Figg’s about

This week we’re having another near random look through the Chelsea pictures of A W (Bill) Figg, beginning with this decorative feature.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, Figg was a devotee of the  small features or details which can be found on many buildings. Some will seem familiar or almost familiar and you will swear you can recall them. Others remain obscure or unknown. One of these days I’ll fill an entire post with them but not this week. It’s not entirely clear from the pencil written note next to the picture which tells us that the feature was “taken down”. I’m assuming it was in Pavillion Road, the narrow street behind Sloane Street because the pictures accompanying it is captioned as such. But I’m going to leave that until the end.

This picture is of Chelsea Fire station.

 

 

Can you make out the message? “Where’s your conscience Mr Rees? We helped you in your time of need, now help us.” This was the Firefighters strike of 1977 and Mr Rees was Merlyn Rees, the Home Secretary of the day.

I set off down a mental side track at this point recalling that just as the army deployed the “Green Goddess” fire trucks during the strike, the army were also used in the 1989-90 ambulance strike. I remember that because my wife had a kidney stone during the strike and was taken to the old Westminster Hospital in a military ambulance. Happy days.

There is no connection between that event and this view of the burial ground in Dovehouse Green.

 

 

As you can see from the layout, this shows the green before 1978, when it was landscaped and arranged as it is today. The obelisk monument to Philip Miller one of the gardeners at the Chelsea Physic Garden, which now sits in the centre of the green (and hasn’t moved) is seen here behind a hedge. This view, down the central path is looking north.

 

 

It shows the Thamesmead old people’s home and part of the workhouse buildings.

The picture below shows the nursery section of what is now the Chelsea Farmer’s Market.

 

 

The picture below shows the edge of the nursery building and the short terrace of houses next to it in Sydney Street. Did the nursery ever go by the name of Jack Beanstalk?

 

 

Take a note of that brown car in the foreground.

Below, is Hemus Place, off Chelsea Manor Street, another side street which fascinated Figg.

 

 

He must have been carrying two cameras that day because here it is again in colour, featuring the same vehicles.

 

J

ust an urban backwater in the 1970s, but now the loading bay and delivery pick-up point for the Waitrose branch in the King’s Road. We’ve seen in a previous post how Waitrose had a comparatively small frontage, behind which was a substantial shop. Figg’s 1990 photo shows a new building and a reception hut.

 

 

 

Since then a block of flats Friese-Green house has been built here, at the rear of the Odeon / Habitat building. More changes are under way at the moment.

In another bit of then and now (or strictly speaking then and then), here is the bank /post office building on the corner of Manor Street, and the site of the the recently demolished Chelsea Palace Theatre opposite the Town Hall.

 

 

The first shopping based building on the site was called simply the Gallery, (with its “indoor waterfall” – anyone remember that?) Later it was replaced with a branch of the Reject Shop.  Like Timothy White’s (see last week), this is another place where my wife and I bought many household items.

 

 

Finally (almost), back to Pavilion Road.

 

 

The building is not especially distinguished but the car (compare it with the brown car in the picture above) sets off many memories for me. Just skip the next two paragraphs if you’re not interested in cars, or my employment history.

Back in the last years of the 1970s I worked for a garage in Soho which had a British Leyland franchise. In those days the cars from BL were the last gasp of a fading company. They had Allegros, Marinas, a few Triumphs and MGs. In the mid market saloon car range they were beaten hands down by Ford, who had a new Cortina, a new Granada and the Mark 2 Capri, all much better than anything BL had to offer. In some ways worse was to come with the Princess, a car so bad and ugly it seems to have been erased from history. (One month I cleaned and prepared an entire fleet order of these, which earned me a good bonus, but inflicted considerable psychic damage). The one bright light was the new Rover, a completely redesigned version of the V8 3.5 litre saloon for middle managers, company directors and other aspirational types. For months before its launch it had been hidden from view under the project name SD1, and when it came out as the Rover 3500 it was a  success for the ailing company and was Europen Car of the Year for 1977.

The sales manager at the garage had one problem – he couldn’t get them (supply was another perennial problem.). So I never actually dealt with many of them but we would stand around and admire the few examples that came in. Apparently the police liked them too. BL created a police version for them and when the range was coming to an end a consortium of police forces bought everything that was left and stored them around the country so they could carry on using the car for years to come. Time though, has been no kinder to the SD1 than it was to the Princess and while the previous versions of the Rover are now classics, the SD1 has joined much worse cars in motor vehicle limbo. You can apparently see SD1s driven by George Cowley in the Professionals and John Steed in the New Avengers. And here’s a Lego version.

