Figg’s World’s End

Like Bernard Selwyn (see this post among several others), our other chronicler of Chelsea (and other places), JW (Bill) Figg took his camera to work, and the locations he visited gave him access to some unusual perspectives. We’ve already seen his pictures of the interior of Lots Road Power Station. This week we’re following him onto the roof.



In this picture (he’s looking north east I think) across the streets of terraced houses near the Station towards the World’s End Estate.  I suspect this is about 1977. Here he zooms in a little.



The estate wasn’t the only thing he could see from his vantage point. Here, he looks down at the river and some of the buildings on the bank.



Note that single car parked right at the end of the jetty. (Why drive all the way to the end?)  The short section of ramp puzzled me for a while because I was sure someone had told me exactly what it was in a comment on another post. And they had. Here’s a link to the post and a thank you to Roger Morgan.

Below , the view also takes in both Battersea and Albert Bridges, with Battersea power station in the distance.



Coming down from his vantage point, Figg also took pictures from the other side.

On a far more sunny day, the World’s End Estate from the south, including the houseboats at Chelsea Reach and in the background the Cremorne Estate.


Below, the Wharf buildings, including what must be the two chimney version of the power station, with the furthest chimney hidden by the angle of the shot.



The water looks deceptively calm and pleasant.

This tranquil view across the river as it curves around the bend towards Wandsworth and Putney shows the railway bridge and the completed Chelsea Harbour development.



These pictures date from the 1990s, but Figg had been keeping an eye on the development for a while.



He must be back on the roof of the power station for the next series of images. He dates this one (and presumably the others) 1989.

This section was just a muddy hole with a temporary car park at this stage.


The buildings soon emerged from the mud.



I’m not entirely sure what this one is. I’m sure someone can tell me.



Here you see the overall structure taking shape as the development grows.



The completed Harbour seemed a remarkably optimistic piece of work when it sat there on its own at the end of the increasingly gentrified Lots Road, but since the tide of development has moved along Townmead Road through Imperial Wharf, with new housing and retail development, and a new railway station it looks like the first outpost of a new urban riverside strip heading towards Wandsworth Bridge, with similar developments on the south side of the river.

Figg is still on his perch when he looks north again.


In the distance, Chelsea Football Stadium. Immediately below, I’m tentatively identifying the street as Tettcott Road. Follow its path past the ramshackle adventure playground to the blue building which I think is the Fyna Works, which was pictured at the end of a previous Figg post.

When you read the title, Figg’s World’s End, I imagine you thought it would involve images like this one.



A rare colour view looking up Dartrey Road, one of the lost streets of the World’s End at the King’s Road. Or this view of St John’s Church.



We have seen picture like that before, but this one  is a bit of an scoop.



This shows the power station looking across the cleared streets where the World’s End Estate was built. A unique image in our collection.

Finally, one for World’s End enthusiasts like friend of the blog Mr Chris Pain.




I’m pretty sure this is a view of a surviving World’s End building from the opposite direction to the preceding picture. Can anyone identify it and say exactly where it was? A friend of mine came into Local Studies this afternoon as I was finishing up and suggested it might be an antiques shop on the King’s Road but some close work on Google Street View makes me doubtful. Any suggestions?


Thanks to all the people who left comments on last weeks post, especially the identification of the cars, and about of the eastern end of Kensal Road. You all add immeasurably to the character of the blog, and its usefulness as a source of information. We’re enjoying a bit of a surge in page views at the moment  (post-Christmas energy?) so welcome to anyone who’s just started reading. There are plenty of links this week to take you back to older parts of the blog.

Another postscript

I haven’t done any death notices for a while but I must note the passing of Peter Wyngarde announced this morning. My first reaction was surprise that he hadn’t died years ago, which is a bit mean but it is a common phenomenon. I was a fan of all those ATV shows in my teens, not just Department S but also the Champions, Randall and Hopkirk, the Baron etc. I can also admit to turning back my shirt cuffs over the cuffs of my jacket (yellow shirt, black jacket – it was the 70s) on at least one occasion and having a younger boy from next door shout “Jason King” at me. TV aficionados will also remember Wyngarde in that Hellfire Club episode of the Avengers (despite the memory of what Diana Rigg wore in that episode). I actually met Wyngarde on a couple of occasions when he came into the library, usually to borrow the text of a play. He died at the Chelsea-Westminster Hospital so perhaps he remained a local boy. Thank you, Peter.


