David Walker, Local Studies librarian

David Walker, Local Studies librarian

So many people seem to read the About section I wish I could make it more interesting. So..

 In the deepest sub-levels of Kensington Library I look though dusty scrapbooks and anonymous looking manuscript boxes to find pictures and stories for you, guarded by the ghost of Marianne Rush and Kevin the Archives Snake. There is a trans-dimensional portal to an infinite storage depot where ab-human creatures and enslaved souls whisper forgotten names and rummage through council records looking for rateable values.

Or more precisely, I am the Local Studies Librarian for the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea ,almost certainly the most interesting London Borough. Now that we’re part of a Tri-Borough Library Service I must add that the City of Westminster and the Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham are both fascinating places too, but Kensington and Chelsea has been my home and workplace for many years and I’m grateful to live, work and just wander around here.

 I and my knowledgeable team answer enquiries about the history of the Royal Borough from people who live just around the corner or thousands of miles away. We deal with enquiries on ancestor research, house history, and mysteries in maps, photographs and drainage plans. We look in rate books, diaries, mortuary ledgers, manuscripts, scrapbooks and many other places to find answers to the questions  which I’m glad to say keep on coming.


Email us at: centrallocalenquiries@rbkc.gov.uk

My email address is: dave.walker@rbkc.gov.uk

Follow me on Twitter at @daveinlocal for previews and notifications of new posts.

49 responses to “About

  • Deb Chapman

    Hi Dave,
    In my days at Notting Hill, Andrew Harvey came across an archive of stuff from the Town Hall which detailed archaic library rules & regulations. One of the more memorable was that ‘there shall be no willful jostling and no throwing of orange peel’. I just wondered if you had seen them?
    Thanks for the Library Time Machine, it’s utterly fab. Best wishes, Deb Chapman, late of Notting Hill & Central.

  • Philip

    Dear Mr Walker,

    I stumbled upon your truly fascinating site when searching for information on the historic Belle Vue House (92 Cheyne Road, Chelsea) for a Wikipedia article I’m currently writing. I would like to ask you if you have ever considered uploading some of the images you’ve posted here, most of which are probably in the Public Domain due to their age, to the Wikimedia Commons. As you may know, the Commons are a comprehensive archive of free media with the purpose of making these media available to a larger public. Considering your knowledge of the subjects, you could really make a great contribution to the project.

    In regard to Belle Vue House, I would like to ask if you could provide any additional information on the photos with the respective tag (https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/tag/belle-vue-house/), especially regarding the date of creation, the photographer (James Hedderly), and the technique he used.

    I’d be very grateful for any reply.

    All the best,

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  • robschofieldphotography

    This is an amazing blog. I came across it while looking up Lots Road Power Station. You had a fascinating article on it. I’m a photographer and very keen on London architecture. All the very best. Rob Schofield.

  • Alexandra

    I just want to tell you that this site is amazing. The photos are stunning, and your commentary is both insightful and thought provoking. Thank you for letting me peek into this lovely world.

  • Theblackbond Tripleseven

    This is a great site Dave,thank you for the opportunity of having a browse

    The Black Bond™

  • John

    Lovely site – I spent my early childhood in Kensington in the ’50s (on the site of what is today the Royal Garden Hotel) before moving out to the suburbs. The allure of Saturday morning pictures at the Odeon and prospect of meeting girls at the Commonwealth Institute brought me back in my teens. There is an atmospheric film of the Hight St. In the ’50s at:

  • Neil Smith

    This is a brilliant site! I am currently researching my Chelsea ancestors – four generations of cab builders, owners and cabmen, mostly associated with the Rectory yard on Old Church St. I actually lived for a year or two in Lordship Place in the 1980s, just round the corner, yet unaware of much of my family connections. The Hedderly photographs in particular are fascinating…. And your captions and comments are entertaining and insightful.

    More power to your elbow Dave – keep ’em coming!

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  • Jim Fulwood

    Great site.I spent most of my childhood days in Shawfield street in the prefabs that were erected after the war between the years of 1948 to 1965. I have read one or two articles about the bombs that hit that area and have one or two photos of the prefabs. I’m just wondering can the library can come up with any thing.

  • Robin Medford

    Just trying to locate what used to be an opened ,adult-manned Chelsea Adventure Playground during the 70s – this used to be a large enclosed indoor facilities / playrooms & outdoor wooden huts/ climbing frames for visiting children from nearby schools – I used to frequently visit here with my school group in the mid 70s & I vaguely remembered it was in a park/ forest area with parking access for school coaches for outside of the centre- does anyone here know of its existence/ history/ locations / photos?