 

Did Figg know all that, or is it just me, my friend Steve and a few other Rover affianados? I am anticipating a few comments on this matter.

Finally, your brain teaser.

 

I thought this was Sydney Street at first, but I can’t figure out how the big building in the distance, and the old buildings on the left fit together. And it’s all a bit faded. So if someone can say for sure, I’ll be grateful.

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Notting Hill Gate: the other High Street

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

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

Below, the companion view looking west.

 

 

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

 

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

We now take another jump back to 1960.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

A final look back up the hill.

 

 

Postscript

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

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

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

 

 


The Depot – Warwick Road 1969

They call it the Council Offices, Pembroke Road these days. But we used to call it the Depot. I’ve been there for training courses, sat in rooms and listened to trainers, practiced recruitment interviews, done the occasional bit of role playing. I’ve even extinguished fires in one of the big sheds at the back as part of fire training. But that was all in the modern version, constructed in 1972 -75, a two part edifice on the north and south sides of Pembroke Road with the terraced housing blocks Chesterton Square and Broadwood Terrace on the top which were sometimes called “gardens in the sky” and are joined by a walkway over Pembroke Road. I sometimes looked up and wondered what it was like up there, above the place where refuse trucks and other council vehicles used to come and go.

Back in the 19th century there was a piano factory on part of the site, and an urban dairy. The Vestry acquired some of the buildings in the 1870s and used them as stables, and later somewhere for all its vehicles and the men who drove them to use. The site expanded but eventually it was decided to replace the lot with two large buildings which combined workshops, offices and housing. These pictures come from 1969 and show the “old” Depot.

This is one of the entrances on Warwick Road. Confusingly, there were two, and several buildings on the site, so it’s not always clear which direction you’re looking at.

 

 

That set of steps is a useful marker for one part of the site.

 

 

You can see a coupl of refuse trucks behind the parked cars. At one time all the trucks came and went from the depot.

 

 

A lone motorbike parked by another entrance to the main building, where there was a large interior space.

 

 

I wonder what purpose it served. Offices?

 

 

This is another entrance with a gatehouse, and a row of terraced houses beyond, looking south I think.

 

 

If you look closely you can see that this is a different entrance. But it also faces east to the large building in the background.

 

 

With more vehicles, this one a petrol tanker.

This building with an arched structure was part of the piano factory.

 

 

A few employees are coming and going as the photographer works.

 

 

Inside the site you can see some industrial wear and tear and some signs of neglect.

 

 

At this date some of the buildings may be emptying out.

 

 

The site must have been a bit of a maze.

 

 

But it was the Council’s largest property bigger than the then Town Hall.  The early 1970s was also when the new building in Hornton Street was built.


 

The final picture shows number 104 Warwick Road, demolished a few years later, one of the few signs of retail life in the area, although there was a pub called the Warwick Arms on the corner of Pembroke Road, between the two parts of the Depot. That building is still there. The tunnel visible here showed the way through to the northern depot buildings.

 

 

 

These pictures demonstrate that for me at least, even with visual evidence in the form of photographs and maps, you can’t always figure out exactly how a small area looked, but you are left with an impression of a somewhat decayed light industrial area with nothing of the current Tesco superstore and the blocks of upmarket housing which stretch up to Kensington High Street. Have a look at this post to see how things looked on the west side of Warwick Road.

There are proposals to demolish the 1970s depot, and its housing so perhaps they too will need to be recorded in photographs…

Postscript

As you might imagine, I took notice of the death of the actress Jacqueline Pearce, who played the larger than life character Supreme Commander Servalan in the ramshackle dystopian SF series of the 70s, Blake’s 7 (Blake himself was the least interesting character). Pearce was also the title character of one of Hammer’s most interesting films, the Reptile. Try that on Google images for a striking bit of make-up. I believe she at one time lived on one of the house boats on Chelsea Reach. I definitely saw her one day walking up Beaufort Street, but she didn’t look like she would have wanted to stop and talk to me. She made the stern, dominatrix-like Servalan very believable.

