amplifier. 10 watts per channel, £10 and sold under the Amstrad brand. I wonder what happened to the blokes who set up the record shop and sold hi fi equipment?

  • Andy Cattin

    St Vincents had to be still around in say the last 60’s, I know, I went there! I lived at 4 Hillcrest 51-57 Ladbroke Grove, and that was my first “real” school, I have very fond memories of our daily spelling drills

    • nigeldviv

      Hi Andy, that’s helpful to know….. what year did you start at St Vincents, and when did you leave? Can you recall the names of the teachers while you were there? Apologies for the slow response to your post. Nigel

  • Michael Hollamby

    Fascinating photographs and history….Some good,some bad.

  • simone

    Hi John Moon/Howell, you mention a school photo with Mrs Denny in it, where did you find it, as I would like to look at it, if it is on a website please could you link me in there. Maya was my sister Suzanne Williams’ best friend (she was at St Vincent’s too, and my cousin Helen Smith) and they are friends still today on Facebook. Thanks

    • John Howell

      Hello Simone,

      I have a scan of the photo with Mrs. Denny which I will be please to email to you. It is a group school photo taken 1947/48 and it also includes Mrs. Bromley and Mrs. Reid. Please contact Dave Walker and ask him to give you my email address. I have already asked him to invite you to contact me so there should be no problem. Failing that, I have been swapping memories with Maya so maybe she will give you my email address.

      I would be pleased to hear your comments on the photo as I believe you may be on it. Unfortunately I can only recognise myself and Richard Greene.

      Hopefully you will be in touch soon and I can email all the school memorabilia that I have.

      Best wishes, John

  • simone

    Richard Greene is our cousin…………I will ask Maya for your email. Thanks for the memories of childhood beginnings. I suppose I will recognise you when I see the pix.

    • Richard Greene


      This is your cousin Richard Greene. Still alive.

      I don’t know how I stumbled on this site but its good to make contact.

      Hope you are keeping well.

      I have the photo of the pupils in the garden at no 6 Holland Park if you gave not already received.

      My email is

      • simone

        Hi Richard, I did write an email to this address but no reply, so you are still around. It was to thank you for being so wonderful to our Aunts Mavis and Thelma. Will try the email address again…………happy days S

      • Maya Bernardo

        Hi Richard, I just read Simone’s post so thought i would pop in to say hello. I remember you well. Maya

  • simone

    Hi John, not getting replies from Maya or Dave Walker re scan…..sadly as would love to see it.

    • John Howell

      Simone, Maya said that she has passed my email address to you. However, if it has failed to reach you I will ask Maya to give me your email address so I can contact you direct, and I will contact Dave and ask him to pass my email address to you.

      I would love to be in contact with you to pass on old photos and memorabilia of St. Vincent’s, and to read about your memories. I would be especially pleased if you could put me in contact with my friend of 65years ago, Richard Green who you said is your cousin.

      Hoping to be in touch soon, John.

      • Richard Greene


        This is your old friend Richard Greene.

        I have come across this site and could not believe anyone remembers St Vincents. There seems to no record of the school.

        Hope you are in good health.

        Let me have your email

  • simone

    Don’t think Maya has my email address but she can easily acquire it from my sister. I am not sure where Richard Green is…….I know he was in contact with my aunt Thelma who died last year. But my sister may also know about him. I am on facebook by the way under my name…are you on FB?

  • simone

    Maya I am not on messenger or any smart phone connections just email facebook etc. Sue said she gave you my email please use that….you are looking good, thanks Si

  • simone

    John I have emailed you at the address Maya gave me, hope you received the email. Look forward to seeing the photo

  • Christine Hamand

    Would love the photo for my husband who was at St Vincent’s in about 1947.

    • nigeldviv

      Hi Christine,
      I was at St Vincents from 1954, and I am trying to collect any material I can find about this forgotten school. I am hoping to collect enough for Dave Walker to do a future post in this excellent RBKC archive. I would be happy to copy John’s photo on to you, and have asked Dave if he could send you my email address.

