Tag Archives: Clarendon Road

Up Clarendon Road: 1970

Clarendon Road is another of the streets that converged at Lancaster Circus running roughly north to south. In 1970 it ran from the junction with Lancaster Road all the way down to Holland Park Avenue. This week’s post is another in a series exploring the streets of North Kensington as they looked in the late 1960s and early 1970s when there were many streets in the area like Walmer Road which took a journey from relative affluence to relative poverty. The recent tragedy at Grenfell Tower put the contrast between the different conditions of life and property in the Borough into a new perspective. But we can still look back at how the streets of North Kensington used to be.

 

 

This first picture shows the short section of street on the west side of Clarendon Road after the pub (The Castle) on the corner of Holland Park Avenue. In 1970 there was a Radbourne Garage, a small car dealer at number 1. Next to it was a low rise block of flats in a recognizeably 1960s style.

 

 

The block wasn’t typical of the street though. The early numbers on both sides were more like this.

 

 

The houses were substantial, showing the ambitions of the original builders and developers of the Ladbroke Estate. By 1970 some of them were a little run down. But the process of gentrification was well under way.

This section of the street is relatively narrow, with one or two surprisingly striking houses.

 

 

The one above, a double house, the work of the builder William Reynolds. Below a leaf-clad detached house.

 

As you move north the street widens out.

 

I’m not entirely sure of the vantage point in this picture, but I was taken with the woman strolling slowly towards the photographer on what I think would be a winter’s day.

This view is also looking north up the hill from the junction with Clarendon Cross


 

Clarendon Road intersects with a number of other streets, Ladbroke Road, Lansdowne Walk, St John’s Gardens, Lansdowne Rise, Portland Road. Below, a girl crosses the road near Portland Road unconcerned about traffic.

 

 

The Britannia public house was on that corner.

 

 

As we get to the junction with Elgin Crescent the street becomes more mixed and the pictures more interesting.

The east side of the road again.

 

 

On the west side Nottingwood House.

 

 

This view looks north again.

 

 

The next turn off is Cornwall Crescent. This is the point where we need some help from a map.

 

 

This is actually a detail from the 1935 Ordnance Survey map, which shows the layout of the streets before 1970s development and also has had the individual houses numbered by some unknown hand at Kensington Town Hall. If you look at the point where Cornwall Crescent meets Clarendon Road, the house numbers above 120 on the east side, you see which houses were later demolished when the Lancaster West Estate was built.

 

 

This one, 122

Its neighbours,

 

128 onwards

 

Outside Telemart (“radio and television distributors”), a man is making some kind of adjustment to a camper van.  You have Talbot Grove visible on the left. Dulford Street was almost opposite, visible in this view of the west side of the street.

 

 

 

Then looking north again you see the final curve of Clarendon Road.

 

 

The tower block in the background is one of the towers on the Silchester Estate built by the GLC a few years earlier. although its sudden appearance above the traditional streets reminds us that this was the start of a period of housing development in the area.

Back to the east side:

 

 

Below, a number of somewhat run-down shops.

 

 

I can’t help wondering what ID Clearance might have been.

This view turns back to look southwards.

 

 

And again. We’ve seen this picture before.

 

 

But it takes us back to Lancaster Circus and joins us up once more with Lancaster Road and Walmer Road.

Postscript

I’m a little late publishing again today. One or two other demands on my time, plus the fact that there were quite a lot of pictures of Clarendon Road in the end. I’ve been uncomfortable with the idea of writing about North Kensington since the fire but in the end it’s one of my jobs so I  knew I would be back. All this week’s photographs were by John Rogers.

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Lancaster Circus: a vanished crossroad

It really was called Lancaster Circus at one time, the confluence of Lancaster Road, Walmer Road, Clarendon Road and Silchester Road, and was also called Lancaster Cross. This is where we stopped on our journey along Lancaster Road, at the point where the modern Lancaster Road peters out and morphs into Silchester Road with a gentle curve past the new Aldridge Academy.

pc-1145-lancaster-circus-copy

This early 20th century postcard view is looking south from Silchester Road towards Clarendon Road. The Lancaster public house is the largest building in the picture and next to it Walmer Road (where the plain awning is visible) also heads south. (See the post here). Lancaster Road is crossing the picture. A map helps, and here is one from 1935.

1935-os-map-lancaster-road-vi67-copy-copy

As you can see, the public house was not the largest building in the vicinity. That was the Kensington Public Baths, also called the Silchester Baths.

silchester-baths-copy

This picture is dated about 1970. The baths were closed in the late 1970s , despite a local campaign to retain the building for community purposes and a new sports centre was built nearby which was iteslf rebuilt in 2015.

This picture shows the baths at the time of demolition.

aerial-view-of-silchester-baths-under-demolition-late-70s-ht-usc-copy

You can see other changes to the local landscape across the road from the baths.

