Posts Tagged ‘Grosvenor Canal’

Pimlico & Battersea 1988

Saturday, September 18th, 2021

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-62-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-62

These seven pictures all come from the same film I took at the end of a fairly long day’s walk around Chelsea on Sunday 8th May 1988 which had taken me down to the Thames on Grosvenor Road. I spent some time wandering around on the road and also where it was possible to get onto the riverbank, though most was fenced off.

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 198888-5f-64-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 19888 8-5f-64

The views today are rather different, although the railway bridge carrying the main line to and from Victoria is still much the same. In the pictures you can see some work being carried on in Battersea Power Station, but now new flats hide most of the building apart from the chimneys from here, and the gas works have completely gone.

Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-51-positive_2400
Railway Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-51

You may still see lighters moored in the river here, but I think this rather odd structure close to the mouth of the vestigial Grosvenor Canal here has gone. I wasn’t absolutely sure why there was this wooden platform with what looked to me like small dog-kennels on it, but perhaps as the rope shows they were simply for mooring barges waiting to use the canal. Technically I think this is a dolphin, as the picture below shows.

Chelsea Bridge, River Thames,Grosvenor Rd, Westminster, 198888-5f-52-positive_2400
Chelsea Bridge, River Thames,Grosvenor Rd, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-52

The first bridge here was built in 1858 when Chelsea Embankment was being built and was a suspension bridge intended to give the large population of Pimlico access to the new Battersea Park – if they could afford the toll – though it was made free on Sundays. It was then called Victoria Bridge, named like the station after the Queen. It became even less popular after Albert Bridge was built at the other end of the park in 1873. It was bought by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1877 and they abolished the tolls in 1979. It was a narrow bridge and found to be structurally unsound, so fearing it might embarass the Queen if it collapsed they renamed it Chelsea Bridge. It didn’t collapse and apparently took several years to demolish when they decided to replace it with the current bridge which opened in 1937.

As the picture shows, the main cables are attached to the end of the bridge rather than on solid ground on the banks, and it was the first such ‘self-anchored’ suspension bridge in Britain. The LCC couldn’t afford to fund the entire cost and the Ministry of Transport only agreed to stand 60% oof the cost on the condition that all the materials used came from the British Empire.

When Billy Strayhorn named his most famous composition ‘Chelsea Bridge’ it was not this structure that he had in mind, but something more ethereal, probably Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Old Battersea Bridge.

Grosvenor Canal, entrance, River Thames, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, entrance, River Thames, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5f-53

I wrote at some length in a previous post about the Grosvenor Canal, London’s last working canal, still in use when I took this picture. You can see part of one of the barges still in use to carry Westminster’s rubbish downriver through the bridge.

Chelsea Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-43-positive_2400
Chelsea Bridge, River Thames, Battersea Power Station, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-43

The pictures here (and on Flickr) are from around 20 exposures I made on this small area of riverside, though many of the others are very similar. There were very few boats around moving on the river at the time.

Pagoda, Battersea Park, River Thames, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-34-positive_2400
Pagoda, Battersea Park, River Thames, Chelsea Embankment, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-5f-34

I walked upriver along Chelsea Embankment on my way to catch a bus across Battersea Bridge to take me to Clapham Junction for the train home. On my way I took a few pictures of the impressive late-Victorian houses – which haven’t made it to my Flickr album – and four pictures across the river of the Battersea Park Peace Pagoda, this one of which has. I’m not sure about the framing and I think it would perhaps be better in a square format but I felt it had a suitably Japanese feel to it.

Reverend Gyoro Nagase at Hiroshima Day, Tavistock Square, 2019

After the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by US atom bombs in August 1945, Nichidatsu Fuji who had in 1917 founded the Japanese Buddhist movement, Nipponzan Myohoji, in 1947 decided they would set up Peace Pagodas around the world to promote peace and non-violence. The first opened in Japan in 1954 and the London Peace Pagoda was built by Nipponzan Myohoji monks and opened in 1985, shortly after Nichidatsu Fuji died aged 100. Since 1978 it has been looked after by Reverend Gyoro Nagase who I have met and photographed at many events calling for peace. There are also Peace Pagodas in Milton Keynes and Birmingham among over 80 around the world.


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


Camera Place and the Grosvenor Canal 1988

Saturday, September 4th, 2021

Camera Place, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-64-positive_2400
Camera Place, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-64

Having found there was a street in Chelsea named Camera Place I had to photograph it. It’s a short street and my picture shows around half of it, looking roughly west towards Limerston St. Chelsea used to have a Camera Square, Camera Street and Little Camera Street which have since disappeared, but as they were built in the 1820s they almost certainly have little to do with photography. By 1918 Camera Square had become something of a slum and the area was demolished, rebuilt as Chelsea Park Gardens with up-market housing in suburban garden village fashion, though retaining a rigidly square layout without the typical sinously curving streets.

The view in Camera Place has changed little; some new railings and the small tree is now rather large.

Elm Park Mansions, Park Walk, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-62-positive_2400
Elm Park Mansions, Park Walk, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5c-62

Elm Park Mansions has five large blocks around a courtyard, with one of the blocks (flats 25-54) occuping half the length of the north side of Camera Place, behind and to my right as I took the previous picture. The mansions with 189 mostly one and two bedroom flats were built by the Metropolitan Industrial Dwellings Company on land leased to them by Major Sloane Stanley in 1900. The Freehold for the property was taken over by the leaseholders in 1986 and since then the state of the properties has been improved. Two bed flats have sold in recent years for around £800,000.

Elm Park Rd, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-15-positive_2400
Elm Park Rd, Chelsea, Kensington and Chelsea, 1988 88-5b-15

Elm Park Road dates from 1875 when Chelsea Park House was demolished and the houses, many designed by George Godwin, were built between then and 1882. The central house in this picture, at 76 Elm Park Road for built for Paul Naftel, (1817-91) a Guernsey born watercolour painter and his wife and family who came to London in 1870. He moved here in around 1884 and the adjoining houses were also homes to landscape artists. Naftel later moved out to Strawberry Hill, Twickenham where he died.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-12-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-12

The Grosvenor Canal was began by the Chelsea Waterworks Company who had leased the land from Sir Richard Grosvenor in 1722, and enlarged a creek there to supply drinking water and also to create a tide mill used to pump the water. When their lease expired in 1823, the then Earl of Grosvenor decide to put in a lock and turn the creek into a canal, extending it to a basin where Victoria Station now stands, around half a mile from the Thames. It opened in 1824 carrying coal, wood and stone into the centre of a rapidly growing area of London.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-13-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14

Victoria Station was built over the canal basin, and more of the canal closed in 1899 for a station extension. Westminster City Council bought what was left of it in 1905, then filled in more of it in 1927 for the Ebury Bridge estate.

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-14

The canal continued in use by the council taking refuse in barges from Westminster and other local authorities downriver to be dumped until 1995, making this vestigial canal the last in London in commercial use. In 2000 it began to be developed as an expensive waterside development, with the lock being retained but a boom across the entrance from the Thames prevents access for boats despite mooring pontoons inside the development.

Western Pumping Station, Bazalgette, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 198888-5e-15-positive_2400
Western Pumping Station, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-15

The Chelsea Water Works continued to extract water from the Grosvenor Canal until an Act of Parliament prevented extraction of water from the Thames in London in 1852 and they moved up-river to Surbiton. Sewage was increasingly becoming a problem as London grew and the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858 prompted Parliament into action, passing a bill in 18 days to construct a new sewerage system for London.

The solution by Joseph William Bazalgette was a system of sewers that delivered the sewage around 8 miles downriver to Beckton on the north bank and Crossness on the south, through main high level middle and low level sewers through North London and main and high level sewers in South London. The plans included stone embankments beside the river – the Victoria, Chelsea and Albert embankments which he designed.