      • June Halford

        Hi Nigel
        June Small here! I do so remember my time at St Vincent’s and you. I was there from 1955 until 1960. I was great mates with Carol Pinnock and Ian Brown and fondly remember the Polish boys, Teddy Heyda & Julek Kedereski, lovely names.
        I remember having my legs smacked by Mrs Monger, I wasn’t quick enough at maths and Mrs Bromleys words often come back to me when writing.
        It’s good to hear about the old place.
        June Halford, née Small

      • nigeldviv

        Hi June,
        I’m so pleased that you have found my posts about St Vincents, and I certainly remember you!
        I started this thread back in 2016 in the hope that some fellow pupils from the 50’s might find Dave Walker’s Notting Hill Gate post. As you can see, it has attracted the attention of people from earlier years, but so far no-one from our era (1954-1960) had materialised…. so it’s great that you have found the post.
        I had previously searched the internet for references to St Vincents, but found very little. So I thought it would be good to try and collect together any material, e.g. names, papers, memories and especially photos, which could perhaps be put onto the internet courtesy of Dave Walker ‘s excellent RBKC Archive.

        My memories of the school are very hazy, but I remember you and others such as Carol Pinnock, Ian Brown, Diane Striker, Valerie Smith, Rosemary ?, Sybil ? The teachers I remember were Mrs Monger (maths as you painfully recall), the fearsome Mrs Bromley (who terrified me, and it seems everyone else), Mrs Reid (her mother), and not forgetting dear Miss Kent whose lessons (English was it?) I seem to remember enjoying. Oddly I do not recall the two Polish boys you mentioned, were they in our class? Can you remember any other names of pupils or teachers?
        John Howell has shared a school photograph from earlier years, but I don’t recall ever having a school group photo taken while I was there. Do you recall this happening in your time at St Vincents?

        I have some fuzzy photos of all of us in the 1960 school play, where you were a rather enchanting fairy! If you would like to see these, or indeed have any photos you could share, please ask Dave Walker for my email address so I can send you what I have collected so far.

  • Christine Hamand

    Many thanks! Christine

  • Helen Whichelow

    I was at St Vincents from 1949 to about 1953. I agree with Maya’s comments. Maya, was your maiden name something like Mukerjee?

    • Maya Bernardo

      Yes, it was. Was yours Brace? If so, I have an image etched into my brain of Mrs B doing a number on you. I can remember sitting in the front of the class cringing with sympathy!

  • Helen Whichelow

    Yes indeed Maya. You have a good memory and I’m pleased to note that I wasn’t over sensitive. I still remember her stinging words.

  • Helen Whichelow

    On a more positive note, I have very fond memories of Mrs Reid and I loved my earlier years at St Vincent’s. Another teacher who hasn’t been mentioned was a Miss Hare, but she may have been there only a short time.

    I have a photgraph taken in the garden around 1952, showing the cast of a production where we were dressed as flowers or grasses. My mother has written the names of all on the back and it would appear that the principal characters were Yvonne Kingsley and Heather de Tarranto, though I don’t remember either of these pupils.

    • John Howell

      Hi Helen, like you I was a pupil at St. Vincent’s 1947 to 1954 so we were there at the same time. My name at the time was John Moon (now Howell) and I was a classmate of Maya, in fact at some time we sat next to each other. I have been in contact with Maya, and also Richard Greene, Nigel Vivian and Simone Williams, all ex St. Vincent’s pupils. The photograph you have is from the school concert of 1952 called “A Summer Entertainment” presented at the Twentieth Century Theatre in Westbourne Grove on Saturday 19th. July 1952. I still have the programme for the show. Your act in the show was titled “May Time, A Tableau In Words” and you are listed as one of the
      “Grasses”. Maya was in an act titled “The Golden Goose” and was Second Daughter, I was in an act titled “The Ring, A Nordic Saga” I, along with Richard Greene, was a Viking.
      I have got various Photos and other documents from those years, and so have the others that I have mentioned. We have sent each other many photos, and exchanged many memories.
      If you contact Dave Walker who runs this blog, ask him to either give you my email address or to pass your email address to me. If I can contact you direct I can send you all photos and memorabilia direct, and put you in touch with the others.
      Hope to hear from you, John

      • Helen Whichelow

        There was another performance I remember when I was younger. We represented London churches from the rhyme Oranges and Lemons. My grandfather fashioned the hat I was to wear depicting the church, and I still remember my lines: Bulls Eyes and targets say the bells of St Margaret’s.

        I hope that Dave Walker will pass on my email address.

    • Maya Bernardo

      Hi, Helen The name Yvonne Kingsley rings a very vague bell but I have no recollection of a Heather or a Miss Hare. Equally, other than that one incident, I have no memory of you. I only remember John because I sat next to him when we were in the Senior class. For some reason or another, I have a vivid memory of sitting next to him taking a spelling test. (The good old Readers Digest and “It pays to increase your word power’)

      • Helen Whichelow

        Yes, I quite enjoyed the spelling tests! It’s funny the things you remember.

        There’s no doubt that we received a very good grounding at St Vincent’s, however I was not happy in my later years there and that humiliation by Mrs B was the last straw. My parents moved me to St Mary Abbots in Kensington where I spent my last four terms or so of primary school. That was a totally different experience and I blossomed.

  • Helen Whichelow

    I remember your name, John. I think you might be slightly older than me, as I was five when I started in 1949. I seem to remember that more than one age group was taught in the same room.

    Dave, please feel free to pass to John my email address (turquoise icon…there was a typo when I first posted, purple icon)

  • June Halford née Small

    You have jolted my memory bank, a bit, you must remember Julek, always top of the class! Marion Ginsbury,Michael Pendrell, Sybil Lambert was her surname, Antony Battle, we had an Irish girl Patricia.
    I have no photos of school, not like nowadays. When I receive your email address we can talk more.

    DAVE would you give me Nigel’s email please, he has asked me to ask you.
    Many thanks

    • Marion Ginsbury

      Hi June, I’m Marion Panayi nee
      Ginsbury and I remember you well along with Susan Kyle and Moira Christofoira. I hated the years I spent at St V’s from 1954 to 1960. I am friends on Facebook with Peter Jones. Also still friends with Julian (Ahmed) Asgaralli. Mrs Bromley and her Mother put the fear of God into me. My physical scars have long gone but emotionally still remain with me. It would be lovely to hear from you via email if you want. All the best to anyone who remembers me (skinny child with pigtails) 😀

  • Julian Asgaralli (Ahmed)

    Have just stumbled on this site and could not believe the references to St. Vincents and so many old pupils, many whose names I well remember,posting their comments.
    I was at St. Vincents from 1955 – 1961 under my then nickname Ahmed, I was in the year with Ingrid Kunicki, Andrew Scribor, Raymond Casimir, Alan Gravener, Carole Striker, Katrina Sherlaw, Mary Cristoforou, Simon Evans, Martin Osman, Christopher Ojesso and others sorry if I left anyone else out, memory not what it was but not too bad for 68.
    Still friendly with Marion nee Ginsbury and was with Ingrid who sadly passed away two years ago.
    We had a great education at that school but my goodness it came with emotional baggage, Mrs Bromley was frightening and I used to tremble as she approched Juniors on the first floor, Mrs Monger with the smelly breath was equally obnoxious, no wonder I hated Maths my entire scholastic life Mrs Reid was ok if you learnt to read properly standing by her desk in kindergarten but Miss Kent was a treasure always quoting sentences from Alice in Wonderland, weird school days, I look back with very mixed emotions but appreciate the high standard and varied education we received, I was over a year ahead when I got to St. Marylebone Grammar thanks to my grounding at St. Vincents.
    Really great reading all your comments and memories of 6 Holland Park Road.
    Best wishes Julian Asgaralli AKA Ahmed

  • Maya Bernardo

    Although I had left St Vincents before you arrived, your name is ringing a bell. Did you live on Holland road? If so,
    I think you knew my sister, Preethi and our mothers knew each other.

    • Julian Asgaralli (Ahmed)

      Hi Maya,
      Yes of course I remember you all well, your Brother Junior he lived in the Kunicki house in Shepherds Bush Road, I also remember coming to your house in Elsham Road a few times , our mums were friends because both our dads were Indian. I remember your dad very well, did he not make money in vinegar?
      I also remember my mum and Ii were on a cruise in the early sixties and we bumpted into your mum on the Acroplis in Athens.
      We did not live in Holland Road at the time but in Arthur Court in Queensway.
      Hope you are well and fantastic hearing from you.
      Happy new year.
      Julian AKA Ahmed.

  • Michael K Power

    I posted here that I had attended St Vincent in the early 1950s but
    my post has not made it to this thread. Why? I’m sure it was not offensive.
    I am equally certain it was on topic. Why is not up?

    • Marion Ginsbury

      Hi I don’t think anyone checks on this site as a lot of the posts are quite old. This is a shame because it would be so good to hear from people you may know. Unfortunately I don’t know you as I attended in the middle fifties.
      Marion (Ginsbury)

      • helen Whichelow

        I was at St Vincent’s from 1949 to 1953, but I’m sorry, I don’t know Michael or Marion. Helen

  • Michael K Power

    I attended St Vincent’s. I began my schooling there in 1952 and attended until April 1955. On April 22nd, my 7th birthday I embarked with my
    very pregnant mother, on HMS Scythia for Quebec City. From there we went by train to Ottawa.

