Tag Archives: CC

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.

Advertisements

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.


The King’s Road with CC

I know we’ve been up and down the King’s Road a number of times over the course of this blog and seen it through the eyes of a number of photographers, John Rogers, John Bignell and most recently Bill Figg. But I can’t resist doing again one more time through pictures by another of our Chelsea photographers, CC, who supplied the pictures for a recent post about Chelsea punks. She told me that today’s pictures were among her earliest efforts, mostly taken in the early 1970s or the very late 1960s. She also said that a few of them are not quite in focus. But I’m going to use those because of the things you can still see: shopfronts and other details.

Just for the sake of variation we’re going east to west this time.

 

 

This picture, with the cars of the time and the conventional dress of the couple on the right shows that the older King’s Road was still visible, probably even still dominant. This is roughly the period when I first walked down the King’s Road, not because I was drawn there by a new trendy fashion culture, but because my mother wanted to see one of the newest “sights” of London. I was with my parents and we were staying in Clapham with my uncle, who had a restaurant in Crystal Palace, or it could have been his later one in the Wandsworth Road. I would have been happier not venturing into counter cultural territory with my parents and leaving the King’s Road for the day when I could go there unencumbered, but I didn’t have the option that day. Perhaps that’s why I have only the vaguest impression of the day. It’s a bit of chronological geography (see the previous post) which has been almost obliterated by time.

 

 

That’s the north side of the road with a view of Cecil Gee (an established chain now catching up with new fashions) and a couple or routemasters for the bus enthusiasts.

This is the corner of Blacklands Terrace with the venerable John Sandoe bookshop already long established, and the Colville Wine Stores, close to the Colville pub.

 

 

 

A more obviously contemporary place, still recognizable today:

 

 

With a nice contrast in passers by. Below, CC has successfully created a rather clever image using the distinctive frontage of the Drugs Store.

 

 

This contrasts nicely with this tranquil view down the avenue of trees at Royal Avenue with vehicles at work.

 

 

Here, the now long departed Markham Arms.

 

Before the remodeling which retained the facade but little else, another distinctive building.

 

 

 

At this point I started consulting Kelly’s Street Directory and Richard Lester’s excellent book Boutique London to try and find the location of this famous shop, the first branch of which was in Carnaby Street.

 

 

I eventually found it in a photo by John Rogers, our first King’s Road photographer, on the corner of Jubilee Place.

This one too looked like a tricky one.

 

 

But Gipsy (“gowns” according to Kelly’s Directory – some whimsy at work  there) was at number 184a, between Jubilee Place and Manor Street.

This picture’s s blurred but you can see we’re at 137, one of the homes of Top Gear, another well known name of the time.

 

 

Moving west, a more familiar landmark.

 

 

The King’s Head and Six Bells under the pseudonym The Bird’s Nest. For an earlier phase in its varied history try this post. CC thought it was worth a glance upwards (as it often is, above the shopfronts on high streets).

 

 

Further along, a couple of nondescript retailers (except that none of them are completely without interest). S.Borris was a sandwich bar which was there for a long time. (Although I never went in very much. At some point someone warned me off the place for hygiene reasons – whether that was justified or not I cannot say.)

 

 

Nearby, another long standing feature of this section of the road.

 

 

I think the next shop was on the corner of Old Church Street. If you know otherwise please leave a comment.

 

 

Now we move on the the last section of new shops, coming to the  the curve leading to the final bit of the road.

 

 

Near Mata Hari, you could speed by in your nippy little sports car. Is it an MG Midget? [It’s been pointed out on twitter that in fact it’s a Triumph Spitfire. Of course, the Midget looked weirder! Thanks to DB.]

 

 

This is another slightly blurred picture but it does show us 430 King’s Road, then the home of Mr Freedom where Tommy Roberts and Trevor Myles continued their retail progress in the shop that would become SEX (among other names) later in the seventies.

And as I’ve not been blogging for the last couple of weeks, here’s a couple of bonus pictures, one of the World’s End itself

 

What is that thing?

Note the advertising slogan: “Give him a Guinness.”

And, probably from somewhere nearby:

 

[Update: This is the King’s Road end of Anderson Street, which I can now see as plain as day. Thanks to CC herself for that.]

Postscript

My time has been rather taken up for the last two weeks with the London History Festival. Although it’s of academic interest now, thanks to Roger Moorhouse, Marc Morris, Michael Jones, John McHugo and Keith Lowe who all gave their time for free.

