Posts Tagged ‘North Kensington’

Remember Grenfell – Demand Justice

Tuesday, June 14th, 2022

Remember Grenfell – Demand Justice -Five years today on from the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower, still none of those whose criminal acts led to it has been brought to justice. The inquiry stutters on, filling in some of the details but pushing hopes of any action further and further into the long grass. So far its only result has been to unfairly pillory the London Fire Brigade who faced an unprecedented situation for which they were ill-equipped with heroism.

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

On the first anniversary of the disaster I went to the Massive Silent Walk for Grenfell Anniversary that began close to the tower and joined the marchers, taking photographs but also expressing my own shock and sympathy for the victims and disgust at the failure of the local and national government and our legal system both in making the fire almost inevitable and in failing to support the victims.

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

I’m sorry I’m not able to attend today’s march in North Kensington, but some months ago I agreed to give a talk tonight, failing at the time to recognise the significance of the date. So I’ll wear my green scarf on Zoom as I talk about rather happier things. But little has changed over the years and what I wrote back in 2018 still holds true, with little real changes and rather than repeat myself I’ll quote it here.

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

“The blackened and scarred bulk of Grenfell Tower has now been hidden by white sheeting, at its top a grey panel with a large green Grenfell heart and the message ‘Grenfell – Forever In Our Hearts’. Some felt it should have been left standing uncovered – particularly as the disaster was caused by covering up the building to make it look nicer for the academy at its base. Without that covering the fire would have been a minor incident with no loss of life.”

“The academy in front of the tower was also built without proper regard for access for fire engines to fight the fire when it happened. To make things worse, Boris Johnson had cut the fire service drastically and they no longer had the equipment to fight the fire in the upper stories – it had to come from Surrey – and successive governments had removed regulations and cut safety inspections (they called it ‘red tape) which would have prevented the inferno.”

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

“The blackened and scarred bulk of Grenfell Tower has now been hidden by white sheeting, at its top a grey panel with a large green Grenfell heart and the message ‘Grenfell – Forever In Our Hearts’. Some felt it should have been left standing uncovered – particularly as the disaster was caused by covering up the building to make it look nicer for the academy at its base. Without that covering the fire would have been a minor incident with no loss of life.”

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

“The academy in front of the tower was also built without proper regard for access for fire engines to fight the fire when it happened. To make things worse, Boris Johnson (as London Mayor) had cut the fire service drastically and they no longer had the equipment to fight the fire in the upper stories – it had to come from Surrey – and successive governments had removed regulations and cut safety inspections (they called it ‘red tape) which would have prevented the inferno.”

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

“Firefighters lined both sides of Ladbroke Grove as a guard of honour for the march and were kissed and hugged by many. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott and local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad and some Labour London Assembly members were among those who took part in the silent walk, which ended in a local park. I left the march before it arrived there as it had been made clear the press were not welcome there.”

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

“People stop to shake hands and thank the fire-fighters. Some embrace them. While some papers and middle-class commentators try to shift blame onto the firefighters, the community has
no doubt that they are heroes who did far more than could be expected, some going back five times into the burning building. They didn’t clad it with highly combustible material, ignore obvious safety issues pointed out by residents, engage ‘experts’ to avoid proper fire inspections.”

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice
Jeremy Corbyn and local MP Emma Dent Coad wait their turn to shake the hands of the firefighters

You can read my fuller account of the walk on June 14th, 2018 with many more pictures and captions on My London Diary at Massive Silent Walk for Grenfell Anniversary

Remember Grenfell - Demand Justice

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Grenfell Six Months On – 2017

Tuesday, December 14th, 2021

Today it is four and a half years after the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower which began early in the morning of 14th June 2017, killing 72 people and injuring over 70 others. And many or all of those who escaped will suffer from both physical and mental effects of the night for the rest of their lives, as too will many of the firefighters and other emergency workers.

The pictures here come from the monthly slow and silent walk to demand justice and remembering those killed at Grenfell Tower six months after the fire on Thursday 14th December 2017.

The fire was an event waiting to happen, and warnings of the danger by residents and neighbours had been ignored by the building managers. The reasons the fire spread as it did were almost immediately obvious and rapidly published including the report by Architects For Social Housing, The Truth about Grenfell Tower which came out around five weeks later.

