Tag Archives: Fulham Road

Two hospitals

I’m starting this week’s post with a few pictures by our new best friend Bill Figg who sometimes strayed as far north as the Fulham Road

 

 

Although this view is about 25 years years old I still remember St Stephen’s Hospital pretty well. I went there several times, including one memorable occasion not long after my wife and I were married. She had managed to stab herself with a screwdriver while opening a tin of paint. Annoyed with the situation, and with me, she only lingered at the hospital long enough to get the small injury stitched. When we got out onto the street she was as pale as a vampire but refused to go back inside. I concentrated on getting her home.

 

 

There’s another pale woman in a long dark coat. St Stephen’s was a former workhouse / infirmary (more of its history in this post). Despite the addition of a new wing it was showing its age and the plan to replace it was on the whole a good idea. On the right of the picture,  you can see another new building, the Kobler Centre / St Stephen’s Clinic under construction, on the corner of Netherton Grove.

 

 

This picture shows the other buildings in Netherton Grove, including the nurses’ home.

 

 

The new hospital the Chelsea Westminster, finished and opened in 1993, which combined units from several hospitals in west London was under some planning constraints. The building could not be too high so the architects opted to use the maximum amount of space on the site to create a large box with an atrium inside it.

The Library is lucky enough to have been given given a folder containing a set of photographs taken during the construction of the hospital. Regular readers will know that I love a building site so I make no apology for presenting these construction scenes without much further historical commentary. In fact the Figg photos merely act as an introduction. As I frequently do I scanned far more pictures than I could us in one post. I’ve been trying to cut down the number but  haven’t entirely succeeded. If you’re not a fan of building construction stop here. The rest of us can enter a world of scaffolding, concrete, mud and heavy machinery.

 

 

A view looking down at Netherton Grove. Blobs of cement scattered around like they were flicked from a giant brush.

 

 

Another view of Netherton Grove showing the collection of temporary working spaces.

 

 

A view of the Fulham Road from the site.

 

 

A nice big hole. With its extensive basements and car park, the building began as a giant pit but this is just a minor hole by comparison.

 

 

One side of the building

 

 

A gathering of small vehicles.

 

 

The framework of Internal spaces before walls and ceilings.

 

 

A wider internal space, possibly one of the wards taking shape.

 

 

A mass of scaffolding.

 

 

The central atrium with the skeleton of a staircase.

 

 

Another red steel skeleton, of one of the lift shafts.

 

 

The vertiginous view down an almost finished shaft.

 

 

In another light well, an enormous pipe, now clad in a pleasant colour, almost as if it was one of the many art installations in the finished space.

 

 

And onto the roof. Here in the distance you can see the World’s End Estate.

 

 

 

And on a much brighter day Stamford Bridge football ground. I love these views from the calm spaces at the top of buildings.

 

 

Back on ground level with some scaffolding and the usual green material behind some billboards. A quick visual credit for the Laing company who have been involved with many of London’s major building projects.

 

 

As as local resident I was pleased to see our new hospital open. I never realised at the time how much time I would spend inside it over the years so let me thank its designers and builders and all the doctors, nurses and other staff who have worked there in the last 24 years.

Postscript

Special thanks to Dr Sarah Cox and Professor Mark Bower. (I could add many more names but you don’t want to see a long list) Thank also to Les Wallis without whom we would not have these photographs.

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Hidden in plain sight: Chelsea’s Jewish cemetery

Last week, on Friday, I was on the 211 bus heading home with a bag of shopping when I saw that  there had been some damage to a brick wall on the corner of the Fulham Road and Old Church Street. A whole section of the wall had been knocked inwards possibly as a result of some kind of impact. I thought I should take some photographs but when I went out on Sunday the area was surrounded by workmen and equipment, with a temporary set of traffic lights. On my way in this morning I took a few pictures, as the breach in the wall was still there.

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Not only is there a hole, but behind it a pile of bricks.

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Beyond that you can see the gravestones themselves.