    • Jansos (@jansos)

      Sounds very much like the setup in Holland Park in the late 60s early 70s. Spent many an hour hanging on for dear life and sliding down an aerial rope slide. No H&S in those days! 🙂

    • Dave Walker

      I’ve consulted my main informant on 70s Chelsea (my wife) and she suggested two possibilities. One was that there was an adventure playground in the corner of the Royal Hospital grounds nearest the embankment which would have had parking. The other was the gardens of Chelsea Rectory in Old Church Street which had a much larger garden then (subsequent owners constructed more buildings) and an area for indoor play. Do either of those ring any bells?
      I should also add that there was a large adventure playground in Battersea Park which was still there when my son was young.

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  • Aude Rain

    Bravo for this beautiful and interesting site.

  • REg Francis

    Bravo,indeed Dave.Thank you Aude.My only problem is that I get comprehensively lost.I float around with a thousand memories of my old Chelsea.Should I want to see Nellie’ Hambone ‘with her little brown dog feeding the sparrer’s in Dovehouse Square,Harry Nichols selling newspapers at the Worlds End,my uncle Ted Hainsby and Auntie Pinkie at t he Worlds End Pub coach outings, is there a fast route in ?.I suspect not , it is after all such an immense canvas possibly unmatched in the rest of London.This email is intended to bring us all into 2015

    Bye the bye is there anyone to there who remembers Brownie the Bookmaker, his pitch,The Words End Passage/we are talking late 1940’s 1950’s when five bob each way Distant Drum in the 3.15 at Ludlow was a serious bet.


  • Peter Collins

    Hi Dave, I have viewed your photos many times, in fact you captured my car in a photo of Meek St. I delivered the Evening Standard to Harry Nichols for ten years and I do remember the Bookmaker, he eventually opened a shop when the law changed, and I do indeed remember “Nellie”. I have tried in vain to find a photo of the “Picture Van” that would park in Upcerne Rd during school summer holidays and show cartoons via a projector to a screen at the back, so any advice you can give on where to look would be helpful, Thanking you in advance.


    • Dave Walker

      I have heard of the Picture Van and spoken to other people who remember it in locations in North Kensington but I’ve never come across any pictures or documentary evidence.

      • Peter

        Hi Dave,
        I have found a photo of the picture van, it is not in Chelsea, but is exactly same type of vehicle, if you wish I will E Mail you photo. As a matter of interest do you happen to know if any photos of the construction of Lots Road power station, or, the two air raid shelters in the Kings Rd between Upcerne & Tetcott Rds exsist.

        Thank you
        Peter Collins

    • Jude Huber

      My name is Carole Huber, I was born and grew up in the Worlds End, and also remember Nellie Hambone, but do you remember Dustbin Nellie ? I think she was a tramp who used to rummage in the dustbins for food. She would show us kids her big curly toenail for a sweet! I also used to take my Dads bets for him,usually two bob wrapped up in a piece of paper shilling each way on a horse to the bookie who would hang around the Worlds End passage dressed in his camel coat and trilby. I don’t remember the picture vans though .

  • Don

    Hi D,ave,
    Just to say I thoroughly enjoy your work that you document here,
    Just wonderingif you have any plans to include a section on Holland Park School, the old school that is , now that the new one is up and running it would be nice to see how it used to be .

    Anyway , keep up the great work and all the best.


  • johnny haddo

    a lovely blog, been here ages, could steal the lot..well done, sir_

  • Reg Francis

    Dear Carole,Peter and Dave, so good to “hear” you all. The picture Van is lost on me however. Peter I delivered newspapers on Harry Nichols behalf in I believe,1949,50,51 ‘ish! Carole, I too remember “Brownie” The Bookie’s camel hair coat,must have been an obligation for bookie’s to wear in those days, it certainly made it easy for little boys and girls to give the bets to the right bloke!

    Does anyone out there remember the tiny shop run by Mrs Chistmas in Slaidburn Street?

    My uncles ran the green grocery barrows in front of The Worlds End pub.

    Warm best wishes to all.

    Reg Francis

  • Kerri

    In 1971, at the age of 17 from San Francisco, I went to Bromley to stay with my uncle. I got my 1st job at “Joe Ardi Boutique” in Kensington Super Store, London. Any info or pictures about it then? What a magical adventure it sent me on at a very young age.

  • plexity

    And a splendid job you undoubtedly do too, sir.

    I assume you have watched Steven Poliakoff’s Shooting The Past on the telly? If not, there is a DVD.

    Which is my way of expressing my worry that the Global Theft, aka Austerity, will lead to the termination of the sterling work of you and your team.

    I very much hope not.

