SEEDY CLUBS AND DIVES OF NOTTING HILL 1956 – 1970

Blenheim Crescent looking west from Portobello Rd 1971. Photo RBKC Local Studies.

Prologue:

In June I curated and led a walk around W.10 and W.11 focusing on this topic. I was conscious that the establishments we covered by no means constituted a comprehensive list so I am posting my working notes from the walk and sincerely encourage readers to respond with comments/anecdotes/recollections both on the establishments described and information/stories about clubs/dives not listed here. Hopefully some forgotten ‘gems’ will surface.

I have commented on the individual premises in the order we visited them so that anyone wishing to replicate this walk can readily do so.

Introduction

During this period the activity surrounding the clubs played out against a background of rapid and far reaching social change which in this area was allied to an influx of West Indian immigrants bringing with them a different culture…….So there was a lot happening! For the first time, the youth developed it’s own identity and voice … and had money to spend, which in itself was at counterpoint with the austerity following on from the end of the war.

To quote Philip Larkin, “Sexual intercourse began in 1963, between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP”.

Many clubs opened and closed for a variety of reasons. The clubs varied greatly but generally supplied a demand for OUT OF HOURS DRINKING, GAMBLING, MUSIC, PROSTITUTION AND DRUGS or a combination of these. …..running through the types of establishments, some were simply ‘drinkers’ making alcohol available outside of pub hours (11am-2pm, 5.30 – 11pm, 10.30 Sundays) These often offered the facility to place cash bets (illegal until the 1960 Act legalised betting shops) and, at least prior to c.1956, catered largely to the indigenous white population. Were they legal? Ostensibly ‘yes’ as usually initially a ‘club’ license was obtained permitting alcohol to be sold to ‘members’ outside pub hours and to 2 am…..however usually these restrictions were ignored or abused causing them to be closed only for a replacement to be quickly opened nearby prompting the police to dub them ‘mushroom clubs’.

The West Indians soon opened their own versions of these, many around the Colville area, christened Shebeens (and usually wholly illegal) after the Irish name for such establishments. These generally charged c.2/6 entrance and sold Red Stripe West Indian beer @ 2/6 a can/bottle.

Some spots lacked an alcohol license and were simply extended hours coffee bars with music and/or a drug supply, some spots offered food with some of the aforementioned vices added on, most provided a convenient meeting place for the criminal fraternity. All had at least some connection to criminals and criminality and some were wholly criminally owned and run, attracting a similar clientele. We will talk more about the drugs available as we go along. The sites we visit is by no means a comprehensive list….there were many other places most short lived, providing a variety of ‘entertainment’

The walk starts on Blenheim Crescent near Kensington Park Road.

THE BLUE MOON (Ex.THE BABY DOLL), 19 BLENHEIM CRESCENT (entrance via door leading to the basement – which remains to this day).

As the Baby Doll, it was owned and run by white criminals for white criminals including the ‘heavy mob’, then c.1962 it was taken over by Jamaican Roy Edwards who ran it together with the violent Dennis Matis on the door and Noel Walsh on the sounds.The latter was known as ‘two-gun Cassidy’ on account of him shooting a policeman in Liverpool in the 50’s. All three had criminal records for violence. It retained the patronage of the white criminal element (including members of notorious Notting Hill families) who were joined by the West Indian equivalent and gays of both sexes (remembering this was still illegal). It was a veritable den of inequity. Fights were very common both inside and outside but they were never racial. Comically the sign on the door read ‘hours 9-5’… omitting to mention this was 9pm to 5am. The police raided frequently making arrests, the most common offences being ‘living off immoral earnings’ ( which increased after a condom machine was installed in the Ladies), or drugs (in the club or close by). Eventually a large raid resulted in the arrest of many including the three Jamaicans with ‘2-gun Cassidy’ receiving 3 ½ years (!) for possession of a small amount of cannabis. Many believed this was planted on him because of his earlier non-fatal shooting of the policeman.

walk towards Portobello Road

Incredibly there were two more clubs on Blenheim Crescent between the Blue Moon and and the junction with Portobello Rd……………………

At 15a, ‘CAFE CONTINENTAL’, a basement club attracting a mixed (black/white clientele).

blenheim-crescent-south-side-1-3-1971-ks3002-e1537454366128.jpg

1-9 Blenheim Crescent, 1971. Photo RBKC Local Studies

At no.9 ‘THE NUMBER 9’ (formerly Totobags cafe). This was almost exclusively black. As ‘Totobags’ it had served as a meeting place/refuge for West Indians during the Race riots (Aug 29-Sept 2 ’58). All these clubs attracted prostitutes (as did the KPH) but not necessarily for business….even sex workers need ‘downtime’.

turn left into Portobello Road stopping opposite Alba Place..

Here at 218 was ‘BONAS’ (always pronounced ‘bonners’) a cafe on street level with a ‘drinker’ in the basement used mainly afternoons by older whites including many stallholders among them Johnny Spencer who had a stall outside and The Cains whose stall was on the corner of Westbourne Park Road.

continue along Portobello turning left into Lancaster Rd….50 yards down stop outside 77…..

77 Lancaster Road, 2018. Photo by D. Hucker

Here was the ‘SEVENTY SEVEN’, a West Indian restaurant and club used by (mainly) blacks and whites of various ages.

turn around continuing back along Portobello Rd stopping opposite ‘Makan’ (ex.No. 262)…..this is broadly the site of:

EL PORTOBELLO’ on the ground floor (most were basement premises). Young mixed race clientele, juke box music, no alcohol, only coffee…open until 2am attracting most of the local ne’er do wells’ serving as a well known pill distribution centre…outside was a sign that read’ Your late night Rendezvous’ which was ironic as nobody knew what a ‘rendezvous’ was. C.1964 it morphed into ‘BOBO’S‘ (sited at the rear) which was similar attracting a ‘MOD’ crowd eager for pills.

