Category Archives: North Kensington

Backwaters 3

This is another of those posts about the quiet streets of the late 1960s and early 1970s featuring pictures taken by our roving photographer John Rogers. Some of these images are nearly fifty years old now, which certainly gives me pause, as I contemplate my own mortality. (Not to be morbid or anything.)

 

 

John has to be standing in the middle of the road here at the western end of Bomore Road with a view of one of the towers of the Silchester Estate in the background. All is quiet with barely a car on the street.

Here is a nice view of some varied brickwork.

 

 

And here, the corner of Avondale Park Road.

 

 

Note Lily’s Toy’s and Novelty Goods  (prop. A.  Bridges)  with its makeshift table of stuff outside. How much passing trade did they get, I wonder?

There is some life in Bomore Road though.

 

 

Can’t quite make them out? Allow me:

 

 

A couple of sisters happen by on their way home from school. How do I know they’re sisters? Well the fact is I’ve spoken to one of them. Her sister found out somehow that John had accidentally caught them on camera, and she came in to get a printout of the photo, which I did. for her. It was she who told me the anecdote which ended up in a post from the early days of the blog. This kind of thing has happened more often than you’d think.

 

 

So the theme of this post is not empty streets (which I am fond of), but passers by. Above, a woman with a perm, a Mark 1 Cortina (those rear lights) and Star Radio. (“The shop that buys anything” Anything? Really? I wonder if they sold everything too?) Norland Road, by the way.

A man pauses under the awning.

 

 

Is he thinking about BACON, or on his way for a haircut? I like the glasshouse structure you can just see on the left at the rear of the building.

 

 

Almost a crowd by backwater standards. The Stewart Arms has a slightly plain exterior. The van with the open door is in the process of dropping off some Mother’s Pride bread. And the woman is in a hurry, seemingly oblivious of John.

Something more elaborate  further east in Moscow Road.

 

 

 

A lone young man passes The Leinster. Is he about to swerve and go in? Or not?

 

 

Back west in Murchison Road, another girl is about to leave or enter her house. I’ve never met her. Or perhaps I have. Not everyone is interested in old photographs.

Even further off the main road was Munro Mews

 

 

Munro Mews was of those slightly run down streets which seem in retrospect to be mostly occupied by people doing things with motor vehicles, servicing them on an amateur or professional basis,

 

 

Gathering up old tyres, or just abandoning cars and vans.

The mews was more of an alley.

 

 

And this trio are the real stars of the show, weary but confident travellers almost certainly on their way home.

(And what about the pile of crated milk bottles by the wall at the back?)

 

 

It’s possible to read all sort of situations into the three girls. Are the two standing together best friends, with the other only tolerated, or more likely, is it an entirely random moment of walking down the street, all three living in the same street? Are two of them sisters?

So you know what I have to ask. Do you recognize anyone? Is one of them a friend of yours, or a relative? Or is one of them you? I’m no longer surprised by coincidence. I almost expect it now.

But even if all the people in these pictures remain unknown, these are still good photographs.

 

Postscript

It’s not really my place to pay tribute to John Cunliffe, the creator of Postman Pat, who died recently, but Pat Clifton (did you know his surname?) loomed large in our house at one point, on VHS videos, played incessantly, and in wool form brought to life by my late mother-in-law, Jean. The wool version of Pat still sits on the shelf of a wardrobe along with ancient bears and a blue hippo, but all that is left of the monstrous giant version of Jess the cat  is a head, somewhere in another cupboard. Alas, poor Jess. And thank you to John Cunliffe.

 

 

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Notting Hill Gate: the other High Street

After my marathon series on Kensington Church Street it was suggested that we simply turn left at the top and carry on into Notting Hill Gate, the actual street of that name, formerly High Street, Notting Hill. Some of it changed considerably in the late 1950s and early 1960s, while other sections remained much the same. I’ve covered the 1960 development already but we’ve never seen the 1970s version. The Photo Survey pictures were taken about the same time as most of the pictures of Church Street, although there are a few gaps which I’ve filled in with picture from other decades.

I went back and read that post from 2016, and I’m perfectly happy with that opening paragraph about my personal history with this part of London so I won’t waste your time by repeating myself when through the magic of hypertext you can see for yourself. Let’s just start with a picture from 1963 which shows the north side of the street when it was brand new.

 

 

From this angle it looks clean, spacious and optimistic. Note the WH Smith and the Timothy White’s, with a Boots nearby. I think I may have mentioned before that my wife and I bought a number of household items at Timothy White just before we were married. We have agreed that the only remaining item is a cheese grater, which we still use. I’m also sure that after Timothy White there was a branch of Virgin Records there. I can recall buying the first Joy Division album there, and the second XTC LP (which came with an EP of dub versions as I recall).

