Tag Archives: Kensal Road

On the border 6.3: road and canal

We left off our trip down Kensal Road before Christmas and we were round about the Lads of the Village pub on the corner of Middle Row. You could just make out the petrol station a little further east.

 

 

The White Knight Garage. I seem to have been wrong about the cars in the previous post so instead of making a guess, I’ll ask my motoring readers to identify the parked car.

Just to show you how far (or not) we’ve got, take a look at this OS map.

 

 

If you can make out the detail, you can see the garage more or less in the centre, with several interesting names features nearby

Pulling back slightly, here is the northern side of the road where light industrial buildings are right next to terraced housing and shops. Is tat man ready to drive inside?

 

 

Beyond the garage some motor works, followed by the Church of St Thomas, a relatively modern building in 1968.

 

 

You can see a kind of bas-relief on the side of the church.

 

The open space behind the wary pedestrian was designated as a playground at this time.  (Is he hanging back for John or what?) The map describes the large building on the right as a pharmaceutical warehouse.

Here is one of those collages from the Planning collection showing this section of the street in the 1990s.

 

It’s all boarded up awaiting development or demolition.

Back in 1969 both sections looked a little more active.

 

 

BDH limited. (According to Kelly’s of 1969 there was a company of that name who were “manufacturing chemists”, although they’re not listed in Kensal Road.)

The terraced housing on the north side looked like this.

 

 

Things were so quiet that a shopkeeper came out to see what was going on. Perhaps because of that, John took this detail, showing the onate moulding:

 

 

We’ve just about reached Wedlake Street. Here’s the open space to the south as it looked in 1969. The church is Our Lady of the Holy Souls on Bosworth Road. Next to it Bosworth House and Appleford House. The tower is Adair Tower ,one of the first tower blocks in the area.

 

 

 

This is the companion picture to the aerial shot from the 1980s in the previous post.

 

 

You can see the bridge over the canal and the space where the baths were. That site is almost completely cleared apart form the Vestry offices building and (if you look closely) the chimney, sitting on its own by the side of the canal. I can’t quite make out if the bridge has changed from this angle but later pictures show that it was replaced with something a little more pedestrian friendly.

Here is a view showing Wedlake Street in the late 1990s.

 

 

The old Vestry building has also gone, replaced by a  residential development. You can just see the bridge.

And there it is. Rather more pleasant to cross in this form I should think.


 

On the Paddington side of the border, the terraced houses survive.

One final look down the canal to the east.

 

 

Although we’re now back at the point where we started in December with that view of the canal side behind the Public Baths there is still one last picture to look at

As you may know, Kensal Road once went all the way to the Great Western Road as on this map, whose top corner shows the intersection, along with a number of streets which no longer exist – Southam Street, Modena Street, Elcom Street and Pressland Street.

 

 

Those streets were demolished in the late 1960s / early 1970s when what was first called the Edenham Estate was built. The centrepiece of that estate was Trellick Tower, now a major landmark, geographical and cultural. When John took most of these pictures, the foundations of the tower were already under construction and Kensal Road truncated as it is today. But I think one picture in our collection taken in 1967 shows the missing section of street.

 

 

 

I can’t make out any numbers or street names (the only one visible is too blurred) but I think this is a view looking west and downwards (you can see a slight slope). On the right  you can make out what might be Modena Street and on the left, as the road curves right, the entrance to Southam Street. Today, the Westway passes over near this spot and Elkstone Road does the job of taking you past Meanwhile Gardens towards Trellick Tower and Golborne Road, taking a slightly different route, closer to the old route of Southam Street.

So this picture takes us to what used to be the western end of Kensal Road which only now exists as a memory or a photograph.

Postscript

Another lengthy blog journey comes to a close. It’s been tricky balancing pictures from different times to tell a story so if I’ve made any errors, please correct me. Time travellers don’t always get everything correct and sometimes you get back to the present and find that things have changed.

Thanks of course to John Rogers who took the 1969 photos. And thanks to everyone who told me to keep blogging.  I wasn’t fishing for compliments, honestly but it’s nice to be appreciated. And I will keep going.