 

NB. NOTES ON THE DRUG SCENE AT THE TIME:

‘Pep pills’ were the drugs used by young whites (and younger blacks joining in with the MOD movement.) In reality these were slimming pills that only became ‘pep pills’ when taken in treble or more of the recommended (1 a day) dosage, the effect increasing with the dose. Until 1960 these were readily available over the counter from chemists and were taken routinely by air hostesses to keep them awake on long flights..but there was a murder committed on the South coast in the course of a robbery by a teenager found to be high on his Mums slimming pills which led to them being made ‘prescription only’ by law…..thereby creating an overnight industry among young entrepreneurs looking to make a fast buck and providing regular work for burglars breaking into chemists shops……Very conveniently for the smarter of these young entrepreneurs a Drug factory had opened on nearby Kensal Road (British Drug Houses) from where supplies were readily obtained via ‘the back door’. Supplies were further supplemented by obliging chemist shop workers & pharmacists eager to make a few quid on the side.

THE DRUGS CONCERNED WERE:

DRINAMYL – ‘PURPLE HEARTS’ The most common – I think these were prescribed for ‘anxiety and lethagy’ …When he authorities realised their alternative usage as pep pills they changed the shape to round…..needless to say they were on the streets the next day as ‘FRENCH BLUES’.

DEXEDRINE (yellow tab) – ‘YELLOW DEX’

DEXEDRINE (white tab imprinted ‘P’ for Preludin) ‘P’s’

DUROPHET – BLACK BOMBERS(came in black capsules)

DUROPHET (lesser strength) BLACK&WHITE BOMBERS

The above were traded generally at 6d though Black Bombers were 9d – 1/-

CANNABIS – generally not used by young local whites until the early 60’s when the hippies discovered it, .. from the early 50’s it was imported and used by West Indians and sold in the clubs alongside the pills at 5/- per newspaper wrap….I think slighter older, more sophisticated whites, not local, used it…..but not the MODS.

proceed along Portobello Rd, turning right into Golborne Rd stopping outside no. 101…here was the ………THE BLUE ROSE CLUB.….

101 Golborne Road, 2018. Photo D.Hucker.

An ‘all nighter’ pill type club attracting plenty of ne’er do wells’ …..someone was shot outside here in 1963 thus heightening interest.

continue along Golborne rd, turning right into St Ervans Road

….here just into St Ervans Road at c.no.6 was….

St Ervan’s Road looking north towards Golborne Rd 1970. Photo RBKC Local Studies

‘THE AMERICANO’ opened and run by Dizzy a Jamaican from Kensal Green. It became popular playing good music and attracting customers from the aforementioned BLUE MOON which didn’t go down well with the B.M. ‘management’ ….. one night a Ford Anglia pulled up with a couple of B.M. ‘staff’ accompanied by two local white tearaways Frank Chopin and Bill Sykes M (known as, not his real name) ..they smashed the place to pieces and stabbed Dizzy in the top of the head. Dizzy was somewhat dismayed by this incident and it never reopened, Dizzy returning to an easier life in Kensal Green.

continue to the end of St Ervan’s Road, through the flats, over the Westway and railway bridge turning right onto Tavistock Crescent…continue along into All Saints Road passing what was ‘The Pelican’ (now the ‘Italian Job’) on the corner at the junction with Tavistock Rd. Stop at no.24.

Here HARRY WRAGGS …. an all nighter owned by West Indians but safe for whites….club in the basement…no alcohol but plenty of drugs. Also a convenient HQ for prostitutes and their ponces.

pause at the junction with Lancaster Rd…..

At this point it is worth remembering the ‘JACK THE STRIPPER MURDERS’ Between ’59 and ’65 eight prostitutes were murdered and their bodies dumped in various W.London locations. Nobody was charged. This area reeks of these murders….several lived here, all worked in the area using the clubs. Victim no 3,  Hannah Tailford lived at Pembridge Villas. Victim no 5 , Helen Barthelemy, was last seen alive in the Jazz club at 207 Westbourne Park Rd. Victim no 6, Mary Fleming, known locally as Gummy Mary lived at 44 Lancaster Rd and was last seen alive in an unlicensed ‘drinker’ at 32a Powis Square. Victim no 7,  Francis Brown had lived at Westbourne Park Rd and was last seen alive in the Warwick Castle at 225 Portobello Rd. It seems likely that the killer lived or worked in the area.

proceed along All Saints Rd stopping outside No.8………

Formerly the Mangrove, All Saints Road.  2018. Photo D.Hucker.

THE MANGROVE….owned by Frank Critchlow, it opened in ’68 as a restaurant with a 24 hour license and the successor to the El Rio. It soon became a drug distribution centre despite Critchlow effecting an anti-drug stance & claiming he had nothing to do with them….he twice faced drug charges while at the Mangrove and was twice acquitted. After a year the 24 hour license was revoked after police officers testified that cannabis was often in evidence however the restaurant continued to operate with a total disregard of the licensing laws. Police raids continued attempting to curb the flagrant licensing breaches and during one in May ’70 Critchlow and his brother Victor were arrested,charged and later convicted of assaulting a police officer. Critchlow was sentenced to four months, reduced on appeal to a £25 fine. His brother was fined £20. There were several subsequent convictions for Critchlow and various managers for running a late night cafe without a license. Amongst the customers were; Vanessa Redgrave, Nina Simone, Sammy Davis Jnr, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Richard Neville (‘OZ’ mag editor) Diana Ross, Sarah Vaughn and Paula Yates

proceed to the end of All Saints Road turn left into Westbourne Park Road, stopping at 207 at junction with Ledbury Road. Here is:

THE FIESTA/THE JAZZ CLUB.. on the corner of Westbourne Park Road and Ledbury Road (opposite corner to the {ex} pub) – club entrance in Ledbury Rd The Fiesta opened in ’61 by Trinidadian Larry Ford and later, c.1963, became ‘The Jazz club’.  Music, dancing, alcohol & drugs…popular with prostitutes for business and pleasure and known to be be frequented by Helen Barthelemy, the 5th victim of ‘Jack the Stripper’ in ’64. Ford quickly racked up a string of convictions for selling alcohol without a license.

Next door in Ledbury Road was…….

THE CALYPSO.…opened in ’57 styled as The Calypso Dance and Social club, it was used by West Indians to hold a ‘council of war’ on day two of the ’58 riots (Sept 1st).

At 32a Powis Square was an unlicensed drinker frequented by ‘Gummy Mary’ Fleming, the 6th victim of Jack the Stripper Run by Roy Stewart who worked as a film extra/ stuntman.

Continue on to 127, pausing just past the junction with Great Western Rd to point out

THE GIGI at 32 St Stephen’s Gardens. (building now demolished). This was mainly a ‘spieler’ run by Michael DeFreitas.

Stop opposite127…Here was:

Rios Westbourne Park Rd. 2018 Dave copy

127 Westbourne Park Road, 2018. Photo D.Hucker.

THE EL RIO...opened in 1959 by Frank Critchlow notionally as a ‘coffee bar’ but open 24 hours included alcohol, dancing and drugs putting Crichlow on a collision course with the police…he was convicted 9 times in the 7 years it remained open, usually for selling alcohol, contravening opening hours etc… Originally it attracted a black clientele incl. all the activists/hustlers… Michael DeFreitas Lucky Gordon, Darcus Howe, Johnny Edgecombe etc. but it’s notoriety began to attract a bohemian, intellectual arty crowd curious to sample the wilder more hedonistic side of life, including amongst these were Colin McInnes (looking for boys – he was openly gay when it was still illegal,and was related to Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin), Brian Jones, Stephen Ward, Guinness heir Tara Browne, barrister Lord Tony Gifford. It’s attraction was considerably aided by Vincent Bute, the sounds man who sourced all the latest ‘blue note’ label records which were hard to obtain then.

It’s place in history was sealed when Stephen Ward introduced Christine Keeler to the two West Indians Aloysius ‘lucky’ Gordon and Johnny Edgecombe who both became her lovers, couplings which resulted in jail terms for both of them and the downfall of Secretary of State for War, John Profumo (another lover) and ultimately the collapse of the Macmillan government. The famous Mandy Rice-Davis quote from the trial, ‘he would wouldn’t he’, appears today inset into the pavement on the opposite side of the road to the club premises at 127.

The end.

With grateful and appreciative thanks to Bobby Kirkham who provided much invaluable help, information and assistance.

John Henwood, 2018.

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Posted in Before the Westway, Golborne, Shops, Streets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Mews of North Kensington – Dave Hucker

Denbigh mews.Hucker

Denbigh Mews, 2018 (Hucker).

Mewed is a French word describing a building where Falcons were Mewed, or left to shed their plumage. The first use in London was for the Royal Mews which were round about where the National Gallery is on Trafalgar Square. That is where the Royal falcons were kept.

After a fire at his stables in Bloomsbury in 1537, Henry VIII rebuilt the buildings in Trafalgar Square and used them as stables. The birds were evicted but the buildings still kept the name the Royal Mews. So Mews eventually became a generic name for coach houses and stabling.

In this blog I am deliberately only looking at the area within the Parish Boundary of Kensington, from Notting Hill Gate/Holland Park Ave northwards to the Canal/Harrow Road and eastwards to the peripheries of the boundary and west to Latimer/Norland Roads where the boundary ran down Counters Creek.

It was said by the Victorian social researcher Henry Mayhew that “The Mews of London constitute a world of their own”.  There are 433 original stabling Mews left in the whole of London and 70 are in W11 and W10, which is a reasonable number for such a small area. The Mews always seem to have given W10/W11 quite a large part of the area’s identity.

The humble Mews represented one side of the aspirations of the land owners, developers and speculative builders who constructed the estates and houses in W11 in the 1850’s & later in W10. Often it was Wild West frontier capitalism. Then everything was Leasehold and a lot of the Mews still are.

When development started the owners sold off blocks of land, or even singular plots to speculative builders, who constructed the houses at their own expense. The land owner stipulated how the buildings would look and also had their surveyors approve the details when the houses had been built. The builder got his money from the lease while the land owner got a ground rent which made them money from what had previously been fields and pasture, or for example – a failed racecourse. When the 99 year leases were finished the property reverted to the land owner.

The builders and speculators were building single family dwellings for the new metropolitan middle class, who had moved from places near the edge of city, like Bloomsbury – to the leafy suburbs developing round the Hippodrome Racecourse above Notting Dale. These new estates were designed with everything that this new metro group would want. There were shops nearby and the Mews were hidden away round the back.

The Mews were built for the residents who had leased a house, to stable their horse, carriage and driver, who would transport them to the City or wherever else they wanted to go. The Mews also housed the horses and carts needed to move goods around and the Hansom cabs for moving people.

Mr and Mrs T.A.Bunn LionelMews

Mr and Mrs T.A.Bunn outside the family farriers/blacksmiths at 5 Lionel Mews (since demolished). The mews ran off Telford Road.   Photo : Darren Windsor.

Mews were part of the support system for the new inhabitants of the area. They also provided all the transport business’s needs, supporting everything the stabling trade required such as blacksmiths, chandlers, bridle repairers. And who supplied the feed for the horses? If you were one of our many Welsh Dairies you needed stabling for the transport that went everyday to Paddington to collect the churns of fresh milk. This would then be sold from the shop or decanted into bottles and delivered round by horse and cart. When you were a self – employed Hansom Cab driver, where did you rent a place to keep your cab and the horse? How did you pay the rent, weekly or monthly?

The Mews had been thrown together really cheaply and for most of the time, pretty badly. They were shoddy, small, cold, cramped and draughty places, always damp, with very little natural light. The coachman might live upstairs in quite primitive conditions, with probably just a cold water supply.

The Mews were always on cobbled streets sloping steeply to the centre, to easily allow mucking out the stables and wash everything down to where the drains and sewers were in the middle of the road. Given the nature of life then, probably very little was wasted. Straw and horse manure was probably moved on…. by horse and cart.

In posh places like Horbury Mews, which was probably the Mews for the very large houses in Ladbroke Square, there was definitely superior accommodation commensurate with the status of the owner of the house. In less swanky parts it was not so top notch.

horbury-mews-hucker.jpg

Horbury Mews 2018 (Hucker)

This worked well until a number of things happened. Inhabitants of the new developments in the northern end of Ladbroke Grove used the recently opened omnibus routes and Ladbroke Grove station to get around and connect to other parts of London. These residents were the modern Metropolitans and had no need for a horse and carriage.

