Posts Tagged ‘Richmond’

Richmond and Clapham

Tuesday, May 25th, 2021

Oak House, Old Palace Place, King St, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-53-positive_2400
Oak House, Old Palace Place, King St, Richmond, 1988

I went to Richmond fairly often fairly in my youth some 25 years or so before I took these pictures, sometimes on my bike, on the 37 bus from Hounslow Garage or by car with a friend from school who had a part-time job and could afford to run a Morris Minor. On the bike I would generally ride around Richmond Park, and I took my first cassette of black and white film mainly of the trees there, sending them away to be processed and getting back 36 crinkle-edged black and white enprints. D & P cost something like 17s11d (around 90p) and it was several years before I could afford to take another film. The prints were a dull grey, with no trace of either white or black, but even well-printed they would have been of no great interest.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-62-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

When we went together in my mate’s car, often with a third friend, it was to sit with a cup of coffee on the terrace of a coffee bar, watching the girls go by while our coffee cooled. I doubt we could ever afford more than a single cup, and certainly none of us had the nerve to talk to any of those passing girls. Richmond at the time was full of young foreign au-pairs, all rather older than us.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-02-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

I think most of my bus journeys were made on my own, visiting the Palm Court Hotel to listen to jazz in the bar there, standing making a pint of bitter (probably Red Barrel or Worthington E – I then knew no better) last and last as I couldn’t afford another. It was always a rather lonely evening, with little conversation – though occasionally some older man would attempt to pick me up but I wasn’t interested. But there was some truly great music from the likes of Bobby Wellins.

Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988 88-1a-01-positive_2400
Flooding, River Thames, Richmond, 1988

Later, in my thirties, I would visit Richmond regularly, having joined the photographic society there and made a few friends who shared some of my photographic interests. Club photography was in general tired and formulaic and had little to offer, but became used to doing my own thing often to the derision of the majority of the members. I still remember the frisson of revulsion when a visiting judge for an inter-club competion not only praised my entry but awarded it one of the prizes.

Flooding is frequent at Richmond, where the Thames is still tidal (though a half-lock prevents it draining out completely at low tide) and there are always motorists who ignore the warning notices. I think it comes up over parts of the towpath most months during Spring Tides. These pictures were taken in March when I had probably come on one of my regular visits to a couple of second-hand bookshops that often had decent photographic books in stock at a time when these were rare. Many were review copies, probably never reviewed but sold to the dealers as one of the perks of a poorly-paid job. I decided if ever I became a book reviewer (which eventually I did) I would never sell copies, and I didn’t though there were some I gave away, but many more I refused to take.

Heath Terrace, Wandsworth Rd, Silverthorne Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-3a-01-positive_2400
Heath Terrace, Wandsworth Rd, Silverthorne Rd, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

Once a month we came to visit friends in Kennington, arriving for lunch on a Sunday, and I would often travel up earlier than the rest of my family and spend some time walking around and taking pictures, and I think this may have been taken on one of those mornings. I think I will have chosen this angle on the ornamented Heath Terrace carefully, not just to show the 4 white chimneys of Battersea Power Station at left, but also the rather Lego-like tower block at right, and choosing to put a concrete post at the right edge.

Heath Terrace is still there, though I think now entirely residential, and I’m not sure you can still see the power station, certainly not in summer when Streetview is on its rounds, as that small tree has grown considerably. The concrete post, which I assume was a lamp post as well as holding some other sign has disappeared.

Clapham Manor St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988 88-3a-04-positive_2400
Clapham Manor St, Clapham, Lambeth, 1988

This Grade II listed building at 42 Clapham Manor St is now home to the London Russian Ballet School and Kids Love Lambeth. It was built in 1854, architect by James Thomas Knowles Snr, as the Clapham General Dispensary for the ‘The Clapham Sick Poor Fund’ formed in 1849 and provided free medical and surgical services for almost a century, closing in the early 1950s.

In 1959 the building was used by the London County Council for industrial training for people with special needs. It later became a pre-school playground and adult education centre, which I think it was at the time of my photograph. Shortly after in 1989 it became empty and suffered some fire damage which led to considerable internal rebuilding. Still owned by Lambeth council, it became a taxi training school until 2005-6 when the council sold the building and its considerable premises at the rear. For some years it was in illegal use as ballet studios, with this being made legal in 2013.

James Thomas Knowles Snr (1806-1884) designed the building free of charge and it was paid for by public subscription. As well as its architectural merit is is listed as one of the earliest provident dispensaries to survive in London.


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.