Tag Archives: King’s Road

Christmas Days: a couple of pictures of Chelsea in the 30s

I bought both of these pictures on eBay, having been shown them by a friend. They’re only really connected by the decade in which they were taken. We don’t have very many pictures from that period though, so it’s worth putting them together for one of these mini-posts.

 

 

1937.Chelsea Bridge. The 51st Anti-Aircraft Brigade is the caption for this convoy of odd looking equipment heading south across the recently built bridge. The Brigade was a unit of the Territorial Army  based at the Duke of York’s Headquarters just off the King’s Road (now the Saatchi Gallery).

What is that stuff on the trailer? Military experts will no doubt tell us in due course that the giant metal nipples  serve a perfectly reasonable purpose. I can’t find an angle in which that sign is legible. Nor can I complete the phrase “Load not..” on the rear of the truck pulling the trailer which appears to have a large metal cylinder in the back. The two vehicles ahead of the truck are clearly pulling anti-aircraft guns.

It’s not strange that in 1937 plans were already being made on how London would be defended from air attack. I dealt with a civil defense exercise in 1939 in this post.  The man on the bike doesn’t seem bothered and the two pedestrians look quite calm.

 

 

The picture wasn’t very expensive. I paid a little more for this one.

 

 

I liked it because it was very clear, and even though it was just a view looking north up Edith Grove, across the King’s Road, with Fulham Road visible in the distance. There is good detail on  F W Norris’s Wine Stores, featuring draught and bottled beers. The few passers by are good too especially the two girls in the foreground wearing distinctly 30s hats.

 

 

I didn’t actually unwrap the picture from its plastic and cardboard packaging until I came to scan it and then I turned it over to find that on the back was some information which completely changed the picture.

Double motor cycle tragedy. Brother and sister killed.”

The picture came from a newspaper picture library. There is a short account of an accident in which a brother and sister on a motor bike travelling north to south towards their home in Clapham were struck by a car in the early hours of a Sunday morning. She died instantly, he later at a hospital. The picture has been cut from a larger piece of paper. It looks like there was a diagram below the short account in red ink.

So my attractive picture of a Chelsea street in 1930 becomes a record of sudden death.

Drive carefully this Christmas.

 

Miscelleany: Madonna through the looking glass

Some of you will have read the recent post about the King’s Road in the 1980s featuring photographs by my friend CC. One of them was a monochrome version of one of her friends, a hairdresser who works in the King’s Road dressed as Madonna for a Christmas Eve party at the salon. CC told me there was a colour version so I thought that would look good for one of my Christmas posts.

This one is one of “Madonna’s” co-workers, also dressed up for the day.

The lady herself.

And the back view, which rather gives the game away.

I should add that the gentleman himself has given permission for these pictures to go up on the blog.

See you tomorrow.

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The King’s Road with CC

I know we’ve been up and down the King’s Road a number of times over the course of this blog and seen it through the eyes of a number of photographers, John Rogers, John Bignell and most recently Bill Figg. But I can’t resist doing again one more time through pictures by another of our Chelsea photographers, CC, who supplied the pictures for a recent post about Chelsea punks. She told me that today’s pictures were among her earliest efforts, mostly taken in the early 1970s or the very late 1960s. She also said that a few of them are not quite in focus. But I’m going to use those because of the things you can still see: shopfronts and other details.

Just for the sake of variation we’re going east to west this time.

 

 

This picture, with the cars of the time and the conventional dress of the couple on the right shows that the older King’s Road was still visible, probably even still dominant. This is roughly the period when I first walked down the King’s Road, not because I was drawn there by a new trendy fashion culture, but because my mother wanted to see one of the newest “sights” of London. I was with my parents and we were staying in Clapham with my uncle, who had a restaurant in Crystal Palace, or it could have been his later one in the Wandsworth Road. I would have been happier not venturing into counter cultural territory with my parents and leaving the King’s Road for the day when I could go there unencumbered, but I didn’t have the option that day. Perhaps that’s why I have only the vaguest impression of the day. It’s a bit of chronological geography (see the previous post) which has been almost obliterated by time.

