Archive for the ‘LondonPhotos’ Category

Poplar To Limehouse 1988

Wednesday, January 26th, 2022

Poplar To Limehouse 1988 – my walk continued on the East India Dock Road.

East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51-positive_2400
East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-51

From the posters in the window this was clearly a video rental store, a relatively new thing back in 1988 – the first Blockbuster Video store only opened in Dallas, Texas in 1985. Home video recording only began to be popular after the introduction of Betamax in 1975, followed in 1977 by VHS (along with other formats.) By 1988 VHS had become the dominant format.

But my attention was caught by the notice on the door, ‘NO DOGS OR BIKES ALLOWED’ with a very small ‘Thankyou’ and the two bikes (I think a BMX and a racer) flung down on the pavement outside unlocked by their two young owners.

Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53-positive_2400
Poplar Labour Party, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-53

Poplar Labour Party, led by George Lansbury, gained control of Poplar Borough Council in 1919. Poplar was one of the poorest areas of the country and so rateable values there were low. With councils then being responsible for supporting the unemployed and poor, council rates thus had to be set at a much higher level than in wealthy boroughs, which was clearly unfair on boroughs like Poplar who had so many more people needing support. Their rates were the highest in London, twice as high as in the wealthy borough of Kensington.

Poplar Labour had come into office to make changes, to provide greater support for the poor, to set a higher minimum wage for council workers and to pay women equally to men. When a demand from government came in 1921 to increase contributions for cross-London authorities Poplar council refused to pay, instead voting to use the money for the local poor. The authorities took them to court, and 30 councillors marched there with two thousand supporters. All of the councillors were sentenced to prison, where one of the six women, Minnie Lansbury, died, only 32.

Public outcry with large demonstrations and some riots – and other councils following Poplar’s lead – led to the councillors being released with an Act being rushed through Parliament to make the system more fair, with richer boroughs contributing more and the poorer less.

Their protest had clearly been illegal, but was clearly justified, and it led to a much-needed reform. It’s a lesson which still has relevance, particularly with such current matters as statues and the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54-positive_2400
Richard Green, statue, Poplar Baths, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-54

The statue of Richard Green still stands outside Poplar Baths, a Grade II listed building from 1933, replacing an earlier baths from 1852. The baths were largely to provide washing facilities when few homes had bathrooms in this poor area of the city. As well as ‘slipper baths’ there were also vapour baths, showers and laundry facilities. The new baths in 1933 was a huge building including these facilities and two swimming pools, the larger of which could be covered over and used as a dance hall, theatre and sports hall.

The baths reopened in 1947 after the war despite considerable damage and was closed and converted into a training centre in 1988. My picture from 1988 shows a board advertising the support of the London Docklands Development Corporation in providing disabled access.

The building later became derelict but after a strong local and national campaign for its restoration work began on its redevelopment in 2014 and it reopened again as Poplar Baths Leisure Centre and Gym, along with 100 new homes, in 2016.

Richard Green (1803-63) was a local shipowner, shipbuilder and philanthropist, supporting a Sailors’ Home, schools, an orphanage and hospitals in the area, some of which had been founded by his father, George Green. His Blackwall Yard built many ships for the East India Company and for trade with Australia and China. His company, R & H Green in 1919 joined with Silley Weir as R. and H. Green and Silley Weir, with large premises at the Royal Albert dry docks and others and continued in business until sold to become a part of the government owned River Thames Shipbuilders in 1977.

George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43-positive_2400
George Green School, East India Dock Rd, Sturry St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-43

George Green (1767-1849) was the father of Richard Green whose statue with his dog still sits outside Poplar Baths. George married the boss’s daughter and made the reputation of the Blackwall Shipbuilding Yard, building many whalers.

As well as this school dating from 1828 on the East India Dock Road the older Green also endowed schools in Chrisp Street and Bow Lane. The current huilding from 1883 is part of Tower Hamlets College. George Green School in new buildings on Manchester Road became the secondary school for the Isle of Dogs with its first comprehensive intake in 1975.

Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44-positive_2400
Poplar Recreation Ground Memorial, schoolchildren, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-44

The War memorial to the children of Upper North Street School is https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101065215-war-memorial-to-the-children-of-upper-north-street-school-poplar-ward Grade II* listed and includes the inscription: ‘IN MEMORY OF/ 18 CHILDREN/ WHO WERE KILLED/ BY A BOMB/ DROPPED FROM A/ GERMAN AEROPLANE/ UPON THE L.C.C./ SCHOOL UPPER/ NORTH STREET/ POPLAR ON THE/ 13TH OF JUNE 1917./ ALFRED H. WARREN O.B.E./ MAYOR/ J. BUTEUX SKEGGS,/ TOWN CLERK. ‘

There is a fuller story at the link above about the first mass German raid on London by Gotha bombers on 13 June 1917 which killed 162, including these 18 children mainly aged 5 or 6. At least 37 other children at the school were among the 432 injured by the raid.

St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45-positive_2400
St Mathias, church, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-45

St Mathias Church is also Grade II* listed, with a number of Grade II listed monuments. Poplar’s oldest church, it was built in 1766 as the Chapel of the East India Company, and became St Mathias as a parish church in 1866. You can see the company’s arms in the roof, and allegedly its columns came from wrecks of the Spanish Armada.

The exterior of the church was altered and enlarged by Teulon in 1875. The church closed in 1976 and was restored for community use by the LDDC in 1990.

Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36-positive_2400
Grieg House, Garford St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-36

Built in 1902–3 as an officers’ annexe to the Scandinavian Sailors’ Temperance Home, founded by Swedish Free Church missionary Agnes Hedenstrom (1849–1928) who began her mission in the East End in the 1870s, opening the home here in 1888. The mission was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1930.