And having taken in that old vision of the future we can go back, but this time turn right at Church Street.

 

 

Astley House is on the south side of the street next to the intersection with Church Street. If you look back at that redevelopment post you can see the site before it was built, obscuring the 1930s block of flats behind it. The picture is from 1980, as is this close up.

 

 

Bank, dry cleaners, bank. Quite standard high street stuff for 1980. (The Midland Bank is still there as HSBC)

Below you can see another anonymous looking block. On the north side of the street the buildings are very much older, surviving from the days of the High Street.

 

 

 

Note the sign for Bland Umbrellas at number 24b, a fine old firm.

The next set of pictures go back to 1972. Number 2 Notting Hill gate was a branch of the employment agency Manpower. I think I may have had some temporary work from them in the 1970s, as many others did.

 

 

There’s Bland again, on the corner of Linden Gardens.

 

 

Moving west from there you can see how the street retains its small scale pattern with buildings of different heights.

 

 

Below, numbers 36 and following – more employment agencies, a tiny boutique called Brave New World and an Aberdeen Steak House. The Nat  West branch looks small but still grand.

 

 

Yet another agency, Alfred Marks, and another boutique (Pop-In). A tall person crosses the street.

 

 

I think there’s a Reed Employment agency in the mix there, but on the corner of Pembridge Gardens a large branch of Burton and Montague (tailors).

 

 

It all seems rather dull considering that Notting Hill Gate was just a stone’s throw from the heart of the counter culture in 1972. Here with the Devonshire Arms, is the corner of Pembridge Road. just a few steps from the start of the trail down Portobello Road.

 

 

We haven’t got any picture from 1972 of the south side of the street from Church street but this picture shows the view looking east, taking in the colored panels and the tower of Newcomb House.

 

 

This picture is one of a group given to the library by PhotoBecket (website) so acknowledgements to them and thanks for filling in a visual gap.

Below, the companion view looking west.

 

 

Now, back to 1972 and to the location of the first picture.

 

This shows the central crossing, the Coronet cinema, and Woolworths. I must admit to barely recalling that branch.

We now take another jump back to 1960.

 

 

 

The Hoop, located by the narrow passage to Uxbridge Street would have been relatively new in 1960.

 

 

The Classic Cinema, later of course, the Gate had also been redeveloped at this time. If I think about it, I haven’t been to the Gate very much, but I do recall my wife and I seeing Tim Burton’s Batman there. One of the first of that era’s  summer blockbusters.

 

 

We’re on familiar territory in 1972. WH Smith, Boots, a Wimpy Bar and Woolworth’s. I’m pausing now for  a bit of confusion. Boots must have ousted Timothy White’s from their position at the start of this post at one point and pushed them aside. Kelly’s Directory came to my rescue, showing that in 1980, Boots were at 96-98, and Timothy Whites (described as hardware retailers) were at 102. So my recollections were not mistaken. Phew.

In the next three picture, you can see the rest of that parade, west of the entrance to Campden Hill Towers.

 

 

More ladies’ outfitters, small grocers, dry cleaners and of course Radio Rentals.

 

 

The road starts of slop away from the hill of Notting Hill and retailers give way to residential properties.

 

 

A final look back up the hill.

 

 

Postscript

I don’t know which direction to go from here, so I might do a Chelsea post next time. My apologies for not publishing this last week, but I was quite busy.

Thanks to PhotoBecket for their photographs, which are copyright by them.

After the previous Notting Hill post there were some lively exchanges in the comments about St Vincent’s  Primary School which was at 6 Holland Park Avenue. Many former pupils have exchanged email addresses through the blog. I can pass on the email addresses of any more interested parties without breaching any regulations on privacy if anyone is interested.

 

 


Carnival: 1980-1983

Regular readers will have noticed that I have never covered the Notting Hill Carnival (except once in passing). There are a few reasons for this: I’ve never been to it myself (I’m not a fan of crowds in streets, even happy ones);  I don’t know that much about its history, but I do know that there are a lot of people who are experts, who don’t always agree with each other about a number of matters, and I don’t want to get dragged into controversy;  and, let’s be honest: I’m a middle aged white man – what do I know? I’ve always tried to make what I write on the blog either historically accurate or (sometimes) drawn from my own experience. Or both. So I’m always a bit circumspect about some topics, (transport is another one) because there are real experts out there. Also, this blog is about pictures, and lots of pictures of Carnival in our collection don’t belong to us, or come from magazines and other sources.

But  we do have some pictures that as far as I know (see later) are ours, and when I was looking at some photo albums from the 1980s recently I noticed that some of the pictures in it were losing some of their natural colour, as colour prints from that period are prone to doing, so I thought they should be scanned for preservation purposes if nothing else. And once I’ve scanned a bunch of pictures, it’s only a matter of time before I start to think I should put them on the blog. So this week, it’s a case of letting the pictures speak for themselves.

