Author Archives: Dave Walker

Slaters

Sometimes a post arises out of  nothing but curiosity. I started with a few pictures of a shop called Slaters.

 

 

Alfred Slater began as a butcher but by 1909, the date of this picture, he was a butcher and provision dealer. The building caught my interest because of its elaborate frontage, not unlike some of the nearby buildings we’ve seen in other posts. The other pictures of the shop show the interior.

 

 

A fine marble slab featuring a selection of dead animals including a set with lolling necks. The interior is as well decorated as the front.

Below, a selection of cured meats, with many cheeses and other products.

 

 

Some chairs for the customers to sit in while giving and waiting for their orders . It seems like a high class establishment to me. No sawdust on the floor here.

But although there is plenty to think about in these three pictures, I wondered if that was all I was going to see of Slaters. The three pictures might make a good short post for Christmas.

After all, 18-20 Kensington High Street is no longer with us. Since 1909 a whole stretch of the north side of the street has been redeveloped.

I was still curious to find out more, so I went to look at more photographs, and street directories.

This part of the High Street was much photographed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look at this post. (And its companions) But there are  more images in which to look for Slaters.

It’s actually in this picture, in the distance.  The railings are by the entrance to Kensington Gardens. The gateway has a heraldic lion holding a coat of arms. (Which survives to this day, like one other feature in the picture. Can you see it)

Behind that, The King’s Arms public house. This picture is probably from 1887. the year of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The public house would soon be demolished.

 

 

I used this picture in that previous post, but I enlarged a different section. The close up below shows Slaters, especially decorated as many shops were that year.

 

 

 

And a nice further detail of two young women hurrying across the street, rushing to get between the carriages. You can actually see that the one bringing up the rear has her right foot off the ground.

In this picture the street is plainer, but you can see just by the lamp of the Cumberland Arms the sign above the alley on the right of Slaters which says Hodgson.

 

 

 

We know from Kelly’s Street Directory of 1889 that this alley was called Cumberland Yard, and in it were the businesses of G T Patterson, Veterinary Surgeon and William Hodgson, coach builder. This picture might show Cumberland Yard.

 

 

 

(Look closely and find two men on the roofs of two of the buildings crammed together behind shops and inns.)

On the other side of Slaters, heading west was a wine merchants..

 

 

Three smart dudes in top hats, obviously all wine merchants thinking seriously about getting someone to load or unload those crates and barrels. The horse is thinking he’ll just wait till they decide what to do. No point in rushing things.

Those gates and railings? Still there today, I think, at the bottom of Kensington Palace Gardens. Even then, not just anybody could enter.

The next picture must be after 1890.

 

 

Slaters is stiil there on the far left. You can see part of a sign reminding clients of its services to the royal family. Outside, are another horse and cart are ready to go. You can even see the alley leading to Hodgson’s.  Next door is the Duke of Cumberland public house and a few other businesses. Above them all towers the side of the newly built  Royal Palace Hotel. Although the photo is faded you can just see the word Hotel in big letters.

Here’ a map section pinpointing Slaters.

 

 

The map also marks the Bank I referred to in this post, named after a favourite phrase from the Survey of London.

You’ve probably noticed that the Slaters in the first picture is not the same building as in the earlier pictures. This section of the High Street was subject to a London County Council road-widening scheme in 1902-1905. The management of Slaters took this opportunity to  build a much more prestigious and striking  structure.

 

 

 

 

Higher, and definitely more Burgundian. In 1902 it was celebrated in The Architect magazine. This image is what is called an ink photo, which I take to be an actual photograph gone over in ink to make it more suitable for publication in an illustrated periodical like the Illustrated London News. (You can see more examples of these in this post). It’s a nice clear image, which even offers a tantalising view up the alley. Is that a ladder in the distance? Unfortunately you can’t zoom in on these ink photos as easily as with a photographic print.

They also provided an interior view.

 

I love those light fittings.

I haven’t called Slaters a forgotten building as I sometimes do on the blog because it had a long history on the High Street and stayed in the lee of the Royal Palace Hotel until both of them were demolished at the end of the 1950s.  The early days of the hotel are another story of course, and one we will come back to soon. Kensington High Street always has more stories to tell.