 

 

That’s the north side of the road with a view of Cecil Gee (an established chain now catching up with new fashions) and a couple or routemasters for the bus enthusiasts.

This is the corner of Blacklands Terrace with the venerable John Sandoe bookshop already long established, and the Colville Wine Stores, close to the Colville pub.

 

 

 

A more obviously contemporary place, still recognizable today:

 

 

With a nice contrast in passers by. Below, CC has successfully created a rather clever image using the distinctive frontage of the Drugs Store.

 

 

This contrasts nicely with this tranquil view down the avenue of trees at Royal Avenue with vehicles at work.

 

 

Here, the now long departed Markham Arms.

 

Before the remodeling which retained the facade but little else, another distinctive building.

 

 

 

At this point I started consulting Kelly’s Street Directory and Richard Lester’s excellent book Boutique London to try and find the location of this famous shop, the first branch of which was in Carnaby Street.

 

 

I eventually found it in a photo by John Rogers, our first King’s Road photographer, on the corner of Jubilee Place.

This one too looked like a tricky one.

 

 

But Gipsy (“gowns” according to Kelly’s Directory – some whimsy at work  there) was at number 184a, between Jubilee Place and Manor Street.

This picture’s s blurred but you can see we’re at 137, one of the homes of Top Gear, another well known name of the time.

 

 

Moving west, a more familiar landmark.

 

 

The King’s Head and Six Bells under the pseudonym The Bird’s Nest. For an earlier phase in its varied history try this post. CC thought it was worth a glance upwards (as it often is, above the shopfronts on high streets).

 

 

Further along, a couple of nondescript retailers (except that none of them are completely without interest). S.Borris was a sandwich bar which was there for a long time. (Although I never went in very much. At some point someone warned me off the place for hygiene reasons – whether that was justified or not I cannot say.)

 

 

Nearby, another long standing feature of this section of the road.

 

 

I think the next shop was on the corner of Old Church Street. If you know otherwise please leave a comment.

 

 

Now we move on the the last section of new shops, coming to the  the curve leading to the final bit of the road.

 

 

Near Mata Hari, you could speed by in your nippy little sports car. Is it an MG Midget? [It’s been pointed out on twitter that in fact it’s a Triumph Spitfire. Of course, the Midget looked weirder! Thanks to DB.]

 

 

This is another slightly blurred picture but it does show us 430 King’s Road, then the home of Mr Freedom where Tommy Roberts and Trevor Myles continued their retail progress in the shop that would become SEX (among other names) later in the seventies.

And as I’ve not been blogging for the last couple of weeks, here’s a couple of bonus pictures, one of the World’s End itself

 

What is that thing?

Note the advertising slogan: “Give him a Guinness.”

And, probably from somewhere nearby:

 

[Update: This is the King’s Road end of Anderson Street, which I can now see as plain as day. Thanks to CC herself for that.]

Postscript

My time has been rather taken up for the last two weeks with the London History Festival. Although it’s of academic interest now, thanks to Roger Moorhouse, Marc Morris, Michael Jones, John McHugo and Keith Lowe who all gave their time for free.

I decided on a blogging breather so I didn’t spread myself too thin. I thought I had a good comeback post but it proved to be quite labour intensive so I fell back on this excellent series of pictures by CC.  Thanks again to her. And as I’ve not been present for a short while Chelsea aficionados  get twenty pictures.  I’ve got another couple of ideas bubbling under, but I’m still not sure what I’ll be doing next week.


The King’s Road in the 80s – portraits of a moment

There have been many months of chance meetings, hints and even some begging and pleading but my friend, photographer CC has finally allowed me to see part of her collection of photographs taken in and around the King’s Road in the 1980s. I’m not going to give you a whole lot of social/fashion history by way of introduction but for the few who don’t remember, the King’s Road, having been part of a  fashion revolution in the 1960s did the whole thing again in the 1970s and 1980s when punk came along and suddenly a new teenage tribe was parading through London.

