Tag Archives: World’s End

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.


Forgotten streets of Chelsea

I’ll have to start by qualifying that title. Chelsea people have long memories so I should really say streets forgotten by some people. For others the streets demolished in 1969/70 to clear the area for the building of the World’s End Estate will never be forgotten, and for others still the act of demolition never be forgiven. But for those of you who don’t remember, or those who never knew let me just say there was an enclave of streets in the west of Chelsea which no longer exist. This 1935 map shows them and gives you the roll call of streets which have passed into history.

1935 OS map X29 World's End streets - Copy

Raasay Street, Bifron Street, Vicat Street, Dartrey Road, Seaton Street, Luna Street – all gone now, and somehow the names themselves are redolent of another time and an older, slightly rougher version of Chelsea. The stub of Blantyre Street lingers on at the edge but you can see that the five (or six) sided shape is now a sunken island among the more familiar names like Edith Grove and Cremorne Road.

Our photographer John Rogers went down there in 1969 and caught those streets in their final transition from a living neighbourhood to an empty shell. You may have seen pictures of some of these streets before. (I did a post on the general history of the World’s End). But this post is purely concerned with the last days of these almost forgotten World’s End streets.

World's End looking north 1969 KS1913

1969. Look at that woman waiting to use the phone. If she could step into 2014 and stand in pretty much the same spot she would see more or less the same buildings. But if she turned around and looked behind her…

St John's Church World's End 1969 KS1848

She would see St John’s Church and Mission Hall at the intersection of Blantyre Street and Dartrey Road. If she looked to her left and she could see Blantyre Street.

Blantyre street looking east 1969 KS 1878

A street full of parked cars which leads tothe last few numbers of Cheyne Walk. (What’s that large one on the right?)

Check the map. You can turn right from Blantrye Street into Seaton Street.

Seaton St looking south 1969 KS 1896

The tree at the end is on the embankment overlooking the houseboats.

Seaton St east side 1969 KS 1900

In Seaton Street there’s all sorts of semi-erased football graffitti on the wall next to the Chelsea Corner Cupboard including the incomplete inscription Osgood Aven(u)e which must be a reference to Peter Osgood. (“Osgood is God” vied with “Clapton is God” as mottos on the wall  back in 1969)

Behind Seaton Street was Luna Street,

Luna St West side 35-37 1069

where you could still kick a ball down the street if you wanted to. Dartrey Road ran north to south.

Dartrey road looking south 1969 KS 1832

Those tower blocks in the distance are on the Battersea side of the river. Running west from Dartrey Road was the oddly named Raasay Street.

Raasay Street south side 1969 KS1790

Here you can see the first signs of demolition. This is a closer view of the same scene.

Raasay St north side 1969 KS 1793

Mixed rags and scrap metal still available.

In Bifron Street houses were already vacated.

Bifron street looking West 1969 KS 1795
Some signs of a road closure as a truck gets ready to go.  And below, the interior of a house is laid bare.

BIfron street north side 1969 KS1798

In Vicat Street (Vicat sounds like the name of a dissolute Victorian aristocrat) the process is further along.

Vicat St North side 1969 KS 1813

You can almost smell the dust rising in this picture and the ones below.

Vicat St South Side 1969 KS 1807

Wallpaper is still visible on the walls of those exposed rooms, and debris in the street.

Vicat St South side 1969 KS 1810

The empty A F Stokes shop, along with some more unsuccessfully executed football related graffitti. It all looks quite forlorn.

So let’s go back, away from the devastation. If that woman is still in the phone box she can look west and see this view.

Dartrey terrace 1969 KS 1845

Still a little life left in those World’s End streets. The corner of a pre-war car, second hand goods, fish and chips plus whatever they sold at Gandalf’s Garden. All gone, not so very long after these pictures were taken.

Postscript

Don’t think I’m down on the World’s End Estate. I’ve been inside and there are some very nice flats there. And the view is astonishing. I’ve no doubt that living conditions some of the houses in the demolished streets must have been pretty grim. But there is aways a price to be paid for development.


On the border: Lots Road before the Harbour 1983

We’re back on the edge of Kensington and Chelsea this week looking across two bodies of water, one large, one small, at the neighbouring territories of Fulham and Battersea. These photographs come from the same source as the ones in the Paddington post, but date from 1983, when the right angle bend of Lots Road was a backwater and the semi-abandoned railway land on the other side of Chelsea Creek was an industrial wasteland, a brown field site if ever there was one.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 017

This territory would become the ambitious and prestigious Chelsea Harbour development in a few short years but when these picture were taken it was still a remnant of the days when the Creek was lined with wharves where barges of raw materials were unloaded. Trains were marshaled in the many sidings and on the Fulham side there were warehouses and factories.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 006

Fulham Power Station is on the edge of this pictures, Lots Road ‘s younger brother often mistaken for its older sibling. The difference is clear though.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 025 col

The concrete chimneys are in a line at one end of the building. A power station had been built on the site in 1901 but this is the B Station constructed in 1936 and decommissioned in 1978, five years before these pictures were taken. After some controversy over asbestos removal it was partially demolished with the remainder being converted into a storage facility.

