On the border 6.2: road

1998, a sunny day near the end of a century at the junction of Ladbroke Grove with Kensal Road.


When I thought of covering the canal and Kensal Road in a couple of posts I took one of those Google Street View tours from this point up to Golborne Road and realised that the road has changed enormously in the last 40 years. There are many new buildings and conversions and the road looks quite different from how it did at the end of the 1960s, but some older buildings have survived along with something of the semi-domestic semi-industrial feel of the area.



It’s been suggested to me that the car beneath the advertising hoarding is a Fiat Panda, but surely not. (Too much of a coincidence? What was that advert “Ol’ Balck Eyes is back” about?) The pub which is still there today is the Western Arms which can also be seen in this picture looking back towards Ladbroke Grove.




At the back of the picture is another survivor, Canalside House. But the building on the right is no longer there. The rather larger, mostly white, corporate headquarters of the Innocent Company is there now. Behind the wall is the Portobello Dock.

We have some other pictures from the modern era but perhaps now is the moment to step back to 1969.



There is the pub again, with an unmistakable and unlovely Ford Anglia parked outside.

A couple of women stroll towards us, along the comparatively quiet street. This was one of the first streets John Rogers covered in his photo survey of the Borough, and one of the earliest chronologically. He must have started right at the top of Kensington, intending to work his way south.




Across the road is the entrance to the Dock, which went under many names. As well as Kensal Wharf when it was owned by the Chelsea Vestry, it was also called Kensington Wharf and also the Council Depot. (A favourite term for council buildings which were not predominantly offices. The main depot was in Pembroke Road and was still known by that name when I started working for the borough, in another semi-forgotten era.)



This view shows the yard just inside the entrance. Below the view inside.



Again, you can see the Narrow Boat pub in the background on the other side of the canal, which I once thought undocumented but is now turning up a lot in pictures.




The ramp was originally for horses to pull wagons up to the dock side. The building in the centre was used for several light industrial purposes including the manufacture of “gramophone records”, as Kelly’s describes it.

Also just visible are a pair of  early social housing blocks from the 1930s, Ruth House, below.



And Pollock House. Both of them have survived into this century.



The Saga Records building is also still here, although the front is currently boarded up.



A little further along the north side of the road, number 298 and a couple of neighbouring houses. Only the pram betrays any sign of habitation.



On the south side of the road, a part of Middle Row School.



This part of the school no longer exists, but the main building on Middle Row itself is still in action. The houses and shops on the left are also gone.

At this point I have to admit that it looks like we’re not going to get back to our starting point in Wedlake Street this week, so we’ll be doing another week in Kensal Road. I’ll leave you with another view of a pub.



The excellently named “Lads of the Village”.  It was later known as the Village Inn and by 2014 it seems to have become a wine bar type establishment called “Frames” (some snooker reference?) The building is currently intact according to Street View but it is now boarded up, awaiting further developments.

And for a final general image with a bit of a change of pace, a colour aerial view of the western section of Kensal Road.



This is from a series we have  taken about 1985. (A fascinating but sometimes confusing set of images) You can see the junction of Kensal Road and Ladbroke |Grove where we started today on the top left, with a few of the remaining features of 1969 and some new buildings. The canal is visible at the top, and (just about) the dock.

We’ll go a bit further, and come back to Wedlake Street in the next weekly post but before then it’s the week  before  Christmas when, by Tradition, I do a week of daily posts. Sooner than I thought, and only one of those is written so far. So fingers crossed.



9 responses to “On the border 6.2: road

  • David

    Dave, excellently written, as always. Thank you.

    Can I be a pedant and correct your comments about the cars, in a couple of the photos?

    1: the car passing the billboard with a Panda, is a Ford Fiesta mk2, not, sadly a Fiat Panda
    2: the cat parked outside the much missed Western Arms is a Ford Classic, not an Anglia.

    Thanks again for your lovely writing style. I always love it when an email ‘pings up’ from your good self.



    • Dave Walker

      I always welcome corrections on the motoring front as I am merely an interested amateur in classic and not so classic cars. Shame it wasn’t a Ford Anglia though. They were almost as ugly as Allegros.

  • Edward Teddy Towers

    “It’s been suggested to me that the car beneath the advertising hoarding is a Fiat Panda, but surely not.” Its a Ford Fiesta I’m afraid! I live in The Ladbroke Grove scheme which was built last year on West Row/Ladbroke Grove so fascinating to see how the area has changed!!

  • Dave Hucker

    Not a Fiat Panda. But a Ford Fiesta. The Ford Anglia in front of the pub is actualy a Consul. Great pics.

  • Peter Barron

    Shall I be the fourth person to say the Fiat Panda is actually a Ford Fiesta. Why not?

  • Christine Smith

    Thank you for these photos. My family and I walked up and down to school at St. Mary’s East Row from 1960. It was great to see the buildings as they were then. My school friend lived in Ruth House and I used to call for her on the way there. One of our best memories is when Steptoe and Son were filming along here.

  • Alan

    Again, just to correct the detail on the Ford. It is a Consul Classic, so I guess both of the previous comments were half right. I’m loving reading these blogs by Dave Walker as I lived in the area from 1952 to 1968 and recognise some of the detail in the pictures.

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