Tag Archives: Faraday Road

The Science District: some streets in W10 1969-70

Okay, I made the name up. Nobody ever called a few streets in North Kensington by that term. You’ll see what I did by their names: Faraday, Telford, Murchison (named after scientists and engineers in 1868) They’re all much altered since 1969 when most of these pictures were taken, especially Murchison Road which has pretty much ceased to be. (There’s another one, Wheatstone Road which is now little more than a stub). After identifying the former home of the Raymede Clinic in the post on Ladbroke Grove I was looking at some pictures of the streets  running east off Ladbroke Grove with some interested parties and we started talking about the streets named for scientists.

Faraday Road looking east 1969 KS316

The clinic is on the left and the picture is looking down Faraday Road. The tower you can see above the lush foliage belongs to the old fire station. Can you see the small vehicle on the left at the end of the row of parked cars? I believe it’s an invalid carriage, an example of the small, three-wheeled, under-powered “cars” which disabled people could get at the time. I don’t know much about the arrangements involved in the issuing of these institutional looking vehicles (they were the same all over the country). I can remember from my brief time in the motor trade that some people regarded them as death traps, especially when it was possible to adapt regular cars for disabled users. However some users must have liked them.

Before we go any further, and see some more curious vehicles, let’s have a look on a map.

1971 OS map Faraday Road area W10 - Copy

As you can see both Telford and Faraday Roads were longer in 1971 (the approximate date of this Ordnance Survey map) and Murchison actually existed.

At this point the rough photo itinerary I had worked out called upon me to work my way up Faraday Road but I had to stop to work this picture out.

Faraday Road looking west from Portobelllo 1969 KS325

It took me a while to workout from the description “looking west from Portobello” that this picture shows the rest of the fire station (see the glimpse of the tower on the right) and that the buildings visible in the centre at the end of the  street are on the other side of Ladbroke Grove and according to the map must be part of the Church of St Pius X.

I’ve let myself get sidetracked so now let’s get back to the plan and carry on east up Faraday Road.

Faraday Road south side 13-15 1969 KS333

I can’t resist this view of what I think is a 50s or 60s Volkswagen sports car with a wary boy peeking out at the photographer. As usual I would welcome extra information from motoring buffs about any of the cars  in the pictures. Is this a Volvo?

Faraday Road south side 27-29 1969 KS334

The cars may be flash but there’s a general air of dilapidation about the houses. In 1969 W10 had not even begun the process of gentrification. The building below, Christchurch Hall was described as “disused” by the photographer.

Faraday Road north side disused Christchurch Hall 1969 KS329

The actual Christchurch had already been demolished. The empty lot became one of the incarnations of the Notting Hill Adventure Playground. You can see the fence in the picture below.

Faraday Road looking west 1969 KS336

A couple of boys are playing in the street, a sign that this end of the street where it met Wornington Road was a relatively quiet area.

If we walk round the playground we’re looking down Telford Road.

Telford Road looking east 1970 KS358

Once again there’s a certain amount of confusion as the picture is captioned “looking east” but with the playground on the left I think we’re looking west.

This is the corner of Portobello Road and Telford Road.

Telford Road south side corner of Portobello 1970 KS362

J A Cook are listed in Kelly’s Directory for 1969 at number 373 Portobello Road. You can see the number 371 next door along with some excellent billboards. (Another ad for Harp lager which must have been ubiquitous at the time)

Kelly’s also lists at number 1 Telford Road the London Transport Canteen. Hence the buses and their crew in this picture.

Telford Road looking east 1970 KS364

It was taken in June 1970. You can see Trellick Tower under construction in the distance rising above the remaining terraced housing. Note that truck with a long pole or plank in the back, and then here it is looking in the other direction, parked next to the Eagle public house.

Telford Road north side 3-5 Eagle 1970 KS353

The canteen is in the building next to the pub.  I can’t quite make out the manufacturer’s name on the back of the convertible The little car in motion looks rather older than 1970 too. Any ideas?

Incidentally. Kelly’s tells us that next door to the canteen, at 3 Telford Road was Hy Soloway, ladies tailor (you can just make out some photos by the door and also on the premises (basement or upper floors) was Hauer and Co, doll’s wig makers. A niche service if ever there was one. I have cropped a larger version of the image. The lettering on the canteen door is just visible.

Telford Road north side 3-5 Eagle 1970 KS353 - Copy

Having satisfied my idle curiosity we have to make our way back up Telford Road and then up to Murchison Road.

Murchison Road looking east 1969 KS242

The bundle of material on the cart could indicate the presence of a rag and bone man working the street. Murchison Road was shorter than the other two and ran between Portobello Road and Wornington Road as they converged and met in an intersection with Ladbroke Grove. There were only about 20 houses in the street.


Murchison Road south side 1969 KS240

A line of old British cars headed by a bug-eyed Ford Anglia, not one of Ford’s cooler models.  I haven’t cropped out the detritus in the foreground  because it could be more evidence of the rag and bone man, or his horse at least.