This earlier picture shows a whole section of the area near Lancaster Road, including the Council buildings we looked at in the previous post on Lancaster Road.

methodist-church-lancaster-road-l-1243-copy

Take a quick look back into Silchester Road as it was in the early 20th century.

silchester-road-pc945-copy

A very pleasant looking scene. Does it seem like a more affluent area than the 1960s?

And as it was in 1970, looking in the opposite direction towards the railway.

silchester-road-looking-west-1969-ks1488-copy

There’s one of those double street lights again. This is another view of the Lancaster pub.

lancaster-road-east-side-161-1969-ks1417-copy

Walmer Road is visible on the left, and here is the view south from there.

 

walmer-road-central-section-looking-south-from-lancaster-road-1969-ks1498-copy

There are more pictures of Walmer Road in a previous pair of posts. (Starting here) If we alter the point of view you can look down Clarendon Road.

clarendon-road-looking-south-from-lancaster-road-1970-ks1690-copy

And finally south into Lancaster Road.

lancaster-road-looking-south-1969-ks1395-copy

This picture shows the corner of Fowell Street, which ran south off Lancaster Road opposite the Baths.

lancaster-road-east-side-167-corner-of-fowell-street-1969-ks1416-copy

This is what the area looked like on a 1971 map.

1970s-os-map-showing-west-end-of-lancaster-road-16

You can see that a wide section of the area has gone. This picture shows part of the demolition.

lancaster-road-east-side-demolition-site-1969-ks1411-copy

Those buildings in the background are, I have been told, two of the towers of the Edward Wood Estate. I must admit that I find it hard to get the angle right in my head, so have a think about that yourselves. It’s always tricky conceptualising places that no longer exist.

lancaster-road-east-side-no-numbrs-1969-ks1413-copy

This picture shows the edge of the demolished area on the rights. The photographer could not see any numbers on these houses so they might already be empty.

We’re in the final stretch of the old Lancaster Road now.

 

lancaster-road-west-side-252-1969-ks1398-copy

252 Lancaster Road. The cross street is Blechynden Street (which we have also covered before – some pictures here)

About ten doors down that side of the road, the trees, bushes and other undergrowth are quie luxuriant.

lancaster-road-west-side-262-1969-ks1399-copy

This impressive building which is part of St Francis School is on the corner of Treadgold Street.

lancaster-road-east-side-237-1969-ks1410-copy

And this is looking back up Treadgold Street at the corner opposte the school.

treadgold-street-looking-north-towards-lancaster-raod-1969-ks1523-copy

This corner in fact.

lancaster-road-west-side-294-copy

The picture shows the final section of Lancaster Road as it was in the 1960s and early 1970s in the 29os and 300 house numbers. This is where it went down to meet Bramley Road. The tall buildings in the background were part of the Phoenix Brewery. Most of the buildings in the picture have been replaced but the street survives under the name Whitchurch Road. The name Whitchurch had  formerly applied to a small area around this spot (A man named James Whitchurch was a local landowner.)

This takes us almost outside the borders of Kensington and Chelsea as they used to be when Latimer Road was in Hammersmith. I’ve explored that area through the pictures of Bernard Selwyn and there are a series of posts set around that border zone which I wrote last year. [Links: here, here, here and here ]

Postscript

I hadn’t anticipated continuing the story of Lancaster Road immediately when I wrote last week’s postscript, but I’ve been preparing several posts at the same time and this one did get finished in time.

This part two post turned out to be almost entirely set in streets or parts of streets which have changed completely since the photographs were taken. For me this is another venture into a space that only exists in pictures and memories. For those of you who remember this period of North Kensington’s history I hope these images take you back there.

Thanks once again to Maggie.

Another postscript on an unrelated matter

I seem to have got into the habit of noting the deaths of rock musicians as they occur. I must be at the age when my heroes are starting to die. This time it’s someone who was never particularly famous in the wider world, but was nevertheless a significant figure in the history of popular music, Jaki Liebezeit, the drummer of the German avant garde rock group Can. I loved that band, have most of their albums, even saw them on five occasions (quite a lot for me). More importantly I still listen to them, forty years or more ago after I first heard their music. Jaki himself was very influential on later music whether it was post-punk or EDM. The music world is a little less interesting without him.


A long walk down Walmer Road 1969-1971 Part 1

When I did the post on Hurstway Street a few weeks back regular reader Chris Pain drew my attention to a passage from Absolute Beginners (1959), the second book in the London trilogy by Colin MacInnes:

On the east side, still in the W10 bit, there’s another railway, and a park with a name only Satan in all his splendour could have thought up, namely Wormwood Scrubs, which has a prison near it, and another hospital, and a sports arena, and the new telly barracks of the BBC, and with a long, lean road called Latimer road which I particularly want you to remember, because out of this road, like horrible tits dangling from a lean old sow, there hang a whole festoon of what I think must really be the sinisterest highways in our city, well, just listen to their names: Blechynden, Silchester, Walmer, Testerton and Bramley—can’t you just smell them, as you hurry to get through the cats-cradle of these blocks? In this part, the houses are old Victorian lower-middle tumble-down, built I dare say for grocers and bank clerks and horse-omnibus inspectors who’ve died and gone and their descendants evacuated to the outer suburbs, but these houses live on like shells, and there’s only one thing to do with them, absolutely one, which is to pull them down till not a one’s left standing up.