On the border 6.3: road and canal

We left off our trip down Kensal Road before Christmas and we were round about the Lads of the Village pub on the corner of Middle Row. You could just make out the petrol station a little further east.



The White Knight Garage. I seem to have been wrong about the cars in the previous post so instead of making a guess, I’ll ask my motoring readers to identify the parked car.

Just to show you how far (or not) we’ve got, take a look at this OS map.



If you can make out the detail, you can see the garage more or less in the centre, with several interesting names features nearby

Pulling back slightly, here is the northern side of the road where light industrial buildings are right next to terraced housing and shops. Is tat man ready to drive inside?



Beyond the garage some motor works, followed by the Church of St Thomas, a relatively modern building in 1968.



You can see a kind of bas-relief on the side of the church.


The open space behind the wary pedestrian was designated as a playground at this time.  (Is he hanging back for John or what?) The map describes the large building on the right as a pharmaceutical warehouse.

Here is one of those collages from the Planning collection showing this section of the street in the 1990s.


It’s all boarded up awaiting development or demolition.

Back in 1969 both sections looked a little more active.



BDH limited. (According to Kelly’s of 1969 there was a company of that name who were “manufacturing chemists”, although they’re not listed in Kensal Road.)

The terraced housing on the north side looked like this.



Things were so quiet that a shopkeeper came out to see what was going on. Perhaps because of that, John took this detail, showing the onate moulding:



We’ve just about reached Wedlake Street. Here’s the open space to the south as it looked in 1969. The church is Our Lady of the Holy Souls on Bosworth Road. Next to it Bosworth House and Appleford House. The tower is Adair Tower ,one of the first tower blocks in the area.




This is the companion picture to the aerial shot from the 1980s in the previous post.



You can see the bridge over the canal and the space where the baths were. That site is almost completely cleared apart form the Vestry offices building and (if you look closely) the chimney, sitting on its own by the side of the canal. I can’t quite make out if the bridge has changed from this angle but later pictures show that it was replaced with something a little more pedestrian friendly.

Here is a view showing Wedlake Street in the late 1990s.



The old Vestry building has also gone, replaced by a  residential development. You can just see the bridge.

And there it is. Rather more pleasant to cross in this form I should think.


On the Paddington side of the border, the terraced houses survive.

One final look down the canal to the east.



Although we’re now back at the point where we started in December with that view of the canal side behind the Public Baths there is still one last picture to look at

As you may know, Kensal Road once went all the way to the Great Western Road as on this map, whose top corner shows the intersection, along with a number of streets which no longer exist – Southam Street, Modena Street, Elcom Street and Pressland Street.



Those streets were demolished in the late 1960s / early 1970s when what was first called the Edenham Estate was built. The centrepiece of that estate was Trellick Tower, now a major landmark, geographical and cultural. When John took most of these pictures, the foundations of the tower were already under construction and Kensal Road truncated as it is today. But I think one picture in our collection taken in 1967 shows the missing section of street.




I can’t make out any numbers or street names (the only one visible is too blurred) but I think this is a view looking west and downwards (you can see a slight slope). On the right  you can make out what might be Modena Street and on the left, as the road curves right, the entrance to Southam Street. Today, the Westway passes over near this spot and Elkstone Road does the job of taking you past Meanwhile Gardens towards Trellick Tower and Golborne Road, taking a slightly different route, closer to the old route of Southam Street.

So this picture takes us to what used to be the western end of Kensal Road which only now exists as a memory or a photograph.


Another lengthy blog journey comes to a close. It’s been tricky balancing pictures from different times to tell a story so if I’ve made any errors, please correct me. Time travellers don’t always get everything correct and sometimes you get back to the present and find that things have changed.

Thanks of course to John Rogers who took the 1969 photos. And thanks to everyone who told me to keep blogging.  I wasn’t fishing for compliments, honestly but it’s nice to be appreciated. And I will keep going.