The two stations were separated by the railway lines. The photographer, Bernard Selwyn, was a surveyor who had access to the railway bridge from which this picture was taken.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 010

The gasometers in the background are in Fulham.

This view is directly west looking up the river. It looks quite different these days with mostly residential developments on both sides of the river up to Wandsworth Bridge and beyond.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 024 col

But that’s way out of my territory. Here is the view looking north into Chelsea

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 012

You can just make out the Balloon Tavern in the distance. The  white building next to it in the picture still exists as well.

This is a closer view.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 018

The towers of the World’s End Estate appear in the background of every view in that direction.

The gantry also dominates this picture

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 014

Chelsea Creek is just behind that wall not quite visible in this picture. A body of water, some hundred year old brickwork, an enigmatic metal structure, industrial buildings with an air of abandonment, grass growing uncontrolled around them. All elements of a certain kind of post industrial landscape.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 019

But don’t get me started on the beauty of industrial decay. We could be here all day admiring the desolation.

 

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 011

There are cars in this pile of discarded metal.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 001

The river looks quite unfriendly and forbidding in this picture showing how close all this empty space was to the highly populous estate.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 002 - Copy

Across the river in Battersea is St Mary’s Church, where William Blake was married, On either side of it are two buildings now replaced. Where the flour mill was is now the Montevetro building. The Old Swan Tavern is also a residential block, though much smaller as you can (just about) see in this photo I took last year.

DSC_2527

Is the pleasure cruiser in the picture below the same as the one seen passing by the church.?

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 015

It seems to be heading towards the centre spans of Battersea Bridge.In the centre of the picture is the far off BT Tower, but take a close look and you can make out Chelsea Old Church. The cylindrical building on the left is the Sheraton Park Tower in Knightsbridge, but I’m open to suggestions on the other two towers.

Not quite finally, a view of our still surviving friend the Lots Road Power Station from the railway bridge.

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 009

The derelict space would soon be filled by the Chelsea Harbour development and all the subsequent riverside growth, not long after Selwyn took his pictures. In 2013 it  looked like this:

DSC_2493

So this is the lost borderland between Chelsea and Fulham, and this was the house on the borderland:

Lots Road 03 Jul 1983 004

In this one it looks most like the giant of its glory days but sleeping now. It has proved to be a persistent building surviving all the development around it.

Postscript

The photographs are by Bernard Selwyn part of a collection of material bequeathed to the Library by him. The two 2013 pictures were taken by me last summer when I went out to take pictures for another post.

After last week’s post I was reminded that the Chelsea Harbour area was fictionalized as Chelsea Marina by J G Ballard in Millennium People.


Side streets of Chelsea: part one

Most people have heard of the King’s Road, and when these photographs were taken it was at the height of its cultural / historical significance, Chelsea was one of the fashion / youth culture centres of the world. But off the main road were ordinary streets, home to the affluent and the less than affluent. These pictures were taken by the library photographer John Rogers in the early 1970s as a contemporary record of how Kensington and Chelsea looked. It was then a relatively new borough, the result of an amalgamation of the old separate Metropolitan Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, so the photo survey was one of the first attempts to show the character of the new entity.

The pictures have that quiet mood we’ve seen before in the survey pictures. They remind us that this is now a historical era, even if some of us think we can remember it. There are less people and fewer cars. And there’s an atmosphere about them, the hint of a more optimistic, less frantic time.

Markham St 1970

Markham Street, off the northern side of the King’s Road. A young woman with a string bag goes shopping. Further west in Burnsall Street a man checks out some jackets.

Burnsall Street

As always in these photo survey pictures I’ll be very pleased if you can identify the cars even when they’re not exactly classics.

Further south there are more traditional scenes.

Danube Street from the east

This narrow street is Danube Street, off Cale Street. The building on the right still has that shop front almost the same except for a different paint job.

On the south side of the King’s Road you could have found your way to this quiet autumnal backwater, off Christchurch Street.

Christchurch Street east side 1974, KS 4175Something about this photo takes me back to  my 1974 when I had been in London for less than a year.