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On the border 6.2: road

1998, a sunny day near the end of a century at the junction of Ladbroke Grove with Kensal Road.

 

When I thought of covering the canal and Kensal Road in a couple of posts I took one of those Google Street View tours from this point up to Golborne Road and realised that the road has changed enormously in the last 40 years. There are many new buildings and conversions and the road looks quite different from how it did at the end of the 1960s, but some older buildings have survived along with something of the semi-domestic semi-industrial feel of the area.

 

 

It’s been suggested to me that the car beneath the advertising hoarding is a Fiat Panda, but surely not. (Too much of a coincidence? What was that advert “Ol’ Balck Eyes is back” about?) The pub which is still there today is the Western Arms which can also be seen in this picture looking back towards Ladbroke Grove.

 

 

 

At the back of the picture is another survivor, Canalside House. But the building on the right is no longer there. The rather larger, mostly white, corporate headquarters of the Innocent Company is there now. Behind the wall is the Portobello Dock.

We have some other pictures from the modern era but perhaps now is the moment to step back to 1969.

 

 

There is the pub again, with an unmistakable and unlovely Ford Anglia parked outside.

A couple of women stroll towards us, along the comparatively quiet street. This was one of the first streets John Rogers covered in his photo survey of the Borough, and one of the earliest chronologically. He must have started right at the top of Kensington, intending to work his way south.

 

 

 

Across the road is the entrance to the Dock, which went under many names. As well as Kensal Wharf when it was owned by the Chelsea Vestry, it was also called Kensington Wharf and also the Council Depot. (A favourite term for council buildings which were not predominantly offices. The main depot was in Pembroke Road and was still known by that name when I started working for the borough, in another semi-forgotten era.)

 

 

This view shows the yard just inside the entrance. Below the view inside.

 

 

Again, you can see the Narrow Boat pub in the background on the other side of the canal, which I once thought undocumented but is now turning up a lot in pictures.

 

 

 

The ramp was originally for horses to pull wagons up to the dock side. The building in the centre was used for several light industrial purposes including the manufacture of “gramophone records”, as Kelly’s describes it.

Also just visible are a pair of  early social housing blocks from the 1930s, Ruth House, below.

 

 

And Pollock House. Both of them have survived into this century.

 

 

The Saga Records building is also still here, although the front is currently boarded up.

 

 

A little further along the north side of the road, number 298 and a couple of neighbouring houses. Only the pram betrays any sign of habitation.

 

 

On the south side of the road, a part of Middle Row School.

 

 

This part of the school no longer exists, but the main building on Middle Row itself is still in action. The houses and shops on the left are also gone.

At this point I have to admit that it looks like we’re not going to get back to our starting point in Wedlake Street this week, so we’ll be doing another week in Kensal Road. I’ll leave you with another view of a pub.

 

 

The excellently named “Lads of the Village”.  It was later known as the Village Inn and by 2014 it seems to have become a wine bar type establishment called “Frames” (some snooker reference?) The building is currently intact according to Street View but it is now boarded up, awaiting further developments.

And for a final general image with a bit of a change of pace, a colour aerial view of the western section of Kensal Road.

 

 

This is from a series we have  taken about 1985. (A fascinating but sometimes confusing set of images) You can see the junction of Kensal Road and Ladbroke |Grove where we started today on the top left, with a few of the remaining features of 1969 and some new buildings. The canal is visible at the top, and (just about) the dock.

We’ll go a bit further, and come back to Wedlake Street in the next weekly post but before then it’s the week  before  Christmas when, by Tradition, I do a week of daily posts. Sooner than I thought, and only one of those is written so far. So fingers crossed.

 


On the border 6.1: Canal

The next couple of posts arise from this photograph, which  my  friend  Maggie  got excited about a couple of weeks ago. (There aren’t too many pictures of this building.) This one comes from our collection of former Planning photos  and was taken on October 16th 1984. You can see the staple in the middle which joins two prints together, as we used to do before we could get help from a computer.

