Posts Tagged ‘shop window’

More West End 1987

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020
Dover St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5l-35-positive_2400

I can offer little explanation for this rather sad looking bust, odd cup and plates which my contact sheet says I photographed in Dover St. I think the odd cup in the foreground is actually an extremely naff clock, with the lower snake’s head pointing to the hour and the upper head to a disk showing minutes. In the unlikely event it was working I took this picture at around 11.58. What it lacks is a rod coming out of the top with an arm holding a small bird or fly whizzing around for the seconds.

I guess the guy in the background could be Titus or Vespasian; most of the other Emperors had fancier hair, at least in their busts. This one looks around life-size and could well be the sculptor’s grandfather but more likely a copy of an older figure. From the number of similar busts around I have a picture of circles of student sculptors around a bust in a gallery at perhaps the V&A, each chipping away at a block of marble as an exam piece. Whoever did this one would have deserved a decent grade.

Berkeley St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5l-56-positive_2400

More sculptures with two young stone ladies pretending to hold up a porch in Berkeley St. It looks a rather boring job. But although both seem to be scratching their heads they don’t appear to be putting a great deal of effort into it.

Ukrainian RC Cathedral, Duke St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-24-positive_2400

Whenever I see this building it amazes me that this gaudy and extravagant edifice was built as a Congregational Church, the King’s Weighouse Church, built in 1889-91 to the designs of Alfred Waterhouse, better known for his Natural History Museum in South Kensington. Congregationalists are Puritans, tracing their heritage back to the Brownists and the London Underground Church of the 1560s. Rejecting the ecclesiastical trappings at the centre of the Anglican Church – cathedrals, bishops, vestments, formal liturgies, priests, the sign of the cross and more – they espoused a simple austere faith based on the priesthood of all believers.

Of course over the years there was some back-tracking. But most Congregational church buildings remained suitable austere, often with at least a hint of the Classical – and some did it very finely but without great ornament. Sadly their practices deteriorated to the extent of allowing church choirs, though these consisted of adult members who considered they could sing, and organs. But as someone raised in the tradition (though no longer involved) I still fine the ornate nature of this building surprising.

Perhaps it was becuase the King’s Weighouse came from an older – and Royal tradition, tracing its ancestry back to Queen Matilda’s ‘Free Chapel’ at the Tower of London, founded by her in 1148 and not subject to the rule of any bishop. When the 1662 Act of Uniformity made the Book of Common Prayer and other aspects of Anglican practice compulsory almost the entire congregation left and shortly after began to worship as an independent congregation in an ancient building on Cornhill where foreign goods coming into London were weighed – the King’s Weigh House. They kept the name when they built their own chapel where Monument station now is, and later in other buildings, bringing it to Mayfair where they combined with a congregation already on this site and then built a new church.

Perhaps it was the influence of this building which in the 1920s led the church, then led by Rev Dr W. E. Orchard to moving towards Rome and developing what became known as ‘Free Catholicism’. The church never really recovered from wartime requisition and bomb damage and closed in the 1950s. Since June 1968  it has been the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of he Holy Family of Exile, which seems a far more suitable use for the building. You can read more about it on the Cathedral web site, from which much of the above comes.

Air St, Piccadilly, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-33-positive_2400

In Air Street we could almost be inside a cathedral. The rebuilding of the area around Piccadilly Circus was a subject of various proposals, plans and debates from around 1886 until 1928 which you can read in some detail in British History Online and possibly make more of than me. It involved many of the UK’s leading architects of the era, including Richard Norman Shaw and Sir Reginald Blomfield. I think that this section was built to Blomfield’s designs in 1923-8, but by that point in the text my eyes were fully glazed.

Regent St, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-34-positive_2400

In Regent St I was faced with the problem of photographing something which I find rather bland and boring – like most of the more monumental architecture of that period.

I found another curve to go with the two of the street, but I think it is no longer there – and many other details of the shops etc have changed. Bus Stop C is still there, but no longer served by Routemasters.

Christ Church, Cosway St, Marylebone, Westminster, 1987 87-5m-36-positive_2400

Christ Church in Cosway street, Marylebone was no longer a church when I took this picture having been made redundant in 1978 and converted into offices. This Grade II* church was built in 1824-5 by Thomas Hardwick and his son Philip Hardwick, one of the more interesting of the many cut-price Commissioner’s Churches built from 1820-1850 to cope with the rapid expansion of the urban population.

Despite the appearance it is a largely brick building with stone dressing. It was altered in 1887 by Sir A W Blomfield but I think this did not affect the portico or tower, a rather unusual construction, “3-stage tower with square Ionic peristyle with cylindrical core rising into octagonal cupola with volutes.”

More on page 4 of my album 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.


Mayfair & St James’s 1987

Monday, September 7th, 2020
St George St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5n-52-positive_2400

J C Wells Ltd at 12 St George St, founded in 1829, were one of a number of small tailors in this and surrounding streets not far from Saville Row, and already served an international clientèle, selling suits in the USA since 1927 when they merged with Cooling Lawrence and Wells and Cordas and Bright to become ‘Wells of Mayfair’ around 1976. For a while there were one of Saville Row’s most succesful tailors, but went out of business in 1992 and were acquired in Davies & Son.