    I remember Mrs Reid’s kindergarten. It had rows of plain painted wooden desks. The first day of school I was given an Atlas, Meiklejohn’s Intermediate School Atlas. It has a blue cloth cover. I say “has” because
    remarkably, as I write this I have it in front of me. Written on the inside, in my hand writing, is my then address 79A Oxford Gardens.

    Centred in the wall on the right hand side of the class room was a fireplace. And at the front of the room to the right was a piano. Mrs Reid played and the children sang. We sang Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. We sang our times tables, we sang the alphabet. …A says ah, B says buh, C says cuh… I remember other songs but cannot remember the names of them.

    I seem to remember the grade up from kindergarten was called transition,
    maybe I have that wrong. Up stairs the desk were more desk like, I think
    made of oak. Someone wrote above that the teachers were formidable.

    Maybe so, but I was advanced well beyond my peers in school in Ottawa.
    Some may think this an advantage. Now I see that it was. Early stimulation is an enormous benefit. But then, it was not. School in Ottawa was boring, tedious, repetitious and parochial.

    By the time I was six I was taking the bus to school, and home again by myself. My dad used to take to a public library on Ladbrooke Road and in Ottawa continued taking me to the Carnegie Library every Saturday.

    While I was bored at school I was never bored at home. I discovered this blog because I was curious to find a reference to its provenance. Who founded St Vincent’s, or whom? What was the motivation?

    I discovered that my grandfather had recommended St Vincent’s for me. According to my mother my grandfather was interested in “unusual pursuits.” He went to meetings at the 38 Warwick Gardens. But I discovered that P.D. Ouspensky held meetings there in the 1920s until October 1938.

    Since then other indicators have caused me to wonder if Mrs. Reid and Mrs. Bromley could have been influenced by Ouspensky. St Vincent’s provided an unusually challenging environment for its time. By the time my
    education there came to an end, I knew my times tables up to thirteen times. I do not remember not being able to read. I was taught and learned to read phonetically. And learned to spell phonetically. Meiklejohn’s atlas gave me an overview of the physical world and the political world as it was then at the time it was published. I recall memory exercises. And I recall doing calisthenics in a small courtyard there. We were taught to think!

    I wonder if anyone knows of any influence or connection, the founders, or the teachers may have had to Theosophical influences. …Or to P.D. Ouspensky’s influence.

  • Maya Bernardo

    Hello Michael,

    I attended St Vincent’s from 1948 through 1954. My memories of Kindergarten are identical to yours. I have vivid memories of singing “Silent night “and “Early one morning”. In regard to times tables, I only remember learning up to 12 at school. At home, my father offered me half a crown (a lot of money then!) for each additional table I memorized . (My 16 times table came in very handy later on.)

    As for PD Ouspensky, I’m afraid, I’d never heard of him until, as a result of your post, I googled him. Maybe someone else has…..Maya

    • Michael K Power

      Hi Maya,
      I suppose attributing our education exclusively to schooling is a modern conceit, as though parents, products of such schooling, are suddenly struck dumb upon leaving.

      I suppose upon reflection my Grandparents and parents interest in educating me was the reason I was sent to St Vincent. But they had me reciting my times tables. Playing “I spy with my little eye” helped me learn to spell. And supplying me with lots of books of course opens ones eyes to the wider world.

      Memories of St Vincent are indelibly fixed. The walk way was bordered by a low stone wall. It must have had an iron railing fixed on top of it at one time. And the railings must have been cut off and sequestered for the war. I remember evenly spaced black circular
      marks along the wall. And flowers too, planted beside the wall. I remember watching ladybugs flit among them.

      I remember too walking up a hill to a cafeteria for lunch. There were houses on the way there that had doors in the walls. I got a good dressing down for pushing the doors inwards and bashing them against dust bins making a truly satisfying crash.

      Looking at the photos taken more recently I realize I wouldn’t recognize much.

      Anyway I have good memories of St Vincent. The three years I went there could have been ten years to me. I am 71 almost. I have a four year old grandson. He’s the same age now as I was when I began school.

      As for Ouspensky. He had hundreds of people attending his talks. Yet few know his influence! He was the prime exponent of G.I. Gurdjieff in London.

      Maya you must be in your mid seventies. What a time to be alive.

