Category Archives: Shopping

The main drag: shop till you drop

We’re back again at street level for this post and we’re continuing west, taking in the shops from the junction with Church street, concentrating on the branches of big names and the independents in the last couple of decades of the 20th century and the first of the 21st. It was a time when I think it would be fair to say that most people in this period mostly bought things in actual shops. Online retailing existed, and was growing in importance but the high street was still doing fine. The big names still had the prestige and the power and there was room for independent shops, whether they were long established family firms or new ventures. We’ll see example of both, as well as looking at how the physical structure of the high street altered and some of the names changed. Some of the names you’ll see may be just memories now.

This one is 1994

 

 

Sacha (a Dutch company?) of course sold shoes, then still a staple of  high streets everywhere. This picture also takes a look down Kensington Church Court.

I can’t be sure if Derber came before or later.

 

 

But they too sold shoes. You can see more shoe shops. in one of my previous posts.

Below,the Leeds Permanent Building Society merged with the Halifax and later the Bank Of Scotland to form HBOS

 

 

David Clulow, the opticians, is still with us, unlike the Aberdeen Steak House, another former high street staple.

I was pleased to find a couple more examples of a style which has been called by the Survey of London “pungently Burgundian” . In the later years of the 19th century banks seemed to have favoured this style. Here is the Midland.

 

 

 

Some elegant patterned brick work above the modernised fascia at street level. Next door, another branch of the National Westminste,r also pleasingly ornate.

 

 

Don’t be confused by the two dates 1834 and 1890 in the centre, probably refer to the founding of the London County and Westminster Bank (one of its constituent parts) and the date of the building itself. On the left you can see part of its neighbour, a building which was neither pungent nor particularly Burgundian. the old Kensington Town Hall. Here it is after demolition had begun in 1985.

 

 

 

 

I’ve covered that story before so we won’t linger.

Here is the building which replaced it still under construction but already partly occupied.

 

 

The central shop is a branch of Laura Ashley, an iconic fashion brand in its day whose clothes were in many women’s wardrobes and which epitomised a certain 70s look still influencing fashion.

With that end of the building completed,  the front is symmetrical. This picture shows an alley which leads to the gardens and ultimately joins up wit the passage seen in the first picture.

 

 

The older building is the Kensington Vestry building, built in 1865. It served as the main local government building for Kensington and after the Town Hall was built became the Central Library (I sometimes come across references to “Box K” or “Box S” on old catalogue cards, a notation which indicated the position of items in the attic of the former Vestry building.)

The Library moved to its current location in 1960 (and here I sit writing about it). The old building was ultimately bought by an Iranian bank. This picture, date unknown, shows the banking hall.

 

 

 

I don’t know what it looks like today.  (For another quirky Iranian site see this post, but read down to the comments.) Below is another shoe shop.

 

 

Now Clark’s (I may have bought a pair there once). Alongside is another ancient municipal object, a water fountain.

 

 

I’ve included this frontal view of Peter Lord because that policeman seems to be looking right at us. Was he keeping a beady eye on the photographer.

Our Price, seen in once of those photo collages below.

 

 

There is a snippet on Our Price in this post about Church Street. As record shops went Our Price was not the most full of character. I usually remember buying something at a particular branch, which was convenient for the Library but not with this one.

Big Apple. Who remembers them?

 

 

The picture below shows a blurred motorcyclist and Lloyds Bank but it’s actually the branch of McDonalds that catches my attention. And why?

 

 

Well, as it happens I think this branch was one of the first in London and I have a distinct memory of driving down from Kensal Rise  in my friend Steve’s Mark 1 Cortina specifically to visit this McDonalds and sample this new dining experience. (Only Wimpy Bars before this remember)

We probably ate inside, although we might have parked up somewhere nearby to savour this new taste. I can’t remember waht we thought about the food though. I have had many McDonalds since though.

I’ve included the rather poor picture below because of its notoriety value.