The Roof Gardens 1979: for your pleasure

Strictly speaking I know we should have Kensal Road part 3 this week but I’m a little bit under the weather after Christmas and these pictures recently fell into my lap courtesy of my volunteer, BC, who is going through our collection of former planning photos with a fine tooth comb, looking for visual truffles.

They come from a pair of photo albums, undated and unattached to any records. But it was only a bit of minor detective work to spot the sign for the 28th Kensington Antiques Fair and work out that the year was 1979.



I didn’t even have to go to my transport correspondent to work out the date from the buses. There is Barker’s, still Barker’s at this point, and the Derry and Toms Building.

Although by this time Derry and Toms was no more.



Biba to, had been and gone, and BHS occupied the eastern part of the building. You can see the foliage at the top of the building indicating the presence of the Roof Gardens which had also survived.

In 1979 we were looking forward into an era of conspicuous consumption and people in London being comfortable about money and the display of spending it. Looking backward, you had  the disturbances of punk rock and the new wave and before them the glam era of Biba and Roxy Music. A good year to have some pictures of the Roof Gardens in its new-ish incarnation as a venue for dining and dancing.

Arrive in your nice big car.



The staff are waiting for you.



And the relatively innocuous  lift.



To take you to a more sumptuous entrance.



Regine’s. In the Biba era wasn’t it the Rainbow Rooms?

A sumptuous dining room awaited.



Soon to be filled.



BC said something to the effect of how many bubble perms could you fit into one room? Several, apparently. (I spotted a couple more in a TV programme I watched this week from 1979. Were they ubiquitous?)

After dining, there was dancing.



The joint was jumping (quietly).

But let’s not forget the main reason we came here.



Yes, it’s that garden again.

At this time I think they hadn’t quite got around to the day light potential of the gardens, so we can see some pictures of it more or less deserted.



With many of the old features extant.



The gardens still have that tranquil atmosphere, as if they were far away from a city street.



The wildlife still enjoys the familiar habitat.



Flags still fly over the sunny garden.



And there are still hidden corners.



I’ve looked at the gardens before in this post which combines its real and imaginary history, and this one (one of my early flights of fancy, but the pictures do show the garden empty). There is a certain timeless quality to the gardens. You can still go there, as I think I’ve pointed out before. But would I want to revisit what remains for me a childhood/adolescent memory? Probably not.

But don’t let me stop you.


Just as I was about to publish the post I saw a small item  in the news, namely that Virgin, the current owners of the Roof Gardens, had decided to close them. Since 1981 the gardens have been used as an events venue. They’re listed of course so they’ll be used again. But they’ll be quiet again for a while.

Original Postscript

I wrote this just as I was coming down with a cold and finished it just as the cold is coming to an end. I gave myself last week off as I was feeling rough and I’d read another of those articles about how blogging is dead. (On a tablet – I was too ill to turn on my laptop.) I hope it isn’t, I’m just getting the hang of it. I’m certainly going to carry on for a while and hopefully we’ll be back on Kensal Road next week.

Christmas Days: a good read

One way or another reading has played a large part in my life, at home and at work, so it’s not surprising that I was given a calendar called Women Reading a few years ago (that’s pictures of women reading, not pictures of women from Reading) and since then I’ve been saving images of paintings, drawings and photographs on the same subject. It’s amazing how many of them there. I can start with our old friend Hugh Thomson  (I am unable to stop myself linking to other posts featuring pictures by Thomson but as it’s Christmas you can rest your mouse finger if you wish and follow him up at your leisure.)


Miss Fanny reading in Quality Street the play by J M Barrie.

Or here, in his illustrations to Goldsmith’s She stoops to conquer.

“I have seen her and her sister cry over a book for an hour together”

Sometimes the book gets dropped in favour of just nodding off.


(From The Admirable Crichton“.) I admit to dropping off now and again while reading.

But others are quite attentive.



We’ve seen examples of reading while walking along before. Which is a tricky activity.

As is reading when you’re supposed to be working.



Thomson has another example of shelf searching in Northanger Abbey.




Reading is supposed traditionally to be a leisurely activity suitable for respectable young ladies. Like this one:



But sometimes they turn to more urgent reading matter.



One of my favourites by Haynes King showing two young country women taking an interest in current affairs. I came across a variation, catching the two on another day, exchanging places I think.