The photograph is of Wells of Mayfair’s premises around the corner at 47 Maddox St. I was attracted particularly by the map of the world showing the many places where their suits dressed the wealthy. Their bespoke tailoring did not come cheap, but it was certainly not ‘fast fashion’ and some are still worn – and sold – fifty years after they were made.

Conduit  St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5n-53-positive_2400

I found empty windows like this rather more interesting than when they were full of goods, and they had a rather eerie quality, emphasised here by what appears to be the ghost of a necklace on the central stand. I’m not sure if that was really visible when I took the picture – either where a necklace has shaded the material from being darkened by the sun or as a reflection in the window through which I made the picture. It could even be a fault caused in the film processing. But whatever it was caused by it adds to the image.

I took a second frame of another of the shop’s windows with a similar empty jewellery stand, but with what appears to be a ghostly hand and arm in the picture (presumably for displaying bracelets, watches and rings.) You can find this, along with other pictures, in my album 1987 London Photos – linked here.

Conduit  St, Mayfair, Westminster, 1987 87-5n-55-positive_2400

Although my contact sheet states Conduit St, I think this is Jack Barclay on the corner of Bruton Place and Berkeley Square, part of H R Owen who also deal in Rolls Royce, Ferrari and other expensive gas guzzlers.

John “Jack” Donald Barclay was one of the wealthy British motorists who drove Bentley sports cars in the 1920s to victories, though his career was cut short as his mother would only settle a huge gambling debt he had run up in Le Touquet on condition he stopped racing. He had previously been selling Vauxhalls as Barclay & Wyse and in 1927 opened the shop named after him, dealing in both Bentleys and Rollers. It moved to Berkeley Square in 1953 and is the world’s oldest and most famous Bentley dealership.

King St, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-22-positive_2400

I think this part of King St has since been demolished with a new prestige office block in place of both Silks cocktail bar and the art dealer next door.

I felt an immediate sympathy with the running man at right, trying to get away from the West End and its conspicuous wealth, though doubtless on sale for some obscene sum, but it was the jockey walking into the cocktail bar, his arm outstretched, that made me take two more or less identical frames. I’d made the first when another man, possible a waiter, came to stand in the doorway and watched me around the corner. I’m not entirely sure he improves the scene.

Crown Passage, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-25-positive_2400

Crown Passage, also in St James’s, was more my kind of street, one where you could actually buy something of use, with a sandwich shop, an ironmongers, Early Birds Fine Foods, a tobacconist and sweet shop and a pub and more.

The Red Lion is still there, but I think most of the other shops have changed hands and the street has been rather tidied up.

Jermyn St, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-41-positive_2400

Wiltons restauarant, begun by George William Wilton as a shellfish-mongers off Haymarket in 1742, is still at 55 Jermyn St and reopens after COVID-19 on Monday 7th September, coincidentally the day I intend to publish this post.

In the early 19th century the stall changed its name to Wilton’s Shellfish Mongers and Oyster Rooms and set up in a series of locations in St James’s having to move as the area was redeveloped. By 1868 it was established in King St where the Prince of Wales was a loyal customer and it received 868 its first Royal Warrant as Purveyor of Oysters to Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales.

The family sold the shop in 1889 and it moved larger premises, and there were several later owners and moves. On Wilton’s site you can read the story of how the then owner Mrs Bessie Leal got so fed up with wartime bombing that she “folded her tea towel, unpinned her apron and then proclaimed that she no longer wished to live in London during the War and wished to sell Wiltons”. The only customer dining at the time, a regular, Mr Olaf Hambro told her to “put the restaurant at the end of the bill!”

Under Hambro’s ownership and the manager he appointed, Jimmy Marks, Wiltons became a world-famous institution, moving in 1964 to Bury St, and in 1984 to this shop in Jermyn St, dressing its waitresses like nannies who treated the aristocratic customers like children in a nursery.

You might like to book and try a half dozen Loch Ryan Natives No2 for £30, or perhaps 30g of Beluga Caviar for £180, washed down perhaps with a glass of Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” 2006 at £45.00

Sculptures, Economist Plaza, St James's St, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-43-positive_2400

The buildings for the Economist group in 1960-64 are the only remaining London buildings by Alison and Peter Smithson, two of the UK’s most influential post-war architects. They were listed Grade II* the year after I made these pictures. The plaza was refurbished in 2018 and renamed as Smithson Plaza.

The plaza has exhibited a wide range of sculpture by prominent sculptors over the years. I’ve forgotten who these were made by.

Economist Plaza, St James's St, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-46-positive_2400

From the Plaza, and below, from St James’s St.

Boodles Club, Economist Building, St James's St, St James's, Westminster, 1987 87-6a-54-positive_2400

The Economist site is next door to Boodle’s, perhaps the most ludicrously named of London’s clubs for wealthy men. Often called ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ though many of the members were not. Boodle’s, a Private Members’ Club was founded in 1762 by the Earl of Shelburne, later the Marquess of Lansdowne and Prime Minister. Originally at 49-51 Pall Mall, it moved to 28 St. James’s Street in 1782. It got its silly name from its Head Waiter, Edward Boodle.

Boodle’s owned a part of the land needed for the Economist site and released it being given a part of the new building and now has its entrance in the Economist Plaza. Among former members have been Beau Brummel, Winston Churchill, Ian Fleming, Edward Gibbon, David Hume, Adam Smith, the Duke of Wellington and William Wilberforce.

More from 1987 London Photos later.


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.