Although my Kensington memory doesn’t go back to the 1950s I’m sure there are still plenty of people who saw Slaters in its heyday, or have family memories of it. If so, please leave a comment.

 

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Princes Place: another backwater

We’ve had a bit of a hiatus on the blog since the end of January caused partly by the fact that I had a cold, and partly by some general upheavals in the building which have occupied us somewhat. Both Isabel and I have been working on posts which require a bit more work than usual  to do properly so this week I decided to pull some Photo Survey pictures off the back burner and do a relatively straightforward post.

Princes Place fits the description backwater as I’ve used it on other occasions. (Here, and in other posts – try this one.) It’s a narrow street which makes its way from Queensdale Road to Princedale Road near to Holland Park Avenue. Try navigating it now on Google Street View and you’ll see some modern flats, some walls at the backs of gardens and a few original houses. But it was a bit more varied back in 1970, when most of these pictures were taken.

This particular image has always been a favourite of mine because of a detail in the bottom left of the picture.

 

 

That dog, who seems to be engaged in quiet contemplation of some canine matter, not bothered by the photographer. Perhaps he’s decoding some olfactory clue in his immediate vicinity. It’s the internet of dogs, their sense of small. A little way to the rear a woman leans on her garden gate. She may be the dog’s solicitous owner, wondering what he’s up to. Or she may be keeping an eye out in case he wanders in through that open gate in front of him. We’ll never know. But I think I can detect a thoughtful look to him (or her). At one point I considered doing a post entirely about animals caught randomly by our photographer, but I’ll leave that for another day.

With its terraced houses and gardens, the street looks more substantial than it does today but to orientate us, here is the narrow entrance in Queensdale Road,

 

 

The building on the right is still there, and that shuttered garage entrance can still be found.

 

 

 

The street looks pleasant enough to me. Homely, if a bit ramshackle about the edges. Are these back gardens, perhaps?

The house on the right is definitely quirky, almost rural.

Slightly further along is some demolition, with one exposed interior.

 

 

 

Further detail of the ongoing work in other houses. Princes Place, as people in 1970 knew it, wasn’t long for this world.

 

 

Below, a man perches on top of an empty house.

 

 

 

Look back at the dog picture and you might just be able to make him out again.

The same picture has a man on a bicycle in the distance

Here he is again on the edge of this picture.

 

 

Experiencing some slight difficulty, I think

These pictures invariably  allow us to to see some cars of the period.

 

 

 

The rather ugly Ford Anglia (does anyone have fond memories of those?).

And a Vauxhall.

 

 

 

 

The estate version of…the Victor? (I’m sure someone can confirm this or correct me.)

Equally invariably in back street,s a working vehicle attached to a nearby garage.

 

 

 

And a variety of buildings.

 

 

The intriguing 17a, home of some eccentric person I hope.

And at the end of the road…

 

 

The aforementioned garage, named after the street.

 

 

Note that this is not the same entrance.

 

 

Sales and servicing available within.

This view looking back.

 

 

You can see the entrance to the garage, a Morris Minor “woody”, the only car subject to dry rot, and in the distance of course, the same man on the same bicycle (his third appearance you will have noticed.)

Take a walk through what is still a backwater today, virtually or actually, and you will will only see a few remnants of how the secluded enclave of Princes Place looked in 1970.

Postscript

I’m writing my way back in to blogging in this post, getting myself moving again after a period of exhaustion. But I’m not complaining. Mortality has not been idle while I took a breather. I’ll just mention the sad death of one of the country’s funniest men, Jeremy Hardy. Another name added to  the roll call of the News Quiz, and I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue.


Postcards from the land of ruins

This week’s post arise from some postcards in a scrapbook in our collection, put together by members of the Old Comrades Association of the 22nd Royal Fusilers (The Kensingtons). the scrapbook contains memorabilia relating to reunions, trips to places in France and Belgium where the members served, and to war cemeteries and memorials. Along with photographs taken by the travellers, there were also printed postcards bought by them while travelling. I realised that this was not an uncommon form of souvenir when I found postcards of the same type in a small album I brought home from my mother’s house a couple of years ago. This is a typical example.

