Category Archives: Shopping

CC’s King’s Road in the 80s: shop windows and window shoppers

We’re back on the King’s Road this week for some more summer in the city pictures of retail life in the 1980s, for some as much of a golden summer as any years in the previous couple of decades. And as before, our guide is the roving eye and camera of my friend CC.

 

 

Here a couple of smoking dudes with elaborate hair cuts linger briefly in the middle of Sydney Street behind an unconnected woman, the three of them waiting to cross.

(Sometimes I look down from buses and look out for people smoking. There are far fewer of them these days, which is possibly some kind of progress.)

CC started like this with pictures taken from an upstairs window.

It was a useful vantage point but it was never going to last.

 

 

She had to get down to street level.

 

 

The register office steps of Chelsea Old Town Hall, where people often pause to sit amongst the confetti, although not for too long as people keep getting married.

 

 

Review was at number 81a, and despite the interesting walls and windows above (which look quite familiar to me) the building is now gone.

 

 

I actually had trouble with this one but this is the corner of Tryon Street and the Bertie, plus the corner shop (Just Men) at number 118 is where Muji is today. They’ve done away with those pillars. (not structural as it turns out). The upper floors are usually the feature that helps you to place a building. A little bit of art deco going on there.

Below, the actual Markham Arms.

 

 

And a shop full of clothes on hangers, crammed in up the first floor. Is it me or was there a lot more stock on the shelves in those days? I think that might have been Abidat, who dealt in army surplus gear, as many shop still did at this time.

Chopra was at number 73.

 

 

Another vanished building. Holland and Barrett are there now in one of those Egyptianate (is that a word?) buildings you see now, with the top of the structure curved outwards.

At this point we need a slight break, so here’s another smoker.

 

 

Casual as you like, with a look that’s still worn today, and below, a couple of non-smokers (I hope).

 

 

Those two just caught CC’s eye. We talked about it, and yes we knew it wasn’t the King’s Road but I liked it so I’ve included it. Somewhere in Vauxhall I think, but we’re open to suggestion on that one.

This location is still with us. Rider, sold shoes, as so many high street shops did. P W Forte? I’m not quite sure. This photo may be a slightly different date.

 

 

 

The window line has been tidied up since the picture and now looks uniform, and a little cleaner. The handbag store Bagista was there when I checked Google Street View earlier but I think they’ve moved back to the King’s Walk mall. To get ahead of Goggle I went and checked in person, and found Blaiz, an attractive  South American fashion boutique now occupying the space.

The lady below has not moved, and is thankfully a permanent and unmistakable King’s Road feature.

 

 

I don’t know what she was celebrating with pink balloons that day.

The final picture taken nearby, near the Chelsea Potter features another well known character, and this is the companion to the picture of Leigh Bowery and Trojan in the first CC post.

 

 

It is of course the somehow unmistakable David Bailey, attracting a bit of a crowd as he works.

More 80s shop fronts, passers by and local characters in the next CC post, but that will not be for a while. CC herself likes to read about something else, and who can blame her? I’m starting a Kensington based epic next week. More by luck than judgement today’s post goes out on the summer solstice, so I wish you all a pleasant sun-drenched summer whether you spend your time by the sea, in the country or in the heart of the city.

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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.

 


CC’s King’s Road in the 80s: people and places

We’ve had a few visits to the King’s Road in recent months. No sooner had I introduced you to the work of Bill Figg than my old friend CC came along with some equally interesting (and technically superior) pictures. I initially divided CC’s pictures into people and shopfronts, but the photos she has recently allowed me to scan are a mixture of the two, and best of all, there are several posts’ worth, so you can expect to see more of them over the coming weeks. To anyone who asks the question: Dave, aren’t you tired of the King’s Road? My answer is always: No, you can never have too many pictures of that ever changing thoroughfare, and those of us who live nearby will probably never tire of it.

As I’ve been examining then, I’ve seen pictures of individuals, and locations. This post has some of both, and this one which combines the two.

