Tag Archives: Lots Road

Lots Road south to north:1972 and 2013

I left you last week at the Balloon Tavern which looked a bit bleak and isolated in 1972. But a couple of days ago, more than forty years later it looked like this:

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The south to north arm of Lots Road has changed considerably in forty years. One of the readers of last week’s post made this comment:

Coming into it off Kings Rd there were tall terraced houses down the left hand side and a high brick wall down the right. The houses probably had not been painted since before WWI, and were very shabby. At the end of the road was of course the mighty power house. It was utterly depressing & I never went to the address.

I think it would be safe to say that William’s comment no longer applies. Look at the house on the left of the pub in 1972.

Lots Rd E side 116-114 1072 KS 4022

Now look again.

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Someone has cleverly slotted in another house and shop which look as though they were there all along. The 1972 vacant lot has been filled with this building:

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A plain exterior enlivened by a rather striking abstract decorative feature.

We can’t leave this end of the road without taking a look at the Creek. Here it is in 1972:

Lots Rd W side Chelsea Creek 1972 KS 4021

I’m fairly sure this is a view looking west at the point where the railway line crosses the Creek. I couldn’t get anything like the same angle but here it is today:

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The Creek itself is reduced to a trickle (although this was low tide), and almost all of the industrial buildings are gone. Nature has taken over but not in any kind of landscaped way. It’s a sharp contrast with nearby Chelsea Harbour.

The view below, taken from the other side of the bridge into the harbour shows one survivor, the frame of a gasometer although probably not one of the ones in the 1972 picture:

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We can’t linger here in the hot summer of 2013. Let’s go back to that darker black and white version of Lots Road.

Lots Rd W Side 69-67 1972 KS 4036

Almost all the way up the western side of the road were the remnants of the old days of barges coming up the Creek delivering coal, timber, lime and steel to wharves and warehouses. These buildings were devoted to light industry and services. Above at number 69 were the Daily Telegraph garages.

Lots Rd W side 73-71 1972 KS 4035

71-73 was occupied by Winchester Automobiles, taxi cab manufacturerers.

Now look at the same buildings as they are now. Note the first floor loading door in both pictures.

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Number 71 is below:

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Those buildings survived, repurposed for a brighter age and a different kind of customer.

The buildings in the three pictures below on the other hand have all gone as far as I can tell.

Lots Rd W side 77 Christiana Wharf 1972 KS 4034

Below, the St Mark’s Service Station at number 77:

Lots Rd W Side 1972 KS 4033

Lots Rd W side 97-95 1972 KS 4032

On the west sid eof the road were such companies at Aelbir Co (anodisers), Ritmo (plastic welding) and Marigay (metal furniture). But there was also Photoscale Ltd (photogrphic enlargement) a sign of the kind of services that would be here in the future.

There is a new Lots Road now, auction houses, storage units, design companies, the Heatherley School of Art and the inevitable residential developments. The essential characteristics of the new version of the Road is visible in the details.

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Copy of DSC_2460

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It’s a pleasant walk down Lots Road on a summer’s day in the 21st century. Westfield Park looks as though it was always there.

But let’s not forget the way it was in 1972.

Lots Rd E side 1972 KS 4025

Lots Rd looking S fr Kings Rd 1972 KS 4028

1972 pictures by John Rogers. 2013 pictures by me. Picture of Heatherley’s by Carrie Starren.

Apart from the changes and to the buildings, the general improvements  and the amount of traffic there was another difference between 1972 and 2013. I wonder if a security man ever emerged from a building in 1972 to tell John he couldn’t take a picture of it. In view of the evident modesty of this particular building I won’t post a picture of it here but it’s located just about where the Golden Virginia ad is in this picture.

Thanks to our volunteer Nick who scanned the 1972 images.

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Lots Road 1972: the L-shaped street

Lots Road is that rarest of street configurations, an L-shape so it has a north side, a south side an east side and a west side. So where do we begin? Here?Lots Rd (rear of) W side looking S Chelsea Creek 1972 KS 4029

This is the view looking south from Stanley Bridge, just to the west of the junction with the King’s Road and right on the border of Kensington and Chelsea. The rail line which was constructed on top of the filled in section of the Kensington Canal is on the right but it looks as though a small section of this part of the creek survived.

