Lancaster Circus: a vanished crossroad

It really was called Lancaster Circus at one time, the confluence of Lancaster Road, Walmer Road, Clarendon Road and Silchester Road, and was also called Lancaster Cross. This is where we stopped on our journey along Lancaster Road, at the point where the modern Lancaster Road peters out and morphs into Silchester Road with a gentle curve past the new Aldridge Academy.


This early 20th century postcard view is looking south from Silchester Road towards Clarendon Road. The Lancaster public house is the largest building in the picture and next to it Walmer Road (where the plain awning is visible) also heads south. (See the post here). Lancaster Road is crossing the picture. A map helps, and here is one from 1935.


As you can see, the public house was not the largest building in the vicinity. That was the Kensington Public Baths, also called the Silchester Baths.


This picture is dated about 1970. The baths were closed in the late 1970s , despite a local campaign to retain the building for community purposes and a new sports centre was built nearby which was iteslf rebuilt in 2015.

This picture shows the baths at the time of demolition.


You can see other changes to the local landscape across the road from the baths.

This earlier picture shows a whole section of the area near Lancaster Road, including the Council buildings we looked at in the previous post on Lancaster Road.


Take a quick look back into Silchester Road as it was in the early 20th century.


A very pleasant looking scene. Does it seem like a more affluent area than the 1960s?

And as it was in 1970, looking in the opposite direction towards the railway.


There’s one of those double street lights again. This is another view of the Lancaster pub.


Walmer Road is visible on the left, and here is the view south from there.



There are more pictures of Walmer Road in a previous pair of posts. (Starting here) If we alter the point of view you can look down Clarendon Road.


And finally south into Lancaster Road.


This picture shows the corner of Fowell Street, which ran south off Lancaster Road opposite the Baths.


This is what the area looked like on a 1971 map.


You can see that a wide section of the area has gone. This picture shows part of the demolition.


Those buildings in the background are, I have been told, two of the towers of the Edward Wood Estate. I must admit that I find it hard to get the angle right in my head, so have a think about that yourselves. It’s always tricky conceptualising places that no longer exist.


This picture shows the edge of the demolished area on the rights. The photographer could not see any numbers on these houses so they might already be empty.

We’re in the final stretch of the old Lancaster Road now.



252 Lancaster Road. The cross street is Blechynden Street (which we have also covered before – some pictures here)

About ten doors down that side of the road, the trees, bushes and other undergrowth are quie luxuriant.


This impressive building which is part of St Francis School is on the corner of Treadgold Street.


And this is looking back up Treadgold Street at the corner opposte the school.


This corner in fact.


The picture shows the final section of Lancaster Road as it was in the 1960s and early 1970s in the 29os and 300 house numbers. This is where it went down to meet Bramley Road. The tall buildings in the background were part of the Phoenix Brewery. Most of the buildings in the picture have been replaced but the street survives under the name Whitchurch Road. The name Whitchurch had  formerly applied to a small area around this spot (A man named James Whitchurch was a local landowner.)

This takes us almost outside the borders of Kensington and Chelsea as they used to be when Latimer Road was in Hammersmith. I’ve explored that area through the pictures of Bernard Selwyn and there are a series of posts set around that border zone which I wrote last year. [Links: here, here, here and here ]


I hadn’t anticipated continuing the story of Lancaster Road immediately when I wrote last week’s postscript, but I’ve been preparing several posts at the same time and this one did get finished in time.

This part two post turned out to be almost entirely set in streets or parts of streets which have changed completely since the photographs were taken. For me this is another venture into a space that only exists in pictures and memories. For those of you who remember this period of North Kensington’s history I hope these images take you back there.

Thanks once again to Maggie.

Another postscript on an unrelated matter

I seem to have got into the habit of noting the deaths of rock musicians as they occur. I must be at the age when my heroes are starting to die. This time it’s someone who was never particularly famous in the wider world, but was nevertheless a significant figure in the history of popular music, Jaki Liebezeit, the drummer of the German avant garde rock group Can. I loved that band, have most of their albums, even saw them on five occasions (quite a lot for me). More importantly I still listen to them, forty years or more ago after I first heard their music. Jaki himself was very influential on later music whether it was post-punk or EDM. The music world is a little less interesting without him.

6 responses to “Lancaster Circus: a vanished crossroad

  • West is Best

    A great post Dave, thank you. As a West London resident for the past 15 years I find your posts, particularly these relating to forgotten areas fascinating. I know it’s right on the border of Kensington and Hammersmith so you may not have but I’ve searched for photographs of Holland Park/Shepherds Bush before the White City exhibition/West Cross Route development cut it in two. I’d be really interested to see a post about this if you have anything to share?

  • Kay Horsnell (nee Stanley)

    As a kid, every Friday was bath night at the baths. I remember the beautiful brass taps. I leant how to swim at those baths in 1964/5. I remember diving off the top board to find a penny. Having a sleep CEO of bread and a hot oxo after swimming. My mum used to do all her washing in the wash house at the back of the baths. The pub was known as the Roundhouse. These photos have brought back so many memories.

  • Gillian Rider nee Hyde

    Hi Dave,

    As a child I lived in Bramley Road (no 68) just down from Latimer Rd Station and opposite the Station Hotel as it was called when my grandparents ran it. I too learned to swim at the baths and spent many happy hours there. I also had bread and jam and a hot oxo afterwards. I went to school at Thomas Jones in Latimer Road, it is now called the Latimer Road Pupil support centre. It was great seeing the old pictures. We were moved away from the area by the council when it started to demolish vast swathes of homes and build the flats. I had family also living in Hurstway Street and Lancaster Road. When my grandparents retired and left the pub, they moved to Ladbrooke Grove. It was great revisiting the area via the pictures.

  • Margaret (PITCHER) Morgan

    I lived in Silchester Road from 1942 until 1961. I regularly used the facilities at the Baths..swimming as a child.The front lobby had a wall cabinet with photographs in it. There was one of my mother as a swimming champion in her younger days.I have been trying to locate a copy of it for many years. It’s getting harder now as I have been in Canada since 1963.
    My mother lived in Notting Dale growing up. He name was Mary .Bridges, born in 1919.
    Do you have any ideas as to where to start looking?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated
    Thanks Margaret

  • Barbara

    I lived in Allom House, Clarendon Road in the early 70’s. It wasn’t a great area to live, demolition had started in some areas, some places were squatted. Nottingwood and Allom house were run down and neglected by the council. I remember the area behind Allom House being strewn with broken glass and old mattresses. When the old Silchester baths were derelict the council stored my possession’s in one of the empty pools until I was allocated a flat. Its was all pretty grim back then.

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