There already had been an awareness by the developers that less Mews were needed in the north of the borough. The Mews would have seen a subtle evolution of use. They have always changed to suit the needs of the people who use and live there. So they drifted into light industrial, storage – like for some of our Portobello Stall holders and their carts.

The Mews in North Ken were generally quite mundane compared to the opulent ones down in the south of the Borough. Those often had elaborate arches over the entrance. Up in the North no space was wasted and sometimes the entrance to the Mews were built over, to maximise income.

Nineteen Century reformer Charles Booth commented that the Mews were “more generally occupied by poor families carrying on little trades, and by profligate and destitute persons, than used as stables” He marked Bolton Mews off Portobello Rd as dark blue in his poverty map. Which is “Very poor, casual, Chronic want”. As was Talbot Mews, a particularly malodorous place.

Talbot Mews (2) - 1932 copy

Talbot Mews 1932 (RBKC Local Studies)

World War One changed everything. We lost so much of the population from all classes, the demographics of our life totally changed. A surplus of ex WW1 army trucks helped to replace the vast number of horses requisitioned and killed in the Great War.  And so equine power was replaced by horsepower. The internal combustion engine became the prime power source, which also coincided with the big houses being split up into flats. There was just not the need for the big family houses and their servants and separate Mews any more.

Not a lot changed physically with the Mews but sometimes the use evolved. Small industries moved in. They changed to automotive use, mechanics and car showrooms, an example being the Sports Cars adverts in Pembridge Mews.

Blechynden Mews looking west with Ford Zephyr 1969 KS1274 copy

Blechynden Mews, 1969, demolished. (RBKC Local Studies)

In the 50’s many Mews had become a dump, but sometimes cheap bijou dumps. Places hidden away, a dead end, a no through route. Although also providing you with a space to park your car – cars needed to be garaged more at that time.

railway mews. hucker

Railway Mews (from Everchanging Mews)

In the 60’s, TV series like The Avengers and The Saint, made Mews hip places to be. There was also the 1980’s famous VW Golf advert that featured a Mews with the actress who looked like Princess Diana. If you wanted a home in a fashionable area but did not want or could not afford a whole house then the Mews became an option. What they lacked in convenience they made up for in novelty.

Mews are fascinating and frustrating. There are a number of areas, which so far I really have failed to find definitive answers to certain arcane questions; did the speculative builders who constructed the houses build the Mews as well? Probably – yes. So when you bought a lease on one of these nice big houses, did it include a space in the Mews? Or was that a separate lease or rental? I assume a separate lease/rental. Why did/do the Mews have a different ownership from the leasehold tenants? Does that explain why quite a few Mews are private, gated and unadopted?

Mews have frequently been private but when parking regulations came in, sometimes it gave the owners reason to gate it. And as the mews were always quite narrow, parking generally had caused a lot of problems. There are quite a few where the Council did not adopt the road and so do not maintain it. These generally are the private ones. Ruston Mews is one, the residents paid to be connected to the sewer system, while the Council charge them for electricity for their street lights.

There are very few totally original Mews left. Many have been reconstructed, rebuilt, altered and often a pastiche of what a Mews should be. My personal favourite is Portobello Mews a genuine throwback to the old days. It has not been substantially altered, mucked around with or gussied up and still retains a 70’s bohemian feel.

Portobello Mews.Hucker

Portobello Mews 2018 (Hucker)

All kind of businesses and houses are hidden away in Mews these days. Going round you see how the buildings have adopted to the modern times, service industry, light engineering, Internet, shops. You see small and larger business operating out of the spaces now.

Codrington Mews 2006 copy

Codrington Mews 2006 (Snyder)

Some Mews have even been transformed into mega houses. Certainly the Mews have moved on with the times. The history of the mews tells the story of how we have gone from the working class to the well off.

List of mews in W10 and W11 (Alphabetical)

Addison Mews (now Addison Place)

Angola Mews (demolished)
Archer Mews (demolished)
Albert Mews (now Bulmer)
Albion Place (now Alba Place)
Boundary Mews (now Powis Mews)
Bolton Mews (demolished)
Blechynden Mews (demolished)
Bramley Mews (demolished)
Bramley Mews (demolished)
Bourne End Mews

Christopher Mews
Colville Mews
Clydesdale Mews (demolished)
Camborne Mews (new build)
Codrington Mews
Dunworth Mews
Denbigh Mews (now Close)
Elgin Mews
East Mews Road (demolished)
Edenham Mews (demolished)
Folly Mews
Garden Mews
Golden Cross Mews
Gadsden Mews
Golborne Mews
Hippodrome Mews
Hayden Place
Horbury Mews
Holland Park Mews
Head’s Mews
Kelfield Mews
Kensington Park Mews

Latimer Mews

Lavie Mews (demolished)
Lonsdale Mews
Ledbury Mews North
Ledbury Mews West.
Lionel Mews (demolished)
Lansdown Mews (previously Ladbroke Terrace Mews)
Lambton Mews (now Place)
Ladbroke Stables (now Mews)
Ladbroke Walk
Linden Mews
Munro Mews
Norland Stables (now Place)
Oxford Mews (now Malton Mews)
Portobello Mews
Pembridge Mews
Pelham Mews (now Simons Close)
Phoenix Place
Pottery Lane
Princedale Mews (now Princes Place)
Ruston Mews
Railway Mews
Roseland Place
Royal Crescent Mews
Sylvester Mews (demolished)
Scrampston Mews
Silchester Mews (demolished)
Stanley Garden Mews (lost to development)
Symphony Mews (new build)
St Johns Mews
St Lukes Mews
Tavistock Mews
Trinity Mews
Talbot Mews
Thorpe Mews (now Close)
Vernon Mews (now Yard)
Victoria Grove Mews
Wilby Mews
Wellington Close

Dave Hucker 2018

Posted in Local industries and businesses, Streets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