1980

 

 

You can see that the pictures are taking on a brown tone, accntuated by the scanning process I think but are still full of interesting details.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The photographer has taken a little interest in the police officers who were on duty.

 

 

But has mostly concentrated on the crowds and the costumes

 

 

Oh and one local landmark, North Kensington Library. I wasn’t working there for most of the year.

 

 

1981

I was back there the following year. The scaffolding was in place after problems with slates falling from the roof, but it resulted in this covering, which was mostly corrugated iron. It was a little disconcerting from inside.

 

 

This year’s pictures have kept their colour quite well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1982

It seems to have rained the day the photographer went but that doesn’t seem to have deterred anyone.

 

 

 

 

The many umbrellas  show that the rain was pretty determined.

 

 

But people carried on.

 

 

1983

This looks like a brighter year. I particularly like this picture of a float turning slowly through the crowds.

 

 

The many costumes seem brighter too this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A modest amount of rubbish in the aftermath of the event.

 

 

The question of how the Library came to have these pictures was solved on the final page of the 1980 album.

This is Neville Price, Community Libarian, a colleague and friend who must have taken a group of library staff out into the Carnival crowds.

 

 

So thanks to him for all these pictures. If you went to the Carnival this year I hope you had a good time. If you recognize yourself, or anyone you know, please leave a comment. These images have not been seen for many years so it’s good to put hem out on the blog. I hope Neville will approve.

 


One year

No words this week.

 


Addison Place – an urban fantasy

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.

 

 

And these.

 

 

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.

Postscript

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 postscript

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.

 


Golborne shops part 2: Mr Rybolt and the shopkeepers

The pictures in the second part of this post on shops in Golborne Road were all taken by Brian Rybolt who as well as being a professional photographer also taught a photography course at the Kensington Institute in Wornington Road. This series of pictures is in the paper archive of Historytalk, the North Kensington Community Archive which was deposited at the Library in 2006. I had seen them before but only recently looked at them in detail. Like a good blogger I knew I wanted to use them here.

These pictures were all taken in 1997-1998 and were used for an exhibition, “Golborne Shops and portraits”. They show how Golborne Road was evolving into what it is today.

 

 

Two men and a monkfish outside the Golborne Fisheries at number 75. Mr Rybolt’s excellent idea was to have the owners or staff of the shops posing for him outside their establishments

More fish here.

 

 

Number 40, still a fish and chip shop as it was in 1969.

One or two of the shops are in the same line of business, some of them using the same name, run by the same family.

 

 

Number 53. Note that there is a 53A, and above the shopfront, one of my favourite features in a photograph – a person at an upstairs window. See a couple of other examples here (picture four) and here  (pictures eight and nine).

Some shops of course are quite different from 1969.

 

 

One of my colleagues remembers “the kimono shop” very well.

And of course:

 

 

An outpost of Rough Trade. the music shop. (I wanted to say record shop but even though vinyl is popular again, they’re not really record shops any more, are they?). The Rough Trade I remember best was the one in Kensington Park Road. I bought many obscure LPs there (Univers Zero, Swell Maps, possibly even Henry Cow to name but three)

By the late 1990s there were more “general” shops.

 

 

“Les Couilles du Chien.” What could that mean?

 

 

A home from home.

I promised you fruit, veg and meat last week, and here is another survivor.

 

 

Fruiterers (a good old fashioned term), E Price and Sons. the three people pictured outside were members of the Price family. The business continues to this day.

 

 

Other food staples included meat.

And pastries.

 

 

Another survivor from 1969.

 

 

Clarke, described as “corn dealers” in Kelly’s in 1969. I’ve zoomed in on this picture and you can see some very interesting objects on sale here but I wouldn’t want to commit to a general description. I’m sure one of you knows, so please leave a comment or memory, on this shop or any of the others.

We’re ending as in last week’s post on dentistry.

 

 

Postscript

My thanks to the board of the now closed Historytalk for depositing their collection with the Library, but mainly to Brian Rybolt himself who now lives in Hastings I believe. Although his photographs have been deposited with us, copyright remains with him so these images should not be reproduced without his permission. Thanks also to Maggie and  Sue for background information.

There are 36 pictures altogether, a genuinely valuable historical resource. We’ve featured a number of different photographers in the last year or so, professionals and gifted amateurs but what they all have in common is that they printed their pictures. With digital photography it is possible to take many more pictures than was ever possible, but too many of them languish on hard drives. Print out your best pictures!

Libraries like ours are always interested.

No extra material in the postscript this week so here’s a bonus picture:

 

 

Because I liked the dog.

And because of the dog, a child.

 

That’s all.


Golborne Road shops: part one 1969-1970

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.

 

 

Postscript

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.

 


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