Lamp post, Western Pumping Station, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-16-positive_2400
Lamp post, Western Pumping Station, Thames Water, Grosvenor Rd, Pimlico, Westminster, 1988 88-5e-16

Bazalgette didn’t do everything himself, but he kept a very close eye on every aspect of his great project, and some of the specifications he laid down – such as the use of Portland Cement – have kept the system running despite increasing demands since it was completed in 1875. Now it is being augmented by the new ‘Super Sewer’ running underneath the river, the Thames Tideway.

As well as engineering considerations, Bazalgette was also a stickler for the aesthetics and there are some fine examples of Victorian design in his works. The Pumping Station which housed the powerful steam engines needed to send the sewage on its way, as well as its chimney (in a picture above) and the Superintendents House here are all Grade II listed.


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.


Grosvenor Canal, Chelsea & Belgravia 1988

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53-positive_2400
Grosvenor Canal, Grosvenor Rd, Chelsea, Westminster, 1988 88-4n-53

The Grosvenor Canal, now only vestigial, is one of London’s least-known canals, opened in 1824 when the Earl of Grosvenor decided to add a lock and turn what had been a tidal creek with a tide mill and feeding reservoirs for drinking water at Chelsea Waterworks (at right in picture) into a short canal, around three quarters of a mile long ending at a large basin, Grosvenor Basin. The lock needed two gates at the end where it connected to the river as the canal level could be higher or lower than the tidal river. The main traffic then on the canal was coal for the many houses in Westminster.

Victoria Station was built on much of this basin site in 1858, and when the station was expanded in 1902, the upper half of the canal was closed and the lower half sold to Westminster City Council who used it for barges carrying refuse. They closed more in 1925 to build the Ebury Bridge estate, but a short section was still in use, with barges taking Westminster’s rubbish onto the Thames, when I made this picture. It was then the last commercial canal in London. It closed in 1995 and has since been redeveloped as Grosvenor Waterside. More on Wikipedia

Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61-positive_2400
Savills, Sloane St, Sloane Square, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-61

An estate agent selling the grand houses in the area with offices in a rather grand Grade II listed house on Sloane St, dating from the late 18th century. The listing text notes that the ground floor – reached up eight steps from the pavement – is in commercial use and describes the ground floor windows as wide, “with stucco fan motif lunettes above”.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-62

A long white passageway with a charming lamp at the end hanging from wrought iron supports, behind a slightly more prosaic wrought iron gate. I wouldn’t have photographed it, not having a great love of the twee, but for the rather more practical lamp fitting at left with its cable housing leading rather nicely vertically down the wall to the curving shadow on the floor.

Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63-positive_2400
Bourne St, Belgravia, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-63

White fences have had a particular attraction for photographers since an iconic image by Paul Strand at Port Kent in 1916, though I make no suggestion that this is anywhere in the same league. But it did seem an awful lot of white fence in a rather confined space.

Skinner Place,  Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64-positive_2400
Skinner Place, Belgravia, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4n-64

Skinner Place looked like something from a rather meaner part of London, perhaps somewhere in Bethnal Green mysteriously translocated into Belgravia (which would have increased its price by a large factor.) But it was the huge union flag blocking the end of the street that I really liked, along with the rounded block of flats behind.

Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15-positive_2400
Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-15

The Henry Smith Charity was established on the death of Henry Smith (1549-1628) who lived and profited through interesting times, lending money to many landed families and amassing large landholdings from their misfortunes. He left detailed instructions for the administration of his estates, and the charity trustees in 1640 bought “a marshy estate of mainly market gardens just outside London, in the parish of Kensington.” According the the charity web site, “Nearly four centuries after we were first established, The Henry Smith Charity is one of the largest grant making charities in Britain; making grants of £39.8 million in 2020.”

Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14-positive_2400
Smiths Charity, corruption, Cranley Mews, South Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-4o-14

I spent some time reading the notices in this picture, but ended up little the wiser about the eviction of Major Parson in the 1970s, and the corruption alleged to have been involved. Reading a post from David Swarbrick about a 1974 legal case did little to help me but may held my legal friends.

Click on any of the above to see a large version and explore more pictures in my album 1988 London Photos.


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.