 

 

At first glance it seems like an odd form of souvenir, scenes of destruction, even ones as striking as this, but we  have to remember I suppose that these scenes were fresh in the minds of survivors of the Great War, still trying to make sense of an intense period in their own histories.

 

 

Many former soldiers must have travelled back to places they remembered.

 

 

When they last saw these ruins, they must have been accompanied the sounds of warfare and the threat of personal danger.

 

 

The first five images come from the album now in my possession.

 

 

The next ones are from the OCA scrapbook.

 

 

See how the road has been cleared but not the rubble. The authorities must have wanted the ruins to be seen, so show what had happened to buildings which were once an integral part of everyday life.

 

 

Some of the photographs were taken while the war was still taking place.

This one shows the same building in 1914.

 

 

In some cases, substantial parts of the bombed or shelled buildings remained.

 

 

In other the devastation looks almost total.

 

 

Another part of the same city


This one shows more low level damage.

 

 

A figure is visible on the right of the picture.

These picture are all sombre, and remind us of the lives lost in the Great War, but at the same time they remind us of the ruins of antiquity, as in this postcard from my mother’s album, posted in 1912.

 

 

The Sphinx was still partially covered by sand.

 

 

The message ( I have no idea who the recipient was, or the sender) is simply a birthday greeting. The two people concerned (two women, or a woman and a man?) had no idea what new forms of ruin would be created by the events to come in their near future.

Postscript

I’ll come back to the OCA in a future post, but I thought these unusual postcard images deserved their own outing. We’ve become used to the destruction of war in modern cities, but we should remember past destruction as well, just as the members of the OCA did.


Luker’s interiors

As I said in my first post about William Luker Jr, his illustrations to W J Loftie’s Kensington: Historical and Picturesque number over 300. So I haven’t covered all the best ones in two posts. There are still plenty left. In this case we’re following Luker inside various homes in the Kensington area.

 

 

Light shines through glass panels in the door showing a hall with ornate paneling and a fireplace. Beside it a chair with a high back, over which is draped a robe of some kind. It’s these little details that always intrigue me. here’s another empty space.

 

This hall is pleasantly cluttered with a seemingly random collection of art objects. It seems to be a common feature in the rooms of Luker’s friends, like at Lowther Lodge. (An interesting building in itself.)

 

 

 

Also cluttered in parts, but quite spacious too.

 

 

Luker had access to some luxurious properties, like this drawing room with plants and paintings.

 

 

And this studio, currently unoccupied.

 

 

With a large painting taking shape.

Another empty hall, with a decorative floor.

 

 

And eventually we see some people. In this case John Everett Millais, posed with a palette in hand, facing his wife Effie.

 

 

The Millais house was in Palace Gate, and is now an embassy. It was Effie they used to say, whose pubic hair frightened John Ruskin (although if I mention it I feel obliged to say it was probably not true. The marriage was annulled. Ruskin later went on to found an institution we’re very fond of here at the Time Centre.)

Below, another old friend of the blog.

 

 

Edward Linley Sambourne, another friend of Luker’s. at work in his studio in Stafford Terrace.

From empty or sparsely populated rooms to a room at the Kensington Vestry Hall which is filled with people and music.

 

 

 

A musical evening. Some ladies removed their hats for the convenience of other audience members. Others kept them on, but people would have been too polite to mention the matter.

In the previous century, a less informal musical evening in a house in Kensington Square, coloured in for the published version of the illustration.

 

 

And in Luker’s “now”, hundreds of people in a room to hear a concert, at the Albert Hall.

 

 

 

 

But I think he was happiest in a nearly empty room.

 

 

With just a cat, perhaps, checking the room for feline friendly refreshments.

 

 

Or a couple of dogs in another cluttered room in Notting Hill Square. They look like they’re waiting for Luker to go so they can choose a sofa or chair in which they could relax.

Finally, back at the Millais house.

 

With a seal. Not a real one of course. It’s not Rossetti’s, after all.