A few weeks ago I featured some street scenes from the King’s Road in the 1990s photographed by Bill Figg. I made the point that Bill knew there was something new in Chelsea which needed to be photographed, but he just wan’t quite sure what it was, and I imagine he found the idea of taking photographs of people in the street a little daunting. Well that’s true even today in the era of street style photography. But in the punk era part of the point of the new fashion /anti fashion was to to be seen, and whether you were admired or denigrated by the “normal” world didn’t make much difference. Punk was either a step forward into a new weird scene or a threat to civilization. What I sometimes have to explain to people who weren’t around then was that it was both playful and serious. CC was around then, camera in hand, and set off to record what she saw. Unlike our friend  Mr Figg she understood what she was looking at and had an artist’s eye for what she saw.

 

 

This picture was taken outside Chelsea Old Town Hall. What strikes me most is the precision of the look, as carefully constructed as any  Regency dandy. Punk began out of a kind of do it yourself style. Like this young man, improvising with found objects.

 

 

The style developed although it retained that improvised element.

 

 

Some people like to be photographed, some don’t. CC’s rule of thumb was ask – Can I take your photograph? – and if the answer was no, just walk away. Quite a lot of people said yes.

 

 

These two were quite happy to pose, even revealing the all-important rear view.

 

 

In the early days it was always useful to walk around as a duo.

 

 

There was a certain amount of hostility from the straight world so it helped to have a friend, and look like you could resist any physical abuse. My recollection of London in this period was that it was a little more violent than it is today (although knives and guns were a lot rarer then) and it took a certain amount of bravery to be a punk.

You should blame me for the colour in this image. the original is a slide, which I scanned not entirely successfully. But I wanted to use a picture of a striking young woman.

 

Here is another.

 

A picture taken in a tattoo parlour in the Great Gear Market.

As the 80s progressed some of the punks became New Romantics.

 

And the modern boys and girls got jobs in King’s Road shops.

 

Outside Boy. This young man was one of CC’s favourite subjects. (Look at the size of his Walkman) This is his girlfriend.

 

Another willing subject from the same vicinity.

 

 

The teenage tribes morphed onwards. Punk was followed by New Romantics, Goths and other less definable looks. What didn’t change in the 80s was the desire to get out there and be seen.

CC also photographed her friends. Her is her hair stylist dressed up for a party as a famous 80s person.

 

You don’t need me to tell you who.

You also might not need me to identify one of this duo posed outside the Chelsea Potter.

 

 

Leigh Bowery and Trojan, both sadly no longer with us. CC saw them being photographed by David Bailey and asked if she could take a picture as well. Neither of them could resist posing for one more shot. Showing off was the essence of the art of being seen.

 

Postscript

My thanks to CC for supplying these pictures. None of them are part of the Library’s collection and copyright is retained by the photographer. If anyone wishes to reproduce them in a professional capacity I can put you in touch.

And if you like them, there may be more. And of course if you are one of CC’s subjects, please leave a comment.

Another one

You could say that Tom Petty, who died sadly young this week at the age of 66, doesn’t belong with punks and new romantics even though his career began with a 1978 album. But death isn’t neat, so once again I’m noting the passing of a musical hero. Tom Petty’s music looked back to the 60s as well as forward in to the 80s and he captured the essence of the times in many memorable songs. many of the tributes and features have mentioned “American Girl”, quite rightly, but I was drawn back to another song on his first album.

“…didn’t go to bed, didn’t go to work/ picked up the telephone and told the boss he was a jerk….

…I know what I want, I want it right now / While electric guitars are playing way up loud..”

Anything that’s rock’n’roll’s fine ”

A sentiment few old punks would argue with.


Chelsea stories – onward to Sloane Square

It’s taken us longer than I thought to reach the final stretch of the King’s Road but we’ve got here. Most of this week’s photos are from the early 1990s and at first you might think that nothing much has changed in the last twenty odd years but there have been a few changes.

