Posts Tagged ‘Eaton Square’

More Belgravia – 1988

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

Pantechnicon, Motcomb St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-14-positive_2400
Pantechnicon, Motcomb St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-14

Until I photographed this building I had no idea of the origin of the word ‘Pantechnicon’, though I had heard it used to describe the large vans used for house removals. Seth Smith, (1791-1860) a vicar’s son from Wiltshire came to London and became one of the leading property developers of the West End in the 1820s, turning what had been a crime-infested lower-class swamp into the fashionable area with more than its fair share of respectable and immensly wealthy criminals we know now.

He filled an awkward triangular site left over by his other developments with a large building with an impressive Greek style facade of Doric columns for selling carriages and storing furniture for the wealthy residents of his new housing, and included an art gallery, coining a new upmarket name for it from the Greek pan (all) and techne (arts). Only this Grade II listed facade remains of the original building, most of which was destroyed by a fire in 1874.

Large furniture for large houses needed large vans to transport it, and the Pantechnicon company produced what were monsters for the age, up to 18ft long and 7 ft wide with a high roof and a lowered floor for extra height and easier loading – and their name large on the sides. Other removal companies were soon making similar large vans and the name ‘pantechnicon’ moved into general use for large furniture removal vans.

Belgrave Square, Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-31-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Grosvenor Crescent, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-31

Smith was responsible for much of the development of Mayfair, though most of his work there has been demolished, and also parts of Belgravia, although Belgrave and Eaton Squares were laid out by Thomas Cubitt, working for the Grosvenor Estate, which still owns much of the area, after an 1826 Act of Parliament allowed Lord Grosvenor to drain the infamous ‘Five Fields’ area and raise its level.

St George's Hospital, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-36-positive_2400
St George’s Hospital, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-36

At the back of St George’s Hospital, probably in either Grosvenor Crescent or Lanesborough Place. You can see the building behind – now a hotel – from Grosvenor Crescent. I’m not sure whether this rather bleak looking structure was simply for taxis or was used by ambulances – which now form long queues outside A&E. But for me it seemed like some infernal processing machine, taking in at the left and vomiting out its results at the right.

Belgrave Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-42-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-42

Belgrave Square is Embassy Country, and in more recent years I’ve photographed protests outside many of them. Bahrain, Brunei, Germany, Ghana, Malaysia, Norway, Portugal, Serbia, Syria, Trinidad & Tobago and Turkey all have their embassy (or High Commission) in the square and Austria, Italy, Romania, Côte d’Ivoire, Italy, UAE, Spain and probably a few others have embassies, legations or cultural centres within spitting distance. I think there are probably a few more I’ve forgotten too!

Belgrave Square, Halkin St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-43-positive_2400
Belgrave Square, Halkin St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-43

Some other houses are also the official residences of ambassadors – this on the corner with Halkin St is that of the Mexican ambassador. The architect of this grand terrace of houses (Grade I listed) and the others around Belgrave Square was George Basevi.

Wilton St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-54-positive_2400
Wilton St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-54

It’s something of a relief to turn away from the overpowering and grandiose Belgrave Square and walk down Wilton St, where the houses, though still large are on a less grand scale, with stucco only on the ground floor. This house still stands out, though I think has lost its unusual knotted door, as it seems to have slipped down a few feet from the rest in the street, the only one with a few steps leading down to the door.

Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-64-positive_2400
Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-64

Upper Belgrave St continues the pattern of Belgrave Square, linking it to Eaton Square.

St Peter's, Church, Eaton Square, Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-65-positive_2400
St Peter’s Church, Eaton Square, Upper Belgrave St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3m-65

And it leads to St Peter’s Church, built by architect Henry Hakewill in a neoclassical style when the area was being developed in 1824-27. Fortunately his drawings were still available when the building burnt down in 1837 and one of his sons used them to rebuild it. Sir Arthur Blomfield worked his worst on the church, enlarging it in 1875, but fortunately leaving it largely intact on the exterior.

The church was again badly damaged by fire the year before I took this picture and was apparently only a shell, with the interior and roof devastated. The fire was deliberately started by an anti-Catholic arsonist who mistakenly thought it was a Catholic church. I can’t find the details of the case but I think it was started by a 21-year-old man who had also started fires at several other churches, including another London church the previous night. Rebuilding began in 1990 and the church – with a simpler interior – reopened in 1991.

These pictures are from my album 1988 London Photos and clicking on the pictures, which will take you to larger versions in the album from where you can browse other images.


