Chelsea stories – onward to Sloane Square

It’s taken us longer than I thought to reach the final stretch of the King’s Road but we’ve got here. Most of this week’s photos are from the early 1990s and at first you might think that nothing much has changed in the last twenty odd years but there have been a few changes.

We left off roughly about here, looking east.


We’re on the corner of Smith Street. The building, modern at street level, Victorian above was once an urban dairy. The cow’s head can still be seen on the third floor. Have a look at this post.

Nearby on the north side of the street was another retail outlet for dairy products.



The original location of the Mary Quant shop, at this point, a branch of Haagen-Dazs. Remember when that was a novelty? The pub next door was already a branch of Abbey National by then.

Further along the north side of the road you come to the small mall created around this time, King’s Walk.




Mr Figg wasn’t entirely impressed with the development but he took some pictures anyway



Empty in this picture with some nice reflections. There used to be a Virgin shop in there and in olden days when we bought CDs and videos at actual physical shops I would go there with my wife or my son. I think it was there I bought him the first Grand Theft Auto and I certainly remember going there to buy another driving game on the day of its release. I guess people still do that.

Here’s the mall with a few people about.



The small area in which the mall was built had contained a pedestrian close with a branch of Sainsbury’s at the rear, a Boots on the left and a shoe shop on the right. As I recall there was some kind of public sculpture in the centre with some wooden seating.

Further along, the corner of Tryon Street where there was later a branch of Superdrug (useful) followed by a branch of Muji (not so useful, for me at least).



Opposite the Mall is the once controversial branch of McDonalds, with a “discreet” version of their usual signage (to avoid “lowering the tone of the neighbourhood”, although some might say the Chelsea Drug Store had already done that.)



This picture shows the building after the Drug Store, which finally closed in 1985, but before McDonald’s. As you can see, after that it was a wine bar called Drummond’s. I can’t recall exactly when McDonald’s opened but I think it must have been around 1991, as I found some evidence of complaints about a “fast food restaurant” about then.



On the other side of Royal Avenue, which we have seen before, is an anonymous building which was occupied at ground level by a Safeways store, which probably withered away in the face of competition from M&S and Waitrose. You can see the building on the right in this picture, with the shops at street level below Whitelands House, one of those large apartment blocks built in the 1930s which you can find several examples of in Chelsea. Regular readers of the blog will remember my fascination with the original Whitelands House / College. (I won’t burden you with a link.)



Beyond Whitelands House is the Duke of York’s Square development, which most residents thought of as an improvement on the previous arrangement, seen in the picture below which Figg must have taken from the upper floors of Whitelands House.



It also show the final group of shops on the norther side before you reach Peter Jones, such as Woolworth’s, which was gone before I was a regular shopper on the King’s Road.



Peter Jones itself is another 1930s builing, still iconic, and still good for views over Chelsea if you go up to the furniture section, or the cafe.



I cannot help pointing out this single decker example of the short lived bus route the 249, which apparently is anomalous in Sloane Square. The 249 mostly travelled between Crystal Palace and Battersea.

Another of Figg’s random picture of shoppers, at Sloane Square from 1990.


The old configuration of Sloane Square, with the fountain and the WW1 memorial.



This picture shows the east side of the square looking south, with The Royal Court Theatre, and Sloane Square Station, surmounted by  a block of offices.



There was time of course when the station stood alone, quite plain and unadorned. (This is a picture from the 1950s I think. The station was severely damaged in an air raid during the war.)



To finish, a bonus picture. Everyone who has stood on the platform at Sloane Square knows that the track, like many sub-surface tube stations, does not have  a roof, and that  there is a large rectangular covered pipe which goes across the track above you, through which the River Westbourne (one of the “lost” rivers of London) flows on its way to the Thames. You may have told someone that as a fun fact. I know I have. But have you ever seen it from above?


There it is, caught by Mr Figg (or he may have copied the picture from an earlier one) before it was entirely surrounded by development. An example of Figg’s love for “hidden Chelsea”.


Although we’ve now covered the length of the King’s Road, don’t imagine we’ve finished with JW Figg. Chelsea Stories will return soon.

11 responses to “Chelsea stories – onward to Sloane Square

  • iBudd

    Ah I was hoping to see Our Price (where Pandora is now?) – location of my first Christmas job 1992!

  • Epik

    Great memories, but no Chelsea Kitchen?

  • anglosardo

    Tryon Street. Most high streets have clothes shops with changing rooms; the King’s Road has a whole street dedicated to trying on.

  • LouiseS

    My dad owned, managed and worked in the various branches of the Kings road, Just Men shops from the mid sixties until the late eighties. I used to help him out serving in the shop in the photograph on Saturdays, when I was a teenager and student. I remember long boring days waiting for customers, staring at the Chelsea drug store and square opposite. By the late seventies Kings road fashion was already becoming more main stream and we were selling brands, like Lacoste rather than cloths made specially for Just Men. Just Men’s earlier incarnations were much more interesting. The shop opposite,on the other side of Tryon street was probably the best know branch of Just Men in the sixties, when all the clothes were custom made for the shop and designed in house. As a small kid I remember it was a wonderland of stainless steel, psychedelic shirts and velvet trousers (which my dad used to wear! along with side burns and very big ties.)
    There was also another Just Men shop just behind this one (the first King road branch) and there are pictures of The Who buying shirts here in the early sixties.
    Here’s one from the Telegraph
    I was very small then but I remember the Indian brass bells on the back of the main door and the shop boys playing with “click clacks” which were all the rage at one point in the early sixties.

  • unionofdelight

    I have photos of the sculpture outside Sainsbury’s as I once contacted the artist and it’s been moved to outside a university I think.

  • Marcia Howard

    During my early years of growing up in Chelsea during the 1950s, the two shops alongside Woolworth was J Sainsbury, then next to that Sidney (maybe Sydney) Smith’s store. I had bought my first much loved baby doll from Harrods with money given to me by aunts at Christmas. The doll came naked, so mother sewed a little dress for her, and I bought a pair of little blue shoes to fit from the toy department at Sidney Smiths. I recall to this day that they cost 1/- (1 shilling = 5 pence)

  • Jane Battye

    Funnily enoug, we were just talking about Chelsea Kitchen and it’s other London relatives tonight. Used to eat there in the 1970s. And nearby I bought a hooded cardigany thing which instantly unravelled. The shop wouldn’t change it or give my money back so I w not away made a placard that said “Don’t use this shop”. It took only took 3 mins of marching up and down outside to get a refund!

  • Ind. Alison Bell

    Hi there. Sorry to bother you. I’m trying to find some information for an elderly relative of mine but as I’m seriously ill and predominantly bedridden I can’t do much so I hope it’s ok to ask. Do you happen to know of a costumier in Sloane square back sometime around the 1940-50’s called Monsuire Antoine? Many thanks. Have a blessed day. Alison. God bless x

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