Tag Archives: Lenthall Place

Backwaters: behind the streets you know

Royal Crescent Garden Square looking north east 1970 KS799

A quiet secluded spot not that far from here.

Some of this week’s pictures are places you can still go to today, others have vanished entirely. Most of them are quite different now. All of them are off the beaten track. You may have passed them by without noticing. London is full of such places. A name which ends in close, or place, or walk or court may be the sign of a backwater. Or mews – Kensington and Chelsea is full of those. A mews can be a short stretch of cobbled street just off a main street, or be part of a hidden network of semi-pedestrian paths behind a big public street.

Or it can be a daunting passage you never knew existed.

Railway Mews looking west 1970 KS1692

Leading to a place you never wanted to go.

Railway Mews looking north 1970 KS1691

Mewses (is that the word?) are often connected with motoring even today. In the 1970s, where all of these pictures originate, small workshops and showrooms were everywhere.

Such as here, Lexham Mews:

Lexham Mews entrance looking north 1976

between the large houses an arch leads to the mews, where you could have kept your horses and carriages if you had them and tradesmen could make discreet deliveries. Later, the chauffeur could live over the garage. The mews turns right and leads behind the houses.

Lexham Mews 3-6 looking south 1976 KS4102

In later times these buildings could be converted into small houses, with or without an integral garage. In this picture a woman stands at a door, possibly about to park her Rover, the quintessential manager’s car of the age. I first saw these kind of houses and streets in programmes like the Avengers (Steed lived in one). They had become trendy boltholes for the new classes of urban dwellers.

Lexham Mews no25 1976 KS4107

Just like this man.

Lexham Mews met Radley Mews.

Radley Mews no1 looking east 1976 KS4095

A mark 3 Cortina peeps out of a garage.

Mewses were also good locations for outlets of the motor trade, with the full range of services, workshops and even sales, especially the exotic marques like SAAB.

Radley Mews looking south SAAB showroom - Ace Motors 1976 KS4093

Now we turn to a vanished street, perhaps even forgotten by some.

Lenthall Place looking west 1969

Lenthall Place was next to Gloucester Road station. There is now  an office building on this corner, with a shopping arcade between it and the station. I often use the Waitrose store in the arcade so I must regularly walk this route in its modern form. But back in 1969..

Lenthall Place south side 1969 2

A grocery/bakery, the Casa Cura cafe (“hot meals served every day”) and Frank’s Sandwich Bar all single storey buildings built as makeshift appendages to the station. On the other side of Gloucester Road there are some surviving examples of this style. Further along some older terraced housing with retail businesses at ground level.

Lenthall Place south side 6-8 1969

Hair fashions by Leslie (“Posticheur”), with another snack bar which relies on a sign saying Continental rather than a regular shopfront. Somewhere for a dedicated set of customers I imagine. Including workers connected with the businesses at the end of the street.


Lenthall Place west end garages 1969

Like in many a backwater a set of garages, these ones more anonymous than most. Take a look back at Gloucester Road…

Lenthall Place looking east 1969 - Copy

Finally, a backwater that still exists but massively altered over time.

Cavaye Place looking south 1972 KS242

Cavaye Place is a street which begins and ends on the Fulham Road. This view looking south shows the covered alley entrance on the right and the gap where some older buildings were demolished and the buildings on the south side of Fulham Road are visible, like the former Midland Bank, the pale building on the left. At this point Cavaye Place was a muddy patch of open ground used as a car park. A modern building was inserted into the space behind the wooden fence housing offices at the back and retail at the front. For many years the Pan Bookshop (now a branch of Daunt’s) was there, a treat fro local residents like myself – back in the 80s you could have a meal at the now sadly gone restaurant Parsons, while away some time in the bookshop and then take in a film at the cinema visble in this picture.

Cavaye Place looking east 1972 KS232

The side of the cinema on the left where the other entrance to Cavaye Place is, once an ABC but later with many other names, and now currently part of the Cineworld chain.

This post might be the first of a series. There are may more backwaters in Kensington and Chelsea, and we could visit some more of them. But while you decide let’s get back to that quiet garden.

Royal Crescent Garden Square looking north west 1970 KS798


I’m also introducing a new occasional item which I’m calling “where are they now?”. In the course of looking at the Photo Survey I often come across people caught by accident during the course of their day. Here are three 70s people waiting to cross the road at Lexham Gardens. Are you one of them, or do you recognize anyone? A bit of a long shot I know….