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It’s not the first time this wall has been disturbed. Back in 1989 I was also there with a camera when the whole wall was partially demolished and there was the opportunity to take some pictures of an obscure corner of Chelsea. In normal circumstances you only get the chance to see the area behind the wall if you’re sitting on a passing bus. This corner, between the Institute of Cancer Research and a short row of shops devoted to antiquarian books and interior design, is the location of Chelsea’s Jewish Cemetery.

Jewish Cemetery Oct 1989 04

The wall, as you can see, was then short enough to look over. The original wall was tall enough to completely conceal the cemetery.

Jewish Cemetery Oct 1989 01

It was a bright day for October. The pictures were taken with an Olympus pocket (film) camera so they look a little grainy.

Jewish Cemetery Oct 1989 02

But you can make out the Hebrew inscriptions.

The cemetery, or burial ground appears on Thompson’s famous Chelsea map of 1836.

Copy of Thompsons 1836_Chelsea 4006 - Copy - Copy

The area was called Queen’s Elm after the Queen’s Elm tavern which was right opposite. On this detail you can see Trafalgar Square (later Chelsea Square) and Bath Lodge (later Catharine Lodge along with a number of houses with large gardens on the west side of Old Church Street,

George Bryan, in his 1869 book “Chelsea in the olden and present times” tells us the burial ground was “erected in 1816 by the individuals whose names are inscribed on the wall of the entrance building” (visible on the map).

Hugh Meller, in the third edition of his London Cemeteries (an invaluable book for London historians) which has details of 14 Jewish cemeteries in London says: “The impression given by this tiny cemetery is more typical of Prague than London.”. I can see his point. The 300 gravestones are in a comparatively small area, almost hermetically sealed behind a brick wall and “a rusty iron gate“. I imagine the burial ground fitting into a Bruno Schulz story (or a film by the Quay Brothers for that matter) especially as modern Prague is often used as a location for Victorian London in recent films and TV dramas.

Jewish Cemetery in Fulham Road c1896

The picture comes from The London Burial Grounds (1896) by Mrs Basil Holmes. Mrs Holmes called it “a dreary place” and remarked on the lack of proper paths between the graves. By the time she wrote her book the prayer hall and office had been replaced by the parade of shops. The last burial was said to be in 1913, although Meller gives the date of closure as early as 1884. He also notes the presence of mulberry trees. (That is actually another story altogether, associated with the estate called Chelsea Park which was on this side of the Fulham Road. Parts of it still survive in Elm Park Gardens and so what he says is possible.)

These pictures, from one of our scrapbooks are also dated 1896.

Jewish Cemetery Queen's Elm 1896 CM142c

In this one, possibly taken from one of the shops you can see South Parade and beyond it Trafalgar Square, and the tower of St Luke’s Church.

I’m not so sure of the angle in this picture:

Jewish Cemetery Queen's Elm 1896 CM142

In the 1970s the cemetery was under the threat of redevelopment and there was a plan reported in local newspapers in 1974 to have the ground deconsecrated, and any surviving remains removed to Israel.

cutting 1974

This never occurred. I was told that a benefactor paid for some restoration work to keep the cemetery secure. It remained an obscure corner of Chelsea, safe behind its walls. A place of absolute stillness beside a busy road, its continued existence a source of satisfaction for those who like the quiet places of the city.

Whether in 1989,

Jewish Cemetery Oct 1989 03or 2016

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The hole in the wall is now boarded up, which you can almost see in this picture but the main point of it is to show that even with the wall breached the cemetery is well hidden by the abundant trees.

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Postscript

I promised you a new post by my colleague Isabel this week but she has gone to ground in Kent, somewhere near here:

Old Road Chatham - Copy

Hugh Thomson steps in to help again. The picture is from Highways and Byways in Kent (1907). Isabel will be back soon.

It was fortunate this subject presented itself to me out of nowhere. I’ve noticed that I’ve written posts about almost every point of my journey to work, with very few gaps and this is a further addition to the psycho-geographical trail. I’ll work on those gaps in the future.