Rather than take action against those responsible, a public inquiry was set up, and began three months later. It’s main effect has been to delay justice, and its first sessions and report were largely devoted in trying to shift blame on to London Fire Brigade, whose efforts on the night had showed incredible determination and bravery.

Cuts in the London Fire Service made by Boris Johnson when he was London Mayor had left them both understaffed and under-equipped, while earlier privatisation of some of the fire inspection and certification allowed dangerous conditions of buildings including this to go unchecked. The LFB did not have a suitable fire engine for dealing with the high rise fire, and one had to be brought from Surrey.

Governments of both parties over the years had weakened the regulations and inspections in the name of ‘cutting red tape’, responding to lobbying from the building industry, which allowed both highly flammable cladding to be use, and also for it to be incorrectly installed without essential safety gaps.

With tall blocks that meet proper safety standards a fire like this which began with a faulty refrigerator in a single flat would have been contained within that single flat. Many such fires have taken place and been contained, sometimes with most other residents of the building being completely unaware of them. Had Grenfell not been wrongly fitted with unsuitable cladding this would have been the case here, though there were also other problems particularly with the stairways and dry riser that made escape and fighting the fire much more dangerous.

Had the LFB been aware of the problems they were to face things would have been very different (and they would have called for the building to be shut down and the faults rectified.) But they arrived at the fire ignorant of the many defects, and were met with a situation which was for them unprecedented. With hindsight it is possible to say they could have made a decision to go against all their training on fires in tall blocks and try to evacuate the building earlier, but I think it unfair to blame them for not doing so.

The public inquiry continues, and has shed some more light on the details of the crimes that led to those 72 deaths, but seems mainly to have been taken up by those eager to shift responsibility from their actions to others.

Tonight, 14th December 2021, four and a half years later, another silent walk will take place, gathering at Kensington Town Hall at 6pm to start at 6.30pm. This is the first for 18 months due to Covid. The invitation from Grenfell United states:

“We invite you to join us on our Silent Walk in our campaign for Justice.

To show those responsible we are not going anywhere until we have real Change and Justice. So another Grenfell never happens again.”

Grenfell United

More about the walk in 2017: Grenfell Silent Walk – 6 months on


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Notting Hill – Notting Dale – 1988

Monday, May 10th, 2021
Nottingwood House, Clarendon Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-62-positive_2400
Nottingwood House, Clarendon Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Notting Hill – and the London Borough of Kensington & Chelsea – is very much a place of two halves and these two pictures illustrate this, with the large block of council housing built on the site of the Notting Hill brewery and other industrial buildings shortly before the war.

Houses, Blenheim Crescent, Clarendon Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-61-positive_2400
Houses, Blenheim Crescent, Clarendon Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

This picture was taken from roughly the same place as the previous picture, but from the opposite side of the road. Houses in Blenheim Crescent are currently on sale for £4 million. Of course many of the social housing tenants in Nottingwood House took advantage of Thatcher’s social housing giveaway ‘Right to Buy’, though quite a few then found themselves needing to sell these properties, with many becoming ‘buy to let’ properties – now at perhaps £2000 a month, and other flats on sale for perhaps £800,000, so the difference here is rather less real than when I made this picture.

Bramley Arms, Bramley Rd, Freston Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-53-positive_2400
Bramley Arms, Bramley Rd, Freston Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

I think the pub had closed shortly before I took this picture. The building is still there but is now offices with flats on the upper floor. The pub has appeared in at least five major films including Sid and Nancy (1986), Quadrophenia (1979) and The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) as well as TV series.

This area was cut off on two sides by the construction of the Westway and the West Cross Route in the 1960s and became very run down and what had been the southerns section of Latimer Rd was renamed Freston Road. Oddly, Latimer Road station (on Bramley Rd) was not renamed, though it is no longer close to Latimer Road. In 1977 squatters occupied houses and flats the GLC planned to demolish in Freston Road and declared the Republic of Frestonia. The GLC granted them temporary leave to remain and the area was developed more sensitively by the Bramley Housing Co-operative from 1985. You can see the ‘Underground’ bridges in the distance on both streets in this photograph.

Freston Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-52-positive_2400

This neat and unpretentious factory building is still present on the corner of Freston Rd and Evesham Rd, but now surrounded by a large redevelopment and painted a dull grey.