All these rooms could have had a story. I’m sure Miss Miranda Green could have been in many of them. She was very well connected. But she wasn’t here this week. Perhaps next time….

 

Postscript

I’ve got a cold so I’m not very lively at the moment, hence the low word count this week. But Mr Luker’s pictures are usually evocative enough on their own.


Inside the old Town Hall

Kensington and Chelsea’s current Town Hall (construction images here) has been in use from 1975 onward. As we know from the recent post on its demolition , the old version was empty for nearly 8 years. So there was plenty of time to create a visual record of what it used to look like inside. Some of the pictures in today’s post were taken in 1977, but some of them must be earlier as they feature scenes of office life. But in most case the building looks, or actually was, deserted. Empty spaces have a strange kind of charm, as we’ve seen in other posts. (Such as here, here or even here). These spaces are no exception.

 

 

Here we look up at the skylight with a former Mayor framed by the elaborate banisters. I’m not sure who the other portrait depicts.

The third floor landing is actually referred to as the Portrait Hall.

 

 

The picture of the child in the foreground is of the young Princess Victoria and is by Martin Archer Shee. I’ve seen this picture many times and it’s slightly odd to see it in this context. (It currently hangs in the Town Hall, in the Mayor’s Parlour)

 

 

The pictures in the background are mostly more mayoral portraits.

 

 

The bottom right picture in the group of four depicts Lady Claire Hartnell, Mayor of Chelsea about 1939, painted by Martin De Hosszu. This picture now lives in one of our archive rooms in a small section I call Mayor’s Corner. Some years ago many of the mayoral portraits were offered to the families of the individual mayors, so the collection, which must have been pretty big, was scattered.

 

 

I don’t know if the Mayor’s Parlour was on the same floor as the portraits but it looks comfortable.

 

 

Below the third floor were the Council Chamber.

 

 

And the Large Hall (you can see it as it was demolished in some of the pictures in this post.)

 

 

Slightly less grand, two pictures of rooms for the use of Councillors. Firstly unfortunately captioned male members room (No sniggering at the back. I can remember when Councillors were always referred to as Members.)

 

 

And a slightly less spartan room for Lady Members.

 

 

Neither of them as sumptuous as the Mayors Parlour but then that was his base and the repository for Mayoral Archives

There were also more mundane areas.

 

 

The entrance hall.

 

 

The Information Office. This would have been in 1974.

And some non-public areas.

 

 

The roof office.  It looks snug.

The typing pool. A phrase redolent of office life as it used to be years ago.

 

 

Many piles of paper. Some of my colleagues would say that I still employ the piles of paper technique. In Local Studies, it’s hard to avoid them.

The photocopier room. Cutting edge technology at work.

 

 

And, naturally, the post room.  Any large organisation still has something like this, no matter how far we leave the old methods behind and move towards the paperless office.

 

 

A fine collection of chairs.

We’re not finished. Back in 1977 there was this less grand back staircase.

 

 

It looks like something in a ghost story which is appropriate as it may possibly have taken you downstairs to see this.

 

 

A gathering of plaster statues (you can see one has suffered some damage to her chin). I don’t know what became of this trio of unrelated ladies. We have a few plaster statues and busts in our collection and they’re quite easily damaged so you have to be careful with them but also accept a certain amount of wear and tear along the way. They often end up in basement rooms. Perhaps this group were waiting for transport to a better place, where they would be properly revered.

Postscript

This was a bit of a marathon, but it’s one of those topics that once you’ve done it, you’re probably not coming back to it. Sometimes Isabel or I write a post on a subject and we know that this is now probably the definitive word on that subject e.g. the West London Air Terminal.  This is not because we know more, but because we can bring together text and images in a way others perhaps couldn’t. And in the case of the Air Terminal and Isabel’s Paddington series, we also provide a way for former residents and employees to reminisce about these places which are no longer with us. So, although the history of municipal buildings is not for everyone , this post does preserve the way the old Kensington Town Hall used to look. Some people remember it fondly.


Forgotten buildings: The Odeon Westbourne Grove Cinema

To start the new year, here is a post from my friend and colleague Isabel Hernandez, fresh from her grueling magnum opus on the Natural History Museum, and onto a more personal topic.