 

 

 

 

It shows the rear of the former public  baths in Kensal Road which backed onto the  Grand Union Canal. (Previously known as the Grand Junction Canal) Two  faded lines  of graffiti seem to read “Save  our baths“.Too late perhaps. The impressive building must have been close  to demolition given the date . You can see Trellick Tower in the background to give you some idea of the location.

The highlighted graffiti  reads “An eye for an eye – in the end the whole world goes blind.” A characteristically seventies bit of instant sloganeering. See this old post about graffiti.

On the left is one of those scary high sided foot  bridges which were hated by young and old alike because you never knew what you might encounter on them while crossing. (Known locally as the halfpenny steps I’m told.)

This picture shows the steps up to the bridge, and the main entrance to the baths in Wedlake Street (the baths were sometimes called the Wedlake Baths). No amount of peering with a magnifying glass (another piece of old tech used in local studies) will reveal the wording text of the graffiti.

 

 

This is the view around the corner in Kensal Road, another carefully stapled image. The building on which JM and his friends have left their mark were once the Vestry Offices.

 

 

Historical note: up to 1900 the Chelsea Vestry owned a piece of territory called Kensal New Town which straddled the later border between Kensington and Paddington, so these Vestry offices originally belonged to Chelsea, as did the wharf, as we’ll see later.

Kensal Road now runs from Ladbroke Grove to Golborne Road, ending more or less at Trellick Tower but it formerly went all the way to the Great Western Road, running parallel with the canal, and north of the railway line. This is why I wanted to look at this border area, the canal and the road, together. This week we’ll look at the canal, so back to the water.

 

 

This view of the towpath is the last of this series from 1984.

This older image shows the backs of the industrial buildings on the south side of the canal.

 

 

This one gives a better view of the north side.

 

 

It’s a slightly discoloured image (some colour prints go that way) which shows how the houses and shops on the Harrow Road went right up to the edge of the canal. My houseboat correspondent tells me that one of these was the rear of a fish and chip shop and that boat people could get their order handed to them without leaving their boats.

We’re heading west from this point back towards Ladbroke Grove. But before we get there we should stop off at Portobello Dock.

 

 

The dock (once called Kensal Wharf) is a small basin off the canal. As part of Kensal New Town it would once have belonged to the Chelsea Vestry. (Access to the canal might well have been useful to the Vestry, just as some landlocked nations like to have access to the sea or to useful waterways. The Kensington Vestry once owned a riverside section of Chelsea and later had a wharf on the river near Chelsea Creek.)

 

 

These two pictures have been cropped from a contact sheet. (See the pen mark at the top of the image.) This one shows where the dock area could be entered from Kensal Road.

This picture by local photographer Peter Dixon shows the somewhat waterlogged towpath with the gas works in the background and on the right the Narrow Boat public house.

 

 

There is another photograph showing the now demolished pub by Peter in the Ladbroke Grove post I did a couple of years ago.

On the other side of the road, in a picture from 1975, you can see the gas works (covered quite extensively in this post) and on the other side of the canal, the wall of Kensal Green Cemetery.

 

 

The gas works had two basins of its own. You can see the entrance to the smaller one  (which still exists) in the foreground. The bridge over the entrance to the larger basin is visible in the distance.

Here is a picture of a barge actually entering the basin.

 

 

This view shows the rear of the barge as it performs this manoeuvre.

 

 

I think this is the smaller basin, about 1970.

 

 

Back on the main body of the canal we carry on westwards. This view of the less grand section of the cemetery looks quite rural, as it would have been once.

 

 

And finally, this view just around the corner gives us a traditional motor barge passing by  a stand of trees with only the gasometer to give the setting away.

1970s we think, based on the plastic sheathed tree on the right.

That takes us along the northern border of Kensington and Chelsea by canal. The next post gets back to the road.

Postscript

Thanks to Peter Dixon for his photograph, which is reproduced by permission. Please do not use it without his permission.

Thanks also to Barbara for providing the two pictures of the barge entering the basin, and for finding many of the others which come from our Planning collection. I’m grateful for the continuing interest of North Kensington residents in their history which is just as fascinating as the more “historical” parts of Kensington and Chelsea.


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