Mural, Harrow Club, Freston Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-45-positive_2400
Mural, Harrow Club, Freston Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Although the area around and under the Westway was fairly desolate in 1988, attempts had been made to brighten the area with a number of well painted murals. The Harrow club was set up by former pupils of Harrow School in 1883 as The Harrow Mission Church “to improve the quality of life for local people, aiding harmony and promoting opportunity” for the people of Notting Dale and continues to do so.

Freston Rd, Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-44-positive_2400

More graffiti.

Freston Rd,, Stable Way, Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-35-positive_2400

The caravans are around Stable Way. The car is coming down a link road from the Westway which runs across the top of the picture to the West Cross Route. This is the edge of a BMX cycle circuit at the north end of Freston Rd.

Freston Rd, Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-32-positive_2400

Another picture from the BMX track beyond the end of Freston Road, close to the Westway junction with the West Cross Route.

Freston Rd, Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-31-positive_2400

This picture gives a more informative view of the location, though I can find no trace of this oval now, but it was I think a part of the BMX circuit at the north end of Freston Rd.

Freston Rd,, Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-23-positive_2400

The landscaped area here is at the end of Freston Rd, with the Harrow Club at left.

Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-14-positive_2400

Underneath the Westway and the links from the West Cross Route.

Westway, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1e-13-positive_2400

Various sports facilities underneath the motorway junction. Opened in 1970 as the A40(M) its status was downgraded in 2000 to an all-purpose road. There were plans to include a separated cycleway on parts of it announced in 2013 but these were scrapped in 2017. However Kensington & Chelsea Council have opposed all protected cycle routes on their streets, and even scrapped a temporary route which was implemented during the Covid lockdown.

More from the other half of Notting Hill in another post.


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.


North Kensington

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021
Pall Mall Deposit, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-54-positive_2400
Pall Mall Deposit, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

There were several reasons I used to like going to this area of North Kensington to make photographs, one of which was that when people asked me where I had been I could tell them I’d been to the North Pole, which was just down past the end of Barlby Rd on North Pole Rd. Sadly the North Pole was bought by a property company in 2012 who turned the upper floors into flats and soon closed the pub which became a Tesco Express around 2015.

Pall Mall Deposit, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-53-positive_2400
Pall Mall Deposit, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

The Pall Mall Deposit and Forwarding Co became a limited company in 1899, with premises just off Regent St, and built this large storage facility to the design of W G Hunt in 1911 (the often given date of 1901 is most probably a much-quoted typo.) Furniture storage was quite big business at the time as a large proportion of the more affluent lived in rented houses, often moving frequently. The building extends some way back from Barlby Road and has been a rather trendy centre for offices, studios etc, selling itself as close to Portobello Road.

Ladbroke Hall, Clement-Talbot Motor Works, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-52-positive_2400
Ladbroke Hall, Clement-Talbot Motor Works, Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Barlby Road was also the location of the first purpose built English car factory, the Clement-Talbot Motor Works built from 1903-11, architect William T Walker. According to Cherry and Pevsner (London 3 : North West) this reinforced concrete building used the Hennebique system, but for the office building fronting the road this was well-disguised by “a festive Wrennaisance front”.

Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 88-1f-46-positive_2400
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea

North of the Great Western mainline, which bisects the area, is its greatest architectural gem, Kensal House, built in 1936 by Maxwell Fry leading a small group of like-minded architects. Even in the rather run-down state I photographed it, the ensemble is impressive. It’s and impressive modernist building and rather more functional than some, and the low cost flats included what were for the time some very up-to-date features.

Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 88-1f-45-positive_2400
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea

The site was developed by the Gas Light & Coke Company who owned the site and the adjoining gas works to provide housing for their employees – 54 three-bedroom and 14 two-bed flats- and virtually everything – down to the irons – was gas powered. Of course gas lighting was still very common – and in my youth there were still many older people who preferred its more gentle light. But as built there was no electricity in these gas company flats.

Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 88-1f-42-positive_2400
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea

As well as two large blocks of flats the site also contained a nursery, with a curved frontage that ran around the former site of a gas holder. One of those who worked with Fry on the designs was social reformer Elizabeth Denby who had also worked with him at the Peckham Health Centre.

Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea 88-1f-34-positive_2400
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea

The gas works have gone, with Sainsbury’s and Argos in their place, but the railway remains. Some of these flats must have been great places for train spotters, but the Kings and Castles thundering past might have upset the sleep in those days of single glazing and poor sound insulation. And gas works did produce some fairly noxious odours and pollution, though if they provided your living that probably seemed less of a problem.

Kensal Green Basin, Grand Union Canal, Paddington Branch, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-35-positive_2400
Kensal Green Basin, Grand Union Canal, Paddington Branch, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

You can still see Kensal Green Basin when you go to get your shopping at Sainsbury’s on Canal Way, though it is largely well hidden behing bushes around the car park and seems an missed opportunity – as do many of the planning decisions in this area. A large and ugly canalside building now straddles its entrance from the canal. Further along Canal Way there are still a couple of gas holders at the west end of the gas works site.

Exmoor St,North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-26-positive_2400
Exmoor St,North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Late Victorian Housing on Exmoor St with some nice detailing and later railings.

Hewer St,North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-25-positive_2400
Hewer St,North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

At left is the Grade II listed St Charles’ Hospital in Exmoor St, built in 1881 as the St Marylebone Union Infirmary. Surprisingly it is still in medical use, providing mental health services and as a community health centre. Part of the building are rather more attractive than this view suggests. John Nodes and Sons Ltd provided a very handily based funeral service.

Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-1f-22-positive_2400
Barlby Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Finally back to Barlby Rd, and a terrace of houses still present close to Ladbroke Grove. On the left you can still see one of the gas holders of the Kensington Gas Works, and to the right of the block the Great Western Mainline and one of the blocks of Kensal House.

As usual there are a few more pictures from my walks around the area in 1988 in the album, and clicking on any of the pictures here should take you to a larger version in the album from which you can move through it to see all those I have put online.


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.


Kensal Town & Notting Hill 1988

Thursday, April 29th, 2021

Emslie Horniman's Pleasance, Park, East Row, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-34-positive_2400
Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, Park, East Row, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Who you might ask was Emslie Horniman? You may recall the name ‘Horniman’s Tea’, though the company, founded in 1826 in Newport, Isle of Wight by Emslie’s grandfather, the more prosaically named John. It was tea that made the family’s fortune, particularly after the company moved to London in 1852. The family were Quakers and determined not to cheat their customers were the first to sell tea in sealed packets, ensuring it was not contaminated with contrary materials used by many others to increase profits, and by the end of the Victorian era under Emslie’s father Frederick John Horniman they had become the largest tea company in the world.

Emslie Horniman's Pleasance, Park, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-2c-22-positive_2400
Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, Park, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

It was the money from tea that enabled Frederick Horniman, an inveterate collector of curiousities, to set up the Horniman Museum in south London which opened in 1901 and was extended after his death by his son Emslie, also a collector. Born in 1863 Emslie had been educated by private tutors before attending the Slade School of Art and travelling around the world and became a Liberal party politician in London. From 1906-10 he was Liberal MP for Chelsea and in 1911 he planned and donated the park in Kensal Town, Emslie Horniman’s Pleasance, to the London County Council. He probably had little interest in the tea business, which was sold in 1918 to J Lyons & Co and is now owned by Jacobs Douwe Egberts; the brand is apparently still popular in Spain.

The walled garden shown in these two pictures was designed for Horniman by C.F.A. Voysey and Madeline Agar and is Grade II listed.

Ladbroke Grove area, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-31-positive_2400
Ladbroke Grove area, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Perhaps someone will remember where Rose’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetables were sold somewhere in Notting Hill. The house number, 222, should be a good clue, as relatively few streets aspire to such high numbers, but it doesn’t appear to match those I have looked at. The previous frame was taken on Ladbroke Grove, close to Barlby Rd, and the next on Southern Row.

88-2c-15-positive_2400
Sculpture, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

A mannequin holds a light fitting to illuminate a shop sign at the north end of Portobello Rd, close to Bonchurch Rd. I can’t read the sign because of the angle of the picture, but it later years at least it read ‘3 4 5’, the number (and name) of the shop below. Back in 2019 this figure was still on the wall, in a different pose and with its left arm and the sign missing.