 

 

The Bank of Credit and Commerce was involved in one of the greatest banking scandals of this era, and was implicated in money laundering and other nefarious activities. When I checked it on Wikipedia I was intrigued to see that the international bank in the Clive Owen film The International was based on BCC. It’s a pretty good film actually.

The film strip below must be from the 1970s. A branch of the Village Gate is visible.

 

 

Sticking on the south side of the street for a while here are some more well known names.

 

 

I like this picture because of the man talking to the traffic warden. Are they friends, or is the man attempting to make a case for leniency? Is he begging or berating the implacable uniformed officer? (The local headquarters of the traffic wardens was in an obscure building in the aforementioned Kensington Church Court. Perhaps the warden is walking swiftly back to base so he can get changed and go home.

 

 

The man in civvies looks quite animated to me.

This picture was  taken at the same time. The pair have a  certain bright quality.

 

 

Do you see the woman in the white skirt and blue jacket? She is another in the series of women who bear a superficial resemblance to my late mother in law. I come across them from time to time.

In this view looking west a woman waits at a bus stop with a branch of C&A in the background.

 

 

The companion picture looking east shows a pair of skaters.

 

 

And a bargain price for Harvey’s Bristol Cream.

Back to the north side and the front of Phillimore Court. Look past that Jaguar/Daimler saloon at Chelsea Girl nearly in the centre of the block, with Mothercare next door.

 


 

This view shows the Chelsea Girl sign sharing the frontage with Concept Man.

 

 

Among  the collection of pictures I found these two images of shop signs:

 

 

The two signs have been put up somewhere to see how they look. The version of Concept Man seen below is just in some basement on a random wall. Concept Man sounds like a peculiar idea anyway. He’s not a man he’s just a concept! No contest against Chelsea Girl. (She’s a girl from Chelsea?)

 

 

Neither of them made the final cut in 1986. Chelsea Girl stayed at 124-126 for a few years. My research indicates that the same address was the home of River Island.

I quite liked this picture, which shows the more upmarket image River Island were looking presumably for in the 1990s.

Unfortunately, it’s obviously not actually on the High Street despite the address on the back.

 

 

Could it have been in Barkers Arcade? It’s actually too hot to ponder this question.

One or two names have been left out of this post. Bradford and Bingley, Dorothy Perkins, Video Vision to name but three.

But with the disappointment of River Island I decided to let one more picture in.

 

 

Foothold, purveyors of athletic shoes. . And a runner in green shorts! He’s a conceptual man if ever I saw one.

 

 

Postscript

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

These words are already being quoted across the internet and hailed as of one the great speeches in cinema, up there with Orson Welles’ cuckoo clock. And it is a great moment for lovers of science fiction.

My wife once came across Rutger Hauer (who died this week aged 75) in a cafe in the Fulham Road. He asked her friend for a light. Afterwards she had to explain who he was to her friend. Not everyone had heard of Blade Runner then.

Thank you, Mr Hauer for being part of our collective dream.

 

Bus Supplement

I sent a couple of these pictures to my son and transport correspondent, Matthew. I can only quote his reply in full:

The first bus is actually the more readily identifiable, as we can see it’s fleet number – RM1830. This would be towards the end of it’s career in the capital, as London Transport began withdrawing RM class Routemasters (though clinging fiercely to it’s RMLs, many of which would remain in service until the very final days of their operation on route 159).

At this point, RM1830 was operating out of Westbourne Park garage, the natural home of the 31 since just after the new garage (nestled under the Westway) opened in 1981. The garage would keep the 31 until 2011, enduring the infamous days of minibus operation on the route. Anyone who knew the 31 (which is now two routes, the 31 and 328) in the 1990’s will remember the wholly inadequate little vehicles (Wright “Handybuses” for those seeking details, not that any passenger would have described the diminutive things as “handy”) that took over from proper buses in 1992, and continued for a remarkably long time, despite nobody having anything positive to say about them.