 

 

The lightly clad gentleman and his snake (it is a snake isn’t it?) are standing in the old Sainsburys / Boots area (with its now identified sculpture, thanks to a knowledgeable reader ) which at one time I had no pictures of, but now there are several.

Here it sneaks into another picture.

 

 

You can just see the edge of the sculpture.

At the other end of the street, a view of the former police station on the corner of Milmans Street.

 

 

One the left, obscured by scaffolding a shop called 20th Century Box.

 

 

After the Police had moved on the building ended its days as a community centre, and finally a boarded up shell, replaced in the 1990s by a new building. (Some pictures in this post)

We’ve passed this spot before.

 

 

Now, of course, a survivor at the edge of a new development.

Some buildings survive though the shops in them change.

 

 

Lord John, at number 72.

Then closing down.

 

 

Some people are there for a short while

 

 

And then move on.

Some messages are more long lasting, and the same point is still being made.

 

 

I don’t remember this shop, but thanks to failing light bulbs I won’t forget ot.

 

 

Continuing the night time theme, a view of one of CC’s regular stops.

 

 

One more theme to come is looking above the shopfronts at what can be seen above, something I’ve always wanted to do in other Kensington and Chelsea streets.

Here you see a now obliterated ghost sign.

 

 

Close up. The wall above Sweaty Betty is now a uniform white.

 

 

Finally, a couple hanging around by the entrance to Boy.

 

 

Nice shorts, sir.

More of the same in a future post.

 

Postscript

I should perhaps have anticipated this series with a more coherent title from the start, but we’ll see how we go.

All this week’s images are copyright by CC who for the moment prefers to remain anonymous, although some of you may know her. Lavish thanks to her once again.


Figg’s then and now (continued)

I got stuck in one small street and its environs the last time I started looking at Bill Figg’s unfinished draft for a small book on Chelsea in the “then and now” mode. This week I’m going back to that and starting on the main drag with a picture of the King’s Road.

 

 

 

The Emperor of Wyoming was a boutique (remember that word, when it was first used?) named after an instrumental on Neil Young’s first solo album. It sold what we would now call vintage Americana, mainly of course jeans, which were imported by the proprietor, Billy Murphy. This version of the shop only lasted a few years – Murphy moved to smaller premises near the World’s End. (I don’t have a picture of that shop.) Figg did a “now” picture of the building in the early 1980s.

 

 

This is one of Figg’s tentative, almost surreptitious, pictures, a little out of focus. I can remember this branch of Waitrose opening. My wife and I were impressed with how spacious it was compared to the other supermarkets in the area. I particularly recall a large display of seafood in large glass  jars. Octopus tentacles floating in brine. Despite what friends have told me, I have never enjoyed the texture of invertebrate flesh. But let’s not go any further with that.

In a previous Figg post I looked at the building next door, the Trafalgar pub, and so did Figg, in “now” mode:

 

 

(1991 I should think. An arty film called Proof was released that year.)

And before:

 

 

The pub under its original, but related name, the Lord Nelson. Note on the edges of the picture, a decorative feature on the cinema building, the Odeon at the time (Some of the decoration on the upper part of the building is still there) and on the other side a branch of Allied Carpets, a well known 70s retailer.

We’re going to move up the King’s Road, as we have before and probably will continue to do so as I explore Figg’s legacy so I have to apologise for a little repetition along the way. This picture shows the junction with Jubilee Place. The former Lloyds Bank building is still there occupied by fashion retailer LK Bennett. But the buildings east of the junction which look as though they’re still there are actually gone.

 

 

Here they are from the west.

 

 

There is the famous shop Kleptomania on the corner. You can just make out the Pheasantry on the right. Figg’s “now” pictures shows the modern development which surrounded the Pheasantry.