1867 Portland Road and Princedale Road spoons robbery raids court proceedings. Tom Vague.

Portland Rd from KHT copy

Portland Road leading to the brewery, 193Os. Photo: Kensington Housing Trust

In 1867 William Barwell, of 84 Portland Row (Road), William Bull, of 65 Prince’s (Princedale) Road, and William Jarrard were indicted for the theft of 2 silver spoons and other cutlery from 9 Norfolk Crescent in Paddington, the residence of Richard Stoneleigh Illingworth. Barwell was arrested at his lodgings at 84 Portland Road, to the north of the Clarendon Cross junction. The witness Francis Emly lived with his parents at the other end of the road, near Holland Park Avenue, at number 9. Both of these houses are still there but the site of Mr Bull’s shop at 65 Prince’s (now Princedale) Road, between Penzance Street and Place, is now occupied by the post-war Crossways Penzance Place block. The minutes of evidence against the 3 Bills, Barwell, Bull and Jarrard, contains the earliest detailed account of life in Notting Dale not long after the houses were built in the 1850s. The thief Barwell was found guilty and got 18 months’ imprisonment, Bull, who had previous, got 5 years’ penal servitude for feloniously receiving the spoons, the shop assistant Jarrard was found not guilty.

Princedale Road west side 29-31 1970 KS686 copy

29-31 Princedale Road, formerly Prince’s Road, 1970. Photo RBK&C Local Studies)

Francis Emly was employed as a brickmaker locally and at the Kensington Park Brewery at the north end of Portland Road.

brewery poster 1899 copy 2

Poster from the National Archive

In ‘Notting Hill in Bygone Days’ Florence Gladstone has ‘Portland Road’ the road to the Hippodrome (racecourse) stables, was chiefly known as Norland or Hippodrome Lane’ in the 1840s and 50s. Another local William Bull was the grandson of the Ladbroke estate architect and Tory MP for Hammersmith in the early 20th century. At the time of the 1861 Census, the general dealer William Bull and his wife Mathilda, originally from Bath, were living at 29 Prince’s Road (sometimes Princes, now Princedale). In 1871 Mathilda was living at 65 Prince’s Road and working as a clothier and head of the household. Her niece was her assistant and her nephew, William Jarrard was the shopman. In 1861 there was a 14 year-old William Barwell living at 14 St James’s Street, with his father George, a baker from Northampton, mother Hannah, 2 brothers and 2 sisters.

Tom Vague with census research by Maggie Tyler

Old Bailey Proceedings

Old Bailey Proceedings Central Criminal Court. 8th Session, London and Middlesex Cases, Old Court, Monday, November 28 1867. William Barwell (22), William Bull (49) and William Jarrard (20) were indicted for stealing 2 spoons and other goods of Richard Stoneleigh Illingworth, in his dwelling-house (9 Norfolk Crescent). 2nd count, for feloniously receiving the same…

Old Bailey Proceedings June 10 1867 Central Criminal Court Sessions Paper. Gabriel, Mayor. 8th session, held June 10 1867. Minutes of evidence, taken in short-hand by James Drover Barnett and Alexander Buckler, short-hand writers to the Court, Rolls Chambers, 89 Chancery Lane. The points of law and practice revised and edited by Edward TE Besley Esq. of the Middle Temple, barrister-at-law, London: Butterworths, 7 Fleet Street, law publishers to the Queen’s most excellent majesty.

The whole proceedings on the Queen’s Commission of Oyer and Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the City of London and gaol delivery for the county of Middlesex, and the parts of the counties of Essex, Kent and Surrey within the jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court, held on Monday, June 10 1867 and following days, before the Right Hon. Thomas Gabriel, Lord Mayor of the City of London; the Hon Sir James Shaw Willes, one of the Justices of Her Majesty’s Court of Common Pleas; Sir James Duke Bart, Sir Francis Graham Moon Bart FSA, John Carter Esq. FSA and FRAS, and Warren Stormes Hale Esq, Aldermen of the said City; the Right Hon Russell Gurney QC, MP, Recorder of the said City; William Ferneley Allen Esq, Robert Besley Esq. and William James Richmond Cotton Esq, Aldermen of the said City; Thomas Chambers Esq, QC, MP, Common Serjeant of the said City; and Robert Malcolm Kerr Esq, Judge of the Sheriffs Court; Her Majesty’s Justices of Oyer and Terminer, and General Gaol delivery of Newgate, holden for the said City, and Judges of the Central Criminal Court. Sydney Hedley Waterlow Esq, Alderman, Francis Lycett Esq, Sheriffs, Alexander Crosley Esq, Henry de Jersey Esq, Under-Sheriffs.

Central Criminal Court. Gabriel, Mayor. 8th Session. A star (*) denotes that prisoners have previously been in custody – 2 stars (**) that they have been more than once in custody – an obelisk (+) that they are known to be associates of bad characters – the figures after the name in the indictment denote the prisoner’s age. London and Middlesex Cases. Old Court – Monday, November 28 1867. Before Mr Recorder. Reference Number: t18670610-527. 527 William Barwell (22), William Bull (49) and William Jarrard (20) were indicted for stealing 2 spoons and other goods of Richard Stoneleigh Illingworth, in his dwelling-house. 2nd count, for feloniously receiving the same. Mr Griffiths conducted the Prosecution, Mr Ribton defended Barwell, Mr Sleigh appeared for Bull and Mr Montagu Williams for Jarrard.

John Slow. I was a footman to Mr Richard Stoneleigh Illingworth of 9 Norfolk Crescent – on Friday May 3, Barwell came there about a quarter to 9 in the evening – I had known him before – I took him into the pantry – there was some plate there – I cannot remember what plate there was in the basket, but I can remember the plate that was stolen, 2 table-spoons, 3 tea-spoons, one dessert-spoon, 5 forks and 2 egg-spoons, all silver, the spoons had my master’s crest on them – I had seen them safe at dinner-time – I left the pantry for a short time to take up the coffee, and left Barwell in the pantry – I was away about 5 minutes – I went back in the pantry, Barwell was there and he said he must be going – I went out afterwards to get some beer for the maidservants – Barwell went out with me – I was away on that occasion about 4 minutes, or 5 it might have been – when I came back, from something said to me, I examined the plate basket – I then missed the plate mentioned in the indictment.