 

The subject for my post this week is the Odeon Westbourne Grove cinema. I happened to find some photographs within our collection whilst looking for something else; one of those distracting moments when the original plan went out the window in favour of my newly found stash of local treasure. I thought it might be an interesting one to post about. Even if sadly, what I found were photographs of the cinema just prior to closure.

Local history is really a nostalgic trip inviting us to remember our past selves more than anything else. Places, like people, ingrain themselves in our memories. How many of us have incorporated the cinema as part of a date, for example? Many relationships/courtships may well have begun around these stalwart picture houses like no other place. It is probable that most of us will have set foot in a picture house over the course of our lives, so it is something we can all relate to. Once there were local cinemas everywhere in the UK. Hundreds, in fact. Now you would be hard-pressed to find many of them because they no longer exist.

I still remember the red brick cinema building. It wasn’t, in my opinion, the prettiest of creations, but it had character. A pleasant way of saying it was a good solid building that did what it said on the programme. Spacious and intrinsically functional, it was at the time of building, a modern spectacle for all to enjoy. Attractive in its own way. Not far from the ABC cinema in Queensway (also gone), it was one of quite a few purpose built cinemas in the area at the time of opening. And although it wasn’t one I frequented much, as perhaps I did the Kensington Odeon, or the ABC Queensway, it was a local building I was familiar with.

 

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The Odeon Westbourne Grove opened its doors to the public in 1955. It filled an otherwise unremarkable spot on the corner of Westbourne Grove and Chepstow Road and was a welcome social pastime addition for the Bayswater and Notting Hill population. Interestingly, the cinema was planned at a much earlier stage than when it was completed. The Odeon Theatre was the conception of the Oscar Deutsch Theatres Ltd chain in 1937. Oscar Deutsch was the cinema owner and film exhibitor who founded the Odeon franchise. The first five Odeons opened in 1933. By 1936 he had opened 142 cinemas.

 

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The initial plan was to build a 2,050 seat cinema to the design of architect Andrew Mather. But subsequently, it was decided to reduce that to 1,870 seats with some building work beginning in 1938. Although planning permission was granted in the spring of 1939 to complete the cinema, the outbreak of war in September halted the process.

Below you can see how the ODEON letter signage has already been removed. Signs generally, were often lit in neon at night. It was Oscar Deutsch’s desire that his cinemas be eye-catching and this use of lighting was particularly effective.

Ironically, the telephone boxes you see outside the entrance have also been relegated to the past. With the advent of more personal – though I use that word loosely – communication devices, the iconic red telephone box, designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, are few and far between now. I think some are still maintained in London, purely as British iconic designs, like the red post box, and London’s Routemaster buses.

 

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The interior of the Odeon Westbourne Grove was practical without many design frills. It was contemporary and simple. The space was enormous. At least it seemed that way to me. Initially only having one screen to entertain the potential 1,870 customers, it has to be said, functional, comes to mind again.

 

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The view towards the other end of the Foyer. At the time of closure, the cinema had three screens. The colour scheme you see here is probably not unfamiliar to cinema goers of the time. Deutsch’s wife Lily was usually a consultant on the colour schemes for a lot of his cinemas. The wooden doors and panelling were made from Sapeli mahogany. The colour palate used in the soft furnishings, such as the carpet, apparently were a combination of Indian-red, powder-blue and straw-pink. Carpet was standard for most cinemas and still is. Some even boasted settees and other decorative furniture in art deco designs – comfort away from home. During the ‘smoking allowed’ epoch (a number of decades), it wasn’t long before the stale smell of cigarette smoke clung to the furnishings. Ash-stands were not an uncommon part of the scenery.

