Tag Archives: Knightsbridge

Christmas Days: A sunny day in Knightsbridge

It’s always good on a cold winter’s day to remind yourself of the pleasures of city life in the summer. If it’s a more innocent age so much the better. These pictures go back to the 1950s and were taken in Knightsbridge, on or around the Brompton Road, a busy street which had wide pavements with pleasant mews streets running off it.



A street with a passing 2CV  trundling along, dogs walking, women strolling, men  sitting in benches, on eof them smoking a pipe. And, Erik’s ladies hairdresser, one of the many small businesses.

I’ve taken advice on the two buses, by way of dating the pictures, assuming they were taken the same day. Between the 14 above and the 9 below my transport correspondent got it down to a date between 1952 and 1958, which looks about right in terms of what people were wearing.


Oh, and it’s apparently a Sunday. The 9 ran further on Sundays as many buses used to, and this one is ging all the way to Becontree Heath. (It ran out of the Barking Garage)

The gentleman with the newspaper looking back at the Roller. Is a notable person about to emerge?


This sort of chair stringing activity used to be seen quite a lot, even up to relatively modern times. It’s a bit of street theatre in some ways. It has certainly captured the attention of the boy with the almost finished ice lolly.

More leisurely work activity below, in a nearby mews.


Are the two young women making miniature trees? Something like that, with a non-working friend sitting nearby. Check out all the chalk messages on the wall. 1950s graffitti? One of them appears to read “Cymru am byth” – “Wales forever” of course.


Nearby perhaps , in Brompton Square I think, some more light work as a man waters hanging plants, assisted by a lady and watched by a couple of poodles.

And as it might be a Sunday, the best leisure activity of all, just hanging out in the park. Did they hang out in those days?



The photos were taken by a photographer named Mark Hamilton. Our thanks to him and whoever gave them to the Library.

Miscelleany: what a way to earn a living

While we’re in Knightsbridge I have another snippet for you.  I came across this Harrods Christmas catalogue last year in a filing cabinet containing some quite dull ephemera, along with with a few interesting items.  The nice people at Harrods thought it might be a good idea to persuade this young lady to put on a silly costume.


As we sometimes do at Christmas. But how did they persuade her?

Perhaps it was a fun afternoon out. If you know who she is, please get in touch.

More tomorrow I hope.



Empty streets: Sloane Street and Lowndes Terrace 1902

It’s another early start so we’ve left the time machine at Maison Nouvelle, in Brompton Road next to Tudor Bros, the fancy drapers. (We met the proprietor in the last Empty Streets post) If we go west we can sneak under the arch into Hooper’s Court which is little more than an alley leading to New Street. If we take a detour past the livery stables we see this house:

The rear view of these buildings reveals a strange jumble of shapes and styles. The middle one is the back of number 4 Sloane Street, the Swan Tavern. Round the corner is the front.

If you look closely you can see two men doing some early morning drinking. Or perhaps they’re looking for someone. Check out the second floor window.

What’s that guy looking at? It is an unwarranted assumption that he’s looking but doesn’t want to be seen? He could be looking down waiting for the two men in the bar to leave. He could be intending to make it out the back way. Or maybe none of this is true. It could just be my suspicious nature.

If we move up the street past the ghost of the person who didn’t stand still long enough for the camera you can see that J Carver is on the move.

Although 10 Brompton Road is not too far to go. Past the National Fur Company it’s hard to tell if Barnard’s Restaurant is still secured from the evening before or if they too are closed for and ready to move.

Sloane Street is eccentrically numbered, consecutively down each side of the street so across the road from 1-5 you have 207.

Mitchell and Co are high class grocers with a Royal appointment insignia above the shop.

At 210 Peter Yapp had a boot maker’s business sandwiched between two outposts of the original Harvey Nichols store. See the woman in white just visible on the left, the first of a particular group of morning people.

Harvey Nichols is listed in the directories as a draper’s, but they were already becoming something much bigger.

The main shop occupied the whole block between Sloane Street and Seville Street as it still does. In those days this stretch of Knightsbridge was called Lowndes Terrace. I think the people standing around are shop workers waiting to be let inside

They look too smart to be just hanging around for no reason.

Our photographer Ernest Milner (my apologies to him for not naming him in the previous Empty Streets post) was assiduous in his task to record the buildings under which the Piccadilly Line would run. As in Sloane Street he also found his way around to the back of the building.

Three more men waiting to get into the building to start work. You wouldn’t want to be late I imagine.

In 1902 Harvey Nichols had some competition. On the other side of Seville Street was another large draper’s store.

A lone boy waits in front of Woolland Brothers who traded from a rather more impressive building than Harvey Nichols.

Quite a grand facade I think. Maybe it was just the luck of the drawer that Woolland Brothers ended up in a finer building.

The next picture takes us right to the border of Chelsea with the City of Westminster. We can’t go any further today.

See how both stores have their names displayed in the same position on the top floor so you would see them as you walked down Knightsbridge or better still, rode on an open top bus.

At the left of the picture down William Street you can see the trees of Lowndes Square. In the foreground three people have found themselves in Mr. Milner’s photograph.

The two men have faded more than the woman. She lingered a little longer before going into Woolland’s. In one brief  moment she stood alone on the pavement in her distinctive Edwardian outfit of white blouse, dark skirt and wide-brimmed hat. Is she carrying a coat or an umbrella? Was it a warm autumn morning as she briefly faced Milner’s camera? Was she curious about the early morning photographer? Did she know I would be looking at her image and asking myself unanswerable questions about her more than a century later?

Time to get back to Maison Nouvelle. I’m sure someone could tell me why Woolland’s store and even the building they traded from is gone and almost forgotten while Harvey Nichols is a location and a brand known around the world. Businesses are as subject to the processes of history as people.

I have one last stop to make, back to New Street (now Basil Street) off Sloane Street.

I want to see if I have any relatives inside. I could have a look at the Handy Shop while I’m in the neighbourhood. who knows what they might have on their shelves?

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