Tag Archives: Dartrey Road

Forgotten streets of Chelsea

I’ll have to start by qualifying that title. Chelsea people have long memories so I should really say streets forgotten by some people. For others the streets demolished in 1969/70 to clear the area for the building of the World’s End Estate will never be forgotten, and for others still the act of demolition never be forgiven. But for those of you who don’t remember, or those who never knew let me just say there was an enclave of streets in the west of Chelsea which no longer exist. This 1935 map shows them and gives you the roll call of streets which have passed into history.

1935 OS map X29 World's End streets - Copy

Raasay Street, Bifron Street, Vicat Street, Dartrey Road, Seaton Street, Luna Street – all gone now, and somehow the names themselves are redolent of another time and an older, slightly rougher version of Chelsea. The stub of Blantyre Street lingers on at the edge but you can see that the five (or six) sided shape is now a sunken island among the more familiar names like Edith Grove and Cremorne Road.

Our photographer John Rogers went down there in 1969 and caught those streets in their final transition from a living neighbourhood to an empty shell. You may have seen pictures of some of these streets before. (I did a post on the general history of the World’s End). But this post is purely concerned with the last days of these almost forgotten World’s End streets.

World's End looking north 1969 KS1913

1969. Look at that woman waiting to use the phone. If she could step into 2014 and stand in pretty much the same spot she would see more or less the same buildings. But if she turned around and looked behind her…

St John's Church World's End 1969 KS1848

She would see St John’s Church and Mission Hall at the intersection of Blantyre Street and Dartrey Road. If she looked to her left and she could see Blantyre Street.

Blantyre street looking east 1969 KS 1878

A street full of parked cars which leads tothe last few numbers of Cheyne Walk. (What’s that large one on the right?)

Check the map. You can turn right from Blantrye Street into Seaton Street.

Seaton St looking south 1969 KS 1896

The tree at the end is on the embankment overlooking the houseboats.

Seaton St east side 1969 KS 1900

In Seaton Street there’s all sorts of semi-erased football graffitti on the wall next to the Chelsea Corner Cupboard including the incomplete inscription Osgood Aven(u)e which must be a reference to Peter Osgood. (“Osgood is God” vied with “Clapton is God” as mottos on the wall  back in 1969)

Behind Seaton Street was Luna Street,

Luna St West side 35-37 1069

where you could still kick a ball down the street if you wanted to. Dartrey Road ran north to south.

Dartrey road looking south 1969 KS 1832

Those tower blocks in the distance are on the Battersea side of the river. Running west from Dartrey Road was the oddly named Raasay Street.

Raasay Street south side 1969 KS1790

Here you can see the first signs of demolition. This is a closer view of the same scene.

Raasay St north side 1969 KS 1793

Mixed rags and scrap metal still available.

In Bifron Street houses were already vacated.

Bifron street looking West 1969 KS 1795
Some signs of a road closure as a truck gets ready to go.  And below, the interior of a house is laid bare.

BIfron street north side 1969 KS1798

In Vicat Street (Vicat sounds like the name of a dissolute Victorian aristocrat) the process is further along.

Vicat St North side 1969 KS 1813

You can almost smell the dust rising in this picture and the ones below.

Vicat St South Side 1969 KS 1807

Wallpaper is still visible on the walls of those exposed rooms, and debris in the street.

Vicat St South side 1969 KS 1810

The empty A F Stokes shop, along with some more unsuccessfully executed football related graffitti. It all looks quite forlorn.

So let’s go back, away from the devastation. If that woman is still in the phone box she can look west and see this view.

Dartrey terrace 1969 KS 1845

Still a little life left in those World’s End streets. The corner of a pre-war car, second hand goods, fish and chips plus whatever they sold at Gandalf’s Garden. All gone, not so very long after these pictures were taken.

Postscript

Don’t think I’m down on the World’s End Estate. I’ve been inside and there are some very nice flats there. And the view is astonishing. I’ve no doubt that living conditions some of the houses in the demolished streets must have been pretty grim. But there is aways a price to be paid for development.

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Side streets of Chelsea: part one

Most people have heard of the King’s Road, and when these photographs were taken it was at the height of its cultural / historical significance, Chelsea was one of the fashion / youth culture centres of the world. But off the main road were ordinary streets, home to the affluent and the less than affluent. These pictures were taken by the library photographer John Rogers in the early 1970s as a contemporary record of how Kensington and Chelsea looked. It was then a relatively new borough, the result of an amalgamation of the old separate Metropolitan Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, so the photo survey was one of the first attempts to show the character of the new entity.

The pictures have that quiet mood we’ve seen before in the survey pictures. They remind us that this is now a historical era, even if some of us think we can remember it. There are less people and fewer cars. And there’s an atmosphere about them, the hint of a more optimistic, less frantic time.

Markham St 1970

Markham Street, off the northern side of the King’s Road. A young woman with a string bag goes shopping. Further west in Burnsall Street a man checks out some jackets.

Burnsall Street

As always in these photo survey pictures I’ll be very pleased if you can identify the cars even when they’re not exactly classics.

Further south there are more traditional scenes.

Danube Street from the east

This narrow street is Danube Street, off Cale Street. The building on the right still has that shop front almost the same except for a different paint job.

On the south side of the King’s Road you could have found your way to this quiet autumnal backwater, off Christchurch Street.

Christchurch Street east side 1974, KS 4175Something about this photo takes me back to  my 1974 when I had been in London for less than a year.

So does this tranquil spot in Dilke Street:

Dilke Street north side 1974 KS4347

Dilke Street, which runs parallel to the river, deserves a second look:

Dilke Street south side 1974 KS4344

This distinctive house can still be found on Google Maps. The trees behind the wall are in the Chelsea Physic Garden.