  • Awesome Jen

    The Enterprise in Mortimer Square W11. Was my Grandma’s off licence, home of the Tregoiing family. I lived there in the 1970’s.

  • auditiescardsshowyoucare

    I have just discovered your blog and will definitely Follow you. I love these old photos.
    I can’t relate in the same way as some of your readers because I am “across the pond” in Montreal, Quebec. But I do connect on a nostalgic level.
    I look forwarding to reading more, time permitting…. so much to read and do and learn,… so little time. 🙂
    Thanks for providing such a fascinating library!

  • Alex

    I love this blog, it reminds me of growing up in the area, and now working in it – nowadays i project manage many of the large private residential builds in the area, one or two of which have been mentioned in the blog before, and i always find the history of the streets and areas i am working in fascinating. On more than one occasion the blog has been very useful in terms of trying to ensure that some of the history of these buildings is maintained at a time when the area is becoming more and more unrecognisable in terms of the characters, people and places that made it what it is today.

    The blog is simply a joy to come back to, and the work you put into it always comes across as being as much of a pleasure to produce as it is to read, yet i suspect it is one of the finest historical sources you will find on the borough!


  • J.Cowling

    Hello I was given this sight by a friend
    I lived in Paddington
    Westbourne Square west 2 ?prefab which were built on the bombsight after the war .inbetween
    Royal Oak and the Union canal
    I would love to see photos of before the bombing and after ..also my father was born in Delimere Cresent also w.2 I believe
    I went to senior street school
    Which is now Edward Wilson
    Many thanks
    Jacqueline Cowling

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  • Raymond Bazza Moore

    Dear Sirs.
    As a Chelsea residents for 72 years can you guide me iam looking for information about the history and the rebuilding of the bomb site at the
    Kings Road to South Parade.
    Manresa Road to Dovehouse Street.
    The time period 1941 to 1960.
    Thank you for your help
    Raymond Moore

  • John E. Birch

    Greetings, Historical query. The name “Notting Hill Gate2, did it come from a Toll gate being sited at that spot?

  • Debbie Booth

    I would like to ask can any of the photos and history be allowed on a facebook group? I run a group called Loving London of Old and would like to ensure that myself and members can use any of the material

    • Dave Walker

      Dear Debbie
      There is nothing to stop you saving images and putting them on a facebook group, but the word “use” seems a bit all-encompassing. Our pictures cannot be used for any profit-making purpose.

      • London John

        Hi Dave. I would like to include a photograph from your site of the Chelsea houseboats in the 1960s or 70s on a site called London Fictions. This site is free to access and definitely non-profit-making. If this is OK, can you please indicate how your site should be acknowledged in the caption?
        John Wilson

  • Lin

    Very interesting site I remember Laura Ashley brought a lovely dress there !

  • Scott

    Do you know what became of the caryatids that used to be outside, when it was Hyper Hyper?

  • Peter Burke

    Hi, are there any records of a Pembridge road Hall that held exhibitions in the 40’s of archaeological artefacts from the Middle East ?

  • Paul Wood

    Is it possible to buy Black and White prints of World’s end Chelsea by king’s rd and pub-any information would be welcomed -thank you Paul Wood

  • Philip

    ……. Many Thanks David! – the Images of ‘Brompton/Earl’s Court etc.,
    Another World, ….. We can lose So Much, with is called ‘progress’!

    Best Wishes Phil Liverpool UK 🇬🇧

  • Philip Williams

    ……. Many Thanks David! – the Images of ‘Brompton/Earl’s Court etc.,
    Another World, ….. We can lose So Much, with is called ‘progress’!

    Best Wishes Phil Liverpool UK 🇬🇧

  • Philip Williams

    ……. Many Thanks David! – the Images of ‘Brompton/Earl’s Court etc.,
    Another World, ….. We can lose So Much, with what is called ‘progress’!

    Best Wishes Phil Liverpool UK 🇬🇧

  • Elaine Sullivan

    Hi Dave,

    Are the images you are posting (like the amazing Victorian period handbills) under your own or the library’s copyright? Due to their date (the example I’m interested in is 1865) I know the original documents would be out of copyright, but because you digitized them, I assume you or the library would have some type of copyright. You don’t list anything about copyright on the website that I could find. How can these digital images be used by others?

    Many thanks,

  • Elaine Sullivan

    I should probably clarify; can your images be used in either print or digital publication, with credit to you/the library? Is there someplace on your website where you list the restrictions/rules/Creative Commons licenses/etc.?

  • Sophie Kirkman

    I have what appears to be an address (from the 1950s) of Chichester Place, Readings, Paddington. I cannot find such a place. Hoping this enquiry is a match for your site. Are you able to enlighten me?

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