But let’s not go that way. What about starting at the other end?

Lots Rd looking W 1972 KS 4056

That’s the junction with Cremorne Road. The Power Station is visible with two of its chimneys intact. On the right, a small corner shop. There were still plenty of those left in 1972, the year John Rogers took these pictures for the Library. Another summer day at the tail end of the long 60s.

Lots Rd N side corner with Cremorne Rd 1972 KS 4053

Just as in Hurstway Street a few years before Tizer is still popular. Above the door is a lager advert featuring Henry VIII and one of his wives, uneasily drinking a pint of Harp under the motto Keep a cool head. I must have drunk Harp, one of those generic British lagers but I can’t remember the taste, if any.

The north side of the street was destined to survive in the face of redevelopment but came perilously close to meeting the fate of Bifron Street, Raasay Street and the rest. A little way down the road you can see one of the towers of the World’s End Estate rising. In 1972 it would become the largest council estate in Europe.

Lots Rd N side 12 1972 KS 4051

It’s often assumed now that the large housing developments of this period were a bad thing. It’s certainly true that the houses in the World’s End which were demolished at this time would probably have been gentrified had they survived and would now look pretty good. But almost none of them would be in use as social housing. I’ll do a post on the construction of the estate one of these days.

The south side of the street was occupied largely by commercial buildings of one kind or another.

Lots Rd S side 9-7 1972 KIS 4048

The easternmost part of Chelsea had been an industrial zone since the latter half of the nineteenth century. Even when the high and the low were at play in Cremorne Gardens, raw materials were being landed and unloaded at the various wharves on the river and on Chelsea Creek which continued north as the Kensington Canal, a never quite profitable venture created by the then Lord Kensington. Lots Road the former Poole’s Lane followed the  line of the canal northwards to the King’s Road hence the L shape. The wharves were still in use in 1972.

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharf W 1972 KS4054

Note the  cobbled surface redolent of the 19th century even  clearer in the picture below.

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharfe 1972 KS 4055

Behind the crane you can see the south side of the river. Just visible above the head of the man on the right is St Mary’s Church which has been a significant landmark in images of the south bank foe more than a century. I think I’m right in saying that all the other building visible on the south side of the river are now gone. (I should apologise for any inadvertent inaccuracies in this post by the way. I know that many people know the history of this bit of Chelsea far better than me. I meant to have a walk along Lots Road before writing this but couldn’t quite find the time. However it looks as though at this pace this post is going to end up as a two-parter so I may have time for some field work yet)

Here’s another view looking south:

Lots Rd S side Chelsea Wharfe 1972 KS 4052

This shows the warehouse across the river in better detail but as you can also see there are two churches visible so it’s possible the one in the previous picture was not St Mary’s. Comments are welcome on this point and any other details in the pictures.

ng Stn 1972 KS 4046

Some of the Wharf buildings have been redeveloped but the Pumping Station has survived as has the building below (although it has been seriously modernised) :

Lots Rd S side Frenlite Hse 1972  KS 4049

For me what makes this picture fascinating is the two pigeons strolling into view from the right. It may have been a quiet moment of the day but in many of the pictures from this period you see a quieter version of London where lazy birds can walk in the street without being disturbed.

A man can also wheel a barrow down the street.

Lots Rd S side 1972 KS 4042

The large windows in the foreground belong to the Power Station. Unlike its more famous counterpart in Battersea, Lots road Power Station is right on the street where you could walk by and glimpse the massive machinery within.

Further west we reach the end of the east to west section of the road.

Lots Rd S-side 1972 KS 4038

Another view of the ranks of tall windows.

It does look as though we will have to pause here with a view of one of the famous pubs of Chelsea.

Lots Rd E side 114 Balloon Tavern 1972 KS 4019

The Balloon has gone under a few names including one very long version when it was part of the Firkin chain of real ale pubs. How did that name go? Oh yes, “The Ferret and Firkin in the balloon up the creek”, which had definite local connotations.

If I do manage to walk down Lots road before next week I’ll take some pictures, but if anyone has any modern ones of their own they’d like to share feel free to send them to me at dave.walker@rbkc.gov.uk or post them in the comments section.


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