We left off roughly about here, looking east.

 

We’re on the corner of Smith Street. The building, modern at street level, Victorian above was once an urban dairy. The cow’s head can still be seen on the third floor. Have a look at this post.

Nearby on the north side of the street was another retail outlet for dairy products.

 

 

The original location of the Mary Quant shop, at this point, a branch of Haagen-Dazs. Remember when that was a novelty? The pub next door was already a branch of Abbey National by then.

Further along the north side of the road you come to the small mall created around this time, King’s Walk.

 

 

 

Mr Figg wasn’t entirely impressed with the development but he took some pictures anyway

 

 

Empty in this picture with some nice reflections. There used to be a Virgin shop in there and in olden days when we bought CDs and videos at actual physical shops I would go there with my wife or my son. I think it was there I bought him the first Grand Theft Auto and I certainly remember going there to buy another driving game on the day of its release. I guess people still do that.

Here’s the mall with a few people about.

 

 

The small area in which the mall was built had contained a pedestrian close with a branch of Sainsbury’s at the rear, a Boots on the left and a shoe shop on the right. As I recall there was some kind of public sculpture in the centre with some wooden seating.

Further along, the corner of Tryon Street where there was later a branch of Superdrug (useful) followed by a branch of Muji (not so useful, for me at least).

 

 

Opposite the Mall is the once controversial branch of McDonalds, with a “discreet” version of their usual signage (to avoid “lowering the tone of the neighbourhood”, although some might say the Chelsea Drug Store had already done that.)

 

 

This picture shows the building after the Drug Store, which finally closed in 1985, but before McDonald’s. As you can see, after that it was a wine bar called Drummond’s. I can’t recall exactly when McDonald’s opened but I think it must have been around 1991, as I found some evidence of complaints about a “fast food restaurant” about then.

 

 

On the other side of Royal Avenue, which we have seen before, is an anonymous building which was occupied at ground level by a Safeways store, which probably withered away in the face of competition from M&S and Waitrose. You can see the building on the right in this picture, with the shops at street level below Whitelands House, one of those large apartment blocks built in the 1930s which you can find several examples of in Chelsea. Regular readers of the blog will remember my fascination with the original Whitelands House / College. (I won’t burden you with a link.)

 

 

Beyond Whitelands House is the Duke of York’s Square development, which most residents thought of as an improvement on the previous arrangement, seen in the picture below which Figg must have taken from the upper floors of Whitelands House.

 

 

It also show the final group of shops on the norther side before you reach Peter Jones, such as Woolworth’s, which was gone before I was a regular shopper on the King’s Road.

 

 

Peter Jones itself is another 1930s builing, still iconic, and still good for views over Chelsea if you go up to the furniture section, or the cafe.

 

 

I cannot help pointing out this single decker example of the short lived bus route the 249, which apparently is anomalous in Sloane Square. The 249 mostly travelled between Crystal Palace and Battersea.

Another of Figg’s random picture of shoppers, at Sloane Square from 1990.

 

The old configuration of Sloane Square, with the fountain and the WW1 memorial.

 

 

This picture shows the east side of the square looking south, with The Royal Court Theatre, and Sloane Square Station, surmounted by  a block of offices.

 

 

There was time of course when the station stood alone, quite plain and unadorned. (This is a picture from the 1950s I think. The station was severely damaged in an air raid during the war.)

 

 

To finish, a bonus picture. Everyone who has stood on the platform at Sloane Square knows that the track, like many sub-surface tube stations, does not have  a roof, and that  there is a large rectangular covered pipe which goes across the track above you, through which the River Westbourne (one of the “lost” rivers of London) flows on its way to the Thames. You may have told someone that as a fun fact. I know I have. But have you ever seen it from above?

 

There it is, caught by Mr Figg (or he may have copied the picture from an earlier one) before it was entirely surrounded by development. An example of Figg’s love for “hidden Chelsea”.

