Posts Tagged ‘Portobello Rd’

A Goddess, Doors, a Dodo and a Lion

Saturday, September 26th, 2020
Minerva House, North Crescent, Chenies St, Camden, 1987 87-7f-21-positive_2400

Grade II listed Minerva House on the North Crescent of Chenies St , architect George Vernon, was built in 1912-3 for the Minerva Motor company which had begun in Belgium making bicylces before moving on to motorbikes and cars. One of its English dealers in 1903 was Charles Rolls, who the following year joined up with Henry Royce to sell his cars. In 1910 he became the first Briton to be killed in a crash by a powered aircraft when his Wright Flyer lost its tail during an air display in Bournemouth.

When I took this picture Minerva House was the Combined Training School for University College Hospital, training around 300 nurses a year. Since Minerva was the Roman Goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, strategic warfare, commerce, weaving, and the crafts this seems appropriate. She was also supposed to have created the olive tree and invented the flute and numbers. Minerva House is now the London home of global media agency OMD.

At right is the bleak Chenies Street concrete blockhouse entrance to the deep-level air raid shelter built in 1942, currently called ‘The Eisenhower Centre’ though it had no real wartime connection to the General. Before the war Minerva House looked out onto gardens.

Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-7f-24-positive_2400

19 Pembridge Gardens was obviously in rather poor condition in 1987 when I took this picture, with peeling paint and trees growing up in odd places. The house was empty, its front door secured by two padlocks. It had been Grade II listed three years before I photographed it.

It looks in rather better condition now, and it should be as it appears to be home to a firm of “well-established Expert decorators.” Though I think it a shame not to have retained what is I think an illuminated house number above the door.

Pembridge Gardens, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-7f-25-positive_2400

It’s hard to count the number of bells at the left of the door to this house just a couple of doors up from the house in previous picture, but then obviously in rather better condition. There are 15 of them on the five floors of this house. Built in the mid 19th century (with a later top floor) it was also Grade II listed in 1974.

A Davey, Builder, ghost sign, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-7f-52-positive_2400

A neatly aligned sign indented in the rendering on the wall of an end terrace house in Portobello road still informs us


A. DAVEY.
BUILDER.
M A N U F A C T U R E R O F
EVERY DESCRIPTION OF INSIDE
AND OUTSIDE WINDOW BLINDS.
UPHOLSTERER AND DECORATER
ESTABLISHED 1851.

though I’m sure he was well gone from the premises when I photographed them 136 years later.

Davey the builder was probably one of the original occupiers of this long purpose-built terrace of shops which were developed in 1848-9 by the Rev Brooke Edward Bridges and Thomas Pocock who had bought the land for ‘Portobello Terrace’ from Felix Ladbroke; they were built by various local builders to a similar plan, with a ground floor shop and two floors above for the shopkeeper and his family. More recently extra doors have been added and the upper floors are largely let as expensive flats.

Looking at the text of the sign I think the lettering was probably stamped out while the rendering was still damp rather than cut out. It has certainly lasted well and can hardly be called a ‘ghost sign’. Fitting in some of the longer text was obviously rather tricky and there are just a few places where the letter spacing seems not to be optimal. Though generally rather better than my crude attempt above.

Dodo, Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-7f-64-positive_2400

Dodo and this sign were at 185 Westbourne Grove, no longer something Antiques but now occupied by American Vintage, but Dodo is certainly no longer at 3 Denbigh Rd, a short distance to the west just off Westbourne Grove. You can see a picture of this row of shops with Dodo in place on the RBK Local Studies web site which takes a photographic stroll down Westbourn Grove and comments rather inaccurately “In the centre of the picture a shop called Dodo Designs, wholesalers of fancy goods.”

Dodo, set up by “London’s acknowledged queen of advertising ephemera” Liz Farrow has been “selling genuine vintage advertising posters since 1960” and is still doing so through the Dodo Posters web site.

Ledbury Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-7f-65-positive_2400

Just around the corner in Ledbury Rd is this row of shops with an entry to Ledbury Mews North. This whole area had a large number of antique shops but now seems largely devoted to fashion.

No 38 to the right of the mews entrance is certainly an attractive building, but I think what particularly attracted me is the lion on the pavement in front of Lacy Gallery – which has of course gone with the Gallery, that shop now split back into two different businesses.

More from Page 5 of 1987 London Photos in another post.

Portobello Rd 1987

Wednesday, August 19th, 2020
Street Musicians, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4c-13-positive_2400

I can’t now remember why I went to Notting Hill in April 1987 as it wasn’t quite on my plans for taking pictures at the time, and it was clearly only a fairly brief visit, walking up the Portobello Rd, usually the kind of tourist trap which I was then trying to avoid. It was perhaps the end of my walk with my son along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union, leaving it at Great Western St and walking down to catch the tube from Notting Hill Gate.

Street Musician, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4c-15-positive_2400

I wasn’t at the time very familiar with Notting Hill, at least outside various works of fiction such as Colin MacInnes’ ‘Absolute Beginners’ written in 1959 and including some graphic descriptions of the 1958 Notting Hill ‘riots’. a series of attacks by white youths, mainly “Teddy Boys”, on black residents of the area. A great book about an extremely cool teenage photographer which was made into a extremely poor film musical, which flopped despite a score by Gil Evans, title track by David Bowie (which reached No 2 in the charts) and contributions from other pop and jazz luminaries including Paul Weller, Ray Davies, Sade, Slim Gaillard and Smiley Culture.

Street Musician, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4c-16-positive_2400

It may well have been the film and all the publicity around it which prompted me to walk on past Westbourne Grove station and down Portobello Rd to Notting Hill Gate. And it will certainly have been my interest in jazz which made me stop and listen and take pictures of a small combo playing on the street, deliberately choosing to work through the crowd.

Barrel Organ, Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4d-11-positive_2400

All of these pictures were I think taken on my Leica M2, which by then had a 35mm f1.4 Summilux almost permanently attached. It was a lens I had lusted over in the window of a secondhand shop in Camden for some time before handing over around a month’s salary. After that the 50mm collapsible f2.8 Elmar saw very little use; later I got a 90mm f2.8 too, but found that gave such a small viewfinder image it was almost unusable, except perhaps for a few distant landscapes.

Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4d-63-positive_2400
Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4d-65-positive_2400
Portobello Rd, Notting Hill, Kensington & Chelsea, 1987 87-4d-41-positive_2400

I didn’t take many pictures, but you can find a few more on page 4 of my 1987 London Photos.


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.