Cross-examined by Mr Ribton. Q. How long have you known Barwell? A. About 6 months – a person of the name of Emly is not a friend of mine – I made his acquaintance through Barwell – I have known him about 2 months – he was outside waiting for Barwell – he came with Barwell, I know that – he had visited me about a week before, on a Sunday, he came to see me – he stayed about 20 minutes – I did not take particular notice, but I should think it was about that time – I had not invited him – that was the first time he visited me – he had been in the pantry on the Sunday, that was the Sunday before the plate was lost – Barwell came to pay me a visit on the Friday and was with me for 3-quarters of an hour I should think – he was in the kitchen and in the pantry – the other servants were there – there were 3 or 4 maid-servants – I then went upstairs with the coffee – I must have been gone 3 or 5 minutes, when I came down Barwell was still in the pantry – he said he must be going, as he had a friend waiting for him – we went out together – I was not exactly treating the maid-servants that night – the beer was out and I went to fetch a quart – I paid for it out of my own pocket – I had not time to stop it from the master, because I had to leave that night – Barwell and I went to the public-house none of the maidservants are here – I was not out more than 4 or 5 minutes – Emly was with us the whole time when I was out – when the plate was missed I was blamed for it I was blamed for it – I was discharged and told if I would find the thief my master would take me back again – I did not leave Emly and Barwell at the public-house – they walked to the corner with me and I went in and left them – I went to Barwell’s house the very next morning – I had not seen Emly before I went there – I saw them there, both in bed together – Barwell said, “What brought you here?” – I said, “you will soon know what brought me here” – the policemen then told him the charge – he said, “Good God! John, what do you mean?” – he was just roused out of his sleep – I decline to answer whether I have ever pawned any plate before – I was asked at the police-court if I had ever pawned or sold any plate, and I declined to answer, and I decline now.

Edward Machett. I am page to Mr Illingworth – I remember the morning of May 3 – I counted my master’s plate that day about half-past 11 to a quarter to 12 – I did not see the prisoner Barwell leave the pantry – I saw him leave the house about a quarter-past 9 in the evening – he left in company with Slow – after they had gone I looked into the plate basket and missed 2 table-spoons, 2 large forks, 3 small forks and 2 egg-spoons; they were silver, with a crest on them, a lion rampant – I have seen spoons of the same kind weighed, and they weighed 25 ounces. Henry Addison (Policeman D34). On Sunday morning, May 5, I went with Slow to 84 Portland Row, Notting Hill, the house of the prisoner Barwell – I found him in bed – as soon as we entered the room he said, “Good morning, John”, that was to Slow, “what on earth brings you here?” – he said, “You will soon know what brings me here” – I then told him I was a police-constable, and told him the charge – he said, “Good God! John, what do you mean? You must be mad, I know nothing at all about it” – I searched him and found nothing on him relative to this.

George Isaacson (Policeman D2). From information I received, I went to 65 Prince’s Road, Notting Hill, on May 7. I saw the prisoner Bull there, it is a shop kept by him, a general shop, clothes and other things – I asked him if his name was Bull – he said, “Yes” – I said, “I am a police-sergeant, I want to know if you purchased any plate last week – he said, “No, nothing in particular; some little pieces of old silver, which have been sold” – I then said, “Did you buy any spoons or forks last week?” – he said, “No, nothing of the kind” – I then produced this tea spoon, bearing the crest of the lion rampant, and said, “Do you remember seeing that crest, or did you purchase any bearing this crest?” – he said, “No, I never saw the crest before in my life” – I then said, “Have you an assistant by the name of Jarrard?” – he said, “Yes” – I said, “Then do you remember that Jarrard on the night of the 3rd, paid 13s. for some silver, and that you completed the contract on the following morning by paying 1/7s?” – he said, “No, I never did anything of the kind” – I then saw Jarrard and said to him, “I am a police-sergeant; I shall ask you some questions, but you need not answer unless you think proper to do so – I said, “Did you pay 13s. to 2 young men for some silver bearing the crest of a lion rampant on Friday?” – he hesitated for a long time, and he said, “Well, I don’t know; must I answer?” – I said, “Oh! No, not unless you like” – he then said, “Very well, then I refuse to answer that question” –

I then called Addison and we searched the house – this is a list I made at the time – what I found does refer to this charge – I found 8 duplicates, which I produce – there are 3 bearing the name of Barwell, one dated April 20 1867, for a pair of trousers, 7s; May 2 1867, one coat, 10s; and February 27 1867, one watch, 15s. – Bull does not keep a pawnshop – he asked me what the particular articles were that were stolen – I read over from a list I had – he said, “That is wrong, at all events” – I said, “How do you know it is wrong if you never saw anything of the kind?” – he said, “Oh, well, I don’t exactly understand, if I had time, supposing the silver was got back, which I believe could be done” – I said, “It is too late now, you are in custody, had you told me that when I first came in, things might have borne a different aspect” – the value of the silver that has been stolen is at the lowest 6s. 6d. per ounce; I know that – on the way to the station Bull said, “Supposing the plate did come back, what would the consequence be now?” – I said, “I don’t understand you” – Jarrard stepped towards me and said, “Mr Bull means, if the plate was got back, would they prosecute?” – I said, “The matter must rest now in the hands of the Magistrate” – when I was searching the house Bull said, “It’s no use searching, you will not find it here.”

Cross-examined by Mr Sleigh. Q. Is the name of William Bull up at his place? A. W Bull is over the door, in Prince’s Road, Notting Hill – I did not bring away one of his cards – I saw one afterwards at the remand – he appeared to deal in every description of goods – I saw no appearance of his being a dealer in jewellery or silver – I found a few articles of plated goods in the cupboard in the inner parlour – I found some watches and some insides of watches – I also found some memorandums – I did not notice any printed books – I found quantities of linen and clothes in all parts of the house, under the sofa and in every imaginable place – there was the usual furniture in the house – after telling him he must consider himself in custody, I said, “I must search your house” – he said, “Very well, do so, you will not find it” – I mentioned before to the Magistrate that he said, “If time were given and the silver got back, which I believe could be done,” and also what he said on the way to the station – my deposition was read over and I signed it. Cross-examined by Mr Williams. Q. It is the fact, is it not, that Jarrard is in Bull’s employment? A. I believe so – I stated before the Magistrate what Jarrard said on the way to the station – I swear that.