 


Carnival: 1980-1983

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

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

1980

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

But has mostly concentrated on the crowds and the costumes

 

 

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

 

 

1981

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1982

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

 

 

 

 

The many umbrellas  show that the rain was pretty determined.

 

 

But people carried on.

 

 

1983

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

 

 

The many costumes seem brighter too this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

 

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

 


Silver Street: Kensington Church Street part 4

For this final post on Kensington Church Street we’re in Silver Street, which, as I said last week, is the name by which the northern section of the street used to be known. Church Lane was the southern section. ( Or originally Love Lane according to some sources.)

This is number 118.

 

 

The home of one of Kensington’s local newspapers, (the other one was the Post although different names had been used over the years) at a time when the titles were independent.

Below, D C Monk and Sons at 132-134.

 

 

 

This was another one of those shops John Rogers seemed very taken with, and took several pictures of at different times and days. can you see the three balls above the awning? D C Monk was a traditional pawn brokers, and the three balls a traditional sign. The pawn broker could do business in any kind of neighbourhood, even next to a big residential property. (These pictures are from 1969.)

 

 

 

We actually starting to walk downhill at this point. I have some recollection of standing outside The Kensington Bookshop, below, window shopping, and I think it was a general bookshop. I can’t recall actually going inside though. I have a feeling that I would have been passing by on my way to Kensington Library and would already have been tired from that slight upward incline. This was 1980 so I could easily have been in the picture myself.

 

 

The shop was later taken by Adrian Harrington, a well know book dealer who, I met once, but who is sadly no longer with us. His brother Peter also sold or sells books and there are still shops bearing his name, one on the Fulham Road.

 

 

Farther along on the west side, another traditional style of shop, a large timber merchants, with two smaller businesses nestling under the main sign. Yes, at number 144 Bits and Pieces. Hello, are you looking for some bits? No today I thought I’d get some pieces. The big sign still exists.

 

 

The traffic heading south in this picture has come out of Kensington Mall through the odd one way system which takes southbound buses past the top of Church Street so they can turn into a narrow street and turn again before they can enter the street. A barrier planted with shrubs and a couple of small trees (these days) keeps vehicles from going the wrong way, or is it to stop them entering a one-way street the wrong way? Traffic experts can tell me if they wish.

 

 

From this point on Kensington Church street is northbound only and traffic is filtered either towards Central London or towards Shepherds Bush.

The east side of the street consists of a couple of modern buildings from the early 1960s when Notting Hill Gate was redeveloped. (There’s a post here)

Part of this building is a Post Office which is still in business.

 

Here is the actual corner, and a glimpse of Notting Hill Gate.

 

 

Before we take another look at Notting Hill Gate we need to go back to the west side of the street.

At number 113, Appel, a tailor.

 

 

And next door to him at 115, the Rowley Gallery, another survivor.

 

 

At this point the Gallery had a workshop nearby in Campden Street.

 

 

At the end of that block is number 119, the Churchill Arms, one of London’s most attractive pubs. My personal bible of Kensington history, the Survey of London tells us that although the pub is now associated with Winston Churchill ( a Freeman of the Borough, among other things), the name may originally derive from the descriptive phrase “church hill”. But we shouldn’t quibble.

Anyone who travels along this section will have noticed the new building rising behind boards and scaffolding between Edge Street and Kensington Place. It has one of those pointy designs over the glass facade.

This of course replaces what I now have to call a “forgotten building” although many of you will remember the building which was there before, at number 145. I did wonder if this wasn’t simply a case of a new facade over an older building but Google Maps has that excellent retrospective street view (a boon to local historians and many others I should think) which shows the absent building in May 2015.

 

 

The offices of Chapman Taylor Partners, architects, newly built in 1973 and shown in Architectural Review. Not perhaps to everyone’s taste, but many of the buildings at this end of the street were now modern, and although it might be stretching a point to call it “charming brutalist”, it was not too overwhelming for the neighbourhood.

 

 

A side view in Edge Street. We can even go inside and see architects drawing.

 

 

Below, some administrative offices viewed from “one of the secretary’s cubicles”.

 

 

And there’s the secretary busy typing and waiting for the phone to ring as they did in the 70s.

This 1961 picture shows a view of Notting Hill Gate, and the east side of the street as it had been 10 years before the 1971 pictures we’ve already seen.

 

 

You can see the tower, Newcombe House on the corner at the left of the picture. It’s a building which has not worn well over the years and it’s not long for this world if current development plans go through. (A decision is expected soon.)

