This is one of those posts about North Kensington which come with an explanatory map. Lancaster Road is one of those east to west streets which originally stretched from St Luke’s Road in the east, crossing Portobello Road and Ladbroke Grove ending up at Bramley Road. It doesn’t go that far any more, but I’m going to save the western end for a second post as we have plenty of pictures to look at before we get that far. I’ll show you a map in a moment but in deference to Twitter, who always display the first image of the post in the automatic tweet which WordPress sends out for me, here is something a little more engaging than a map:
The horse and cart is always a good image to start with, as they were still a common sight in North Kensington in the late 1960s and early 1970s. And here’s the map:
Have a closer look at this one because it shows several places of interest, some buildings still there like the Library or the Serbian Church, others used for different purposes like the Ladbroke Technical School, some of them no longer in existence at all, particularly on the west side of Ladbroke Grove.
When I think about Lancaster Road I think about the crossroads with Ladbroke Grove and the section leading up to Portobello Road. That was the part of the road that was most familiar to me when I first worked at North Kensington Library and used to walk up to the Portobello Road to buy some lunch. This picture shows the south side of the street near the intersection with Portobello.
And this one shows the north side of the road a little further west, the entrance to the old Isaac Newton School and the Kensington Institute (adult education).
Here’s a flashback showing the intersection more than a hundred years ago.
And this is a similar view from 1969.
Behind the man crossing the road on the right you can see the KPH public house. We’ve looked at that before in the post on Ladbroke Grove. On the other side of the road, the branch of Barclays Bank is under construction. Next to it the building with a white section of wall used to be a bakery. (The date 1933 is visible at the top of the building)
Next to that is the Royalty Cinema building. By 1969 it was a bingo hall. It has a certain place in local history because of the unsubstantiated rumour that Reginald Christie worked there as a projectionist.
A closer look at the other side of the road shows a row of surviving buildings.
No longer in existence though is the white building beyond the Royalty.
This was Solomon Wolfson Jewish School. I remember classes from the school coming into the Library when I was there there in the early years of my library career (when I must admit I had no idea where the school was exactly) The building was demolished in the 1980s and replaced by the London Lighthouse. The Museum of Brands moved in there more recently.
Next door was another school.
Ladbroke Lower School at the time of the photograph, a substantial building where you can now find a Virgin Active centre.
It’s at this point that St Mark’s Road crosses Lancaster Road. This is the view from there:
The spire belongs to the Methodist Church, our destination for today. On the left on the picture is another religious establishment, also visible on the map.
At number 133, the Convent of the Little Sisters of the Assumption. North Kensington at this time had several convents, although the nearby Convent of the Poor Clares on Westbourne Park road / Ladbroke Grove had already been demolished. Note the empty space on the map. Thomas Darby Court, a sheltered housing block is now on this site.
Staying with the map if you look on the north side of the road at this point you can see the last remaining piece of Ruston Close, the renamed Rillington Place, and the Council buildings next to it (formerly an iron works), all behind Lancaster Road facing the railway line.
A second section of the same map is useful now.
On the south side of the road between St Mark’s Road and Walmer Road, most of the area on the map has been redeveloped. One of the surviving buildings is Morland House.
A housing block. Look at it on Google Maps these days and you will see it behind a number of trees with thick foliage. The whole area looks much greener in this century.
On the opposite side of the road between numbers 236 and 238 is a barely visible passage.
It’s just about where that sign is. (check back with the map). I had to have this pointed out to me by a local resident, so don’t just take my word for it. If you had gone down that covered passage about 1969 this is what you would have seen.
And if you had walked further the buildings on the left would be revealed.
These were Council buildings at the time, probably used for maintenance and repair of Council vehicles. On the right of the picture you can just see a chimney dating back to the period when the building was the Bartle Works. That chimney often appears from another angle in pictures of Rillington Place, looming over the wall at the end of the street.
Below, a quick look back across the street at the terraced houses typical of Lancaster Road aside from the larger buildings (numbers 139-149 I think).
They look a little run down. (Is that a Ford Zephyr?) But suitable for gentrification. It was not to be for this particular stretch of houses.
We’re almost at our stopping point now.
Here you have a better view of the Methodist Church, at the place where Lancaster Road crossed Walmer Road. Clarendon Road and Silchester Road also converged at this point in an area which was called Lancaster Cross, and also Lancaster Circus (I’ve seen that term on an old postcard.). Here is another part of the Cross, diagonally opposite the church.
The Lancaster public house curving around the corner with Walmer Road heading south on the left. This is where we pause at a part of Lancaster Road which would be more or less unrecognizeable today, except perhaps for the zebra crossing which may be in the same place. (If you follow the link to the Walmer Road post you’ll see the same crossing and street light from the south.) We’ll continue our tour down Lancaster Road in part 2 of this post.
Thanks to Maggie Tyler who helped me identify many of the pictures of Lancaster Road in our collection. Her expertise in North Kensington matters (and other areas too) is invaluable. Part 2 will probably not be next week as I’ll be out of town again. Instead, I’ve already written another self-indulgent post about one of my favourite topics.
Also thanks to people who have sent their condolences about my mother’s death, Lucy, Karen, Marcia, London Remembers, Sue and Steph, plus others who have spoken to me in person. As I hinted last time I now own a large number of family photographs which may find their way onto a future blog post. Families and their history are a core part of what we do here and everyone is part of the larger story.