So does this tranquil spot in Dilke Street:

Dilke Street north side 1974 KS4347

Dilke Street, which runs parallel to the river, deserves a second look:

Dilke Street south side 1974 KS4344

This distinctive house can still be found on Google Maps. The trees behind the wall are in the Chelsea Physic Garden.

The trees below on the other hand are in Margaretta Terrace. This street, rumoured to be the site of a plague pit was built by Dr John Samuel Phene and named after his wife.

Margaretta Terrace east side 26-27 1973 KS 4534

But in 1973 as John passed by, a small child ran between a Rover and a Citroen, two cars characteristic of middle class life at that date.

Margaretta Terrace is behind Oakley Street which I used to walk down on my way home from working at Chelsea Library, past the site of Dr Phene’s famous house heading along Upper Cheyne Row towards this narrow passage:

Justice Walk from west KS 3083Justice Walk may get a post of its own one day, or maybe my whole walk home. You can see a view from the other end in this post on WW Burgess.

If I’d turned left I’d have walked down Lawrence Street.

Lawrence St W side The Cross Keys P.H 1970 KS 3197

This is the Cross Keys, a public house dating from 1708. In 1970 the existence of a large number of pubs in Chelsea was taken for granted but many of them have gone now. The Cross Keys avoided being turned into a residential property in 2012 but is currently closed and up for sale again.

When I was walking home in those days my journey finished in Beaufort Street. Further west back in 1970 a major building project was in progress.

Cremorne Road looking west 1972, KS 3920Cremorne Road was just as busy in 1972 as it is today. The World’s End Estate was rising and places like this were gone:

Dartrey road 1969 KS1835A doorway in Dartrey Street just before demolition.

Some of the old neighbourhood still survived in 1972:

Burnaby street south side 1972, KS 3993

Burnaby Street, at the intersection with Upcerne Road (I think). Note the word Shed on the wall. Not a reference to the small building in your garden, but part of the Chelsea football ground, home to one of the original firms of football hooligans (according to Wikipedia  I’m sure one of my Chelsea readers could give us chapter and verse).

This nearby street is no longer on maps:

Meek St looking W 1972  KS3999A black cat crosses Meek Street in the thirteenth picture. He’s in no danger from passing traffic.

For the most part as we’ve seen the streets are calm. There are plenty of these pictures so expect a part two in the next few weeks. Let’s have one more for my friend Carrie, at the other end of Chelsea.

Pavilion Rd east side 107-103 1970Pavillion Road – what car is that, motor enthusiasts?

Postscript

This is a topic I’ve had on the back burner for a while, but for a couple of reasons, one medical (I’m not at work right now after a small accident on Monday night) and one practical (our scanning equipment is locked up in the Library basement during some building repairs), I’ve decided to go with it this week.

While at A&E I had an idea for a post which may be next week’s. This is the blogger’s life – everything you see makes you ask: is there a blog post here?

Stop press: I’ve just seen a tweet saying  the Cross Keys is to re-open. Story at:

http://chelseasociety.org.uk/cross-keys-reopen/

 


King’s Road blues – part one

When I was writing the post about the World’s End a couple of weeks ago I came across the photograph below.

Right in the middle at number 475 you can see a shop called Sophisto-Cat (next to Decro-Cat of course). I’d been looking for a picture of that shop for ages and finally it had presented itself. Sopisto-Cat was the home of the now famous Christian the Lion who was bought at Harrods by two Australian men and kept at the shop in that devil may care sixties way. I showed this picture to interested parties and someone even remembered that she and her sister were always asking their mother to take them to see the lion sleeping in the window.

This set me off trawling through our collection of photographs in search of interesting views of the King’s Road around the same time 1970 so let’s go on a tour up and down Chelsea’s most famous street.

The next two pictures show the shops next to Sophisto-Cat:

Note the pre-decimal prices at Starways and the offer of new dresses for £1 at Quick Nicker. 475 and its neighbours were soon demolished. This view from 1972 of the Guinness Trust Buildings shows the towers of the World’s End estate under construction although the end of the terrace above is still in place.

Further west we see another defunct building Kings Road Junk City. A large and anonymous red brick office block stands on the site today

Further along you find this parade of shops including the engagingly named El Cheapo

This is followed by the still existing Furniture Cave building, today looking much smarter and very much greener in colour than it did in the 1970s.

Stanley Bridge visible in the distance marks the border of Chelsea so now we have to do a virtual u-turn and head back eastwards.

We’ve passed the World’s End now and the next picture shows the parade of shops on the Cremorne Estate.

The branch of Woolworth’s is long gone but the Portch Brothers butchers were there until comparatively recently.