Francis Henry Emly. I am a traveller and I live at 9 Portland Row – I know Barwell – I saw him on Friday, May 3, in the morning, and again in the evening, and I walked with him to Mr Illingworth’s house – I did not go into the house – I am quite sure of that – Barwell went into the house – I don’t say how long he remained there – when he came out I walked with him towards Notting Hill – we went to Mr Bull’s shop – before we went there I heard the plate in his pocket and asked what he had got – he said, “Some plate” – I said, “For God’s sake, take it back, and say you only took it for a lark” – he said, “Oh! No, it won’t be found out for a month and then it will all be blown over” – he said he had taken it from Jack, meaning Slow – I went with him to Bull’s shop to sell the plate – when we got there we saw Jarrard – the shop was closed – we knocked at the door – Jarrard opened it – Barwell asked for Mr Bull – Jarrard said he was not at home – the plate was given to Jarrard – he said he could not buy it, Mr Bull not being there, but lent 13s. on part of it – he gave 8s. and Mrs Bull gave 8s, making 13s. altogether, and told us to call the following morning to see Mr Bull – I can’t remember what the plate consisted of – there were forks and spoons, I know, but the quantity I can’t say – it consisted of egg-spoons, tea-spoons, dessert-spoons and small forks, I think were the principal part; they were silver – there was a crest on them – I should know it again – (looking at a spoon) – it was similar to this and the same pattern – Jarrard put them in a cupboard in a parlour adjoining the shop.

Cross-examined by Mr Ribton. Q. Had you been to the house in Norfolk Crescent at any time before this Friday? A. I had, I think it was the Sunday previous, to see Slow – I can’t say how long I remained with him, it might have been 20 minutes – I was in the pantry – I can’t say now where I met Barwell – I think we were lodging in the same house at the time – I did not go for him to find him out – we went together to Norfolk Crescent – we had been out in the morning together – he asked me to walk with him to Norfolk Crescent; we went out, not with the intention of going there, but when we got outside he asked me to walk with him there, and when we got there he asked me to stay outside while he went in – Slow came out with him and stood a quart of ale – I can’t say how long I had known Slow, I only visited him that once – I went on the Sunday to see Slow; not about anything – I stayed in the pantry the whole time – I saw the basket with baize over it – I did not see the plate in the cupboard – I did not know where it was or where it ought to have been; it was the first pantry I was ever in – I can’t call to mind what we were talking about during the 20 minutes – I am now out of employment – I dare say I have been so 9 or 10 months – my parents are supporting me, I have been living with them – they put me in business – I was never in the service of Messrs Lee and Jerdein – I have been falsely charged with an offence and I have now an action pending – I was accused of forgery and embezzlement by Mr Bevan, a builder and brickmaker, in whose service I was; I was not charged – I went into his service in May 1863 and left in September – I was accused of putting his name at the back of a cheque for 95/- and receiving the money – I was discharged when the brickmaking season was over – he brought this accusation 2 or 3 weeks after I was discharged – he sent for me to his residence and accused me there – I did not receive the cheque – I ought to have received it, and went to receive it, but they would not pay me, they said they would pay my employer –

I have been in employment since then – I was with the Kensington Park Brewery, and travelled for Mr Clayton of Regent Street – my parents then put me into the cigar and tobacco business, that turned out a failure; for the last 8 or 9 months I have been doing nothing – it was publically known at Mr Bevan’s that this charge had been brought against me, that was in 1863, and it was afterwards known that he had withdrawn it from me, and laid it on his son – I have an action now pending against him – I did not bring the action before because I have lost my chief witness – I put it into one solicitor’s hands, and he kept it for a year and a half, and never did anything – I was then recommended to another solicitor – it has not come on yet – he told me had issued the citation – I have been in the service of Mr Wiley, a coal agent, at Kensington – I was discharged for carelessness – while I was there a cash-box was taken, with money in it – I don’t think I was seen on the night it was missed in the Haymarket, with a great deal of money – I was only 16 years of age at the time – I am now 23 – I was discharged about 10 days after the cash-box was lost – after that I went into my father’s business and remained with him about 2 year or 2 and a half – I forget whether I went into any other service before I went to Mr Bevan’s – I did not tell Mr Bevan I had been at Wiley’s – he did not ask for my character – I did not tell him about the cash-box – when we got to Bull’s I, of course, knew that the property was stolen – I did not know it was stolen from Slow – I did not know that he had it under his control – I did not know what situation he held, whether he was footman or butler – I had been in the pantry with him on the Sunday – I did not know he had charge of the plate – I swear that.

Mr Griffith. Q. Have you ever been convicted of any offence? A. Never, my father is a chemist – he supports me now – we were to call and see Bull the following morning – we did call on the Saturday morning, and the remainder of the plate was given up, and 1/7s. paid by Bull, making 2/-. Mr Sleigh. Q. Was Barwell with you? A. Yes. Court. Q. Who was present? A. Bull and Jarrard – when we first applied Jarrard was down in the area – he looked up and said, “All right” – he came up and opened the door, and called Bull down – he was getting up – we waited – we had some plate with us at that time – I don’t know how much – we received 1/7s. for it – the whole of the plate was not given on the Friday – the 1/7s. was given to Barwell, and the plate was given to Bull. The depositions of Emly and Isaacson were put in and read. Barwell – guilty – 18 months’ imprisonment. Bull – guilty (prisoner has previously been in custody) – 5 years’ penal servitude. Jarrard – not guilty.

Transcribed by Tom Vague from

https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/

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The Harrow Club – Alan Bateman’s early memories

This gallery contains 8 photos.

My association with the Harrow Club started almost sixty years ago when I was ten years old  and lasted for over forty years. I lived in Calverley Street and joined the club in 1958 following in the footsteps of my … Continue reading

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The Harrow Boys’ Club, North Kensington W10 – Brian Iles remembers

I came across this photo recently dated 1956 which I believe would have been taken at one of the Isle of Wight camps, because by this time the club had done a couple of trips to Deal in Kent. I also remember going to Poole, Dorset one year.