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.


More Around Belgravia 1988

Saturday, June 26th, 2021

Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43-positive_2400
Flats, Ebury St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-43

The Cundy Street flats, architect T P Bennett, were built as low cost housing by the Grosvenor Estate in 1950-52. As Pevsner points out, the blocks have curved balconies typical of the 1930s but with upright columns typical of the 1950s. I think this block is probably Stack House.

Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-55-positive_2400
Flats, Cundy St, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-55

Cundy St gets its name from a family who were for several generations surveryor, builders and architects to the Grosvenor estate, probably from Thomas Cundy (see below). Planning permission has recently been granted for the demolition of Kylestrome House, Lochmore House, Laxford House, Stack House, Walden House and their replacement by a new estate which will include shops and a new playground. It will include affordable homes and care homes and assisted living for the over-65s but looks rather duller. The plans have upset some of the wealthier residents in surrounding areas because of a loss of light.

Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-45-positive_2400
Coleshill Flats, Peabody Trust, Pimlico Rd,Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-45

This Peabody estate close to Sloane Square is made up of two separate blocks, Lumley and Coleshill flats, which were constructed in the 1870s.

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-53-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Road, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-53

Built in 1938 as the Empire Air Terminal in a streamlined “moderne” style by architect Albert Lakeman with a sculpture of winged figures above a globe, Wings Over the World by Eric Broadbent. Passengers for Imperial Airways flights could check in here and be taken by special Pullman Trains from a platform on the adjacent Victoria Station to Southampton Water for flying boat services, while those for European destinations were ferried by coach to Croydon Airport. Unfortunately the terminal opened only three months before the war stopped private flights. Imperial Airways became a part of British Overseas Aiways Corportation (BOAC).

National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55-positive_2400
National Audit Office, Buckingham Palace Rd, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3h-55

After the war, the building was reasonably placed for coaches along the A4 to Heathrow and was renamed the BOAC Terminal and later the British Airways Terminal. It closed in 1980, but had earlier been made largely redundant by the opening of the West London Air Terminal in a temporary building on the Cromwell Road in 1957, replace by a purpose built building in 1963. Check-ins there ended in 1974 and in 1980 both this and the British Airways Terminal were sold. This was listed in 1981 and became the home of the National Audit Office in 1983, though after extensive restoration in 2009, large parts are now rented out. The West London Air Terminal was demolished and the site became a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988  88-3g-65-positive_2400
Eaton Square, Belgravia, Westminster, 1988 88-3g-65

66 Eaton Square is described in its Grade II listing test as a part of a grand terrace of houses from the mid 19th century, though I’ve chosen to turn away from most of its grander features and look away down the street and across Eaton Gate.

In 1821, Thomas Cundy became surveyor of the Grosvenor Estate and adapted earlier plans for the area before selling building leases from 1825, mainly to Thomas Cubitt (1788-1855). The ground was rather marshy, and Cubitt brought earth he was then digging out at St Katherine’s Dock to raise it. Work began on Eaton Square, named after the Duke of Westminster’s Cheshire Eaton Hall, in 1827, with the planting of the gardens, but it took longer to complete the houses around the square, though these, probably by Cubitt, were apparently completed by 1843. But the whole square was only finished by another builder in the 1850s.

Eaton Square is not a square, but a rather elongated rectangle around 500 metres long. Even including the mews behind the grand houses it is less than 200 m wide.

Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22-positive_2400
Cadogan Gate, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-22

This house at 6 Cadogan Gate on the corner of Pavilion Rd stands out among the taller red-brick mansions and is more a continuation of the mews buildings in Pavilion Rd, but with a rather less usual architecture, with those circular ground floor windows, rather ecclesiastical tall oval-arched sash window on the first floor and its mansard roof. It probably dates from around 1879.

This is an address mentioned in the Panama Papers, the giant 2016 leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposing a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies, though of course the activities with which this address is connected could be entirely legal.

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23-positive_2400
Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-3h-23

I think this is 59 Cadogan Square, where a large second floor flat was recently on offer for £7m. Cadogan Square is one of the most expensive residential streets in the United Kingdom, with all but around three houses converted into flats, and these houses are estimated to be worth £25m.

The large tall houses were built between 1877 and 1888 for the Cadogan Estate in Flemish inspired red brick which I find overpowering, but in the centre of the square there is a residents’ only garden where they can sit and, at least in summer the red-brick hell is largely hidden by trees.

More from my Flickr Album 1988 London Photos in later posts.


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.