Postscript

Although we’ve now covered the length of the King’s Road, don’t imagine we’ve finished with JW Figg. Chelsea Stories will return soon.


Chelsea stories – east from Sydney Street

People seemed to enjoy the last Chelsea stories which featured plenty of images from the 1990s, so we’re carrying on in a similar vein, with a mixture of photos by JW Figg from different decades.

You might think that this section of the King’s Road, the main shopping section since the 1960s is just a succession of shops, some trendy and some not so trendy and that the story of the street is one of hip new independent boutiques gradually giving way to chain stores and international brands. But it’s a lot more mixed than that, with a few sections which have provoked controversy along the way. Come with me on a journey through time and space…… (as one of the presenters of the new version of Bake-off used to say. He probably won’t be mentioning eels in his new job).

This picture from a rooftop vantage points shows where we left off, with Chelsea Old Town Hall, Chenil Galleries, Moravian Tower (with scaffolding and green mesh), the World’s End Estate, and Lots Road Power Station visible in the distance.

 

Just past Habitat, almost opposite the these shops, there was a pub called the Lord Nelson which John Bignell used to like. In the 1970 it got a bit of a makeover.

 

According to the Chelsea Post of July 10th that year you could “do your own thing” in this “supersonic..disco pub” .

That woman wasn’t convinced. Ind Coope goes painfully pop art. Let’s follow her example and turn our eyes away and look  across the road.

To another view from above, of Antiquarius, one of the road’s survivors.

 

 

And looking in the other direction.

 

 

Looking down at the corner of Radnor Walk, with the Chelsea Potter just visible on the right. The building where there was a branch of Hugo was a hole in the ground a year or so ago, although its replacement bears a slight resemblance to the overall shape. Here a couple of pictures from few years earlier showing the view at ground level.

First, the plain 1970s frontage of the Potter, with Green and London, builder’s merchants, beside it.

 

 

then the corner building again as an outlet for the Wine Growers Assocaition.

 

 

Take note of the mixed bag of buildings beyond it. After the one with the gabled roof and the three story building, most of them were demolished in the 1990s.

Here is the entrance to a small semi-industrial zone which hid behind the shops. You can just make out the name Carter Patterson on one of the buildings. If you look back to this post on aerial views you can see a little of what was there.

 

 

Residential apartment buildings were created at the back with a row of shops including Marks and Spencer’s at the front. Of course M&S wasn’t the first supermarket in that location. Local residents will remember a branch of Gateway (one of the many names of the supermarket chain also called Somerville and International) which was there for only a matter of months it seemed. The cavernous interior always seemed semi deserted when my wife and I went into it, like a ghost shop in my memory, although it can’t have been as bad as that. It was a case of the wrong shop in the wrong place, especially as that branch of M&S feels like a King’s Road institution now.

Here’s the empty space:

 

And what filled it, looking back. The buildings beside it, such as the Good Earth restaurant were also demolished. M&S and a few other businesses are there now.

 

 

The north side of the road includes that other architectural fixture, the Pheasantry. These days it looks like it hasn’t changed since the 19th century, but there was a time  when it was reduced to the bare essentials.

 

The facade, held in place by scaffolding as we’ve seen many times before all over London.

A colour view, from the side.

 

 

This was the Pheasnatry in earlier years. The statues have been painted various colours over different periods. There is a post on some of the building’s inhabitants here.

 

 

What’s that next door?

 

 

A colourful branch of the Classic cinema chain, showing Jack Lemmon and Julie Mills in Avanti! (1972). I saw it quite a few years ago and liked it, but I don’t know if I would now.

Some of you enjoyed Figg’s random shots of people passing Manresa Road in the last post. Figg wasn’t all that good at street photography. He puts me in mind of Dylan’s Mr Jones – “something is happening around here but you don’t know what it is”. Here are two passable pictures taken opposite the Pheasantry.