This insult in bus operation was made after RM1830 had moved on from London – it would only stay until 1987, when it was withdrawn by London Transport. It was aquired in 1988 by Clydeside Scottish, and made the journey north, though sadly it never saw service – it was just there to provide spare parts to Clydeside’s existing fleet of ex-London Routemasters. What was left of RM1830 was later sold for scrap, and RM1830 passed on to the great bus garage in the sky.

We can’t go into such detail for the second image, despite actually being able to see the whole bus, as both fleet number and registration number are obscured by the surrounding traffic.

What is visible is the unusual advertising panel for Miss Selfridge on the offside of the bus. As the Routemaster hurriedly departing from the picture frame on the right can show us, most RMs and RMLs had “L” shaped advertising panels, taking advantage of the blank panel over the staircase to provide as much lucrative advertising space as possible. This vehicle, one of many Tottenham garage-based RMLs, received special illuminated advertising panels instead – these were supposed to increase visibility at night on routes like the 73 that ran through central London after dark. The experiment was evidently not deemed a success, and London Transport never expanded the practice, and most lost the illuminated panels when they were overhauled. One member of the class still retains the panels to this day though, working as a heritage vehicle for Ensignbus in Essex. The idea meanwhile has begun to return, with some buses now having LED-based advertising panels installed, allowing for the adverts to flash and scroll and display other dazzling effects to their audience. How long will this latest version of the experiment last?

Nonetheless, an RML on route 73 to Stoke Newington tells us a lot. Not least that the photo’s label is wrong – this is emphatically not 1989. It can’t be, unless that particular bus had rebelled against the dictats of London Transport and decided that it was too good to be curtailed to such a location as Victoria.

Route 73, until August of 1988, ran from Stoke Newington to Hammersmith. In that year though, the new route 10 (King’s Cross to Hammersmith Broadway) would take over the Hyde Park Corner – Hammersmith section, leaving the 73’s to turn sullenly south at Hyde Park Corner in order to wheeze to a halt at their new terminus on the forecourt of Victoria Station.

The 10 would exist in this form almost precisely 30 years – it was withdrawn entirely in 2018 in order to reduce the number of buses on Oxford Street. The madness that is pedestrianisation of this thoroughfare continues to plague the minds of those in power, and small steps towards this absurd and laughable goal continue to be taken, heedless of the impact it will have on the travelling public.

However, in order to maintain a connection between Hyde Park Corner and Hammersmith (for apparently this connection must be maintained at all costs) the 23, shorn of its run between Marble Arch and Liverpool Street, was redirected down Park Lane to take over. Now the 23 runs in an absurd “C” shape, connecting Hammersmith with Westbourne Park via Marble Arch – a route so circuitous as to be almost entirely pointless – as demonstrated by the near-empty buses plying the route!


Happy shiny people: the ideal world

I love the illustrations that sometimes come with architectural drawings and planning applications. They depict an ideal near future for a place we know well, clean and well appointed, inhabited by happy, well dressed people enjoying new and improved facilities. Sometimes the same future can seem a little dystopian depending on your point of view. In the course of examining images in our collection I have seen a few abortive plans which make me glad that somebody saw sense or just dropped the ball. But mostly you’re looking at something that happened. The shiny happy people in the illustrations have played their part and moved on to whatever alternative reality is their next destination. Those of us left behind made the most of what we were offered.

 

 

“Miss K”? Was there ever such a shop? Or is it a well known chain in the other world, where airships always haunt the skies? It’s “Miss Kensington” of course. The “right on shop” (look closely) “Victoria” of South Kensington sell jewelry and watches. Even I can’t make out the last two shops in the distance. Those two beaming men are just passing a shop simply called Fashions. The artist, John S Robinson, couldn’t come up with anything more than that.

As I mentioned in my last post, the third of Kensington High Street’s department stores, Pontings, was the first to close and be demolished. It had been located on the corner of Wright’s Lane and was attached on its west side to the arcade which leads from the street to the tube station. At one time the arcade would have been lined with display windows for Pontings or its sister store Derry and Toms.