 


Gapp’s Stores: a retail empire – 1950

Now that we’re able to do new scanning properly again I wanted to show you a recent addition to our collection donated  by a gentleman who used to work for a chain of grocer’s shops in west London called Gapp’s Stores. Gapp’s began in 1869 at a shop in the Fulham Road from which they expanded across west London until there were 16 branches. These pictures which came in a small album were almost all taken in 1950. They show a form of retailing which lasted from the mid 19th century until the late 1950s and early 1960s. The donor notes that the heads of the company, John and Roland Gapp were unwilling to make the transition to self service as companies like Waitrose and Sainsbury’s had done. (Last week I included a picture showing a branch of Waitrose in Gloucester Road which closed in 1989. I’ve just found out that this was in fact their first branch after their original shop in Acton.  It opened in 1913)

So these images are a record of the way shopping was done, and how small retailers looked for most of the 20th century.

Gapp's store 50 Fulham Road

50 Fulham Road is opposite Sydney Street. You can just see the sign for Sydney Mews, an obscure, nearly hidden area behind Fulham Road and Onslow Square. The store now forms part of a bar called PJs.

Gapp's store 177 Fulham Road 02

177 Fulham Road, despite the contrast in the numbers,  is actually opposite number 50, on the corner of Sydney Street. (The address on the shop front, 4 Sydney Terrace was  a hangover from the days when small sections of a long street would have their own name. By the time of the photograph the sign would have been a quaint old feature.) It’s now occupied by the  Amanda Wakeley bridal shop.

Here’s the view from the other side:

Gapp's store 177 Fulham Road

Gapp’s specialised in wines, spirits and all kinds of bottled drinks as you can tell from the window dispaly. You can also see the reflection of the other side of the street in the window, including the small greenhouse like building which is still there, and is now a florist.

We won’t stay in the Borough on this retail tour, but this location is definitely in our territory: 194-196 Earls Court Road.

Gapp's store 194-196 Earl Court Road

See how carefully the goods are displayed in painstakingly constructed piles. Another view of the same shop (at what must be a different date) is reminiscent of the Ernest Milner photographs from nearly 50 years before. (The Gapp’s store was at 136 in 1904 – there  was a re-numbering later).

Gapp's store 194-196 Earl Court Road 02

Our next stop is Lillie Road.

Gapp's store 88 Lillie Road

Gapp’s made  Lillie Road  (88-90) the location of its head office. They also had a warehouse there for dried fruit and tea. The shop is signed as a wine merchants. Our donation also contained various pieces of wine related ephemera.

Gapp's wine list - Copy

As you can see, by 1905 Gapp’s already had quite a few stores. By 1950 more had been added as they ventured outwards.

Gapp's store 1 Goldhawk Road Shepherds Bush

Goldhawk Road, Shepherd’s Bush.

Gapp's store 13-15 Jerdan Place Walham Green

13-15 Jerdan Place, Walham Green.

Gapp's store 52 The Broadway Ealing

52 The Broadway, Ealing. (Some nice pillars there.) And on into the suburbs.

 

Gapp's store 2 Ethorpe Crescent Gerrards Cross

2, Ethorpe Crescent, Gerrards Cross.

Gapp's store 155 Thornbury Road Osterley

155 Thornbury Road, Osterley. I haven’t covered them all but you get the idea. Gapp’s seems to have reached a kind of peak in the days of rationing and austerity when the strict virtues of a tightly run shop chimed with the expectations of customers. In the 1960s the company was sold to William Perry Ltd, a subsidiary of John Harvey of Bristol who needed licensed premises. And that was the story of Gapp’s.

But before we go, a picture from 1956, back at the Fulham Road branch with a special promotion for Schweppe’s.

Gapp's store 177 Fulham Road May 1956 Schweppe's window

Not so much of the hard sell. Just a suggestion.

Gapp's Christmas List 1937 - Copy

Postscript

My thanks to Mr Richard Browne.

On an unrelated matter I have to say goodbye to an old friend, but not a person.