 

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The programme for the opening of the Odeon Westbourne Grove on 29th August 1955 lists the following:

  • National Anthem
  • Opening ceremony by the Mayor of Paddington, Councillor Miss Catherine P. Rabagliati
  • Jack Hawkins on stage
  • Universal News
  • The film screening of “Doctor at Sea” starring Dirk Bogarde (incidentally, my mother-in-law’s favourite actor)

You can see below in the main auditorium the typical raked design of the seats. It was meant to obviously enhance an obstacle free view of the screen. A given for most large cinemas. The auditorium was quite plain, but much of it was panelled in special acoustic tiling to ensure a good sound quality that could be enjoyed throughout the theatre. At the time of building, the Odeon’s main and only screen was…

“of a revolutionary new type, and the widening of the proscenium arch to accommodate its 46ft width is one of the major changes made from the pre-war plans. This screen gives the most brilliant black and white pictures ever shown and sets a new standard of beauty and realism in colour film preservation. Its size and shape can be instantly altered by variable black ‘masking’ operated by press button control.”

The screen curtain had sewn sequins on it. With the right lighting they would twinkle. A small luxury for an otherwise practical, well-equipped cinema.

The best twinkles I think I ever saw were at the Empire, West End, before it was turned into a multi-screen.

 

 

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No cinema can function without its projectors. The first projector used at the Odeon Westbourne Grove, was the Gaumont Kalee 21 projector.

 

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I’m not sure what this is, or its function. I have very little knowledge of the technical terms for a lot of these interesting mechanisms, I’m hoping a cinema aficionado will perhaps enlighten me. It looks like an organ without the keys, but plausibly it looks more like a lighting or sound controlling device.

 

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How to rewind a film? Or at least that is what I think is happening in this next image. It reminds me in some small way of our microfilm readers, but on a massive scale. Macrofilm. Or is this really a long-play turntable?

 

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The scale of the projector is clearly posed here. When you consider how much smaller and more advanced our technology has become, this almost seems excessive. With the advent of digital cinema, we now look upon these remarkable instruments as museum pieces. Projectionists too were no longer required once automation came into play in cinema projection booths. It almost seems blasphemous.

 

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The projector again, this time with a 35mm film reel attached.

 

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Although initially the cinema boasted one large screen, it was temporarily closed in December 1978 for tripling. Something that nearly all cinemas succumbed to, to maximise profit. In March 1983 the Odeon itself was later taken over by Panton Films Ltd, and re-named Coronet Cinema. The same company that operated the Coronet, Notting Hill. However, this was short-lived. By June 1986 the cinema was closed for the last time.

Below you can just about make out the posters for the films last shown there: “Delta Force”, “To Live and Die in LA” and “Jewel in the Nile”.

 

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The beginning of the end.

When I consider the recent closure of the Odeon Kensington I am reminded that the cinemas of old are vulnerable. How many can be left? Unfortunately, these old theatres are gradually losing out to our ever inventive technology and the developers bulldozers. It would seem that video didn’t just kill the radio star, it also started a home cinema revolution. We can even watch films on our mobile phones now, that’s how fast technology moves.

By 1939, Oscar Deutsch had built and taken over many cinemas, including his flagship cinema in London’s West End, naming and renaming them Odeon. By this point they were equal to the Gaumont and ABC. Two of the longest established circuits in the country. In 1941 Oscar Deutsch died at the age of 48 from cancer. His ambition had been to take over the rival Gaumont chain and to expand abroad, but this was left to the man who succeeded him as chairman of Odeon Theatres, J. Arthur Rank; the man-with-the-gong symbolising the finest in screen entertainment.

 

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 A shadow of its former self. And yet you can almost imagine that opening night with the lights and the buzz of the excited crowd:

“Tonight the lights go up and the doors are opened at the latest theatre to join the J. Arthur Rank Organisation’s proud family of more than 550 ODEON and GAUMONT cinemas in Britain.”

It couldn’t be more different in this image.

 

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Of course, there were protests by the local residents. But it was to no avail. The site was sold for re-development and the building was demolished in October 1986. In its place is a block of flats with a few shops on the ground level.

Finally, I will conclude with this interesting acronym I found online:

ODEON = Oscar Deutsch Entertains Our Nation

That he did, for many years.

 

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Postscript:

A few cinemas still exist, just about, so they are not confined to the past (yet); I would hope that we can at least preserve what is left. But is that realistic?

