We left off last week near here.
That’s 109 Cromwell Road, the corner of Ashburn Gardens. Ashburn Gardens still exists of course, but the buildings you see in the picture do not.
There was an actual garden in Ashburn Gardens.
I don’t know if any of it survives. The site was cleared when the Penta Hotel was built but there are still a few patches of open ground on the south west corner of the site. The hotel was built at an angle to the road, possibly leaving one corner intact.
(The Architectural Review of September 1972 covered the completed building in an article called Bad Dreams Coming True in which a number of then recent large hotels were given a critical mauling. The Penta was called “a monster apparition.” The article is worth a look if you find yourself in the vicinity of a copy)
There are some mature trees on that corner today which could well be the ones you see in this nearly fifty year old photograph. Or perhaps not.
Behind the buildings you see was Ashburn Place. This is the west side looking south, complete with another of those signs sayingthe site had been acquired for that big new hotel. Is that a Mini-Moke?
This, I think is the bottom end, although I’m having some difficulty fitting it into my mental map of the area.
Next To Ashburn Gardens was Ashburn Place. We saw the intersection with Cromwell Road last week. In this picture you can see the tower building on the corner, and next to it the “Cottage” (1A), a slightly shorter building.
And there, the arch marking the entrance to our destination.
Ashburn Mews doesn’t even exist in name any more.
It had one of those grand-ish mews entrances seen at several points in the South Kensington area. Obviously we go down here next. But first a quick look at the Cottage.
Which can also be seen from the side nestled in the mews itself.
Now off we go. Like many mews streets, Ashburn Mews was given over to garages above which there were small residences, often featured in television dramas. (Steed lived in one if you remember, and I saw one in the oddly titled McMafia the other night.) Some of the ground floors were given over to small motor businesses. We’ve seen plenty of those. The mews streets that have survived into more affluent times have frequently been gentrified, and the ground floors converted into living accommodation. One thing that hasn’t changed is a lack of foot traffic. A person is just about visible at the end of the street, where you can see the rising bulk of Bailey’s Hotel, a long- standing and much photographed feature on Gloucester / Courtfield Roads.
Even today, you seldom see other pedestrians when you walk down a mews. There’s one off Cranley Gardens that I used to use as a short cut. The only problem was cars coming at you and baleful looks from the residents.
A lone woman creeps around, perhaps about to enter through one of the garage doors.
Perhaps it was a bit of a bleak day when John Rogers was here but the street looks uniformly grim. This is one mews that would never be improved. Those garage doors would never be painted in bright colours, and you would never pass by and see someone’s living room. It seems very quiet, without the usual collection of cars waiting to be serviced that you often see in these back waters.
At the end of the mews you see the corner of Gloucester Road Station, and another conical tower, echoing the one on the corner of Ashburn Place.
A couple of women are exiting onto Courtfield Road.
A closer view of the tower with its round windows, a small business, (“typing office and business service” a vanished trade I should think), an unusual brick feature (a chimney?), and a telephone box, conveniently sited in a quiet spot round the corner from the station.
Finally, looking back the way we came you see a small cluster of cars and a pair of pedestrians making slow progress back towards Cromwell Road.
One of my Twitter followers called last week’s post the backside of Cromwell Road, which was correct. This week we’ve looked even further off the main road, into another one of the forgotten corners of London.
None of my musical or literary heroes died this week, I’m glad to say, so this week’s postscript has just one item. This month we had over 20,000 page views, the second highest month ever on the blog, so thank you all for your continued interest and welcome again to new readers.