But let’s finish with a view of Silver Street which won’t be superseded by events.

 

 

This pencil drawing by the artist Frank Emanuel captures the narrow version of Silver Street in the early years of the previous century. It’s always been one of my favourites. The figure of the woman is particularly good I think. I’ll come back to some of the artists who drew or painted this part of Kensington in a future post. But for now our journey is done.

Postscript

My absence the week before last was purely accidental. But I am about to take a couple of weeks off, and to maintain sanity at home, I will temporarily cease blogging. Hopefully new ideas will come bubbling forth in late August, and in the meantime I can point you to my extensive back catalogue of posts, more than 370 of them, on a variety of subjects


Kensington Church Street: farther along

Resuming our progress up Kensington Church Street, we’re now round the corner now but still heading up the hill. This is the corner of another cul-de-sac, Melon Place

 

 

Numbers 62 and 64 date from the 1850s when the short street was originally laid out. Let’s take a peek down there.

 

 

You can just see the name Jay in the sign for Melvyn and Gary Jay (Antiques and Objet D’art) on the left. Up till this point there have been retail establishments on both side of the street, but now these alternate with shops.

 

 

Number 66, home of the Vintner. See that man lounging against the window? He looks a little surprised. I suppose he never found out that he was becoming part of the historical record of Kensington. This is an area for antiques and art works. Note the Japanese Gallery at the end of this short parade of shops. The street which leads off Church Street is Vicarage Gardens.

This is a postcard view from the early 1900s.

 

The reason this picture is particularly interesting is that the church you can make out at the end of the road is St Paul’s, which suffered bomb damage during the war and was subsequently demolished. It doesn’t feature in many photographs.

The basis for this post as for many others is our Photo Survey created by John Rogers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Many of the photos of Church Street are from 1971. But for some reason almost all of them are of the east side of the street, the even numbers. I don’t know why but to balance things out I went looking for odd numbers from other times.

From 1929, Dick Turpin’s Old Historical Posting House (it claims on the sign).

 

 

From 1909, a couple of advertisements.

 

 

“Celebrated Snowdrift Pastry Flour”? I’d try that.

 

That Pynolia sounds good. We’ll continue the pharmacy theme in a moment. But first another glance at a side street, Campden Grove.

 

 

I think this is a view looking west, towards Hornton Street and Observatory Gardens, but it’s often difficult to tell in these postcard views.

The name Campden Grove commemorates another great house which stood near Church Lane, Campden House. That is almost certainly a post in itself so we’ll pass by for the moment, and just note that the stretch of street between numbers 83 and 95 was once known as Campden House Terrace.

The next side street on the east side is Sheffield Terrace.

 

 

Another name which recalls an old house. Sheffield House and its grounds were on the east side of Church Lane.

Now we can return to the 1970s. Here is a quirky mixture typical of the street, of residential and retail, with an interesting structure above the side entrance to number 1 Berkeley Gardens.

 

 

 

So we’ve come to another corner.

 

 

John seemed quite fascinated by this chemists at number 106. He even went inside.

 

 

Many bargains to be had in their closing down sale. (Closing down sales were one of John’s specialties. See this post) One particular display caught my eye.

 

 

Do you remember when Lucozade bottles (usually reserved for people who were ill, hence them being sold in a chemist) came wrapped in orange cellophane? There they are, on a Ki-ora stand. What purpose did the cellophane serve? If you know, please tell us in a comment.

 

 

The gentleman obviously spent some time examining the window before moving on.

Here is Berkeley Gardens in 1980.

 

 

You can  just make out that the Chemist at number 106 has become another antiques shop. Opposite, the discrete entrance to John Hussey, funeral directors.

 

 

106 Kensington Church Street and the building opposite on the west side, 103, more or less mark the spot where Church Lane, the original name of Kensington Church Street, ended, and Silver Street, the original name of the final section of the street began. This seemed like a good place to start the fourth and final part of this subject, which will be in the next post. Notting Hill Gate is almost in sight….

 

Postscript

I may have been guilty of prevarication this week. Not only was it too hot to blog, but I had plenty of actual work to do and as I started looking for pictures of the west side of the street I found some quite interesting ones, including a “forgotten building” as I used to call them, which will appear in the final part of this struggle uphill, which will definitely appear on time one week after this post.