 

 

An old school cool dude as far as 70s style is concerned.

 

 

And some classic punks from the late 70s. The woman with her back to us looks like she’s being photographed from front and rear. I have a friend who took many pictures of Kings Road style in the 70s/80s. One day I hope to present some of her work here. (Hint)

This picture shows the Pheasantry with its new companions, after redevelopment. If you go there today you can see how the new buildings were joined to the section of the façade that was preserved.

 

 

In the next block is a relatively modern build, for a branch of Barclays Bank. It looks like a bank I have to say, not much like a branch of French Connection, although it has been that for many years. The feeling of a bank has remained though,

 

 

along with an original feature:

 

 

This sculpture, placed on a plinth above some steps to the basement just inside Markham Square, was installed by one of the branch managers, who was, according to one of my correspondents, a sculptor himself.  The odd thing about the object is its obscurity. Despite having walked past it for years I (and others I asked) had never noticed it. The stairwell has been covered over but the sculpture sits in more or less the same place, huddled up next to the window near some steps leading to a locked side door. Does it qualify as a public sculpture, or is it sitting on private land? Whichever it is, just have a look for it next time you’re passing. I have taken several people to look at it recently, taking credit for “discovering” it, although of course the credit is not mine.

Postscript

We haven’t even got to Sloane Square! Maybe next time. This post is dedicated to Christine, whose time I am often wasting.

Another postscript

I haven’t noted any deaths recently, I’m pleased to say, but in keeping with my habit of recording the passing of musicians can we spare a thought for Walter Becker of Steely Dan who died this week. As a man of a certain age the period when Steely Dan were at their peak was also an era when I was young and preoccupied with music. Nearly  all their lyrics are memorable in some way but the song that sticks in my mind is one of the best science fiction songs I know, King of the World, from my favourite Steely Dan album Countdown to ecstasy

If you come around
No more pain and no regrets
Watch the sun go brown
Smoking cobalt cigarettes
There’s no need to hide
Taking things the easy way
If I stay inside
I might live til Saturday

No marigolds in the promised land
There’s a hole in the ground
Where they used to grow
Any man left on the Rio Grande
Is the king of the world
As far as I know

Thank you Water Becker.

 


Chelsea stories – various days and various times along the King’s Road

We’re returning to the photographs of Bill Figg this week and taking up more or less where we left off in the first “Chelsea stories”. Very few of Bill’s pictures are dated, but we can make a few educated guesses along the way, from the various shops we see. We’ll jump from the 1990s to the 1970s and the 1950s and back again as we go, and I’ll try to proceed from east to west. We start here with a couple of shops you thought might be permanent fixtures but have gone now. In some ways, remembering the more recent decades is harder. You might think a day in May 1990 was just yesterday. (Well, I might) But it isn’t, is it? It was 27 years ago. It’s not the present, no matter how much my mind tells me it was.

As I recall it the Emperor of Wyoming (named after a Neil Young song?) sold western style clothes, and Johnsons was more of a rock’n’roll leather jacket sort of place, as was the shop nearby

You can see it on the far right of the picture, American Classics. Here’s a better view from another year.

Remember the name for later.

Around Moravian corner was a row of shops with an entrance into a courtyard. The site had been rebuilt for modern use but there had been a small social housing estate called Chelsea Park Dwellings (built 1885)

Beyond them was a row of single storey buildings which were replaced in the early 21st century.

The pub on the corner of Beaufort Street had been known as the Roebuck but in the 1990s it was called the Dome, after the feature on the top. Of course, it’s had other names since.

On the other side of Beaufort Street was another unique building, the Bluebird Garage. This picture comes from a prospectus from the 1920s. The Bluebird was one of the first garages in London with all the facilities the growing band of private motorists needed.

It was later known as Carlyle Garages, and used by the Ambulance Service. In this early 90s or late 80s picture you can see the name and the generally poor condition of the building.

 

But a few years later the space had a new use. The garage and the two buidlings on either side were re-purposed for retail and leisure as the King’s Road headed towards the 21st century.