      Not long ago I would likely never have had a chance to chat with
      you. Amazing!

      Best wishes,


  • Matt

    I live next door at number 8 Holland Park Avenue.

  • Pani Demetriou

    Fascinating to hear memories of St Vincent’s. We were the next generation of pupils; I attended there with my 2 older brothers and sister : Pani, Maria, Photios and John Demetriou. – between approx. 1965- 1972.
    Our father had the Galleon restaurant on Pembridge Road and we went there daily for lunch with other pupils. I am indebted to the school for my good spelling and mental arithmetic. PE was rounders in Holland Park and we went on regular trips to the Commonwealth Institute. We performed Alice in Wonderland in the school garden. Ms Kent sadly died in my younger years, we all attended the funeral. That left Mrs Bromley and Miss ( it was Miss not Mrs) Reid as the only teachers. Discipline was rather cruel and Victorian but the teaching was excellent. When I left Mrs Bromley gave me a small ivory lion and a Victorian apron.
    Some contemporaries: Anne Gilmartin ( my best friend), Peter ? Bertorelli, Michael Sanchez, Garth ?, Akim and I remember helping Jason Connery (son of Sean) with his reading in kindergarten. It would be great to hear from any contemporaries.

    • Jacqueline Frost

      Hello Pani. I remember you and your sister !!! I was only at St Vincent’s for about 3 years but remember the names you mention – I think it was Michael Bertorelli (?) and another name that springs to mind is Jeremy D’Souza. Also, Giovanna Connery attended the school for a while. On a few occasions I went with you for lunch at your father’s restaurant. I think we ate in a room upstairs ? I have fond memories of the school and from time to time, take a walk down “Memory Lane” !! So lovely to read a shared memory …..

      • Jane Schofield-Almond

        I remember the Bertorellis had a restaurant in Queensway. I think that was the same family. We went there several times. Delicious food. And yes, as you’ll see below, I remember Giovanna and Jason too.

      • helen Whichelow

        There were two Bertorelli restaurants, one in Queensway and one in Shepherds Bush. I beieve they were cousins. I am talking about the 50s and early 60s.

    • Suzie

      I have very fond memories of your fathers restaurant, used to eat there a lot when I attended The Rambert School of Ballet round the corner.

    • Louisa

      I and my brother also attended St Vincent’s until it closed down. Mrs Bromley and Miss Reid moved to Kent I believe after the school closed.
      Strange teaching (by modern standards) but my goodness highly effective! I’ve been a stickler for good spelling since my days at Holland Park!!!!
      The Victorian style classrooms with creaky wooden floors throughout the lovely building….
      I remember us being taken to Holland Park fairly regularly and lettuce and salad cream sandwiches!!!!!
      We had PE lessons in the ‘yard’ area downstairs.

    • Jane Schofield-Almond

      I attended St Vincent’s for two years before going off to boarding school in September 1967 but my younger sister Liz Brearley was there for three I think. So some of you might remember her. I remember Giovanna Connery because she lived around the corner from us in Moscow Road, opposite St Matthew’s church for a while and we used to walk to school with her. I remember Jason too. My best friend was Josephine Tye (as she was then). I’m trying to remember who else was in my class (Simon Posner I do remember) and I remember Miss Kent very well. We all loved her. And Mrs Bromley too. I know Liz remembered Miss Denny very well but I don’t. Mrs Bromley took us to see The Greatest Story Ever Told at the Notting Hill cinema when it came out. A great trip. My father’s dental surgery was in Pembridge Road so all local stuff for me. It’s great to read all these posts.

    • Jane Schofield-Almond

      The Galleon was directly opposite my Dad’s surgery at 36. He used to go there sometimes for lunch. Was there a basement? I remember going downstairs in a restaurant sometimes for lunch while at St Vincent’s but not sure where that actually was now.

      • Pani Demetriou

        Jane – is your father Dr Dempsey? We remember him well and he was friendly with our uncle John who also worked at the Galleon.
        We used to sit upstairs in the little room.
        The kitchen was in the basement.
        You were probably a contemporary of my older brother John.
        Keep the memories coming .

      • Mismeret

        No my dad owned the dental surgery at 36 – he was a dental surgeon. He died young in 1988 at 69 years old. My mother worked with him occasionally – she was an orthodontist but she mainly worked in the NHS.
        I asked about a basement at the Galleon because I remember eating in one for about a term while I was at St Vincent’s. Perhaps it wasn’t the Galleon then…

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