Tag Archives: Addison Place

Addison Place – an urban fantasy

I had just finished the Golborne Road from the week before last which had involved looking at details of a street full of shops, cars and people, and consulting a directory. I had selected some images, scanned others and worked out an order. This stuff doesn’t make itself you know. Although the pictures are the  main focus any any post I still have to put some work into the process and not  neglect the main business of Local Studies. Contrary to some opinion we don’t sit around all day studying pictures and identifying obscure features of the urban landscape. (Although there is some of that). I was a little tired and it was a Thursday afternoon and while looking for something else I came across some pictures in a folder which must have been intended for some future post on obscure streets or backwaters.



These pictures were all of Addison Place, W11, a narrow, almost mews-like street in North Kensington. What struck me was the contrast between the busy, familiar street I had been looking at for the post I had been writing, and the tranquil, enigmatic even, atmosphere of the almost empty street which I had never seen in actual walking around reality. I wasn’t sure if there was much to say about Addison Place but the pictures cast a kind of spell. At one stage in the history of the blog I might have tried to spin some sort of urban fantasy around the images. (I used to think that any reaction to a set of images was perfectly valid, even a fictional one. I only do that once a year now).



Nevertheless, these are pictures out of the past, in that strange place 1970, where ordinary things are slightly unfamiliar. It’s a little like watching a film or TV programme set in another country. The landscapes of a scandi-noir thriller or a Japanese horror film are recognizeably part of our world but at the same time exist in a parallel universe. Or it might be part of some 60s London black and white drama, a detective story with a hint of existential doubt. But don’t get me started..



The actual Addison Place runs between Addison Avenue and Queensdale Road just north of Holland Park Avenue.

It has a distinctly Mews-ish entrance.



A mark 1 Cortina (the distinctive tail light), possibly an MGB.

Another discreet entrance at the other end



And a comparatively spacious central section



A Triumph Spitfire? Definitely a Rover,and possibly a Mini.

There’s the Rover again.



A place where little cottages with gardens meet mew garages, those two story “modern” flats seen above and below.



Interesting shutters, if that’s what they are

This picture with tall trees behind the cottages is particularly rural (and yes a bit Steed and Mrs Peel – incidentally,try telling a young person that Olenna Tyrrel, the scheming old woman in Game of Thrones was once known for martial arts style fighting while wearing fashionably skin tight outfits.



A few doors down, a traditional, slightly run down distinctly urban mews



And a small business with a yard



Which is right next to the cottages.



And these.



Now have you seen any people?

Those two talking over the garden wall by the Rover (picture 6)

The woman behind the lamppost (picture 2)

And one more, right out in the open.




Perhaps she didn’t know John was there. It is a bit like an episode of the Avengers. Perhaps one where some village or street is inexplicably deserted.

My apologies if you live in Addison Place or nearby and do not find the place remotely obscure or enigmatic. But I’m sure most of us live near to some kind of interesting backwater.


Another mystery was that I was sure that I had used a couple of these pictures before but couldn’t remember where. As it happened it was another post devoted to a quest. Searching for the Ford Capri back in 2013. I didn’t leave a wide enough space between the pictures and the text back then but it’s too hot to go back and do some revising today.

Another postscript

Another entry in my personal obituary column. Let’s remember John Julius Norwich, diplomat, broadcaster and historian who has just passed away. Like many people, I was enthralled by his trilogy about the Byzantine Empire which introduced me to a then unfamiliar part of history. Unlike many of the authors I’ve mentioned here, I actually met him once when he appeared in an event which was part of our London History Festival. He lived up to the impression I had from his books – erudite, friendly and charming. A great man.