The trees below on the other hand are in Margaretta Terrace. This street, rumoured to be the site of a plague pit was built by Dr John Samuel Phene and named after his wife.

Margaretta Terrace east side 26-27 1973 KS 4534

But in 1973 as John passed by, a small child ran between a Rover and a Citroen, two cars characteristic of middle class life at that date.

Margaretta Terrace is behind Oakley Street which I used to walk down on my way home from working at Chelsea Library, past the site of Dr Phene’s famous house heading along Upper Cheyne Row towards this narrow passage:

Justice Walk from west KS 3083Justice Walk may get a post of its own one day, or maybe my whole walk home. You can see a view from the other end in this post on WW Burgess.

If I’d turned left I’d have walked down Lawrence Street.

Lawrence St W side The Cross Keys P.H 1970 KS 3197

This is the Cross Keys, a public house dating from 1708. In 1970 the existence of a large number of pubs in Chelsea was taken for granted but many of them have gone now. The Cross Keys avoided being turned into a residential property in 2012 but is currently closed and up for sale again.

When I was walking home in those days my journey finished in Beaufort Street. Further west back in 1970 a major building project was in progress.

Cremorne Road looking west 1972, KS 3920Cremorne Road was just as busy in 1972 as it is today. The World’s End Estate was rising and places like this were gone:

Dartrey road 1969 KS1835A doorway in Dartrey Street just before demolition.

Some of the old neighbourhood still survived in 1972:

Burnaby street south side 1972, KS 3993

Burnaby Street, at the intersection with Upcerne Road (I think). Note the word Shed on the wall. Not a reference to the small building in your garden, but part of the Chelsea football ground, home to one of the original firms of football hooligans (according to Wikipedia  I’m sure one of my Chelsea readers could give us chapter and verse).

This nearby street is no longer on maps:

Meek St looking W 1972  KS3999A black cat crosses Meek Street in the thirteenth picture. He’s in no danger from passing traffic.

For the most part as we’ve seen the streets are calm. There are plenty of these pictures so expect a part two in the next few weeks. Let’s have one more for my friend Carrie, at the other end of Chelsea.

Pavilion Rd east side 107-103 1970Pavillion Road – what car is that, motor enthusiasts?

Postscript

This is a topic I’ve had on the back burner for a while, but for a couple of reasons, one medical (I’m not at work right now after a small accident on Monday night) and one practical (our scanning equipment is locked up in the Library basement during some building repairs), I’ve decided to go with it this week.

While at A&E I had an idea for a post which may be next week’s. This is the blogger’s life – everything you see makes you ask: is there a blog post here?

Stop press: I’ve just seen a tweet saying  the Cross Keys is to re-open. Story at:

http://chelseasociety.org.uk/cross-keys-reopen/

 


Down at the World’s End

There is more than one World’s End. As a name for inns and taverns it seems to have emerged in the reign of Charles II and been used in other parts of London and elsewhere in the British Isles.  But the Chelsea World’s End tavern which gave its name to the area around it has been on local maps since there have been maps of Chelsea. The narrow alley which ran down diagonally to the river has been called Hobs Lane and World’s End Passage. This route was important as many of the tavern’s customers came by boat from London to enjoy its gardens and its hospitality. It is mentioned in Congreve’s play Love for Lover in 1695.

The surrounding area was farmland and nurseries in those days. The tavern was an island of leisure and a safe haven for travellers. (The water route was preferred – the area called the Five Fields between Chelsea and Knightsbridge was notorious for street robbery) By 1836 there were houses along World’s End Place and new streets nearby, Lackland Place and Riley Street. To the south west Baron de Berenger had started his National Sporting Club in the grounds of Cremorne House. Thirty years later at the time of the first Ordnance Survey map there were houses around the tavern and the Sporting Club had become the Cremorne pleasure gardens. By 1894 the Pleasure Gardens had gone and a network of streets had grown up to the south of the tavern – Blantyre Street, Vicat Street, Raasay Street, Dartrey Road, Bifron Street, Luna Street and Seaton Street all clustered in the triangle between the King’s Road and Cremorne Road.

Here is the tavern in the early 20th century:

 

And here is a view from the 1930s looking south with St John’s church on the left and the chimneys of Lots Road power station in the distance:

 

 

Hardly any of those street names are familiar today because the streets themselves are gone, all demolished to build the World’s End Estate which now covers the entire area. Work began building the estate in 1969 and by 1975 tenants had begun moving into what was then the largest Council housing estate in Europe.

For the purpose of this post everything I’ve written so far is a preamble to the photographs which follow which show some of those gone but not forgotten streets just at the point when demolition had begun. Here is a view showing the same block of shops in Dartrey Terrace in 1969:

The former Home and Colonial store has become the home of the famous counter-cultural emporium Gandalf’s Garden.

At the same date demolition was well under way in Dartrey Road:

The Chelsea Flower Mill is visible at the rear of the picture and if I’m not mistaken Lots Road Power Station has lost at least one chimney. (The chimneys of Lots Road are probably a story in themselves.)

In another view of Dartrey Road children are playing near the now empty houses:

But in two streets east in Luna Street normal life proceeds:

At the end of the street the Battersea  side of the river is just visible.

The final photo below also of Luna Street shows a woman looking out of an upstairs window. Thanks to an enquiry from one of our customers I know her name and that the van in the picture was her husband’s. This is one way of reminding us that the pictures of old buildings which are part of my stock in trade are important, but what truly makes history live is the people inside the buildings.

(While I was selecting pictures for this post I noticed that boy on the bike who got himself into several pictures the photographer took that day.)

The title of this post comes from the theme song to BBC2’s short lived 1980s Chelsea soap opera World’s End. It centred on a pub called the World’s End but was actually filmed at the Cross Keys in Lawrence Street. Anyone remember it?


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