As a librarian, I can only approve, even if the spinning doesn’t get done. Women reading newspapers is almost a sub set of the genre.

Sometimes at breakfast, like this woman.



And this one, another favourite.



This picture by the Danish artist Laurits Andersen Ring of his wife Sigrid might be familiar to you. My fellow bloggers the Two Nerdy History Girls use it for their Breakfast Links feature. Anyone who hasn’t seen the blog already should check it out. (I had the pleasure of meeting one of the two, Loretta Chase, earlier this year when she and her husband were in London, to give you an idea of the dizzy social life bloggers lead.)

Some ladies prefer to read their newspapers in the evening.


Once you start looking  for pictures with this theme you find more and more. I’ve already exceeded my quota for a short post. Perhaps I should end with one in a library.


Serious study in progress.

But no, there’s time for a couple more. Indoors.


And outdoors.



Maybe that’s the end.



Sorry to disturb you Madam, go back to your book.

It only remains for me to add that I am currently reading Adam Gopnik’s Through the children’s gate, Frances Hardinge’s A skinful of shadows and a couple of others and  expect to be starting M John Harrison’s You should come with me now, and Andy Weir’s Artemis, sometime soon.

A happy Christmas to all my readers. As Dave Allen used to say: “May your god go with you”. This applies to us atheists as well.



Christmas Days: Argent Archer

I had an enquiry the other day about the photographer Albert Argent Archer. A website devoted to photographers said we had a collection of his work, which was news to me. The name did ring a bell though and when I went looking through our ephemera collection I found several old photographic prints with his distinctive imprint in the section on Kensington High Street. There might be a full length post next year devoted either to Archer or to a series of pictures of the High Street as it used to be, but for today I thought we might have a quick before and after. Geographically these pictures come from a spot less than five minutes walk from where I now sit, huddled in a Dickensian fashion next to a heater.



Although this picture was taken in the 1920s, the distinctive architecture of Hornton Court is instantly recognizable to anyone familiar with Kensington High Street. This tall redbrick block of apartments and shops was unique in 1905 when it was built but it formed the model for a whole series of blocks along the north side of the high street which were built in the 1930s.

Note the small tobacconists to the left of Chesterton’s, selling Abdulla Cigarettes, a popular brand of the time. I can still remember a tobacconist / confectioner there when I first worked in Kensington in the 1980s.



This picture doesn’t have Archer’s embossed stamp on it, but the rest of today’s pictures do. This one shows the same corner as the one above when  it was a simple terrace of houses and shops.



In both pictures you can catch a glimpse of the building in Phillimore Walk which filled the whole block.



Our old friend, the Abbey with its gothic windows and other features, which must have been a bit of a spooky sight, lurking behind the “modern” high street.

This view shows the 116-138 block from the west.




You can see the wide pavement and how in a couple of cases there are front gardens or yards. Imagine a long series of these going west along the high street facing the Promenade on the south side. These terraces were destined for demolition and many were knocked down in 1931. We’ll see more of them in the new yaear but for now, here is Archer’s own studio at 140 Kensington High Street.




Miscellany: melancholy animals

Back in the days when my son was young and people did most of their shopping in actual (as opposed to virtual retailers) another familiar high street name, Boots, offered shoppers a free soft toy after they spent a certain amount. (I don’t recall the actual terms and conditions but I remember you didn’t pay for them, and you sent off for them.) As regular users of Boots we acquired a few examples but what struck us was the consistently downbeat demeanor of the stuffed creatures: the depressed giraffe, the worried zebra, the suicidal rhino. The biggest one was the one you see below: the sad tiger.


We wondered why no-one spotted this general unhappiness of soft fauna. But we’ve done our best for them. These days the tiger is in a support group with this slightly anxious gorilla, and supervised by monkey therapist Doctor Trevor (whom God preserve) of Utrecht.



The final daily post will probably be on Saturday. I have a lot to do tomorrow. Oh, there she is again.


Christmas Days: the wonder of Woolies

Woolworth’s stores were once upon a time a seemingly immovable feature of the British high street. Every town had one, some more than one, and every London district. Think back now to all the different branches you’ve been into in your life. I remember one in Chester with a bewildering number of entrances, a cavernous one on Oxford Street, and a fairly big one in Victoria. This Bignell picture was taken there.


