I had just finished the Golborne Road from the week before last which had involved looking at details of a street full of shops, cars and people, and consulting a directory. I had selected some images, scanned others and worked out an order. This stuff doesn’t make itself you know. Although the pictures are the main focus any any post I still have to put some work into the process and not neglect the main business of Local Studies. Contrary to some opinion we don’t sit around all day studying pictures and identifying obscure features of the urban landscape. (Although there is some of that). I was a little tired and it was a Thursday afternoon and while looking for something else I came across some pictures in a folder which must have been intended for some future post on obscure streets or backwaters.
These pictures were all of Addison Place, W11, a narrow, almost mews-like street in North Kensington. What struck me was the contrast between the busy, familiar street I had been looking at for the post I had been writing, and the tranquil, enigmatic even, atmosphere of the almost empty street which I had never seen in actual walking around reality. I wasn’t sure if there was much to say about Addison Place but the pictures cast a kind of spell. At one stage in the history of the blog I might have tried to spin some sort of urban fantasy around the images. (I used to think that any reaction to a set of images was perfectly valid, even a fictional one. I only do that once a year now).
Nevertheless, these are pictures out of the past, in that strange place 1970, where ordinary things are slightly unfamiliar. It’s a little like watching a film or TV programme set in another country. The landscapes of a scandi-noir thriller or a Japanese horror film are recognizeably part of our world but at the same time exist in a parallel universe. Or it might be part of some 60s London black and white drama, a detective story with a hint of existential doubt. But don’t get me started..
The actual Addison Place runs between Addison Avenue and Queensdale Road just north of Holland Park Avenue.
It has a distinctly Mews-ish entrance.
A mark 1 Cortina (the distinctive tail light), possibly an MGB.
Another discreet entrance at the other end
And a comparatively spacious central section
A Triumph Spitfire? Definitely a Rover,and possibly a Mini.
There’s the Rover again.
A place where little cottages with gardens meet mew garages, those two story “modern” flats seen above and below.
Interesting shutters, if that’s what they are
This picture with tall trees behind the cottages is particularly rural (and yes a bit Steed and Mrs Peel – incidentally,try telling a young person that Olenna Tyrrel, the scheming old woman in Game of Thrones was once known for martial arts style fighting while wearing fashionably skin tight outfits.
A few doors down, a traditional, slightly run down distinctly urban mews
And a small business with a yard
Which is right next to the cottages.
Now have you seen any people?
Those two talking over the garden wall by the Rover (picture 6)
The woman behind the lamppost (picture 2)
And one more, right out in the open.
Perhaps she didn’t know John was there. It is a bit like an episode of the Avengers. Perhaps one where some village or street is inexplicably deserted.
My apologies if you live in Addison Place or nearby and do not find the place remotely obscure or enigmatic. But I’m sure most of us live near to some kind of interesting backwater.
Another mystery was that I was sure that I had used a couple of these pictures before but couldn’t remember where. As it happened it was another post devoted to a quest. Searching for the Ford Capri back in 2013. I didn’t leave a wide enough space between the pictures and the text back then but it’s too hot to go back and do some revising today.
Another entry in my personal obituary column. Let’s remember John Julius Norwich, diplomat, broadcaster and historian who has just passed away. Like many people, I was enthralled by his trilogy about the Byzantine Empire which introduced me to a then unfamiliar part of history. Unlike many of the authors I’ve mentioned here, I actually met him once when he appeared in an event which was part of our London History Festival. He lived up to the impression I had from his books – erudite, friendly and charming. A great man.