 

 

Featuring the bookshop Dillons, a chain which was expanding from its roots as “the university bookshop” in Gower Street near University College. The countrywide chain was eventually bought and most of the shops like this one re-branded as Waterstones

While we’re here we might as well look down Jubilee Place, a narrow street which leads down to Chelsea Green.

 

 

Note that picturesque turret feature. (the King’s Road is in the distance).

And the same view a couple of decades later.

 

Like other photographers, Figg has his favourite spots. This is the now version of one of them.

 

 

The shadowed entrance to Charles II Place and the Marks and Spencer car park, about 1990.

Formerly, the Carter Patterson goods yard, one of the remaining light industrial sites on the King’s Road.

 

 

We’ll skip the Pheasantry this time. You know what it looks like by now, and the Classic Cinema and move on to a site that Figg felt ambiguous about, the King’s Walk Mall. Before the gap seen below was filled in

Many of Figg’s photos, it must be admitted are not very good technically, or were taken in a hurry. I needed to turn down the brightness on this one to capture the name of the bookseller on the corner of the ramp down to Sainsburys and Boots.

 

 

The same shop a little earlier or later, Rock Dreams.

 

 

This is the view after the miniature mall had filled the gap.

 

 

Figg did take a picture inside the small precinct, concentrating on a metallic sculpture at the centre of the space. But when I mentioned this area in a previous post someone responded by sending me a picture which is better than Figg’s, so I’m using that one.

 

 

Figg records that the nondescript, vaguely modernist sculpture had “disappeared”. Had it? If you know where it is now let me know. Figg actually disapproved of the new mall, saying it was “too clinical for a shopping area”. Personally, although it was useful to have a Sainsburys there, I actually liked the new mall, especially when there was a branch of Virgin there. (And my son was forever dragging me down there to buy the latest game. Ridge Racer 4, anyone?)

It’s quite appropriate for the history of the King’s Road that we should start with a boutique which became a supermarket and a supermarket which became a mini-mall. A part of the trend towards the King’s Road becoming a conventional high street. Not there yet though.

Postscript

Thanks to everyone who has left comments or sent pictures adding to our collective knowledge about the King’s Road. The nature of blogging is that you sometimes have to go over old ground. I’m actually hoping for some more pictures of King’s Road shops coming soon. (Hint). The library in the Old Town Hall celebrated its 40 years in the building  this year and there is a small exhibition on there right now. 40 years is a bit like Shakespeare’s 400 year a year or so ago. 50 would be a rounder number. But we couldn’t wait for 500 years and who knows what will have happened to libraries by 2028? As it happens this is also my 40th year working in libraries. Another 10 years seems unlikely. But there’s no upper age limit on blogging.


Goodbye Ball Street: behind Barker’s

At its height the John Barker Company owned all three of Kensington High Street’s great department stores: Barkers itself, Derry and Toms and Pontings and a few other buildings in the area. Two of the store buildings remain as reminders of the great era of department store shopping: the Barker’s building itself, home of Whole Foods, Gap and of course Northcliffe House and the Derry and Toms building, home of M&S and H&M, still surmounted by the Roof Garden. (I won’t attempt to say exactly when that era was, pick your favourite: the 30s, the 50s, the 60s?).

Today’s post takes us back to the 1920s and 1930s to the period before and during the construction of the current Barker’s and Derry and Toms buildings and uses an album of photographs given to the Council by the Company. The whole story of the construction is a long one. You can find a good account of it in the Survey of London which I will not try to compete with. But to summarize: the Company had to acquire all the land it needed and close at least one street for building purposes. The process of the construction of the new Barker’s  was interrupted by the building of the new Derry and Toms (1929-1931) which took over the attention of the Company, and later the Second World War during which operations were suspended  so the Barkers building wasn’t completed until 1958.

You’ll need a plan to grasp this, but first a picture taken from the corner of Ball Street in October 1924.

 

This shows Young Street looking north west. The house in the foreground is Thackeray’s house. Next to it is Kensington Square Mansions,  the first buildings to be demolished to make way for the new Barkers.