This is a view looking west.

Murchison Road looking west 1969 KS247

That’s the same shop and line of cars but we can now see on the other side a Triumph Spitfire (I think) and a truck telling us that we need Pink. Pink what?

Here is a final view of Murchison Road.


Murchison Road north side 1-2 1939 KS244

A clean looking Volkwagen camper and two people either just leaving or just arriving at their homes, a young girl and a man (or just his arm). She must be in her 50s by now. I did once meet a customer who appeared in one of these survey pictures as a child so I’m always hoping another person will come along and say “it’s me”. It’s not as unlikely as you might think.


I was pulling pictures and information together as I wrote so I’m quite surprised that it was reasonably coherent in the end. My thanks to Sue Snyder who asked me to scan some of these and to Maggie Tyler for starting me off at the Raymede Clinic. I don’t think the Science District will ever catch on as a name unless an estate agent takes it up.  As I mentioned the street names were all adopted in 1868 by the Kensington Vestry.

For the record:

Michael Faraday (1791-1867), physicist,chemist and pioneer in the study of electricity

Thomas Telford (1757-1834), civil engineer

Sir Roderick Murchison (1792-1871), geologist

Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) scientist and inventor

Adventure: playing out in Telford Road

Adventure playgrounds were a feature of childhood/adolescence which passed me by really. I wasn’t brought up in London and they were mostly I think a phenomenon of urban life. I saw plenty of them when I first came to London in 1973 – brightly painted constructions of wood, behind fences, teeming with kids and I had the vague sense of having missed out on something. If you come from a small town, urban life, even the life in what might be called “deprived” areas looks exciting.

So when my colleague Tim showed me a packet of photos of the Notting Hill Adventure Playground in Telford Road that he’d retrieved in the course of an enquiry, I was fascinated by these scenes of communal play. The blogging cells in my brain immediately recognised them assomething you had to see.

NHG Adventure 011

Most of these pictures come from a large packet of photographs donated to theLibrary in 2000. They’re hard to date precisely but they seem to fall into two main groups, one from the early 1960s and one from the late sixties or early seventies. The Notting Hill Adventure playground was started in the late 1950s on some waste ground in Telford Road.

The first adventure playground seems to have been built in Copenhagen in 1943 by a landscape architect, C T Sorenson who noticed the propensity of children left to their own devices to avoid purpose built playgrounds and resort to building sites and waste ground. He thought that by making waste building materials available, children could have play that had an element of risk without being life threatening. In pragmatic Scandinavian  fashion he showed that this was also a way to reduce vandalism and other forms of juvenile delinquency.

London, which had plenty of bomb sites in the post war period was an ideal place for adventure playgrounds to spring up, and the idea spread to many cities.

NHG Adventure 009

This umbrella leap is from 1963 – the image was used as part of an appeal for the London Adventure Playground Asociation.

In the early days children, under the supervision of a warden built from scratch.

NHG Adventure 002

Young builders were enthusiastic.

NHG Adventure 005

NHG Adventure 010

Ambitious structures were erected.

NHG Adventure 012

The play began. Climbing, swinging and just hanging around. It reminds me of womble, muck and sneedball – the games played in Quentin Blake and Russell Hoban’s “How Tom beat Captain Najork and his hired sportsmen”. I would have inserted a quotation at this point to convince you but I can’t find a copy of the book right now. Maybe later.

NHG Adventure 014

NHG Adventure 013

NHG Adventure 008

The playground outgrew its original  site and the Council provided a larger one where Telford Road and Faraday Road intersected with Wornington Road. The new site was a little more structured.

NHG Adventure 026

There was  a building for indoor play with on site facilities.

NHG Adventure 024

But the playground retained its makeshift character.

NHG Adventure playground  Wornington Road south side 1969 KS292 - Copy

That tower visible over the wall in a picture which I can date precisely, from 1969 brings me back to the advenure playgrounds I remember from London in the early 1970s. It has a slight counter-cultural air about it, like many  places in North Kensington in that period.

Despite the difficulties in presenting pictures from across a period of ten or more years these images all show that communal play has something timeless about it, whether it involves climbing unsafe structures:

NHG Adventure 020

Messing about with building materials.

NHG Adventure 025

Or just hanging around with your friends.

NHG Adventure 004

These pictures show the irrepressible nature of childhood.

And of course, the adventure:

NHG Adventure playground  Faraday Road north side 1969 KS337 - Copy



Despite the changes in the streets around it the Notting Hill Adventure Playground continues to do its work.

I observed last week that Chelsea people have long memories. This also applies to North Kensington people so if you recognise yourself, or anyone else in these pictures let me know.

You can find a documentary about the playground from 1960 here: http://www.nhh50.com/?videos=this-is-our-playground-1960 on the website of the Notting Hill Housing Association and on YouTube.

Next week it’s the annual Halloween story when we stray away from fact and let imagination have a go at some pictures. Don’t believe anything you read.

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