For myself, I remember one near where my uncle lived in Clapham, there were two in the King’s Road. Many I’ve forgotten of course. And there was one in Kensington High Street.

Here, a little way along from corner of Old Court Place, where you now find Zara and Uniqlo, you can see a sign announcing  “Woolworths New Store.” It’s 1963.


On the corner a woman stares into the window of another vacant store front, wondering what will be here next.

Within, a bit of internal modelling is occurring.


Soon, the shop fitters are at work, setting up the store, still tantalizingly empty at this point.


But not for long, obviously and this picture shows the shop up and running.


Is that a Volvo? (I’ve been corrected on car identification more than once recently so I’m prepared for motoring experts to step in at this point).

Woolworth’s were at  54-60 Kensington High Street until the mid 1980s, after which the site was sub-divided. Woolworth’s itself went on. I remember particularly associating the one at Clapham Junction with Christmas decorations and the general run-up to Christmas. But they’re all gone now, like many high street names we thought would last forever. The actual “wonder of Woolies” (their old advertising slogan) was that they lasted as long as they did.

Miscellany: Shopping archaeology

We have a few items in our collection of what librarians used to called realia (“real things”, I expect as opposed to books, which are somehow unreal.) Among those are some examples of artifacts from previous layers of history. As today’s theme was shopping, here are a few of those items related to shops on Kensington High Street. (There was once going to be a whole post on the archaeology of shopping but I couldn’t find very much.)


From Barkers, a paper bag, a plastic bag and a gift box. Let’s take a closer look at that one.


Carefully assembled by me the other day after many years of being flat and unused.

And of course, next door to Barkers:

Our friends at Biba. A selection of their stylish plastic bags, representing what they were good at, fashion, and an empty packet of soap flakes, representing the areas of retail they should have perhaps left to others.


But undeniably striking. If only we had a tin of their own brand baked beans. Unopened, obviously.

See you tomorrow.


Christmas Days: A sunny day in Knightsbridge

It’s always good on a cold winter’s day to remind yourself of the pleasures of city life in the summer. If it’s a more innocent age so much the better. These pictures go back to the 1950s and were taken in Knightsbridge, on or around the Brompton Road, a busy street which had wide pavements with pleasant mews streets running off it.



A street with a passing 2CV  trundling along, dogs walking, women strolling, men  sitting in benches, on eof them smoking a pipe. And, Erik’s ladies hairdresser, one of the many small businesses.

I’ve taken advice on the two buses, by way of dating the pictures, assuming they were taken the same day. Between the 14 above and the 9 below my transport correspondent got it down to a date between 1952 and 1958, which looks about right in terms of what people were wearing.


Oh, and it’s apparently a Sunday. The 9 ran further on Sundays as many buses used to, and this one is ging all the way to Becontree Heath. (It ran out of the Barking Garage)

The gentleman with the newspaper looking back at the Roller. Is a notable person about to emerge?


This sort of chair stringing activity used to be seen quite a lot, even up to relatively modern times. It’s a bit of street theatre in some ways. It has certainly captured the attention of the boy with the almost finished ice lolly.

More leisurely work activity below, in a nearby mews.


Are the two young women making miniature trees? Something like that, with a non-working friend sitting nearby. Check out all the chalk messages on the wall. 1950s graffitti? One of them appears to read “Cymru am byth” – “Wales forever” of course.


Nearby perhaps , in Brompton Square I think, some more light work as a man waters hanging plants, assisted by a lady and watched by a couple of poodles.

And as it might be a Sunday, the best leisure activity of all, just hanging out in the park. Did they hang out in those days?



The photos were taken by a photographer named Mark Hamilton. Our thanks to him and whoever gave them to the Library.

Miscelleany: what a way to earn a living

While we’re in Knightsbridge I have another snippet for you.  I came across this Harrods Christmas catalogue last year in a filing cabinet containing some quite dull ephemera, along with with a few interesting items.  The nice people at Harrods thought it might be a good idea to persuade this young lady to put on a silly costume.


As we sometimes do at Christmas. But how did they persuade her?

Perhaps it was a fun afternoon out. If you know who she is, please get in touch.

More tomorrow I hope.


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