And now the plan:

Carefully colour-coded, as you can see, to show the all the Company’s properties, the three stores, and Ball Street. Young Street has retained its name but King Street is now called Derry Street for obvious reasons.

[It’s well past lunch time so I’m pausing now to get a sandwich and take a quick field trip to the site.] [Back – interesting to see the rear of the two buildings.]

This is also Young Street.

In the centre is the Post Office sorting office, and beside it the entrance to the Bakery and Cooked Meats Kitchens.

This picture shows Ball Street on January 11th 1928, the day the hoarding to close Ball Street was erected.

If we turn north on that same day…

The rear of Ball Street with the ghostly spire of St Mary Abbots Church rising in the distance.

The point of view shifts east in this picture.

This was the first section of the new premises. On the left you can see a temporary bridge over Ball Street.

This is the east side of King Street showing a Derry and Toms building and a door to the old fire station.

The hoarding on the left shows the location of Ball Street.

This is a view of the rear of the west side of King Street with part of Burden Mews (look back at the plan).

Demolition is in progress.

I’ve included this picture of the corner of Burden Mews purely for the convertible. Motoring experts will soon identify it I’m sure.

This is Derry’s Yard, a narrow mews on the west side of Derry and Toms well out of the public eye, with a rough bridge connecting two buildings.

March 1928

More demolition in Burden Mews with a couple of figures in the background exchanging a few words about the work in progress.

Here another group lurk in a doorway perhaps avoiding the camera.

Can you spot another solitary figure below?

A man in a white coat on the first floor.

Back to Ball Street now.

It’s filled with the “covered way”, a temporary structure (man on the roof) and a clearer view of the bridge connecting the old and new buildings.

This is the way it looked from the other direction in October 1929.

The men on the scaffolding are actually posing for this one. The group on the ground are standing by the temporary staff entrance.

Finally, an image from nearly a decade later in July 1938.

This is on the east side of Kensington Square. The Staff Cafeteria is in the centre and the entrance to Lower Yard, where there was a Wine Cellar, a Bonded Cellar and a charging station for electric vehicles. (Ahead of its time?)

The construction of the Barkers building seems to have been a bit of a struggle but even though the stores that were their original purpose are gone, both it and the Derry and Toms building remain as are 20th century classics which have in their way influenced the whole of Kensington High Street.

 

Postscript

I wanted something to break up a flurry of posts about book illustration so the Trevor Bowen Estate came to the rescue again.


Christmas Days : afternoon tea

Some of the ideas I had for short posts didn’t quite work out in practice so for this last one I asked myself the question: can I make a post out of a single picture?

To start with, here’s a nice family group.

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Mother, eldest son on holiday from school, still in the tight stiff collar, youngest child a bit impatient for her ice cream, bored with waiting for the photographer to finish and absolutely not enjoying wearing that hat

Look behind them.

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A couple of the waitresses, and the singers in their nearly matching dresses.  That woman whose face we can just see in front of them might be sitting at a piano. Two young ladies are glancing up at the photographer from under wide brimmed hats.

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Look up at the many treats on offer such as the Parfaits at 1s/3d and the New Jersey Sundae, just a shilling. Order from your waitress who will bring it from the counter.

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That may be the entrance to a lift behind the curtain. The photographer has the patrons’ attention but are they all quite willing to pose . This is an exclusive establishment after all, and being photographed in it is a sign of distinction. A couple of .gentlemen at the back, but on the whole this is a place for the ladies.

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On the other side of the aisle more ladies enjoying afternoon tea, more waitresses in their black headbands and another selection of treats.

This is the whole picture.

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The terrace garden at Barker’s department store, sometime on a long leisured afternoon in the 1930s. Make the most of it, ladies and gentlemen.

Monkeys

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Bern, Chloe and Suze exploring the archives.

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And finding a few spots to perch on in the manuscript stacks.

From them and me, a happy Christmas to you all.

 


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