It seems to me that those that remain and survive are always undergoing ‘upgrades’. Much tweaking has been afoot in the last few years technologically. The multi-screen attempt to attract more customers is no longer enough to keep the customers visiting, forcing some cinemas to bump up their ticket prices. In some cases, extortionately. Large one screen auditoriums were soon done away with and divided up to keep up with the increasing demand for more variety and profit. Now, with the advent of the internet, streaming, and home cinema, we have opted for a more personal experience with regards to watching films. Our viewing habits have changed so much we barely recognise what it is to concentrate on one thing at a time. There’s so much choice now the mind boggles.

I don’t know whether it is missing buildings, people, or both that feeds that nostalgia for what was. One cannot stop things from changing and evolving. It would seem it is the natural order of things. But at what point do we need to think about striking a balance?

I realise that there are cine-files who have excellent knowledge regarding the history of these fascinating picture houses, so if I have made any errors I do apologise. I am really not a tech expert, so I have kept that aspect of film to a minimum. In a short post such as this I have simply provided a few facts obtained from several sources to compliment the photographs. Perhaps at some point I will also write about the Kensington Odeon. We have very few images unfortunately, so it would be a very, very short one.

Meanwhile, I will continue to visit the occasional cinema for old time’s sake, and try not to strangle the person behind me kicking the chair, or the one rustling with crisp packets, popcorn buckets, and slurping through straws as they shake the ice at the bottom of their plastic cups for the duration of the film. When you’ve been spoilt like we have with the home cinema experience, getting used to behaving around others in a cinema setting is probably not a consideration remotely within the sphere of social etiquette for some. But then, where would cinemas be if all we did was complain? Anyone fancy the IMAX Experience? They’ll throw in the 3D glasses as part of the deal. I draw the line at Smell-O-Vision though. 4D may be the latest craze, but I blame William Castle for the ideas. Ultimately, it all goes back to cinema’s heyday. Nostalgia, you see.

 

 


Christmas Days: a nice sleep

This post is a kind of sequel to the one we had about this time last year featuring paintings of women reading. Reading is one of my favourite activities. So is sleeping. At night, usually. But anytime really. All regular readers will know that reading a few pages of a book is a relaxing activity at the end of the day, or after lunch, and if you nod off you may well find yourself drifting away from the shores of sleep into deeper waters and wilder dreams.

 

 

This woman’s about to go. The book is barely on her lap. She just needs to swing her legs up and get settled and she’ll soon be away.

Like these two, by the same artist, August Toulmouche.

 

 

Or this lady, making herself comfortable.

 

 

It’s possible to nod off at any time.

 

 

The lid of that box may be padded. If she keeps still, she won’t ruin her hair.

Of course it’s best to have a good place for a nap during the day.

 

 

Even a recognized time of day such as after lunch when sleep is permitted. (Another hammock picture in this post)

 

 

Especially outdoors, in the summer.

 

 

(More river pictures here and here.)

But the best place for some serious sleep and deep dreams is in bed.

 

 

It’s still light outside in this picture. Perhaps a summer evening.

In the morning you can still catch a few more winks.

 

 

The cat can watch the sunrise.

Sleep is nevertheless, a pastime for any time of day, even if others would rather read.

 

 

A reader and a sleeper in harmony here in this famous picture. The lady on the right may find the book sleeping out of her hand at any moment – a situation many of us have experienced.

 

This is the last post of 2018. We’re sleeping through the rest of December, but we’ll see you in January. Have a happy Christmas, and as I said last year, may your God go with you.

 

Book

Borne is a 2017 book by Jeff Vandermeer. In a city devastated by an unspecified form of biological warfare a scavenger called Rachel discovers a creature / artifact in the fur of the giant flying bear Mord which terrorizes the city. Borne, who initially takes a form somewhere between a squid and a vase, learns to speak, but is he Rachel’s friend or an agent of more destruction?

Jeff Vandermeer takes a form somewhere between Angela Carter and J.G. Ballard. He also wrote Annihilation, which was turned into a film of the same name, which I have seen four times (so far). There is another book set in the Borne world, the Strange Bird.

I couldn’t lay my hands on a soft toy squid so Borne is vouched for by some octopi.

 

 

Now, I’m going to watch a ghost story. Annihilation is on Netflix.


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