This was I think the last picture I took on my way to Westferry station where I returned a couple of days later for another walk – and the subject of a later post.


Click on any image to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse other images.


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More Poplar 1988

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022

More Poplar 1988 continues my walk Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar.

Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31-positive_2400
Chaplain’s house, East India Company, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 198888-7p-31

The Survey of London has a long story about this house at 115 Poplar High Street, now a private residence oddly called Meridian House and built together with 26 new almshouses by the East India Company in 1801-2. They had first set up almshouses in Poplar for disabled and retired employees and their widows and orphans in1626, built partly using money seized from the estate of Hugh Greete after his death in 1619. Greete had been discovered to have been swindling the company while trading Indian diamonds and they seized his assets.

The old almshouse was demolished in 1802 replaced by the new buildings. After the Crown took direct control of India in 1858 the government took over these buildings as Poplar Marine Hospital, selling all except the chaplain’s house, burial ground and chapel to Poplar District Board of Works in 1866. They demolished the almshouses to become Poplar Recreation Ground.

The chapel became the Church of St Matthias with the Chaplains house as its vicarage – and it was further enlarged in the following years. When St Matthias was closed in 1976 the house was sold to become a private residence.

Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace,  Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32-positive_2400
Former District Board of Works Offices, Poplar High St, Woodstock Terrace, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-32

This Grade II listed building from 1869-70 for the Poplar District Board of Works was the result of a competition for designs which attracted 43 entries and considerable controversy when the prize went to Walter Augustus Hills (c1834–1917) and Thomas Wayland Fletcher (1833–1901) of Bow, both former assistant surveyors to the board. One architectual magazine at the time described it as ‘terribly ugly’. They were obliged to cooperate with the second place pair of Arthur and Christopher Harston over a final design. Once constructed the building was found to have various problems, not least that in the boardroom ‘reverberation was so excessive as to make the speaker almost incomprehensible’.

Various alterations were made and in 1900 the building became the town hall of the new Metropolitan Borough of Poplar, who extended it and then replaced it in 1038 by a new town hall in Bow. It continued in various uses by the council and in 1987 became the Borough of Tower Hamlets’s Directorate of Housing.

Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34-positive_2400
Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-34

This small paved area is just off the High St between Norwood House and Holmsdale House and the block in the centre of the picture is Constant House on Harrow Lane, built by Poplar Council in 1936-7designed by the Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Rees J Williams. Both Holmsdale and Constant House were rehabilitated in 1986-7, with more work in recent years. Norwood House was added in the late 1960s and this paved area looks as if it may date from then.

Holmsdale House,  Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36-positive_2400
Holmsdale House, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-36

A similar style block to Constant House, also built for Poplar Council in 1937-8, designed by Rees J Williams.

The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21-positive_2400
The Resolute, pub, Harrow Lane, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-21

Built in 1937 on the corner of Poplar High St and Harrow Lane, to replace an earlier pub the Resolute survived until closed and demolished in 2011. The pub on this site was The Harrow from 1797 (or earlier) until renamed the Resolute Tavern around 1881.

The best-known ship of this name was fitted out for arctic service at nearby Blackwall Yard in 1850 and made several trips to the Arctic searching for the lost expedition of Sir John Franklin who had been searching for a North West Passage. Finally the Resolute got stuck in ice and was abandoned in May 1854, the crew escaping across the ice to a relief fleet.

The ship was found drifting by an American whaler over a thousand miles from where she was abandoned in September 1855 in perfect order and was sailed back to New London, Connecticut, arriving on Christmas Eve. Eventually she was bought by the US Congress, refitted and sailed back to be presented to Queen Victoria and rejoining the navy. The Resolute was retired from the Navy in 1879, possibly at the time the pub was renamed. Some of her timbers were then used to create a substantial desk presented by Queen Victoria to US President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880. Moved out for some years it has been back in use by most presidents in the Oval Office since being replaced there by Jimmy Carter.

East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01-positive_2400
East End Snooker and Social Club, East India Dock Rd, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-01

This club was at 253 East India Dock Road and has since been converted into Poplar Central Mosque.

Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65-positive_2400
Blackwall Tunnel Approach, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-65

The crunched rear end of D814 VRG presumably had its match on the front end of A506 DMX, but at least it appeared that there were no casualites in the collision at the north end of the Blackwall Tunnel, viewed by me from Poplar High St. A sign a little down the road says ‘Welcome to Tower Hamlets‘ though I think most of the tunnel is in the borough. At left is the unmistakable profile of Erno Goldfinger’s Balfron Tower, built in 1965-6 for the GLC and recently stolen from its residents by Poplar HARCA housing association and sold as luxury housing.

Follett St Seamen's Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66-positive_2400
Follett St Seamen’s Mission, Follett St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7q-66

Just on the edge of the elaborate interchange between the East India Dock Road and the Blackwall Tunnel Approach is this small Seamen’s Mission, built in 1898 a Christ Church House and a part of the St Frideswide’s Mission House Conservation Area, but this building only locally listed. The mission here was set up by members of Christ Church College Oxford who in 1881 decided to support missions in the East End. Now converted into six flats.

My 1988 walk in Poplar will continue in a later post.


Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

Friday, January 21st, 2022

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-63

Limehouse, Isle of Dogs & Poplar

This post starts where my previous post on the walk left off, on Emmett Street, no longer present, a victim of both the Limehouse Link tunnel and the edge of the Canary Wharf development at Westferry Circus. I think it this was taken just a little further south than the previous picture and the view between buidlings with several cranes is to the luxury flats being built on the Limehouse bank of the Thames.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-65

A little further south on Westferry Road, with the high dock wall at the left and Cascades Tower, designed by the architects Campbell, Zogolovitch, Wilkinson and Gough (CZWG) in the distance ahead. This unusual block of luxury flats built in 1985–88 was the first private high rise block in Docklands. Going down Westferry Road was entering a huge building site – and the graffiti on the bus shelter states WORLDEXIT (though its actually where a bus would take you back into the world.) When built the flats were almost impossible to sell or rent and Tower Hamlets council let them to teachers at £17 a week. Now they are rather more expensive, at around £400 per week for a one bed flat, and selling for around £500,000 and no teachers can afford to live there.

I think the slight rise in the road, which also bends slightly is possibly the former Limehouse Basin entrance and this section of Westferry Road was perhaps what had previously been Bridge Road.

Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-66

George Baker & Sons (Millwall) Ltd, builders and joiners, were according to the Survey of London only at this site from 1985 until it was cleared in 1987-8. But the name here looks older and this is the remains of a fairly elegant three-storey building, a photograph of which from 1987 is in the Survey of London. It was built on what was then Emmett St in the 1860s for Thomas Dominick James Teighe and Frederick Smith, sailmakers and ship-chandlers, and from 1902 to the early 1980s occupied by Fitch & Son, provision merchants.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-53

Considerable building work taking place close to Westferry Circus, with Cascades Tower visible in the distance.

South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41-positive_2400
South Dock Entrance, Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-41

Sand and gravel works on the north side of the former South Dock Entrance, with a view across the River Thames to Columbia Wharf in Rotherhithe.

Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43-positive_2400
Westferry Rd, Isle of Dogs, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-43

A bus stop at left on Westferry Road, the Island Car Service, much needed as the bus service was poor and unreliable and Timber Merchant John Lenanton & Sons Ltd on the corner of Manilla St, with the Anchor & Hope public house part visible at the right edge, and behind one of the towers of the Barkantine Estate. The car service was in the shop at 31 which for many years was Wooding’s newsagents. The Anchor & Hope had been opened since at least the 1820s, and possibly as it until recently stated on its frontage was established 1787. The building is still there though it closed as a pub in 2005. It was extensively refurbished for residential use in 2015 and the ground floor later became a gym.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-44

I walked back north to Ming St in Poplar, part of London’s first Chinatown, and renamed to reflect this in 1938 when many of London’s streets were renamed to avoid confusion – previously it had been since 1820 one of many King Streets. This was part of the Limehouse of Sax Rohmer‘s racist imaginings of opium dens and crime in his 18 book Dr Fu Manchu series, begun in 1913 and continued after Rohmers death by his biographer and assistant Cay Van Ash.

His work brought wealthy upper-class slum-tourists to the area, where they perhaps enjoyed meals in restaurants such as Wah Ying, but they will have found little evidence of Fu Manchu and his team of assassins, human traffickers and drug traders of the dreaded Sci-Fan secret society. Chinatown was one of the more law-abiding areas of the East End, and the Chinese certainly more law abiding than most.

Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45-positive_2400
Ming St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-45

The Peking was another remnant of the Chinatown past, mostly now moved away to Soho, though there is still a Chinese restaurant on the East India Dock Road, along with the Chun Yee Society. Dockland Light Railway trains now run across the bridge in the distance. The building at right with a dome was Charlie Brown’s pub on West India Dock Road. All this is now demolished.

The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46-positive_2400
The White Horse, pub, Saltwell St, Poplar High St, Poplar, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7p-46

Going east along Ming St takes you to Poplar High St, and on the corner of Saltwell St where the High Street begins you can still see a large white horse on top of a wooden post, though it seems rather smaller now than in my picture, and is closer to the street corner. There had been a White Horse pub on this site since 1690 though I think the building in this picture is probably from the 1920s when it was taken over by Truman’s Brewery. They sold it in 2003 and it was demolished and replaced by a block of flats. According to the Lost Pubs Project,  “In 1740 it was, scandalously, run by a Mr & Mrs Howes, both of whom were actually female. ”

The horse was Grade II listed in 1973 and has the shortest listing text I’ve come across: “C18 wooden carving of a white horse on post in forecourt.” The lower part of the sign with the pub name fell down and has been removed, but the horse has been repainted since my picture.


Click on any of the images to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse

Saturday, January 15th, 2022

St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32-positive_2400
St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-32

Church, Pyramid, Star of the East – More Limehouse
My walk around Limehouse came back to the area I think of as its heart, close to St Anne’s Church, one of the Queen Anne Churches built after the 1711 Act of Parliament and consecrated in 1730. St Anne’s is one of the six London churches by Nicholas Hawksmoor along with St Alfege’s Greenwich, St George’ Bloomsbury, Christ Church, Spitalfields, St George in the East Wapping andhis only church in the City of London, St Mary Woolnoth.


St Anne's Churchyard, St Anne's Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-34-positive_2400
St Anne’s Churchyard, St Anne’s Passage, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-34

I turned my back on the church to photograph the entrance gate to the churchyard.

Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne's Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-36-positive_2400
Limehouse Pyramid, St Anne’s Church, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-36

The church has featured in many books and publications, including the work of psychogeographers and other more esoteric and mystical writers, and seems to have a special place in the works of believers in ley lines. I’ve not read or seen the film ‘Dark Lines Of London’, but a web page claims to give “Factual Information That Provides the Backdrop to the Story” and includes descriptions and photographs of 10 sites, all from centuries after that in which the story is set, along “a real ley line” one of which is this “Wisdom Of Solomon” Pyramid.

Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-22-positive_2400
Princes Lodge, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-22

THE 4TH CONFERENCE of the Situationist International was held in London, at a secret address in the East End, 24-28 September 1960, seventeen months after the Munich Conference (April 1959). The situationists assembled in London were: Debord, Jacqueline de Jong, Jorn, Kotányi, Katja Lindell, Jörgen Nash, Prem, Sturm, Maurice Wyckaert and H.P. Zimmer. In fact, to ensure that the proceedings were kept well away from any contact with London journalists or artistic circles, the conference took place at the British Sailors Society hall in Limehouse, “an area famous for its criminals”.

Internationale Situationniste #5

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-23-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-23

Built in the early 19th century and Grade II listed the Star of the East was serving beer at least from 1845. More recently the building had deteriorated and closed as a pub around 2010, was reopened a couple of years later but closed again in 2016. The pub was then taken over and refurbished by the Old Spot Pub Co, who run around a dozen pubs re-opening again in 2019.

Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-11-positive_2400
Star of the East, Commercial Rd, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-11

You can read more about its recent transformation and see some photographs from London Pub Explorer. I’ve yet to return to see for myself. Back in 1988 part of the building was a separate restaurant, but I think the pub now occupies the whole building. The refurbishment appears to have kept at least some of the original interior features.

Three Colts Lane, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988  88-7o-14-positive_2400
Three Colt St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-14

Three Colt St, which has St Anne’s Church at its northern end is one of the oldest roads in the area, part of the route from Limehouse to Stepney and first recorded in 1362. In the Victorian era it was flanked by a number of shops and was something of a middle-class enclave surrounded on both sides by extreme poverty. Little remains from those times. The building here is the former London and Blackwall Railway station, probably dating from the opening of the railway in 1840. The station closed in 1926, but the line remained in use for goods traffic until the 1960s. When the line was reused for the Docklands Light Railway in 1987, Westferry station was built around 300 yards to the east.

Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16-positive_2400
Emmett St, Limehouse, Tower Hamlets, 1988 88-7o-16

Not only this building but the street that it was in have disappeared since I made this picture. Emmett St was at the end of Three Colt St, roughly where the Limehouse Link tunnel entrance is now. Construction of the tunnel began in November 1989 and the project was officially opened in May 1993, at £293,000,000 the most expensive per mile road scheme ever built in the UK, a huge public subsidy to the Canary Wharf redevelopment.

When Mucho Macho released ‘The Limehouse Link’ in 1998 it had one of my pictures wrapped around both the CD and the 12″ LP, where it looked rather more impressive. But this image was from Poplar – and this is the full image from the Urban Landscapes web site and doesn’t show the Limehouse Link at all.


Clicking on any of the black and white images above will take you to a larger version in my 1988 London Photos from where you can browse the album.


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An Olympic Bike Ride

Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

Businesses later demolished at the heart of the site for London’s 2012 Olympics

An Olympic Bike Ride: At the end of 2002 I finally bought a Brompton, a rather expensive folding bicycle which then cost me around £600. Perhaps not a lot for a new bike then and certainly not now, but rather more than the £13-7s6d or so the other bike I was still riding had cost in 1958.

Clays Lane Housing Co-operative – demolished for the Olympics

I’d been thinking about it for years, and it would certainly have been very useful for the work that I’d been doing around outer London in the previous decade, but I’ve only used it infrequently for my photography.

Eastway Cycle Circuit – lost to the Olympics

Though it’s a great way to get to places, taking it by train or underground and riding from a convenient station, Bromptons are a powerful magnet for bike thieves, so easy to put in a car boot or van, and selling at a relatively high price. It isn’t safe to lock them anywhere in public view when even the best cycle lock can only detain the well-equipped thief for around 30 seconds.

Bully Fen Wood – Community Woodland lost to the Olympics

So rather than using it for my general photography – mainly of protests and other events – I’ve used it for cycle rides on which I’ve taken photographs, both around where I live – it’s easier to jump on and off than my full-size bike – and in and around London.

Factory on Waterden Road – demolished for the Olympics

Thursday 4th January 2007 was a nice winter’s day, not too cold and blue skies with just a few clouds, and I went with the Brompton to Waterloo and then on the Jubilee Line to Stratford. Preparations had begun for the 2012 London Olympics and I wanted to see and photograph what I could of the changes that were taking place.

The footbridge has been kept in the new Olympic Park

My account of the day on My London Diary begins with my tongue-in-cheek suggestion that it would have been much preferable on environmental ground to shut down Heathrow and use that as the Olympic site, but goes on to describe a conversation I had with one of the residents at Clays Lane, then about to be demolished (spelling etc corrected.)

‘he talked of living in a fascist state, with lack of consultation and individual powerlessness, and of the games as having always had a militaristic overtone. hardly surprising there is little support for the games here, as initial promises that people from the Clays Lane Housing Co-operative would be rehoused in conditions “as good as, if not better than” their present estate were soon changed to “at least as good as in so far as is reasonably practicable.”‘

My London Diary

Work on the site seen from the Greenway

From Clays Lane I moved to the Eastway Cycle Track, already closed and fenced off – I decided against going through a gap in the fence to ride around it. The Community Woodland at Bully Fen Wood was also already closed. and I cycled on around the roads at the north of the site to Hackney Wick.

Pudding Mill River and Marshgate Lane – all now gone

Along Waterden Road I photographed some of the other industrial sites that were to be lost to the games, then turned along Carpenters Road and into Marshgate Lane, all soon to be fenced off and everthing on them destroyed. After taking pictures around Marshgate Lane I went back and into Hackney Wick, photographing the Kings Yard workshops on Carpenters Road soon to be demolished on my way.

Kings Yard – demolished for the Olympics

Hackney Wick to the west of the Lea Navigation is largely outside the Olympic compulsory purchase area, but some large areas of industry were scheduled for demolition and I took more pictures. I found the towpath here beside the navigation still open and rode down it to Stratford High Street, where more industry to the north of the road is also going.

Canary Wharf from Stratford Marsh

I spent some time going up the roads and paths here going from the High Street into Stratford Marsh which were still open, then went east along the top of the outfall sewer past areas also covered by the Olympic CPO.

St Thomas Creek, Bow Back Rivers – factories at left and right to be demolished

There was still a little light and I came down from the ‘Greenway’ and cycled down to Bow Creek from West Ham, going down the path on the west side of the creek to the Lower Lea Crossing. I wanted a picture showing the Pura Foods site then being demolished, but also made a number of other twilight pictures from this elevated viewpoint, and also some from the Silvertown Way viaduct as I made my way to Canning Town Station for the train home.

Pura Foods being demolished for London City Island development

Many more pictures from this ride on My London Diary, starting a little way down the January 2007 page.


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Around Swiss Cottage 1988

Wednesday, December 29th, 2021

Sigmund Freud, sculpture, Oscar Nemon, Fitzjohn's Avenue, Belsize Lane, South Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7h-61-positive_2400
Sigmund Freud, sculpture, Oscar Nemon, Fitzjohn’s Avenue, Belsize Lane, South Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7h-61

Around Swiss Cottage 1988: Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) escaped from Austria after it was annexed by Nazi Germany and came to London, spending his final year until his death in the house in Maresfield Gardens which now houses the Freud Museum. Croatian sculptor Oscar Nemon made three busts of Freud for his 75th birthday in 1931 and visited him in London in 1938 to make a final bust on which the head of this sculpture was based. Funds were later raised for him to create this bronze sculpture which was unveiled in 1970 next to Swiss Cottage Library where I photographed it.

In 1998 it was moved to a more prominent position at the junction of Fitzjohn’s Avenue and Belsize Lane and it was Grade II listed in 2016.

Taplow, Winchester Rd, Swiss Cottage, Camden, 1988 88-7h-63-positive_2400
Taplow, Winchester Rd, Swiss Cottage, Camden, 1988 88-7h-63

The five tower blocks of the Chalcots Estate where built for the London Borough of Camden in 1967-8. Taplow, Burnham, Bray, and Dorney are 23 storeys while Blashford has 19. The land was owned by Eton College and the names come for the area around Eton.

Cladding was added to the towers in 2006 by the same companies that clad Grenfell Tower but using fire-resistant rock-wool. When a fire broke out in a flat in Taplow in 2012 the fire was contained and did not spread and there were no deaths.

Embassy Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, Camden, London, 1988 88-7k-61-positive_2400
Embassy Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, Camden, London, 1988 88-7k-61

Originally a stucco double-fronted Italianate Victorian villa, it was converted in 1890 into the Eton Avenue Hall for the Hampstead Conservatoire, a prestigious private music college; Cecil Sharp the great collector of English folk song was its principal from 1896-1905 and composer Arnold Bax one of his pupils.

The building was converted again after the college had closed and opened as the Embassy Theatre in 1928, with a school of acting from 1932. Damaged in the war it reopened in 1945, continuing as a theatre until 1956 when it was sold to the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, now a college of London University.

College Crescent, South Hamnpstead,  Camden, 1988 88-7k-63-positive_2400
College Crescent, South Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-63

College Crescent was built by the Eyre family who were (and are) major landowners in Swiss Cottage and parts of Hampstead, with the first houses built in the late 1840s. Initially it was named as three streets, College Villas Road, College Terrace and College Crescent.

40 College Crescent was not one of the original houses, but was built around 1880 on the site of Abbey Farm Lodge as the family home for Samuel Palmer or Huntley and Palmer’s biscuit firm in Reading. Following his death this area of open space with a drinking fountain and shelter – as its inscription states – “presented to the Borough of Hampstead for the public benefit in memory of the late Samuel Palmer of Northcourt, Hampstead by his widow and family. 1904”. It was Grade II listed in 1993.

St. Thomas More, Roman Catholic, Church, Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-64-positive_2400
St. Thomas More, Roman Catholic, Church, Maresfield Gardens, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-64

In 1938 the Archbishop of Westminster bought Hyme House at 3 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, for some years the studio of successful society portrait painter Philip de László (1869-1937) as the first English home for the Swiss-based Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross. The Sisters converted the studio into a church and bought the next two houses on the street to set up a girls school which they ran until 1985, after which it became a hotel.

In 1950 the studio had become too small and a second church was built on the site, but further expansion made this inadequate. The current church, built a restricted site on tennis courts at the back of the house and fronting onto Maresfield Gardens was designed by Gerard Goalen following the Second Vatican Council to maximise participation of the laity in the Mass. It was Grade II listed in 2016.

Netherhall Gardnes, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-42-positive_2400
Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-42

A very rectangular house with a gate made largely of circles, but with the ironwork on the top of the gate reflecting the only non-rectangular feature of the frontage, and carefully positioned on top of it.

The Tower, Fitzjohn's Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-46-positive_2400
The Tower, Fitzjohn’s Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-46

An irresistable Gothic fantasy. Development in this area had been prevented for years after the death of the estate owner Sir Thomas Maryon Wilson in 1821, whose will prevented his sons building on the land, and efforts by his son (confusingly of exactly the same name) to get the will amended came to nothing. When he died, his brother Sir John inherited and was able to make a deal making part of the estate a part of Hampstead Heath and making development possible in other areas.

The Tower, Fitzjohn's Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-32-positive_2400
The Tower, Fitzjohn’s Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-32

Sir John divided the estate in 1873 with his son Sir Spencer Maryon Wilson who developed Priory Road and Fitzjohn’s Avenue from 1875 on, as a wide road with wide pavements linking Swiss Cottage and Hampstead which was described by Harpers Magazine a few years later as “one of the noblest streets in the world”.

The Tower, Fitzjohn's Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-33-positive_2400
The Tower, Fitzjohn’s Ave, Hampstead, Camden, 1988 88-7k-33

A much quoted Camden History Society article describes the Tower at No 25 as an ornate mansion which is now “a fine example of ‘Disneyland Gothic'”. The building with 25 rooms dates from 1880-1, its architect JT Wimperis, a very prolific Victorian architect for Herbert Fleming Baxter (1839-1905), an extremely wealthy American merchant who was a part of a family with extensive estates in Shropshire. The house has been restored and is now divided into flats. Rather surprisingly it was not Grade II listed until 1999.

My walk will continue in a later post.


Click on any of the pictures to go to a larger version in the album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse through the album.


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More from St John’s Wood

Friday, December 17th, 2021

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-14-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-14

More from St John’s Wood – and this next photograph is of the entrance to a large detached house at 38 Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, where a blue plaque informs us that ‘THOMAS HENRY HUXLEY 1825-1895 Biologist Lived Here’.

Huxley was born into a middle-class family in Ealing, but when the school at which his father taught mathematics closed the family were plunged into poverty, and he had to leave school aged 10, only two years after his education had begun. But he determined to teach himself, and did so with great effect, becoming one of the most knowledgeable men in Britain over a very wide range of subjects, and probably the leading specialist in comparative anatomy of his era.

But he is now best-known for his defence of Charles Darwin whose theory of evolution published in On the Origin of Species aroused considerable controversy, particular from religious figures, and Huxley’s defence of Darwin in an 1860 Oxford public debate with Bishop “Soapy Sam” Samuel Wilberforce (one of William’s sons) led to him being nicknamed after his death as ‘Darwin’s Bulldog’.

The door to the street from the covered path to the front door was open, allowing me to stand outside and take this picture showing the path and canopy as well as the mosaic on the flooring.

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-15-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-15

I moved back a few feet and a smidgeon to my left to take another picture of the house, which gives a better idea of the covered path to the street and also shows the plaque for Huxley.

In 1988 this was the Marlborough Family Service of the Bloomsbury Health Authority, a pioneering institution for child-protection cases, school-based interventions and family therapy, founded here by Dr Joshua Bierer in 1946 as the Marlborough Day Hospital, the first social psychotherapy centre in the world. It seems to have been closed and sold off around 2018.

Marlborough Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-63-positive_2400
Marlborough Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-63

The door to the front garden at 59 Marlborough Place was shut, so I couldn’t see inside, but the gateposts has two rather grand eagles still present. This property, built in around 1840 was extensively refurbished in 2013 and you can see a large set of pictures on the web. It sold in 2016 for £14,900,000.

The Grade II listing has a very lengthy text and describes it as “good example of the early mid-C19 semi-detached villas erected on the Eyre Estate, are of special architectural interest on account of their early semi-detached format and their architectural form and detailing expressed on their front elevations.”

The listing text also mentions that between around 1950 and 1990 it was divided into four flats, one of which was for some time the home of composer Benjamin Britten.

Abbey Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-23-positive_2400
Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-23

This Grade II listed Tudor Gothic detached house at 48 Abbey Road dates from around 1840.

Carlton Hill area , St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-31-positive_2400
Carlton Hill area , St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-31

The doorway of another house in a similar stye in the area, possibly in Carlton Hill.

New London Synagogue, Abbey Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-22-positive_2400
New London Synagogue, Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7f-22

Just around the corner in Abbey Road is the New London Synagogue.

This was the site of the first Jewish community to be established in 1876 by the new United Synagogue which had been formed in 1870; the permanent building for St. John’s Wood (United) Synagogue, now Grade II listed, was opened in 1882. Its architect Hyman Henry Collins, the City of London District Surveyor, designed eight synagogues in London, but all but this have been demolished.

St John’s Wood gained large Jewish population when people moved out of the East End in the 1930s and 1950s, but in 1964 the congregation had closed and the building was being sold off for demolition. It was saved when followers of Rabbi Dr Louis Jacobs who had been refused employment in the United Synagogue’s New West End Synagogue due to allegations of heresy secretly formed a shell company to buy it. They set up a new congregation with him as rabbi, the first in what became known as the Masorti movement in the UK.


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St John’s Wood

Thursday, December 16th, 2021

Abercorn Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-41-positive_2400
Abercorn Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-41

Long ago St John’s Wood was a real wood, part of the Forest of Middlesex, and was the property of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Jerusalem who were based in Clerkenwell. Pregiously it had belonged to the Catholic Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (better know as the Templars) who were suppressed in 1312. Henry VIII grabbed the land in 1539 when he dissolved the monasteries during the Reformation, but Charles II gave it to one of his mates in settlement of a debt of £1300, and eventually most of it was sold to a city wine merchant, Henry Samuel Eyre in 1733, and much of the area remains the Eyre Estate. Other parts belong to Harrow School.

Development on the Eyre estate began in 1809 The area was developed as an area for the growing upper middle class, with many detached and semi-detached villas with large gardens, the first garden suburb anywhere in the world. Some later were replaced by blocks of flats and terraces of housing, but the area remains one of the most expensive around London. It’s not an area where I often felt at home.