 

 

That’s the Pontings side. In the centre, facing the side entrances of the stores was a WH Smith kiosk. ( A great word for a useful object.)

 

 

On the other side, an entrance to Derry and Toms, which followed Pontings into retail history a few years later. The arcade was colonised by a variety of small businesses.

 

 

We’re going to veer off into anecdote now. One of my colleagues once asked me if there had ever been a fountain in the arcade. I didn’t think so but as some of you always knew, there was. I recently found some pictures that prove it.

 

 

My colleague was very gracious and didn’t give me a hard time for my skepticism. Isabel added insult to injury though by recalling that she had been a member of a school choir which had stood by the fountain singing carols in the early 1990s . Although I was around then I still can’t remember it although oddly, Cafe Gstaad  (now Pret) rings a bell. The conclusion must be never dismiss any recollection and be patient. The pictures you need may be waiting for you somewhere.

 

 

In the meantime let the happy people have their moment. John S Robinson has made the arcade a  little bit wider and taller. It’s always bigger in the other world.

 

 

 

The elegant, possibly haughty, lady in the white hat is walking away from the tube entrance “Fashions” has become Austin B..something.

In the next picture, which seems to look at Boots, Mr Robsinson takes us well into the other world with a gallery (Gallery Eight), a News kiosk, some kind of seating area and another glass fronted shop in the distance.

 

 

 

That perky woman is suggesting something to her partner. A leisurely lunch perhaps? Or is he asking him to turn around and walk past that older couple right into the other world?

I’ve looked very closely at these three pictures, too closely really.

Outside, there are more accurate, and optimistic views of the corner.

 

 

Looking south down Wright’s Lane, this is the plan as it was executed. The other world still had the Promenade. Looking west the view is spacious, and relatively underpopulated.

 

 

Finally, for the other world, the view down to where Wright’s Lane will join Marloes Road.

 

 

For illustrative purpose only. Another couple lean in close for conversation.

The west side of Wright’s Lane has been developed all the way down to the point where it meets Marloes Road. Boots on the corner, the corporate offices of the Warner Group, an apartment block, and then the Tara Copthorne Hotel. The space where Scarsdale House once stood has been filled in by modern buildings.

We can look back though as I’m sure you were expecting me to say.

This is the hotel site under development.

 

 

As is this. I’m not sure about that chimney.

 

This earlier image shows the site as a car park, with the station naked.

This is a very interesting picture. You can see the rear of the Derry and Toms and Barkers buildings, Heythrop College, even the distant Royal Garden Hotel and the spire of St Mary Abbots. Eveything on that side of the railway line is still there today more or less. But the tranquil car park, which if magnified could provide much material for car spotter, is all gone.

The picture below, of Kelso Place, with some provisional structures added in red ink is more difficult to figure out today.

 

 

The modern Kelso Place runs over the point where the railway line goes underground for a short distance. Those structures you can see through the fence must have been something to do with the railway but they’re not part of the modern station. Any answers?

Finally, leading into a future post is an aerial picture.

Kensington Square, the Barkers building and part of the roof garden itself, with some private gardens at ground level.

 

 

Look back at the car park picture and have a look that wall which borders the railway line.

If you’re ever in the arcade, head towards Boots but turn left before you get to the entrance, past the currently closed chocolate selling unit. You can still walk along next to that wall and make your way through the space next to the railway tracks to Scarsdale Place and back to Wright’s Lane, past the hotel entrance.

It’s a little crack in  this filled up space which gives you a look at the undeveloped past.

 

Postscript

I’m writing this first draft in a waiting area at Chelsea Westminster Hospital. The A&E department has certainly changed since I last mentioned it in the blog. There is still a certain amount of waiting to be done.

Since the last post, the science fiction world has lost Paul Darrow, who played the anti hero Avon in Blake’s 7, a programme for which many of us retain an inexplicable affection.

And Dr John, New Orleans psychedelic voodoo bluesman, has also left us.

The world of blogging still has me for the moment, I’m pleased to say.


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.


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.


%d bloggers like this: