A little bit more than a short pause I suppose. But I had to get back on the horse eventually, and now I have a bit of a breathing space, This post is one I started last year, with every intention of finishing it quickly, but circumstances intervened. I’ve added some more material to bring things up to date.
As far as I can tell, these pictures were all taken on a single day in 1923, by Albert Argent Archer. I’m not an expert on the evolution of photographic techniques but I would have thought that by this time the problem of the ghostly images of people who failed to keep still long enough to be clearly visible on the picture would have been overcome. Or perhaps by using a long exposure, Archer got a clearer image of the buildings he was trying to photograph.
We’ve come across Kensington photographer Argent Archer before in posts from late 2017 and early 2018 (a more innocent historical period), and his embossed mark is on these pictures. Leonard Place was a section of Kensington High Street between Earls Court Road and Edwardes Square.
I’m inclined to think the building on the far left may have survived into the present, although the last time I saw it it was covered in scaffolding. It was/is a branch of the Yorkshire (formerly Chelsea) Building Society.
In 1923 it was a branch of the London City and Midland Bank. In the close up you can see a Haircutting and Shaving Saloon, a Servants Agency and what looks like a newsagent. But everything to the west of the bank is gone. The premises next door, home of some Shippers and Exporters were truncated sharply, possibly to make way for the now (almost?) demolished Odeon cinema.
Strachan and Brown, High Class Coach Builders and Engineers, have another sign in a prominent position, “Garage”. Serving motor vehicles may have been the most significant part of their business by this time.
You can also see ghosts in this picture, people who didn’t linger long enough to fully register on the photographic plate, or who shuffled around as they waited by a bus stop. (Note the London Transport roundel.)
From our point of view, nearly a century ahead, they might as well be actual ghosts, watching and waiting to be recognized.
Another angle shows the north side of the road. The wall encloses the then private Holland House estate. Ghosts are still visible and two parked cars.
Here is a closer view of one of those cars.
Behind it is one of the gatehouses of (I think) Edwardes Square.
This ghostly bus must have been moving when the picture was taken.
Finally, a group of ghosts, looking out at us from beyond (presumably) the grave.
Ever since the death of David Bowie, I’ve written short obituary paragraphs in the past when authors or musicians I liked died, and even once about one of my customers. But I’ve never had to write about a colleague and friend.
I met Karen Ullersperger in the 1980s when she came to work at Kensington Library and we became friends. We worked together on Reference matters and as part of the Senior Librarians team. We also spent some time together recruiting staff, which was something we both enjoyed. We made some pretty good appointments, even if we said so ourselves. Karen moved to a more senior position in her later years in the Tri-Borough service but we stayed in touch. I think I filled a particular role in Karen’s life, listening to her when she had issues with other staff and in other areas of her life. She would sometimes call me Dr Dave when she wanted to let off steam about something. She was sometimes pretty angry about life. I won’t pretend I was the only one who could help her with that. She had plenty of friends at work not to mention her family, and her cats. Karen was a very conscientious person, professionally and personally. She left the Borough intending to have a rest before resuming her career, but she became ill and had to concentrate on that. I’m glad to say I saw her on a couple of occasions before lockdown, and the last time we spoke she was optimistic about her condition, but more importantly than that she seemed to have gotten rid of her anger. There was a calmness about her, perhaps from accepting whatever life had in store for her. Nevertheless, it is extraordinarily sad that she passed away not long ago at a comparatively young age. Her friends and family are all diminished by her death.
Above: me circa 1978, for your amusement. Oddly, my hair is about this length now, due to the lockdown and personal laziness.
Nobody knows how long they have but I do know that I have made it through a 43 year accidental career in libraries and earlier this year I resgned and retired. I survived the ups and downs of local government in recent years . I’ve had interesting times and boring times. I’ve met excellent colleagues, and a few that were perhaps not so excellent. I’ve irritated many people and perhaps entertained a few more. When I started work in libraries back in 1978 I was looking for something that was socially useful and didn’t oblige me to wear a tie. (I didn’t have great ambitions.) Somehow, I’ve enjoyed myself and maybe did a few useful and helpful things. (This blog may be one of them.) So thank you to all the people I’ve worked with and friends I’ve made. And thank you to everyone who has read the blog, which has been one of the highlights of my career. Above all, thank you to my wife Cathryn and my son Matthew who have tolerated me for most of their lives.
This isn’t the end of the blog. Although I have been quiet lately, during lockdown and post-Covid, I have a few ideas bubbling up so there may be a few more posts to come. I sincerely hope so.