I decided on a blogging breather so I didn’t spread myself too thin. I thought I had a good comeback post but it proved to be quite labour intensive so I fell back on this excellent series of pictures by CC.  Thanks again to her. And as I’ve not been present for a short while Chelsea aficionados  get twenty pictures.  I’ve got another couple of ideas bubbling under, but I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing next week.


The King’s Road in the 80s – portraits of a moment

There have been many months of chance meetings, hints and even some begging and pleading but my friend, photographer CC has finally allowed me to see part of her collection of photographs taken in and around the King’s Road in the 1980s. I’m not going to give you a whole lot of social/fashion history by way of introduction but for the few who don’t remember, the King’s Road, having been part of a  fashion revolution in the 1960s did the whole thing again in the 1970s and 1980s when punk came along and suddenly a new teenage tribe was parading through London.

A few weeks ago I featured some street scenes from the King’s Road in the 1990s photographed by Bill Figg. I made the point that Bill knew there was something new in Chelsea which needed to be photographed, but he just wan’t quite sure what it was, and I imagine he found the idea of taking photographs of people in the street a little daunting. Well that’s true even today in the era of street style photography. But in the punk era part of the point of the new fashion /anti fashion was to to be seen, and whether you were admired or denigrated by the “normal” world didn’t make much difference. Punk was either a step forward into a new weird scene or a threat to civilization. What I sometimes have to explain to people who weren’t around then was that it was both playful and serious. CC was around then, camera in hand, and set off to record what she saw. Unlike our friend  Mr Figg she understood what she was looking at and had an artist’s eye for what she saw.

 

 

This picture was taken outside Chelsea Old Town Hall. What strikes me most is the precision of the look, as carefully constructed as any  Regency dandy. Punk began out of a kind of do it yourself style. Like this young man, improvising with found objects.

 

 

The style developed although it retained that improvised element.

 

 

Some people like to be photographed, some don’t. CC’s rule of thumb was ask – Can I take your photograph? – and if the answer was no, just walk away. Quite a lot of people said yes.

 

 

These two were quite happy to pose, even revealing the all-important rear view.

 

 

In the early days it was always useful to walk around as a duo.

 

 

There was a certain amount of hostility from the straight world so it helped to have a friend, and look like you could resist any physical abuse. My recollection of London in this period was that it was a little more violent than it is today (although knives and guns were a lot rarer then) and it took a certain amount of bravery to be a punk.

You should blame me for the colour in this image. the original is a slide, which I scanned not entirely successfully. But I wanted to use a picture of a striking young woman.

 

Here is another.

 

A picture taken in a tattoo parlour in the Great Gear Market.

As the 80s progressed some of the punks became New Romantics.

 

And the modern boys and girls got jobs in King’s Road shops.

 

Outside Boy. This young man was one of CC’s favourite subjects. (Look at the size of his Walkman) This is his girlfriend.

 

Another willing subject from the same vicinity.

 

 

The teenage tribes morphed onwards. Punk was followed by New Romantics, Goths and other less definable looks. What didn’t change in the 80s was the desire to get out there and be seen.

CC also photographed her friends. Her is her hair stylist dressed up for a party as a famous 80s person.

 

You don’t need me to tell you who.

You also might not need me to identify one of this duo posed outside the Chelsea Potter.

 

 

Leigh Bowery and Trojan, both sadly no longer with us. CC saw them being photographed by David Bailey and asked if she could take a picture as well. Neither of them could resist posing for one more shot. Showing off was the essence of the art of being seen.

 

Postscript

My thanks to CC for supplying these pictures. None of them are part of the Library’s collection and copyright is retained by the photographer. If anyone wishes to reproduce them in a professional capacity I can put you in touch.

And if you like them, there may be more. And of course if you are one of CC’s subjects, please leave a comment.

Another one

You could say that Tom Petty, who died sadly young this week at the age of 66, doesn’t belong with punks and new romantics even though his career began with a 1978 album. But death isn’t neat, so once again I’m noting the passing of a musical hero. Tom Petty’s music looked back to the 60s as well as forward in to the 80s and he captured the essence of the times in many memorable songs. many of the tributes and features have mentioned “American Girl”, quite rightly, but I was drawn back to another song on his first album.

“…didn’t go to bed, didn’t go to work/ picked up the telephone and told the boss he was a jerk….

…I know what I want, I want it right now / While electric guitars are playing way up loud..”

Anything that’s rock’n’roll’s fine ”

A sentiment few old punks would argue with.


%d bloggers like this: