Posts Tagged ‘Bill Brandt’

Back to Mayfair 1987

Thursday, September 17th, 2020
Culross St/Park Lane area, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-12-positive_2400

Logically you might expect Wood’s House to be in Wood’s Mews, and it may well have been, but if so is no longer there. The frame before I took two pictures of this rather pleasant 1930s building was a view of the side in Wood’s Mews of a house in Park Lane, and the frame after is of another house further south on Park Lane on the corner of Culross St.

I suspect a building with only two stories became yielded a huge profit to developers in being built as an ugly but considerably taller block, but it would be nice to be proven wrong and to find this still tucked away in a corner.

129 Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987  87-7a-36-positive_2400

I think this rather splendid marble (I think) steps are still there on Park Lane behind the high wall that now keeps them out of view of the hoi polloi who often crowd the area around the bus stops close to this corner with Green St.

Perhaps walls like that which now hides these steps and the view from the pavement of the houses behind are a result of the increase in inequality in our society and reflect an increasing unease among the elites. Though there have been few signs of the London mob in recent years. More likely the owners got fed up with finding people sitting on them waiting for buses.

Eagle Squadron, memorial, Grosvenor Square, Wesminster, 1987 87-7a-41-positive_2400

Before the US joined in the Second World War at the end of 1941, 244 US citizens volunteered to join the RAF and served in the RAF, flying Spitfires and Hurricanes in three three Royal Air Force Eagle Squadrons, despite US laws which meant losing their citizenship for fighting for a foreign power The squadrons were transferred to the USAF in 1942 and the pilots were pardoned in 1944.

The bronze eagle on the top of the column is by Elizabeth Frink, and the memorial was financed by US newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst. It was unveiled here by Margaret Thatcher in 1986.

US Embassy, Upper Grosvenor St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-43-positive_2400

Grosvenor Square was chosen as the site for the Eagle Squadron memorial because of the US Embassy which occupied the entire west end of the square. It was then a fine example of modern architecture and lacked the high fences, ugly lodges and patrolling armed police that made it a rather grim feature in more recent years. I think the long queue is of people queuing to enter the embassy to get US visas.

Car, Gilbert St, St Anselm's Place,  Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-64-positive_2400

I have to admit to knowing nothing about cars. But this one parked in Gilbert Street was obviously a little out of the ordinary and I imagine very expensive. It looked to me like something out of a black and white film noir, and perhaps the setting would have served too. I’m sure there will be people who see this picture and can immediately recognise the make, model and date – and if so I hope they let me know in a comment.

To me it looks American, and the style seems to belong to the late 1930s, though it could be a modern replica, possibly one made for use in a film. It has an engine that doesn’t quite fit in the bonnet, perhaps 8 cylinders. The number plate NGF786Y no longer appears to exist. This is also a picture I seem to have missed retouching and there are more than usual number of scratches and dust spots.

Davies St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7a-65-positive_2400

It isn’t hard to identify this building as the Grosvenor Works of John Bolding and Sons in Davies Street, as their name is proudly displayed on a plaque at bottom left and on the building at top right, with the initials JBS featuring twice in the centre of the picture. The company was founded by Thomas Bolding in 1822 in South Molton St and they were at first brass founders.

By the 1870s they had moved into the business they became famous for as providers of high-class sanitary equipment. They moved to this site in the late 1880s and these premises were built as a showroom for their goods, with a foundry elsewhere in London. The architects were Wimperis and Arber; John Thomas Wimperis had been appointed as one of the Grosvenor Estates approved architects in 1887 and his assistant William Henry Arber became a partner in 1889.

In 1963 Boldings bought up the business of their rather better-known rival Thomas Crapper. But a few years later in 1969 Boldings was wound up, while Thomas Crapper & Company Limited, founded in 1836, continues in business based in Huddersfield, offering ” a small yet extraordinarily authentic set of Victorian/Edwardian sanitaryware.”

The River Tyburn runs through the basement of the building which is now occupied by Grays Antiques, established in 1977. The river is a tourist attraction with large goldfish swimming in it.

Park Lane, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-7b-66-positive_2400

93 Park Lane, a small part of which is visible at extreme right was a speculative rebuild of 1823-25 by builder Samuel Baxter and is Grade I listed primarily because it “was Benjamin Disraeli’s London residence from 1839 to 1872; Coningsby, much of Sybil and other novels by Disraeli were written here”, whereas the others are all Grade II. 94 to its left was also rebuilt by Baxter at the same date. Next left, 95 was rebuilt in 1842-4 by John Harrison in plain brick with stucco only on the ground floor; the rounded 96 was rebuilt in 1826 as was its more angular neighbour 97. Almost entirely out of sight at left, 98 from 1823-5 was from 1888-94 the residence of Frank Harris, “author and adventurer”, and the final house in the terrace, not in my picture, was also built then by Jon Goldicutt and was the home from 1826-85 of philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore.

Many other photographers have photographed these houses, including Bill Brandt, who made his picture on a Spring afternoon in 1932 from behind railings across the south-bound carriageway, with a London bus in traffic behind a rather grander horse-drawn carriage driven by two top-hatted men. On page 27 of ‘Camera In London’ it appears with the simple title ‘Mayfair’. The Tate website lists it as “Regency Houses, Park Lane, Mayfair – c.1930–9, later print” and apologises “SORRY, COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS PREVENT US FROM SHOWING THIS OBJECT HERE”, but you can view it on Artnet where it is captioned “Park Lane (Mayfair, London) , ca. 1960”. I increasingly think that our current copyright law needs review.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


January 1987 continued

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020
Regents Canal, Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987 87-1c-22_2400
Regents Canal, Gloucester Ave, Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987

think I had a good month taking pictures in January 1987. I always liked the winter months for photographing places, although the weather wasn’t always kind. But London is a city of many trees, and though they enhance it greatly they also obscure many views. And I do like the way you can see the structure of the trees after they have shed their leaves for the winter, though perhaps they are at their best in spring as they begin to sprout again.

Most of the month I was in Camden, and walked a little beside the Regent’s Canal as it goes through Primrose Hill. There were just a few boats moving – the canals were less busy back then. I’ve always had an interest in the canals in London – and this year was to have exhibited a set of panoramas to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Regent’s Canal, officially opened in August 1820. You can read more about that show which had to be abandoned in an earlier post here, and the set of pictures I took in preparation for it are – including the one from Camden below – are on Flickr.

Regents Canal 2020: Camden High St13-20190308-d0708
Regent’s Canal, Camden, 2019 – from ‘Regents Canal 200’
Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987 87-1c-51_2400
Primrose Hill, Camden, 1987

One of my favourite portraits is Bill Brandt’s 1963 photograph of a rather morose Francis Bacon looking out of the left of the frame at twilight in front of a lamp post on Primrose Hill. Of course my picture is nothing like his, an empty path and rather more naturalistic, but I think it captures something of the atmosphere of the place which attracted Brandt and made him choose it as a suitable stage for his picture.

Sir John Soane, memorial, Old St Pancras Burial Ground, Pancras Rd, Camden, 1987 87-1d-15_2400
Sir John Soane memorial, Old St Pancras Burial Ground, Pancras Rd, Camden

Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was a leading British architect working in a neo-Classical style. Although prolific, many of his buildings have been demolished or, like the Bank of England, greatly remodelled, though his three London churches, St Peter’s Walworth, Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone and St John, Bethnal Green remain, as does the Dulwich picture gallery and work at various stately homes.

His family tomb in the Old St Pancras churchyard, designed the year after his wife’s death in 1815 is perhaps the most clear example of his work, and is said to be the inspiration behind Giles Gilbert Scott’s red telephone box, made in 1924 shortly after Scott had been made a trustee of the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields – possibly London’s best and certainly one of its quirkiest museums.

Fence, Grafton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987 87-1h-14_2400
Fence, Grafton Rd, Gospel Oak, Camden, 1987

I made several exposures of this short alley in Gospel Oak, beside a tall fence partly covered by dead creeping plants. and with a rectangular block behind. Fortunately fairly early on a Sunday morning in January there were few passers-by to doubt my sanity and I didn’t have to wait long for the passageway to be empty.

The barriers, the fence and the building each define planes with rectangular blocks at different angles – with both creeper and clear space roughly defining rectangles at an angle, and through that space the rectangle of the building seemed to me to match that of the barrier on the footpath.

Gilden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1g-46_2400
Gilden Crescent, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

You could furnish a home from the street in front of this shop selling (and buying) “All types of Old & Modern Furniture” and of course many did. We still use the chairs we carried home from a shop like this, and a few other pieces of furniture, though we had our own photographs of ancestors for the wall rather than buy those on display.

But other things too attracted me about this display as well as the neat rows of chairs, the mattresses and the gas cookers. There was the antique lamp post in the middle of the display at right, and, above the door, presumably from an earlier use, the advertisement in lieu of a shop name ‘WEIGHTS Cigarettes… For More Pleasure.”

Hockey, St Leonard's Square, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1i-46_2400
Hockey, St Leonard’s Square, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

Two house bricks stand as a goal for these boys playing roller hockey on quad skates in a cul-de-sac in Kentish Town. I think it was a sport I had not met before – and those hockey sticks were made in the USSR.

Hockey Players, Holmes Rd, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987 87-1j-41_2400
Hockey Players, Holmes Rd, Kentish Town, Camden, 1987

A short walk away I came across another group of hockey players, standing with large sports bags and hockey sticks next to a mural showing roller hockey players on the wall of a skate shop. Their bags and sticks say ‘CANADIEN’ . I can’t remember now what they told me, and whether or not they were Canadian.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.