One of the things I like about the work of our in-house photographer from the 70s, John Rogers was the way he accidentally caught people out and about. This is before what we later called street style photography. Figg stumbled across a few interesting images in the same way.

Nice jacket, Madam.

On the south side of the road is another local landmark.

 

This cinema has gone by many names. The Essoldo, the Classic, the ABC, the Canon and others. A researcher has recently been looking into the history of the building for a magazine article which I hope to read soon, so I won’t attempt to list all its incarnations. Just one more:

Students of film history will date the pictures from the movies showing. This link takes you to an anecdote about another version of the building.

Staying on that side of the road, and remaining in the 1970s, some buildings which have remained intact despite occasional attempts to redevelop them.

 

Who remembers the Chelsea Antique Market?

Look out for that guy in the hat.

 

There he is again. I can remember the builder’s yard, and going in there for some household item, as we used to back then.

 

 

I wasn’t going to use the next picture but then I saw the two shops in the tall building.

 

 

The Loose Rein? Miller’s of Chelsea became a toy shop called Tiger Tiger. It was on the corner of Glebe Place, at the bottom of which was the Chelsea Open Air Nursery, which my son attended. We were frequent visitors until it closed after there was a fire in the building.

Is that why the scaffolding is there?

 

 

In this series of pictures Figg is obviously sitting in his car, parked in Manresa Road. I can’t say whether he was trying to get a picture of the shops, including the excellently named Naf Naf. or whether he was snapping passers by. But the sequence is interesting.

 

 

Do random pictures tell us much about the changes in how we dressed? In the interests of historical perspective I consulted my colleague Kimberley who is 27 years old (I have her permission to mention this fact). She thought those denim shorts were a bit tight.

 

 

I don’t quite know what the look is that this trio are doing, but whatever it is, they’ve got it.

 

 

Now check out the woman on the left of the trio, the one in the striped tights . Her carrier bag says “American Classics”.  So we know exactly where she had just been. (Kim didn’t like the hemline on that blue skirt and wondered if striped tights were a thing back then.)

 

They were. (I think I remember that?) Historical note: Argyll House is in the background, still the oldest surviving house in Chelsea. (Although part of the nursery building in Glebe Place may be just as old).

Speaking of history, let’s look across the road, and back to the 1950s.

 


King’s Parade under demolition. There was a terrace of house on the north side of the road extending from Dovehouse Street to Manresa Road.

After the demolition was complete there was a used car lot on the site.

 

Finally, let’s move on to Sydney Street, the goal I set myself for this post.

 

The Board of Guardians building at 250 King’s Road (later the Registry Office, and now private businesses) and the infirmary wing of the Workhouse, still in existence, although that central section is gone now. The billboard on the right is where the Chelsea Palace used to be – music hall, theatre, cinema, TV studios and even a bingo hall in its time. We may look at it in more detail one day. The demolition dates the photograph to the late 1960s I think. Not quite time for the current location of Chelsea Library, but close.

Postscript

That was another marathon of pictures. Maybe I’m still making up for the two weeks off. Some people on twitter have already started congratulating me for the upcoming millionth page view. Thanks, but there’s still a few thousand to go. I reckon sometime in November. We can get there sooner of course. Tell your friends!

I’m already writing next week’s post which will be of interest to fancy dress fans.


Chelsea stories – your Granny, your Junk, your Cave

This week we continue looking at the western end of the King’s Road, using the photos of our new friend JW “Blll” Figg. and a couple of others. And we’re going to take a look at a few buildings over time. To start with, just to get you orientated:

 

 

The World’s End Tavern, a permanent fixture on this stretch of road, often changing hands, but hanging on, even when the surrounding buildings change.

 

 

This looks like the 1950s judging by the vehicle and the people. Keep your eye on that innocuous shop on the left with the awning. It would see some changes in the years to come. There always seem to be a couple of shops there on the corner of Langton Street, part of a terrace of houses  leading to Shalcomb Street.