In 2011 I was able to go behind some of the high walls and photograph the ‘Secret Gardens of St John’s Wood‘ in a project initiated by Mireille Galinou of the Queens Terrace Café and shown there in November 2011, but there were still many impenetrable behind high walls, some protected by security guards with suspicious bulges in their clothing. But in 1988 I kept to the streets.

These flats are at the west end of Abercorn Place at its corner with Maida Vale at the rear of Wellesley Court, architect Frank Scarlett, built in 1938. Perhaps surprisingly the St John’s Wood Conservation Area is carefully drawn to exclude this set of expensive private flats.

Nugent Terrace, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-43-positive_2400
Nugent Terrace, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-43

There are still shops in Nugent Terrace, but I think this rather high-class cobblers is long gone. I was amused at how the figurines chosen matched the area.

Hill Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-46-positive_2400
Hill Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-46

This remarkable mansion block, Mortimer Court, on the corner of Hill Road and Abbey Road is certainly not typical of the area, and I have to apologise that my picture fails to record the full horror of its architecture, best appreciated from the opposite side of Abbey Road. It can be seen on the web sites of many of London’s estate agents.

Onslow Ford, memorial, sculpture, Andrea Carlo Lucchesi, Abbey Rd, Grove End Rd, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-35-positive_2400
Onslow Ford, memorial, sculpture, Andrea Carlo Lucchesi, Abbey Rd, Grove End Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-35

English sculptor Edward Onslow Ford RA (1852—1901) was one of the leaders of the British New Sculpture movement of the 1880s, becoming famous for portrait busts and roundels of many leading figures including Ruskin, Millais, Thomas Huxley and Herbert Spencer. A number of his statues including that of Rowland Hill remain on public display.

He produced a long series of “bronze statuettes of adolescent girls in poses loosely derived from mythology or allegorical themes” some of which were also sold widely in smaller scale copies for Victorian homes, though they might not be appreciated now. The monument in St John’s Wood, close to his home was sculpted by his former studio assistant Andrea Carlo Lucchesi and based on one of Ford’s sculptures.

Abbey Rd Studios, Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-21-positive_2400
Abbey Rd Studios, Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-21

It is probably a punishable offence to go to Abbey Road and not take a photo of the now famous studios, though I resisted any urge to photograph the famous pedestrian crossing nearby.

Abbey Road Baptist Church,Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-24-positive_2400
Abbey Road Baptist Church,Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-24

The Baptist Church on Abbey Road was founded in 1863 by a Mr Stott, a preacher from Hyde Park, who engaged leading church architects Habershon & Pite to build this Grade II listed structure in a ‘Free Byzantine’ style.

In 1874 the Abbey Road and St John’s Wood Mutual Benefit Building Society was formed in what was then the Free Church. This later became Abbey Road and St John’s Wood Permanent Building Society and in 1944 joined with The National Building Society to beceome the Abbey National Building Society, which sadly demutualised in 1989 and in 2004 become wholly owned by the Spanish Santander Group.

Abbey Rd,  St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-25-positive_2400
Abbey Rd, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-25

This adjoining pair of gate-posts is no longer on Abbey Road, and the block of flats at No 20 have had something of a face lift since 1988. But to me they looked so much like an adult and child – and were perhaps a deliberate attempt to outdo the Joneses.

Abercorn Place, St John's Wood, Westminster, 1988  88-7e-11-positive_2400
Abercorn Place, St John’s Wood, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-11

This small group of three houses on Abercorn Place at the corner of Violet Hill stood out among the fairly varied architecture of the street for the flower motifs above their first floor windows – a reminder, like the name Violet Hill, that this was the first garden suburb.

The gateposts, one of which is at right of the picture I think used to have a more obvious pattern on them, unfortunately out of focus in my image, which made them appear less crude.

My wanderings around St John’s Wood on a Saturday in July 1988 will continue in a later post. You can click on any of the pictures here to go to a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos, from where you can browse the album.


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Around Randolph Avenue 1988

Wednesday, December 15th, 2021

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-11-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-11

If you take the Bakerloo Line to Maida Vale, the station exit is on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Randolph Avenue, and within a few yards of the corner I found a number of scenes that interested me enough to take a picture, including several I’ve not put online, including one of the station itself. It’s a nice Underground station, with the typical maroon tiles of the period and Grade II listed, opened in 2015, designed by Stanley Heap for the London Electric Railway but I think I felt it it would look better in colour, though I don’t think I made a colour image of its exterior.

Instead I crossed the road and walked a few yards north up Randolph Ave for this picture of Burke Electrical Services and the White Rose Laundry, both seemingly in an outhouse on the rear of the rather grandiose buildings of Elgin Avenue. All three shops in this picture are now a Starbucks, and those single-storey blocks now have two additional floors above, rather nicely blending in with the surroundings.

Elgin Mews North, Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-12-positive_2400
Elgin Mews North, Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-12

The left hand building of the above picture was a part of the archway leading east from Randolph Road into Elgin Mews North.

Most of the houses in Elgin Mews North seem modern, said to date from around 1984, but the gateway and those on Randolph Avenue are Grade II listed. The mews arch in an Italian Gothic style was built around 1864 but according to the listing text heavily restored and possibly reconstructed behind the facade around 1980.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-14-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-14

A very similar pair of houses and archway are on Randolph Avenue just to the south of the Underground station, and are again Grade II listed.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-16-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-16

According to the Victoria County History, Maida Vale gets its name from a victory in the Napoleonic Wars in 1807 when Sir John Stuart defeated the French at Maida in Calabria, and in 1810 a new pub on Edgware Road was named The Hero of Maida in his honour.