Cobden Working Mens Club and Institute, Kensal Rd, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-12-positive_2400
Cobden Working Mens Club and Institute, Kensal Rd, Kensal Town, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

The Grade II listed Cobden Working Men’s Club and Institute at 170-172 Kensal Road was built in 1880, as a part of a Fabian initiative to educate the working classes and is the earliest known surviving purpose-built working men’s club and apparently retains many original features. These include an upper floor song room, probably where Bill Clinton played his saxophone as a student, and where Christmas parties were held for local children until the club closed at the end of the last century.

Architects for the building were Nathan Glossop Pennington and Thomas Edward Bridgen, and recently a ceremonial mallet awarded to Pennington on the opening of the building was presented back to Golborne Life by a woman from Texas who had bought it some years ago, possibly in the market on Portobello Rd.

Opinions seem to differ over whether the building was named after 19th-century radical politician Richard Cobden or a Fabian philanthropist, Lord William Cobden, who is said to have put up the money for the club. After it closed money was raised in 1995 to open it as a restaurant and night club; this closed in 2010 and the building was bought as a private residence by American businesswoman, model, actress, and television personality Caprice Bourret.

Bramley Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-2b-16-positive_2400
Bramley Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Roseblades were brass or non-ferrous metal founders, incorporated in 1962 and struck off in 2004 several years after the company ceased operation. The firm was run by Ron Roseblade and his two sons John and Martin. Wilkinsons were also metal founders, but with a longer history, having been founded in 1793 as Philip Wilkinson and Sons and trading in Westminster, becoming just P Wilkinson & Sons in 1936.

The two companies became associated in 1972 when Wilkinsons moved out of Tottenham Mews and Tottenham Street to Stanmore – though the also appear to have had a part of this building. Roseblades also moved to works at 18 Minerva Road, Park Royal, Brent. The two companies made a number of memorials etc together “Four bronze servicemen on the War memorial outside Euston Station, the Wreath on the Cenotaph in Whitehall as well as the external lantern work at Victoria and Albert Museum”, some possibly with G W. Lunts of Birmingham.

Malton Rd,  North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988 88-2b-12-positive_2400
Malton Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Malton Road runs parallel to Westway, seen at the right of the picture, and is a service road for the businesses underneath the elevated roadway here between St Mark’s Road and Ladbroke Grove. The buildings at right are of the London Ambulance Service. At left of picture are the backs of the houses in Cambridge Gardens.

See larger versions by clicking on any of the above images, all of which are 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.


North Kensington 1988 (1)

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

I continued my personal exploration of London in January 1988 with some extended walks around the north of Kensington. It was an area I was largely unfamiliar with, though I had walked just outside its northern edge on the towpath of the Grand Union in Kensal Town – and had been to a few meetings and workshops in a studio in that area.

In the following years I would come every August to carnival and photograph it on Ladbroke Grove – and you can see many of those pictures in the album ‘Notting Hill Carnival – the 1990s’, but in 1988 my version of Notting Hill was still coloured by the memories of the press reports of the Notting Hill riots 30 years earlier – and the continuing misrepresentation of the carnival in the media as a hotbed of violence.

St Mark's Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-65-positive_2400
St Mark’s Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

These pictures come from the area north of the Westway, the most destructive of all road projects in Greater London, laying waste a wide swathe through the area when it was constructed in 1964-1970. Part of a plan for ‘Ringway 1′, the London Motorway Box’ conceived in the 1950s when the car was seen as the future, and the development seen as so obviously beneficial that the GLC didn’t even bother to present evidence to justify the case for it and the huge expense involved.

St Mark's Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-62-positive_2400
St Mark’s Rd, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

But it was the social destruction caused by the Westway that awakened many to the huge impact of road-building and the end of the massive road building plans for a number of concentric ring motorways in London that had come from the drawing boards of our post-war planners. The only ring that was completed was of course the M25, mostly passing through rural land on the outskirts of the city, providing perhaps the most accurate boundary to London.

Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-46-positive_2400
Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

I find it hard to look down on this wide expanse of largely empty street and recognise it as Ladbroke Grove, that place where I’ve so often stood since inside crowds of people standing and watching and dancing along behind the carnival floats.

Paul House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-45-positive_2400
Paul House, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Back in 1988 most blocks of council flats were still entirely open to the public, with no security doors or entry systems, and even the few that had these, the doors were largely wedged open by residents to make access easier. I was able to walk in and walk up to take views from the stairways and balconies – as in this picture and that above of the street.