This photo shows the construction of Moravian Tower at what was then 343-379 King’s Road. The building was a Council block of flats for many years until problems with the infrastructure of the building made it uneconomical to repair. It was sold to a property company and now has the far less evocative name 355 King’s Road. The Tower took its name from The Moravian Chapel and Burial Ground located directly behind it.

This brings us back to Christian the Lion. The burial ground was where he exercised when he wasn’t dozing at Sophisto-Cat. I can’t mention the Moravian Burial Ground without also mentioning the urban myth associated with it. Because the headstones are flush with the ground and appear to be quite close together a rumour grew that the Moravians were buried vertically. Every so often we get a query about this so I should state for the record that as far as I know the deceased inhabitants of the burial ground were laid to rest in a conventional manner. The positioning of the headstones probably related to the desire for a simple and unadorned burial marker. The fact that this arrangement is also convenient for the exercise of big cats is entirely coincidental.

I haven’t got us very far along the King’s Road but time travel can’t be rushed. I’ll continue next week but to get us as far as Beaufort Street at least here are another couple of images:

329 and 331 King’s Road, now home to Just Kitchens and the Azteca Resturant. Just beyond Beaufort Street on the north side is the Bluebird Garage building. Once the home of the largest and one of the first petrol stations in the country, it is now devoted to a number of upmarket food /consumer outlets. But in the early seventies it was an ambulance station.

Next week we will push on to the heart of the King’s Road at the height of its fame as a fashionable shopping destination.

This is the first of a number of virtual trips along the streets of Kensington and Chelsea so let me know if there are any other streets you’d like to see.


Down at the World’s End

There is more than one World’s End. As a name for inns and taverns it seems to have emerged in the reign of Charles II and been used in other parts of London and elsewhere in the British Isles.  But the Chelsea World’s End tavern which gave its name to the area around it has been on local maps since there have been maps of Chelsea. The narrow alley which ran down diagonally to the river has been called Hobs Lane and World’s End Passage. This route was important as many of the tavern’s customers came by boat from London to enjoy its gardens and its hospitality. It is mentioned in Congreve’s play Love for Lover in 1695.

The surrounding area was farmland and nurseries in those days. The tavern was an island of leisure and a safe haven for travellers. (The water route was preferred – the area called the Five Fields between Chelsea and Knightsbridge was notorious for street robbery) By 1836 there were houses along World’s End Place and new streets nearby, Lackland Place and Riley Street. To the south west Baron de Berenger had started his National Sporting Club in the grounds of Cremorne House. Thirty years later at the time of the first Ordnance Survey map there were houses around the tavern and the Sporting Club had become the Cremorne pleasure gardens. By 1894 the Pleasure Gardens had gone and a network of streets had grown up to the south of the tavern – Blantyre Street, Vicat Street, Raasay Street, Dartrey Road, Bifron Street, Luna Street and Seaton Street all clustered in the triangle between the King’s Road and Cremorne Road.

Here is the tavern in the early 20th century:

 

And here is a view from the 1930s looking south with St John’s church on the left and the chimneys of Lots Road power station in the distance:

 

 

Hardly any of those street names are familiar today because the streets themselves are gone, all demolished to build the World’s End Estate which now covers the entire area. Work began building the estate in 1969 and by 1975 tenants had begun moving into what was then the largest Council housing estate in Europe.

For the purpose of this post everything I’ve written so far is a preamble to the photographs which follow which show some of those gone but not forgotten streets just at the point when demolition had begun. Here is a view showing the same block of shops in Dartrey Terrace in 1969:

The former Home and Colonial store has become the home of the famous counter-cultural emporium Gandalf’s Garden.

At the same date demolition was well under way in Dartrey Road:

The Chelsea Flower Mill is visible at the rear of the picture and if I’m not mistaken Lots Road Power Station has lost at least one chimney. (The chimneys of Lots Road are probably a story in themselves.)

In another view of Dartrey Road children are playing near the now empty houses:

But in two streets east in Luna Street normal life proceeds:

At the end of the street the Battersea  side of the river is just visible.

The final photo below also of Luna Street shows a woman looking out of an upstairs window. Thanks to an enquiry from one of our customers I know her name and that the van in the picture was her husband’s. This is one way of reminding us that the pictures of old buildings which are part of my stock in trade are important, but what truly makes history live is the people inside the buildings.

(While I was selecting pictures for this post I noticed that boy on the bike who got himself into several pictures the photographer took that day.)

The title of this post comes from the theme song to BBC2’s short lived 1980s Chelsea soap opera World’s End. It centred on a pub called the World’s End but was actually filmed at the Cross Keys in Lawrence Street. Anyone remember it?


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