I think he was a bit harsh in his judgement although by 1969, the year John Rogers did our photo survey Hurstway, Testerton, Blechynden and Barandon Streets were looking quite run down. (Another correspondent told me that a film company painted some of the houses in the area black to make them look even worse for the filming of the early John Boorman film Leo the Last , released in 1970)

We may get to Silchester Road on another occasion but this week we’re going to start a long walk down the remaining street, Walmer Road. In its prime Walmer Road ran west from Latimer Road then curved south and ended at Princedale Road.

Here is number one Walmer Road:

Walmer Road north side no1 Latimer Arms 1971 KS2710

The Latimer Arms, an impressive Victorian tavern. Next to it is number 1a:

Walmer Road north side 1a 1971 KS2709

By 1971 these two buildings were all that remained of the low numbers of Walmer Road. Here they are on an OS map:

OS map featuring Walmer Road sept 1971 sheet11 - Copy

It looks as though Walmer Road had fallen off the edge of the world, which is not far off the immediate effect of the construction of the Westway. It obliterated a whole section of Walmer Road and truncated Latimer Road. Walmer Road continued further on in the shadow of the new roundabout which included the spur road to Shepherd’s Bush.

OS map featuring Walmer Road 1968 - Copy

Some side streets had gone altogether while the inhabitants of the others and the north side of Walmer Road had been cut off from the rest of the street.

Walmer Road looking east from Pamber Street 1970 KS2702

This is a view looking east from Pember Street. A resident told me that as houses were demolished and the elevated road was constructed, apart from the expected problems of noise and dust, rats left the site in large numbers heading north towards the remaining houses. This is what the residents saw looking west:

Walmer Road site looking west from Pamber Street 1970 KS4703

In the other direction they could see see the rest of Walmer Road, now a long way off for them.

Walmer Road looking east from Westway 1970 KS2707

The street numbers began again at 117 and beyond the railway viaduct Walmer Road continued.

Walmer Road south side 122-124 1969 KS1454

This is an earlier picture taken in July 1969, the same month John Rogers took the Hurstway Road pictures. Knowing that, I can feel something of the more relaxed atmosphere of the summer. Although beyond the bridge demolition and construction was already well under way the old community survives on this side. There’s another Ford Zephyr, and is that an estate version of the Citroen DS?

You can see the new road in the distance as well as more of the strange configuration of lights on the Citroen in this picture:

Walmer Road Metropolitan Line bridge 1969 KS1455

Here the rows of shops and small businesses begin.

Walmer Road north side side no129 1969 KS1460

England’s Dairy with milk crates and delivery bikes ready for the next morning.

Further along at 137, Orridge’s supplied food for pets and working animals.

Walmer Road south side no 137 1969 KS1459

You saw one of those working horses in the Hurstway Street post. I’ve been told that in the late afternoon the cart drivers and their animals would converge on Orridge’s and the boys working in the shop would have to load up the nose bags for the horses, quite hard work.

Walmer Road crossed Lancaster Road at this point and Clarendon Road split off on its own.

Clarendon Road looking south from Lancaster Road 1970 KS1690

In this picture Clarendon Road is in the centre heading south and Walmer Road continues to the right between the building with the dark shop front ( a closed down TV rental place) and where the three women are standing in the road.

The man in the doorway in the picture below looks a bit suspicious but is probably innocently leaving the upstairs flat.

Walmer Road east side 145 1971 KS1500

The picture below looks back up Walmer Road. You can see the Beehive pub and the Methodist Church on the corner of Lancaster Road.

Walmer Road looking north from Bomore Road 1969 KS1503

Look at the open minivan.

Walmer Road west side no176 1969 KS1504

In this picture taken seconds later the van is closed and its owner about to drive off. A man in an upstairs window continues their conversation till the last possible moment. Did you notice Nick’s Café earlier? Nick had also diversified into hairdressing just across the road it seems. I suppose it could be a completely separate Nick.

Walmer Road has now finished its curve and is now going south towards Notting Hill Gate. The terraced housing and shops give way to newer housing blocks such as this one:

Walmer Road east side Barlow House 1971 KS1048

Barlow House, part of a 1950s LCC development. This is where we draw breath for a week before attempting the final stretch which takes us into different territory and made Colin MacInnes’s protagonist change his tune.

I’ll almost certainly take you down Clarendon Road in the not too distant future.

Thanks to John Henwood for his reminiscences and a discussion about the tricky question of dating the demolitions in Walmer Road.

Details from OS maps copyright Ordnance Survey.


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