DSC_6571

This Epson scanner was here at Kensington  when I was still at Chelsea. It has served through a number of digitisation projects and since I got my hands on it it has scanned hundreds, if not thousands of images. It would not be going too far to say it taught me about the wonders of scanning details close up. It was also responsible for most of the images on this blog and introduced the world to the street photography of Edward Linley Sambourne among many other historical images. It has even survived a minor flood. It couldn’t however survive the march of progress. A way was found to make it work with Windows 7 but it was going to be very unlikely for us to find a driver for it which would work with Windows 10 when we go over to that later this year, so when the computer it was attached to expired its time had come. We’re currently using a smaller but snazzier scanner to keep the work going. But thank you to a venerable piece of kit.

I refer you to the Grandaddy song “I’m on standby”.


Monsieur Bibendum’s house: the Michelin Building

People who know the way my mind works will already have been expecting this post after I reminded myself about the Michelin Man’s connection with Chelsea the other week and been wondering why we haven’t been here before. Those who know me spookily well will also make the connection with one of my literary heroes William Gibson, who included the image of the man made of tyres in his novel Pattern Recognition (which doesn’t have quite enough scenes set in the Borough to qualify for my fiction in K&C series). The protagonist Cayce Pollard finds some brands and trademarks toxic and disruptive to her talents. An enemy of hers uses the image of the Michelin Man against her. “that weird, jaded, cigar-smoking elder creature suggesting a mummy with elephantiasis. ” She counters the effect in various ways including a mantra: he took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots. Fortunately she never goes near 81 Fulham Road. (Any other sufferers from semiotic distress should avert their eyes for the next few pictures)

The Michelin Man himself goes back to the 1890s when Edouard Michelin was struck by the anthropomorphic possibilities of a pile of tyres at a trades exhibition and asked the uniquely named graphic artist O’Galop to bring the conception to life. The new mascot got his name from a Latin phrase from the poet Horace: Nunc est bibendum (now is the time to drink) which in this case referred to the unstoppable nature of the pneumatic tyres, drinking up obstacles . (“le pneu Michelin boit l’obstacle!”) Bibendum was depicted holding up a glass full of nails and other debris of the highway. (The other hand of course held a cigar, indicating a love of the good life). He starred in a variety of posters from 1898 onwards.

Nunc est bibendum - Copy

Bibendum rapidly became not just a symbol of the Michelin company but a cultural icon in his own right, popping up in all sorts of places.

Theatre 01 - Copy

He had become one of the new icons of industry and advertising. Andre Michelin entered motor races to demonstrate the superiority of the tyres. The Michelin company  published its first guide book, promoting the idea of road travel, tourism and the rating of restaurants – the start of a parallel industry for them.

In the UK the company decided it needed a headquarters which would combine administrative, retail and promotional functions. The Michelin building was born in what was then a relatively obscure, largely commercial, area where Chelsea met Kensington.

Announcement

Michelin House, designed by  Francois Espinasse and opened in 1911 turned out to be an imaginative, stylish and unique addition to the Chelsea landscape, and a celebration of their emblem. Bibendum had long since attained corporeal form and appeared in public for trade fairs, publicity events and even carnivals, as we saw a couple of weeks ago. He had become very much like a figure from folklore or a minor deity. Below he pays a visit to his new Art Nouveau temple in its opening year.

1911 London Olympia Motor Show

Note the stained glass windows, suitable for a 20th century cathedral, and the two spherical structures on either end of the facade. Originally two giant effigies of Bibendum were intended to stand there.

Inside there was a grand reception area.

Reception

A “touring office” like a reference library where travelers could plan their road trips.

touring office - Copy

And a workshop. Tyres could be bought, fitted, checked and repaired on the premises.

Workshop 1912

The exterior of the building also celebrated the company’s sporting achievements.

Michelin House postcard photo by Peter Moore

A series of 34 ceramic panels  depicted the exciting days of early motor sport.

Tiles 01b

 

tiles 05

Tiles 01a

The building added prestige to the Michelin brand and its ubiquitous emblem.

But times change, even for the demi-gods of advertising iconography. Michelin moved its head office in the 1930s, the stained glass windows were removed for fear of possible bomb damage (and subsequently lost) in 1940. The two globes had also gone by the time of this photo from 1971.

1971 article - Copy

This gloomy undated picture from our planning department shows that alterations were planned.

Michelin House pl03

But in 1985 the whole building was bought by Sir Terence Conran and Paul Hamlyn. The picture below also came from our planning collection. The globes were restored and the windows recreated as the building entered a new phase of its history.

Michelin House photo 1990s photo by David Nolan

The new version of the interior featured restaurants.

Palace of Vanities ILN Mar 1988 03a - Copy

And retail – below,  an 80s woman choosing candles.

Palace of Vanities ILN Mar 1988 04 - Copy

In 1988 the Illustrated London News featured the building as the first in a series they called sacred cows. As I went down to the Reference Store to find the article featuring these three images (“Palace of Vanities”) I noted that the bound volumes of the illustrious ILN came to an end a few years later. The great magazine unfortunately ceased publication in 1994.

Bibendum’s house survives, and  still amazes the passer by.

Palace of Vanities ILN Mar 1988 02 - Copy

Finally, back to where we began, with the early history of the man of tyres. Anyone sensitive to advertising, or just sensitive, should look away now….

Olympia 1908

Postscript

The Michelin building is more of a hidden treasure than a sacred cow. As someone who lives in Chelsea I have to admit that I seldom see it. I just don’t go that way very often. But whenever I do it cheers me up. London should have more buildings like it.

The Library has a virtually complete set of the Illustrated London News from 1842 to 1994. It remains an amazing historical source. A digital version of the ILN archives is also available.

 


The Cancer Hospital

It was about this time last year that I had to visit Accident and Emergency at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital in Fulham Road which resulted in a blog post about the history of the site. By coincidence, on World Cancer Day (February 4th), I was at the Royal Marsden Hospital, also in Fulham Road. There was no long waiting period for me to speculate about history but nevertheless when I got back to Local Studies I had a look to see if we had any interesting pictures.

The Royal Marsden has only been named after its founder since 1954. It was originally known as the Cancer Hospital and had several homes inclusing a building on the north of the Fulham Road called Hollywood Lodge before the current site was acquired.

Cancer Hospital The Builder April 28 1860  K61-504 - Copy

This is the design by David Mocatta of Young and Sons.

As you can see from this map of 1862 only the front part of the building was built orginally and the hospital with its garden only occupied part of the block.

1862 OS map showing Royal Marsden X10

This picture shows the extensive redesign of 1885 by Alexander Graham which adopted the familiar red brick facade.

Cancer Hospital - Copy

The hospital was the brainchild of Thomas Marsden, already an eminent surgeon and founder of hospitals. This picture illustrates the incident which brought about the creation of the Royal Free Hospital.

Marsden and the sick woman - Copy

Marsden found a young woman dying on the steps of St Andrew’s Church in Holborn. No less than three hospitals turned him away when he tried to get her admitted because he lacked a letter of introduction from a governor of the hospital. As a result he started a committe to found a free hospital with no such requirements, the first in London.

We sometimes imagine the Victorians as hypocritical, ignoring social and health issues but they were surprisngly direct in such matters as the namimg of institutions. The Free Hospital was just that (as later “free” libraries did not charge subscriptions).  On the north side of the Fulham Road the hospital subsequently called Brompton Hospital had a different name originally.

 

Consuption Hospital Fulham Road PC1003 - Copy

The largely untreatable condition Consumption (Tubercolosis) needed its own hospital as many of the existing insitutions would not take those who suffered from it. Marsden’s next venture which stemmed from his dissatisfaction with the current treatments for cancers was naturally called the Cancer Hospital. Marsden believed, contrary to many doctors of the time that cancers could only be treated successfully with a combination of surgery and medicine. This sounds obvious now but at a time when caustic substance were applied to patients to treat cancers it was a great step forward.

He had considerable help and finance from one of the great philanthropists of the day, Angela Burdett-Coutts:
NPG 2057; Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, Baroness Burdett-Coutts by Sir William Charles Ross

She loaned money, paid a  yearly subscription, donated to the building fund and took a great interest in the progress of the hosiptal. She laid the foundation stone in 1859.

Extensions to the building were added, though the gardens remained for  many years. This is a rear view from 1893:

Garden 1893 K2801B - Copy

In close-up you can see this group of women sitting together on a bench. The picture as a whole is obviously posed but the three of them look quite natural, especially the one at the end, her face turmned towards, but not quite looking at the camera.

Garden 1893 K2801B - Copy (2)

The middle one seems to be wearing a veil, and the other has a dressing over part of her face.

The picture below shows the hospital in in the 1930s, just before the “Royal” was added to the name during the brief reign of Edward VIII.

Royal Cancer Hospital 1930s - Copy

The 1935 map below shows how the building had expanded. The girls’ school behind it remained, and the convent. Both those buildings have been absorbed since into medical buildings of one kind or another. Note the Chelsea Hospital for Women at the bottom of the image, which existed as a seperate institution until the 1980s.

1935 OS map showing Royal Marsden X10

The garden was smaller by 1958 but had survived.

Garden 1958 - Copy

The picture below is un-dated. It seems to have come from the cover of one of the nursing magazines (the Nursing Times or the Nursing Mirror) and must date from the 1960s or 70s.

Nursing magazine - no date - Copy

Some professionals may recognize the “new micro-pump” being demonstrated

Also in the 1960s the Hospital celebrated 100 years of its existence. On these occasions hospitals always seem to ask a couple of nurses to dress up in 19th century uniforms.
Nurses Scrivenor and Dutch - Nursing Mirror 1967 - Copy

No matter how funny they look. We have in the collection a picture of a group of nurses in old-fashioned (but slightly more flattering) uniforms at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital, so this sort of thing still goes on. It’s a pleasing note to end on. The Royal Marsden, although devoted to conditions which can end in death,  has always aimed to be as pleasant for staff and patients as possible. The gothic architecture of the surving 19th century hopsitals now often looks dark and gloomy and by contrast I think this view from 1885 exemplifies the slightly fanciful, optimistic look of the Royal Marsden.

New Cancer Hospital The Builder Sept 26 1885 GC2430a - Copy

Postscript

If anyone is interested I have no big health concerns following my visit to the Marsden. In fact I should say here that I was very impressed with the way I was registered, scanned and saw the consultant all in one morning. The staff were unfailingly polite and helpful. But inevitably my mind went back to one of my heroes, the late John Diamond who was treated at the Marsden and who wrote a light-hearted lifestyle column for the Times magazine which turned into a chronicle of his life with cancer. He was one of the first of the group of people who have written first person accounts of cancer and his story, told in his book “C: because cowards get cancer too” and in the archives of his Times column (if you can find them) should not be forgotten.

The picture of William Marsden comes from Surgeon Compassionate (Peter Davies 1960), Frieda Sandwich’s biography of her great-grandfather.

If you’ve gone so far as to read this post twice today you may have noticed that I’ve changed one of the pictures to make the history of the building a bit clearer. My thanks to the authors of the Victoria County History volume on Chelsea (Middlesex XII) and to David Brady (the Antiprofessor) for some eagle-eyed fact checking,


The Hospital in Little Chelsea

I don’t want to go on and on about medical matters but just for the record I got the idea for this week’s post while lying in a cubicle in A&E at the Chelsea Westminster Hospital. A doctor was putting some pressure on a wound in my leg that had been squirting out blood about half an hour before. My mind drifted off and I went through the exercise of asking myself the quintessential local history question: what was here before? What was on this spot before the hospital, and whatever came before that?

Chelsea Westminster Hospital pc

Well, the hospital is this imposing building on the Fulham Road, the dividing line between the formerly separate boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. A long time before that the village of Little Chelsea straddled the border between the two parishes.

Little Chelsea 002

The Fulham Road, which had existed under one form or another since the 1300s was the main route between London and Fulham but as you can see from this engraving of 1780 Little Chelsea was a quiet sort of place, never more than a small collection of houses. The first major building in the vicinity was Shaftesbury House. The Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper bought an existing property about 1700 to which he added barns, stables and outhouses not to mention “great and little gardens”.  Mrs Marianne Rush depicted it in one of her enigmatic (but not always entirely accurate) watercolours.

Gulston - Lord Shaftesbury's house at Little Chelsea

The open door is one of her characteristic touches. Shaftesbury didn’t stay very long. He was concerned about smoke affecting his asthma, apparently. In 1710 he sold it to the intriguingly named Narcissus Luttrell. It passed through several hands after that before being sold to the Parish of St George Hanover Square for use as a workhouse.  Here it is on Thompson’s 1836 map of Chelsea:

Thompson 1836 detail showing Little Chelsea

Even then the surrounding area consisted mostly of farms and market gardens. William Cowen ventured down from his home territory of Old Brompton to paint this watercolour showing a solitary man and dog engaged in rural pursuits:

Little Chelsea A4 C4

The house was demolished in 1856 to be replaced by new workhouse buildings. The workhouse was known as St George’s Union Workhouse, although it is sometimes misleading called the Chelsea Workhouse. The inmates all came from the parish of St George in the City of Westminster – an early example of exporting the poor. The actual Chelsea Workhouse (St Luke’s) and Infirmary was in Dovehouse Street.

St George’s also had an infirmary opened in 1878 whose patients came from not only from the workhouse but also the Kensington Workhouse (later St Mary Abbot’s Hospital) and other institutions in Westminster. Although the number of paupers accommodated in the workhouse expanded as the institution moved into the 20th century the infirmary also grew in size and importance. New buildings were constructed and hospital functions took over as the number of workhouse inmates diminished.

St Stephen's - City of Westminster Hospital

This postcard shows one of the other confusing names by which the Hospital was known. The name St Stephen’s Hospital was not adopted until 1924. The gothic tower can be seen in many views of the Fulham Road and the area around it.

In 1930 the Hospital was taken over by the London County Council as a municipal hospital (along with 97 other hospitals in Central London). This ground plan from 1934 shows the extent of the whole complex:

Ground plan 1934

The Hospital had become a local institution for Chelsea and was a fixture of local life through the War and into the 1950 and 1960s. Some of the older buildings were demolished and replaced. The hospital became a modern teaching hospital:

Classroom 1960s

A prospectus for student nurses from the 1960s boasts of the excellent teaching and recreational facilities.

Nurse playing tennis 1960s

New outpatients and emergency departments were built at the same time:

Outpatients 1966

I took a few minor complaints here in the 1980s. The only time I ever went into the remaining older section was visiting in one of the old wards with their long rows of beds. The new wards were preferable:

New Ward  1971

This picture from 1971 shows a new operating theatre:

Operating theatre 1971

The site in 1978 looked like this:

Aerial view 1978

Plans were made in the 1980s for a new hospital which would combine the facilities of four other hospitals: Westminster (from my personal recollection a rather grim and grubby place), Westminster Children’s, West London (a maternity hospital), Hammersmith and St Mary Abbot’s.

St Stephen’s closed in 1989. There was one occasion after the closure when I had to go with my son (now a consultant to the blog on transport matters) to Charing Cross Hospital A&E, so I for one was pretty pleased when the new Chelsea Westminster Hospital opened in 1993.

Chelsea Westminster

The Chelsea Westminster has takeaways, a Starbucks (from which another Starbucks used to be visible in an instance of retail overkill) and a post office next to its entrance. Inside is a huge atrium with some nice examples of public art, including the Acrobat by Allen Jones, one of the largest indoor sculptures in the world, and some large slightly dusty hanging fish which I’ve always been fond of, best seen from the third or fourth floor walkways.

For various reasons I’ve spent many hours in this building and although no-one really enjoys being in a hospital I’ve always felt safe and comfortable there as a visitor or occasionally as a patient, which is a good quality in a place of life and death.

Many famous people have come and gone there and it’s been seen in films and on TV. But my favourite of these is the scene in Eyes Wide Shut where it doubles as a New York hospital.

ews_fronthospital-620x466

Tom Cruise just visible there through the main entrance. The late Stanley Kubrick was always meticulous in his choice of locations so he must have seen something striking about the place. I remember being amazed as I instantly recognized the revolving doors and the reception desk. Has anyone got any other examples?

Postscript

Credit should go to Chris Howgrave-Graham and Laurence Martin who wrote the excellent book The Hospital in Little Chelsea to mark the centenary of the hospital in 1978. Some of the pictures in this post come from the book.

I promise not to talk about any of my medical complaints for a while. But I would like to say thank you to all the staff at the Hospital who have treated myself and members of my family over the years we’ve lived nearby.


The artist in the mirror world – Yoshio Markino

Some years after Mortimer Menpes made his first journeys to Japan and brought a Western sensibility to an Eastern country, another artist was making the same journey in reverse. Yoshio Markino (Heiji Makino as he was born, in 1869) sailed from Yokohama to San Francisco at the age of 24. In 1897 he travelled to London where he stayed for more than forty years, bringing the artistic sensibility of Japan to his new home.

Markino lived in various parts of London including Greenwich, New Cross, Kensal Rise, Norwood and Brixton. But he found his longest lasting home in Kensington and Chelsea.

Chelsea Embankment - JAIL

He painted the city in many moods but his preference seemed to be for overcast  days, for night time and above all for fog.  London in mist is far above my own ideal….the colour and its effect are most wonderful. I think London without mists would be like a bride without a trousseau….The London mist attracts me so that I do not feel I could live any other place but London.

He was sometimes called the painter of fog.

The Thames at Ranelagh - JAIL

Some of the figures in his pictures look lost and lonely as if he was anticipating the night time urban views of Edward Hopper. Here is a view of his lodging house in Sydney Street.

Copy of Our Lodgings in Sydney Street RAR

The monochrome view makes the street look grim and cold. But there were bright lights in the misty places as in this picture of Earls Court Station.

Earls Court Station - JAIL

Look at the bright clothes of the two women in the foreground, travelling to or from a theatre or the nearby exhibition centre:

The Lake Earls Court by night COL

There is that Japanese love of water too. The wet pavement reflects everything as if the whole city was built on a lake.

Sloane Square wet day COL

“A wet day in Sloane Square”

He did venture out in daylight too but as he says December is my favourite month in London.

Cale Street Chelsea in snow January 1907

Cale Street, quite close to his lodging house, perhaps looking out of the window.

There were some summer and autumn days, never entirely without the hint of mist.

Reading in Kensington Gardens - JB

A woman sits reading in Kensington Gardens. A little further south there were crowds in Brompton Road outside the  museums Markino admired.

Outside South Kensington Museum - JAIL

But it was the gloom he loved best, the glimpses of people entering or leaving  brightly lit interiors setting out on a night time journey.

The Oratory Brompton Road COL

Here at Brompton Oratory, or below at the Carlton Hotel.

The porch of the Carlton Hotel at night COL

Markino wrote several books about his life in London. He experienced hardship and illness before he could make a comfortable living as a freelance artist and writer but never lost his commitment to his adopted home. At one point he worked for a stonemason in Norwood designing angels  for memorials in the nearby cemetery. The stonemason regretfully let him go because his angels were too feminine – “more like ballet girls than angels”.

Perhaps the feeling of being a stranger gives his pictures that air of lonely detachment. I was pleased to find this one in My Recollections and Reflections (1913).

Copy of Thistle Grove RAR

Thistle Grove with its Narnian lamposts which bring back memories of William Cowen the water colour artist who painted that area nearly seventy years before.  It’s difficult to be sure whether this view is looking north or south. Because of the wall I’m leaning towards the Fulham Road end. Not so far from this scene:

Fulham Road - JAIL

The tall grimy buildings, the distant tower of St Stephen’s hospital, the shadows, the damp, the mist and amid the gloom the lights of shops and the brightness of the people living in the dark city.

Postscript

I had only been vaguely aware of Markino when I was looking for something to follow up last week’s post on Menpes. And this, if you don’t mind me saying, is the value of  special collections in libraries, in our case of biographies and books about London. I found  a great many pictures by Markino in his memoirs and his collaborations with other writers. The  quotations come from the introductory essay in The Colour of London.

Like Mortimer Menpes we may come back to Yushio Markino.

A Japanese artist in London (1912)

My recollections and reflections (1913)

The colour of London (with W J Loftie) (1907)

Yoshio Markino: a Japanese artist in Edwardian London (1995). By Sammy I. Tsunematsu.


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