 

 

One of the shops changes over time. Here, in the 1960s it’s called “Granny takes a trip”, one of the sights of the slightly cooler World’s End. And here it is with added car.

 

 

I’m not completely sure of the time sequence. This one could have come first.

 

 

[A John Rogers photo]

The reliable Sunlight Laundry kept the wacky shop front company throughout Granny’s time. I’m just guessing that Granny gave way to the fruiterer’s first.

 

 

Or were they before Granny? Anyway,  in the 8os or 90s a more staid establishment occupied the spot.

 

 

Between you and me, I think this property is destined for change. (It’s currently given over to interior design, as is the former cleaners).

Now back across the road before you get sick of the sight of the same place.

 

 

A rare colour picture of the shops leading up to the junction with Edith Grove: Quick Nicker ( I don’t know…cheap clothes, but one picture shows a guitar in the window). Field’s newsagents, the World’s End Pharmacy and another laundrette, Speed Queen). These were the shops next to Sophisticat, which we saw last week, and round the corner from another counter-culture establishment, Gandalf’s Garden. There are some black and white views in a previous post. The first three images in that post show the whole corner.

We’re going to cross the road again.

 

 

Another rare picture, of Watney’s Brewery, a characteristically 20th century industrial building with a touch of art deco about it. It was later occupied by a business with a distinctly 1960s/70s name.

 

 

Junk City, an SF sort of name like a location in a post-apocalyptic novel/film. The site was up for sale when this picture was taken in the early 1970s. It was replaced by a building a few people will remember, a redbrick office building which was the headquarters of Penguin Books. I don’t have a picture of that. It was there into the 21st century,in fact it was still there when I wrote that previous post about the King’s Road in 2011 (Where did six years go? Is the blog itself now part of history?) but has now been replaced with a residential block distinguished by a set of solar  panels on the front which resemble crumpled sweet wrappers (something from Quality Street maybe). A step in the right direction perhaps, and one of those odd phenomena of modern life – a building is built when you’re around, and knocked down while you’re still here. You outlived an office block. I suppose it happens more often than we think.

[Added 19th August. A little Google maps research found this, to complete the story:

Possibly even more nondescript than I remembered it.]

One more jump back across the road.

 

To another retail landmark. This is another John Rogers photograph from 1972, which I used before, showing the now painted bright green building mostly occupied by the Furniture Cave. Here it is from another angle.

 

 

Mr Figg captions this “after the fire, 1974”. No mistaking what happened there, or that part of the building has just disappeared.

 

 

This version is a more modern view, 90s perhaps. The corner of Lots Road has been occupied by a relatively new building, and although the picture is monochrome you can guess the Furniture Cave was probably not green at the time.

 

 

I’m including this rather blurred view of the new building not to fill in the gap in a post I did on on Lots Road, but for the just legible sign on the corner of the Furniture Cave – Crazy Larry’s. Not an establishment I ever attended but I used to go past this spot a lot in the 1980s and I used to wonder what it was like. Does anyone have any memories? I was usually on my way to an Indian restaurant called the Kabana just over the hill. These were the days when takeaway deliveries were less common, but I actually enjoyed the walk, and sitting in the restaurant with a lager waiting for the food. By the time I got back Dynasty was thankfully nearly finished. Simpler days.

So, a quick look back at some buildings you may have seen. We’re not finished with the World’s End but in the next Chelsea Stories we’ll be heading east.

In the meantime, I’ll sign off with something quirky for you, typical of Bill Figg who, like myself, was “a snapper up of unconsidered trifles” if I’m not misusing Shakespeare. In nearby Tettcott Road you could at one time see this:

Maybe the Brothers Quay were inside.

Postscript

I’ll be off for a couple of weeks from next Monday so there may or may not be a post next week. I’m thinking about another Hugh Thomson book which is a kind of holiday in itself.  If not, expect to see a new post sometime in August.


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