Saint Michael, North Kensington, Ladbroke Grove, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-44-positive_2400
Saint Michael, North Kensington, Ladbroke Grove, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

Saint Michael and All Angels, the Anglican Parish Church here on Ladbroke Grove is Grade II listed, as the listing text states was built in 1871 to the designs of J and JS Edmeston in a Rhineland Romanesque style though in London stock brick with terracotta, red Mansfield and Forest of Dean stone dressings, and clay roof tiles.

St Charles Square, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington,  88-2c-43-positive_2400
St Charles Square, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, 1988

Sean’s poorly written tag also appears on the previous picture which shows the same building taken a yard or two further from the corner of Ladbroke Grove. The house is a substantial one facing onto Ladbroke Grove, the main thoroughfare in the area, and these steps are up to a second front door for its sizeable rear extension. The main house has five floors including a basement (which explains the steps) and an attic. The next house on Ladbroke Grove, behind me as I took this picture, has a blue plaque for Hablot Knight Browne, better known as ‘Phiz’, whose illustrations enlivened the novels of Charles Dickens and who lived here from 1874-80.

Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988  88-2c-41-positive_2400
Ladbroke Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1988

There was something of a brooding, menacing atmosphere of these house-fronts on Ladbroke Grove, with shuttered lower windows and bushes and trees in the narrow space in front of the basement. The house looks much more open now as the last tree here was taken down around ten years ago and the whole row of houses is in much better condition. These houses which were pretty run-down back in 1988 are now almost all flats, perhaps eight to a house, and a nearby basement flat sold for over £1million in 2017.

All these pictures are from my album 1988 London Photos. Clicking on any will take you to a larger version in the album which you can the explore.


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.


Carnival Time

Sunday, August 25th, 2019

Today is the first day of Carnival, but I’m almost resigned to not going. My legs really won’t take it any more and I’m only just getting over a few hours slow walking last Wednesday, though I was out taking pictures again yesterday. This year I got as far as planning my route, complicated by rail closures today on two lines that I would normally use, but I’m not going to make it. The nearest I’m likely to get is a can of Red Stripe.

It took me 25 years to get to Notting Hill Carnival for the first time in 1990, partly because for the first few years it was a relatively small and poorly publicised event but later because of the demonisation it suffered in our largely racist press.

By 1990 I was becoming increasingly interested in documenting London as a multicultural city and knew I had to photograph carnival, so set out still with some trepidation and anxious warnings from friends. I loved the noise and the atmosphere and the colour, so of course I photographed it in black and white!

I continued to go back for the next 20 or so years, usually going for both days, and it became one of the highlights of my photographic year. I think there was perhaps a year or two when I was out of the country at August Bank holiday, and in 2005 I was suffering from a knee problem. I packed my photographic bag – always a small one for carnival – and dragged myself the 500 yards to the station, climbed up the bridge to get to the right platform and collapsed to the ground in pain. It was only then I realised that there was no way I was going to make it, rested for a few minutes and then hobbled my way slowly home.

I did allow myself to photograph in colour some years, but I found it a distraction and I think my best pictures are black and white. Some years too I took a panoramic camera too, loaded with colour film, and I felt its wide sweep enabled me to capture more of the atmosphere of the carnival procession. One of those images ended up being printed huge with a doorway people could walk through as an entrance to a museum exhibition; I was delighted to see it used but felt it didn’t improve the picture.

Rather to my surprise I find it’s 7 years since I last went to carnival, and on My London Diary I then wrote:

But either I’m getting too old for it, or perhaps carnival is changing, and this year I found it a little difficult. So I went on the Sunday, stayed around three hours and didn’t really want to return for the big day. So I didn’t.

But I am thinking about Notting Hill today, and about North Kensington in particular. Although I haven’t been to carnival I have made quite a few visits there over the past couple of years, and I’ve set an alarm and like carnival I will stop at 3pm for a period of silence to remember Grenfell.

You can see more pictures from several years at Carnival on My London Diary, but my favourite selection of the black and white work is a set of 20 pictures from the show English Carnival with three friends at the Juggler in Hoxton in 2008 from which the black and white images above come.


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.

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