George Gutch (1790-1894) architect to the Bishops of London who owned the area made plans on a grand scale including a long avenue Portsdown Road parallel to Edgware Rd crossed by Elgin Road, but these were slow to be put into action, and it was only in the 1860s that the area began to be built up.

By this time the white stucco of earlier developments was being replaced by buildings in brick, often multicoloured which give the area its distinct look. Elgin Road was renamed Elgin Avenue in 1886, but it was only in 1939 that Portsdown Road was renamed to its current Randolph Avenue.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-02-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-02

These long terraces are just beyond the mews in the image above.

Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-51-positive_2400
Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-51

The terrace continues for some length down Randolph Avenue.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-52-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 198888-7e-52

I walked back to the tube station and Elgin Avenue, where a couple of shopfronts took may attention. The pillar dividing 294 and 296 is spiral, like those Italianate examples in Randolph Avenue.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-54-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7e-54

And a little further east there was a blind stating ‘312 MEN’ above quite a few images of women which probably amused me slightly.

I walked out of Maida Vale across the Edgware Road and into St John’s Wood – where my next post from 1988 will continue. You can click on any of the images here to see a larger version in my album 1988 London Photos and browse the album from there.


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More from Maida Vale, 1988

Saturday, December 11th, 2021

Warwick Farm Dairies, Elgin Ave, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale8, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-51-positive_2400
Warwick Farm Dairies, Elgin Ave, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale8, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-51

J Welford & Son’s Warwick Farm Dairies is still there on the corner of Elgin Avenue and Shirland Road, still looking much as it did when I took this photograph in July 1988, with I think the only noticeable change being in the name of the shop. Now it is over a hundred years since Welford’s became part of United Dairies and cows were kept in the large yard and its buildings behind, but there is still a cow’s head on the second storey of this corner building.

Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-53-positive_2400
Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-53

When walking around the streets with a camera around my neck I often was accosted by children clamouring for me to take their picture, and I never refused, though occasionally when I was running out of film I might only pretend to do so. Here the interest was perhaps as much in the BMX bikes and the sweater this young man was wearing as in him or the background.

Beachcroft House, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-54-positive_2400
Beachcroft House, Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-54

Westminster Council demolished this care home on Shirland Road in January 2018, replacing the low building and garden with two large 5 storey blocks, one a replacement Beachcroft House care home opened in 2019 and run by Gold Care Homes and the other a block of 31 luxury flats, The Masefield, sold to finance the project.

Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-55-positive_2400
Shirland Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-55

Not one door but seven on the front of a former shop somewhere in the short row of five shops at 113-121 Shirland Rd. It rather amused me. Perhaps 30 years ago when I first needed a computer desk I spent some time looking at those available before deciding they looked small and rather flimsy and I could do a better job myself by cutting up an old door I’d replaced in the house, cutting off part horizontally to use as the desktop (its top surface covered by hardboard a previous resident had added) and the top section sawn vertically to give two side supports. A couple of lengths of 2×4″ hardwood provided some bracing close to floor level – and the footrest on which my feet are now resting as I write. It took me 10 minutes to measure and sketch the design and a morning to make and seems likely to last longer than me.

Delaware Mansions, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-41-positive_2400
Delaware Mansions, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-41

Delaware Mansions calls itself on its web site “The best mansion block in Maida Vale!2. Although Delaware Road was planned in 1875 by the developers of the Paddington Estate, the Paddington Trustees and the Church Commissioners as one of an alphabetical series of streets along with Ashworth, Biddulph and Castellain but the site was allotments until this block was built in 1903-1904 designed like many Maida Vale mansions by Boehmer and Gibbs. The road was only then properly made up.

The Church commisioners sold the entire Maida Vale Estate in 1981 with tenants being given a 20% discount on the market value and long leases. They sold the freehold to Fleksun in 1990.

BBC Maida Vale Studios, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-44-positive_2400
BBC Maida Vale Studios, Delaware Rd, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-44

Although I’d often heard that a radio programme had been made in the BBC Maida Vale Studios I had no real idea where they were until I walked down Delaware Rd. They are opposite Delaware Mansions, whose web site tells me they were originally “the Maida Vale Skating Palace and Club, which opened in 1909 and had one of the largest and most elegant roller-skating risks in the world. It could accommodate hundreds of skaters and seated 2,620 people at any one time.” It was one of the first studios for the BBC and home to many famous programmes; in 2018 the BBC announced plans to close it.

Lauderdale Rd, Castellain Rd,Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-34-positive_2400
Lauderdale Rd, Castellain Rd,Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-34

This was obviously once a rather sporting area, as on the next street to the east, at the corner of Castellain Road and Lauderdale Road was the Tennis and Squash shop, though this was in 1988 the Maida Vale Driving School and has boards showing a varied selection of vehicles for sale in the window. Now it is a flower shop.

This is on the end of a row of shops, Lauderdale Parade. I’ve found no explanation for the rather curious motif on the end wall which has a lion’s head at its centre. Lauderdale Mansions in several blocks were the first mansion blocks to be built in Maida Vale in 1897. Actor Alec Guinness was born there in 1914.

Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-36-positive_2400
Elgin Ave, Maida Vale, Westminster, 1988 88-7d-36

I can find little information about 203 Elgin Avenue, a large detached house on the corner of Biddulph Road. On the side of the house is the date AD 1890.

I took the short walk up Biddulph Road and into Paddington Recreation Ground, where I photographed a few people cycling around the paved track (not online) and probably visited the public toilets before returning to Elgin Ave, photographing the side of this house again.

This seems a good place to finish this post – more from Maida Vale in a later post.


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