Lexham Gardens 94-96 1976 KS4135 - Copy

Do you think they’re together? Or just three random strangers. Interestingly, it’s the woman who could walk down this same road today without attracting comment. But those flares…


A tale of two tube stations – Gloucester Road

Gloucester Road Station 1868 385.643 GLO - Copy (2)

Back in 1868 a gang of workers poses in front of the station they have built for the Metropolitan Railway. The road in front of the booking office is still a dirt track. Although the station is only yards away from Cromwell Road, which will become one of London’s major thoroughfares it stands on its own on an otherwise empty site waiting for development to catch up with it. The first Ordnance Survey map of the area shows some development on the east side of the road around Stanhope Gardens but to the west is a market garden and on the north side of Cromwell Road St Stephen’s Church also stands isolated.

Gloucester Road  1869

Just below ground level are the platforms.

Copy of Gloucester Road Station under construction october 1868

The interior is still recognisable today. I walked down a staircase in more or less the same position this morning. In 1868 steam trains will be running on these tracks so although this is an underground railway it will stay as close to the surface as possible with plenty of open air sections. Take a look at that roof by the way.

Jump forward almost exactly a hundred years to December 1969.

Copy of Gloucester Road west side - Station

The original building is still there, stripped of some of its ornament, and the front of the building has been taken over by retail. Gloucester Road itself looked quite different in 1969. The area had become a tightly packed urban conclave of retail outlets, hotels and houses.

To the north of the entrance were more shops.

Gloucester Road west side dec 1969

There was a narrow street, Lenthall Place, which has now gone and clustered next to the station a series of ramshackle looking shops.

Gloucester Road west side 2 Lenthall Place - 178 GR dec 1969

There was this substantial building on the corner of Cromwell Road.

Gloucester Road west side 120-122 dec 1969

The specialist shops and the flats above have all gone now of course, replaced by this development behind which is a modern shopping arcade:


But I promised you two tube stations, didn’t I? And there are two stations at Gloucester Road. Look back at 1969 again:

Gloucester Road west side dec 1969 stations

There on the left you can see the second station, built for the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway in 1906 to serve their deep level tunnels and the lifts which took passengers up and down.  The Piccadilly Line then ran between Hammersmith and Finsbury Park. This 2013 view is rather clearer:


The colour image shows the distinctive ox-blood coloured tiling which was a characteristic of Piccadilly and Northern Line stations in Central London. The Exit sign is still visible on the left although the exit from the lifts is now through the old station. The Metropolitan and District Railway was then part of the United Electric Railway Companies. They ran both the District and Circle Lines (as they are now known) through the old station.

You can see the same twin station set up at South Kensington Station.(And in a larger format at Victoria main line Station which was also originally two separate stations.) The two stations at Gloucester Road were later joined up internally so they shared the same entrance and ticket office.

In 1969 Gloucester Road was looking very like a hundred year old building.

Gloucester Road west side dec 1969 - Stations detail

The signs are faded and the frontage cluttered.

Gloucester Road looking north from Courtfield Road dec 1969

That roof I told you to look out for?

Gloucester Road Station 1970s

Gone in this 1972 picture. In fact if it wasn’t for the station signs on the right you might think you were looking at a different building. I think this is an east to west view with an eastbound District Line train entering the station. Check out the weighing machine. Weighing yourself was once a common recreation for tube travellers along with trying to get chocolate bars out of those unhelpful machines which sometimes dispensed them.

The 1990s development next to the station gave us Waitrose and Boots and a covered way through to Cromwell Road was built on a deck which covered the platforms. The strange thing for me is that I can’t remember how it looked before. I suppose I didn’t use the station that much in those days.

If you look at a modern picture of the station you can see that some effort has been made to restore the original façade and balustrade.


The entrance is back where it started out and although the ornamentation on the top is not quite the same the 1868 building has survived more or less intact even though it is now dwarfed by the surrounding offices and hotels. The tube network has expanded but Gloucester Road’s two conjoined stations are still a destination for travellers entering London for the first time.

1969 pictures by John Rogers. 2013 pictures by myself.

This post is the first in a month long series which will be based on the general theme of transport and ties in with this year’s CityRead campaign. The book is Sebastian Faulks’ A month in December. Unlike last year when I had all four posts worked out in advance I have no idea what I’m writing next week, so keep your fingers  crossed.

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