Take a walk down the modern Golborne Road, either in the flesh or as I did a few moments ago, on Google Street View, and you see a bright, pleasant road with plenty of food shops, cafes and specialty retailers, with stalls selling flowers and street food. The pavements are wide enough for the tables and chairs where people are enjoying a bit of al fresco cafe culture. This atmosphere has been created by residents and retailers with a bit of help from planners. In the North Kensington area it’s a destination in itself. This short stretch of road hasn’t always looked as good as it does today, but forty odd years ago it was still a street of shops.
This week’s post is the first of two. Next week we’ll look at some pictures from the 1990s, but this week we’re picking up the trail near the end of Kensal Road which we took a walk along a few months ago, and returning to 1969 and 1970, when some of the shops in Golborne Road were quite different from today.
There’s the edge of the bridge over the railway. The Bridge Fish Bar, with its motif of fish below the sign is, according to Street View, now concerned with skateboards and related gear (retaining a tenuous connection with the sea?) . Next door the small building which looks like an appendage to the terrace is surprisingly still a halal butcher’s shop, but has dispensed with the name.
While the railway bridge is visible we should take a quick look in that direction. Normally you would expect to see something quite tall visible from this point.
But only the crane gives you the clue that one of North Kensington’s iconic buildings was about to emerge just beyond the bridge. In 1969 all you would have seen was a view like this.
The scaffolding and the letters GLC on the hoarding indicate that Trellick Tower was about to rise from the gloomy surroundings.
Moving down the slight incline in the direction of Ladbroke Grove we pass a turf accountant, and ice cream parlour and a dairy (proprietor Kriton Eracleous)
On the corner of Wornington Road, the Mitre public house.
The Mitre can also be seen in this picture.
It’s unfortunately a bit light, but you can make out EG Hopwood, another butcher, J. Sugarman, (ladies outfitter), Clarke & Co (corn dealers?), Ryan Electronics and O’Mahoney Brothers (domestic stores).
Following the brothers, at number 74 another butcher, E F Cullingford, Pearks Dairies (see the name on the awning, and the milk float parked in front), the Help Yourself Stores (provisions) and on the far left Hamperl, yet another butcher.
Below, the shop on the right is another ladies outfitters, next to a branch of the Aerated Bread Company, a familiar London institution, more provisions, a draper named Fogel….
And the Economic Grocers ( I hate those uneconomic grocers).
The building which looks like a church is in fact a church, the prosaically named Golborne Road Church.
Behind the stalls at number 96, Price and Sons, fruiterers, a name to remember because the slightly expanded Price’s survives to this day.
This last picture from the north side of the street shows another butcher, a dairy (with another milk float), a newsagent and, not obscured by an awning, W.E.T. Williams, a chemist.
This is the point where Portobello Road crosses Golborne.
We also have a few pictures of the south side of the road.
On the corner of Wornington Road, Bowen and Williams, a drug store.
My copy of Kelly’s does not list the shop called Nancy but it’s in the place where Doris (gowns) is listed. Perhaps they changed the name. You can just about see Sipp’s, a hairdresser on the far left.
This picture shows Holm’s, a baker and confectioner, at number 79 on the corner of Swinbrook Road.
Possibly to cause confusion, Holm’s also had an establishment at number 65.
The one I like in the next picture is at number 93.
Pramland, dealers in perambulators. Next to them, the Venus Restaurant. The cryptically named laundry Peter was actually suffering from sign damage. The word Pan is missing. You can barely make it out but at number 103 was D Howse & Co, surgical equipment manufacturers. For such a specialised business, I imagine it didn’t matter where they were located.
You can see them from the other angle in the picture below.
In the foreground, on the corner of Bevington Road, W. Rewer, dental laboratory (any connection with their neighbours?) They boast a “same day denture repair service”. If your dentures needed a hurried repair, that was clearly the place to go, although I must say that the shopfront doesn’t inspire confidence.
The man dressed in white could possibly be one of the many butchers out for a stroll to clear his head.
I have avoided bringing cars into this post as I was concentrating on shops, but car enthusiasts are nevertheless invited to identify any intriguing vehicles. These pictures always contain a few interesting examples.
I have made extensive use this week of Kelly’s Post Office London Directory for 1969, an invaluable tool for the local historian.
Next week’s pictures come from the HistoryTalk collection and they take the story of Golborne Road retailing into another era.
When a famous author dies I always ask myself how many of his or her books have I read? When Ursula K LeGuin died this year I could congratulate myself. I’ve read most of her books. When John Updike passed away I could say I read quite a few of his. And I’ve started if not necessarily finished many of William Burroughs’s works. (Finishing is not always essential with Burroughs). When it comes to other great names of modern American literature my record is not so good: a few by Gore Vidal, a couple by Norman Mailer (not the best ones), one by Joseph Heller (but it was Catch-22) and nothing at all by Saul Bellow (what did he ever do to me?). I didn’t strike out though with Philip Roth, who died this week aged 85. I read the Plot against America a few years ago and enjoyed it, and I’ve been dipping into a couple of his others. Enough to know for myself that he was a great writer with a sense of history and a sense of humour to go with it. So I had some idea what those people on the radio this morning were going on about as his death was reported and his life’s work considered. My favourite quote – talking about Roth’s political books of the 1990s someone on the radio said “he wrote the books Tom Wolfe wanted to write.” Nothing like putting the knife in to another recently deceased author. (For Wolfe my score was two books. I expect you can guess which ones.)
I began to wonder if there were other American authors I should make more of an effort with. I’ve got Thomas Pynchon covered. I’ve read a couple by Don Delillo. Maybe I should make more of an effort with Joyce Carol Oates, serious novelist and cat enthusiast. I admit it though: my favourite American novelist is William Gibson, and I never miss new books by Michael Connelly and Jonathan Kellerman.