Searching for the Ford Capri

We’re going on another tour through the photo survey this week but not down a single street. The photo survey pictures were taken by John Rogers between 1969 and 1975, mostly in 1970 and 1971. That’s a few years before my brief time working in the motor trade. I worked cleaning new cars for a garage that had a British Leyland franchise. Some of you who remember the 1970s may remember how awful British Leyland cars were then – the Allegro, the Marina and above all the Princess a car so awful it has been almost obliterated by history. Occasionally my sales manager Bob would acquire a Ford for one of his special customers and we would both welcome these examples of decent automotive technology with some relief. There were Escorts and the new mark 4 Cortina but our favourites were the Granada and the Capri, both genuine classics hallowed by their appearances on TV in the Sweeney and the Professionals. I stand very little chance of finding a Granada in the photo survey pictures (they first came out in 1972) but I might just find a Capri.

So where do you look for a car?

Brompton place harrods park

A garage is one place to start. This is one of those garages a few of you may remember where they stack the cars neatly but you don’t have instant access. Most of these cars looked pretty old even in 1970. In terms of design it was a transitional period (but aren’t they all?) between the staid fifties cars like that Rover you can see, the watered down versions of American designs and the hatched-backed days to come.

Brompton place harrods park 1970...corsair

That’s a Ford Corsair on the left, with its odd pointed nose. Before we leave can I just invite any car enthusiasts to identify any of the cars in these pictures? There was a time when I could have done that but it was thirty odd years ago. I’m not really a car person. I don’t even drive. I just found myself around car people and got interested. Let’s get outside. See where we were?

Brompton place south side

Here’s another Ford:

Addison Avenue 34-36 east side 1970 KS760 anglia

But it’s only a lowly Anglia already fairly low on the meter of desirability even by 1970. What’s the one behind it? Addison Avenue must have been a quiet street. Just off it was Addison Place, a strange little converted mews kind of a street overlooked by Campden Hill Towers.

Addison Place 15-173 south side 1970 KS924

And that car in the foreground would I think be a Ford Consul, the fifties styled precursor of the Granada.

Addison Place 21-23 south side 1970 KS923

Not all of the British Leyland marques were hideous. That’s a Triumph Spitfire , a traditional British sports car. Other mews streets were full of cars.

Ledbury Mews North  north side 1972 KS3651

Amid the old style cars in this back street of garages an expensive looking sports car, probably Italian. The odd thing I sometimes think is that expensive sports cars still look like that decades later as if that low wide look is the optimum shape.

Ledbury Mews West  south side 1972 KS2267

The mews streets used to be filled with small garages servicing cars. Note the sign: Barclaycard Welcome – something of a novelty then.

Linden Gardens looking north 1973 KS3714 mini moke

A 60s novelty the Mini Moke parked in Linden Gardens. In the same street the opposite of a Mini Moke:

Linden Gardens 14-16 south side  1973 KS3729

It’s also a Ford, a 60s American model, but I can’t make out the word on the side. I’m sure someone can help me out with that. Below a home grown model:

christchurch street west side 1974 KS 4479 cortina mk3

The Mark 3 Cortina parked in Christchurch Street. A bit of a classic itself. Nearby another puzzle for you:

Caversham street east side, 1974 KS 4058

I should know what this is, it looks so familiar. Someone tell me (No, not the mini.)

The first sighting of our quarry is back at the other end of the Borough in Clarendon Road.

Clarendon Road 121-123 west side 1971 KS1155 capri mk1

The slightly cluttered styling of the Mark 1 Capri. And having found that one I came across another down in Earls Court.

Barkston Gardens KS5784 left 41-43 and KS5787 53 right nd capri mk1

Is that guy in the window coming back to close the boot?

In the very same street a Mark 2, at last an example of the car that sat in my cleaning bay in Poland Street.

Barkston Gardens KS5792 nd capri mk2

There it is by the fence. For me the Mark 2 Capri represents the mid seventies like no other car, better than the high performance cars of the era. Seeing it in this picture reminds me of a time when the traffic was lighter, the cars were serviced in back streets and the Ford Capri was exciting and glamorous, if you can imagine such a time.


As I said above if you can identify any of the other vehicles in these pictures or you have to correct any inadvertent errors of mine, please leave a comment.

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