I din’t think there would be an obituary this week, but death always surprises us, and on Tuesday evening I read about the death of Polish musician Tomasz Stanko, one of the greats of modern jazz. Some may not have heard of him, and I know I sometimes feature quite obscure people in these postscripts simply because I have some of their albums or books, but the odd thing is that if you ever watched the TV series Homeland, you have heard Stanko. His piece Terminal 7, from the album Dark Eyes is used during the end titles (or was in early seasons I believe).

 


Cul-de-sac: St Mary Abbot’s Place

Last Saturday, on one of those hot, hot days we’ve been having I was sitting with my son at the bus stop on Kensington High Street opposite St Mary Abbot’s Place, looking at the short terrace called Earls Terrace where there are several Iranian businesses and restaurants. Early 19th century I was saying. (And I was right – 1827-30). The bus came, but it looked intolerably crowded (and hot) so we decided not to bother, and to restore sanity we crossed the road to have a closer look at the cul-de-sac in question, about which I knew some random facts. This picture wasn’t taken last week of course.

 

 

St Mary Abbot’s Place looks like a random collection of buildings squeezed onto a strip of land between Edwardes Square and Warwick Gardens. . And that’s kind of what it is. On the western side, facing the High Street is Warwick Close, a two-storey collection of apartments enclosing a small courtyard. The picture below shows part of it in 1971 along with numbers 2 and 4.

 

 

This is 2a in 1985, from an estate agent’s brochure.

 

 

We’ll come back to the western side in a moment but first we have to take a look at the eastern side of the street. Again this picture shows numbers 1-5 in 1971.

 

 

1-5 was the home of the Viking Film Studios, where films and TV programmes were made from the late 1940s through the 1950s and early 1960s, including the earliest version of the BBC’s Tonight programme. (Much more can be found here, so I won’t duplicate someone else’s research, but I was interested to see that Powell and Pressberger once had offices in the building.)

Before its time as a film studio, the building had been an artist’s studio run by Frank Calderon. Among his activities was a school devoted to drawing animals.

 

 

These pictures scans of a photocopy, slightly improved by me, from a 1913 publication called the Family Friend. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the original, (which would have taken us back to an old library story and a room that no longer exists) but I wanted to include these two images because they are so strange. According to a short piece on the School of Animal Painting, Calderon kept a small menagerie at the back of the studio for his animal models.

The buildings were demolished about 1990 and the current buildings, although in keeping with the rest of the street, are new.

Number 7, next door, is perhaps just a house, although quite a picturesque one, in this pictures from 1986.

 

 

 

Some interesting interiors,including this vaulted hall.

 

 

Next door to that are numbers 9 and 9A, once the home of The White Eagle Lodge.

 

 

The innocuous exterior conceals some interesting interior features.

Another courtyard,

 

A library,

 

 

And of course, a place of worship.

 

 

An Ordnance Survey map of 1974 describes it as a “spiritualist church”. The brochure from which these pictures come speaks of meditation and healing. Although no longer in this building the organisation still exists. Further information here.

The houses at the end of the street look to me as though they belong to a completely different setting, far from urban Kensington and deep into a more rural location.

This is number 15. Somewhere through that alley there must be access to number 11, which you can’t really see from the street, although it’s clear enough on maps.

 

 

In 1971 the building looks plain enough, although you can imagine anything you like going on inside. The maps and aerial photos show a long garden at the back, abutting Pembroke Studios. Here you can play about with the notion of a hidden garden, though of course every garden is hidden to some extent, and all gardens are mysterious in their own way.

 

 

 

These days there is a growth of ivy over the side.

 

 

The other houses at the end of the cul-de-sac had a similar look of coming from another time and place in 1971.

 

 

 

Number 16, and below, number 12.

 

 

 

So our quick excursion to a quiet corner of Kensington yielded some fascinating material. I took the photos of the ivy above, and the Eagle below.

 

 

And, another curiosity for my car loving readers, An actual Trabant.

 

 

We walked back to the High Street, pausing only to look at Warwick Close, and its courtyard.

 

 

After which we crossed Warwick Gardens. I of course pointed out the memorial to Queen Victoria which now stands in the middle of the road. It was moved there because it was getting in the way of traffic in its original location, at the bottom of Kensington Church Street.

 

 

Which is a roundabout way of saying that I should be getting back to Church Street. Next week, I hope.

 


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