I have noticed several references to the Harrow Club on this site recently and decided that I must share the photo as I am sure it will bring back many memories of those happy times and it contains lots of recognisable faces. I can name about seventeen or so, not least of all Lew Ashman the club manage, Mrs Pithers (Mrs P) who used to do all the cooking and make large mugs of cocoa for us before bedtime. To the left of Lew is someone we had to call Padre John and of course at the back is good old Eric, one of the old Harrovians who used to ferry us about in his little Morris Minor to various club activities. Lew used to wake us in the morning singing songs from the show Oklahoma; he had a particular affection for Oklahoma as he’d been based there during his service with the RAF. He was a no nonsense club manager who would not tolerate any bad language and I can remember him packing one boy off on the train home for using the F word. He considered it to be an unnecessary vile adjective…how times have changed!! We certainly knew where we stood with Lew and he commanded a great deal of respect. He was a terrific bloke.

Apart from the camping, the Harrow Club on Bard Road, offered us kids great opportunities to enjoy,  ranging from snooker, billiards, table tennis, a gym in the basement, to carpentry and first aid lessons, sailing and of course swimming, football and cricket. And let’s not forget fishing, with Lew taking groups in the old bone shaking Land Rover to places like Taplow and Henley to fish the Thames. I joined the first aid class one year with a few others and it came up real trumps as at that year’s camp four of us “first aiders” had the first aid tent to ourselves. The tents were large bell tents normally occupied by six to eight boys. I was also a member of the swimming team and one year we won the team relay event in a London Federation of Boys’ Clubs gala. As a reward we were taken by Lew to a cinema in Leicester Square to see the film Oklahoma. His choice!

Like Eric there were several volunteers and other public spirited individuals offering their help. In the carpentry group under the guidance of the instructor whose name I can’t remember, we made a canoe. It was made of a wooden framework clad with canvas. I seem to remember hearing some years later that the modernised Harrow Club developed a canoeing section so our craft may well have been the inspiration for it! At about that time one of the volunteers was an ex naval officer named Desmond Hoare and he had connections with a cadet unit on an island in the middle of the Thames called the Training Ship Neptune. He took a group of us there with our canoe and we were amazed when it actually worked, didn’t sink and became a great hit with the cadets. But I remember what really excited us the most was learning to sail in the 12 foot long single sail Heron dinghies which were available to us. What amazing fun we kids from the back streets of Notting Hill had sailing and swimming in the Thames on those magical summer Sundays when the sun always seemed to shine every time we went there. The “Training Ship Neptune” island is now called Ravens Ait (its original name I think) along the Portsmouth Road, near Kingston. It’s an area now very familiar to me, but in those distant days past I would never have dreamed that I would eventually settle in that part of London. I read several years later that Desmond Hoare became the commander of an Outward Bound Centre in Scotland.

Yours truly at the helm with David Prater and Alan Wilkinson crewing. The little lad is Desmond Hoare’s son.

There were a number of boys’ clubs in the London area sponsored by public schools e.g. Harrow, Rugby, Stowe and Eton. Our club’s association with the Harrow School was very real and many of the volunteers were themselves old Harrovians. A couple of the chaps in the camp photo were Harrow School boys. We played cricket against them at their school playing fields and had the use at times of their open air swimming pool called the “Ducker” which had the tradition of compulsory nude bathing. I remember us going there one Sunday morning and arriving early we swam in trunks. But when the school boys arrived we were reminded of the rule, and our swimming instructor who had brought his wife and young son along, was very soon politely asked to leave. A further example of the close links that existed between the club and the school was when one of the club members called Dave Saunders from Bard Road was included as part of the Harrow School team taking part in a popular BBC television panel game.

And what about the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst !! How we got to go there I do not know but we did, and completed a section (probably a very small section) of the assault course. What I do remember though were the freezing cold showers we were made to take afterwards.

At the Sandhurst assault course. Unfortunately I can’t remember the boy with me.

As has been said by a number of contributors to the North Kensington Histories site in various blog postings, the area was not one of the best places in which to grow up but we didn’t know any different. But to have had a facility like the Harrow club in those hard times offering recreational activities and introduction to the experiences we enjoyed was priceless. Lew Ashman was the manager throughout my time with the club and I often wonder what happened to him. I am glad I had the opportunity to have been a member because without it, apart from everything else, I would never have had the chance to go to Sandhurst!

Our gang during a boozy night out on holiday in Jersey 1958. Kenny Andrews, John Bailey (in background) Ken Carter, Tom Fee, yours truly, Terry Johnston and David Prater. Tony Simpson was also on the holiday but he wasn’t feeling well when the photo was taken.

Brian Iles

This one of two postings on the Harrow Club, one by Brian Iles and another by Alan Bateman.

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The northern end of Portobello Road

Portobello Road looking north from Golborne Road, 1969. Photo RBKC Local Studies.

Recently I was sent some memories of Portobello Road, so I am taking the opportunity of posting them together with some photos of the shops concerned (taken much later in 1970).

Rita’s memories of Portobello in the 1930s

I was born in 1930 at my grandfather’s house, No 341 Portobello Road. Grandfather James Taylor had a mews at the rear (Golborne Mews) where he kept a horse and cart and later it was converted to take a car. He owned a green grocers opposite at 342 Portobello Road managed by his two sons William and James Taylor.  My brother remembered going up to Covent Garden market with our grandfather in about 1930 by horse and cart to get supplies for the shop. He said the horse used to find its own way home as my grandfather had quite a lot to drink!!!

The greengrocer’s shop was closed in the 1930’s as grandfather said it was too expensive to run and James moved out and had to find other employment but the shop opened again shortly after with William(Bill) in sole charge which led to family friction!!!

I remember a cobblers in the shop at 341 Portobello Road in the 1930’s and my mother said it had previously been a laundry run by my grandmother who died suddenly in 1931.

A couple more reminiscences ……my cousins, who were a bit older than me, taking me to the eel and pie shop further down Portobello Rd in the late 1930’s where I just had the mash potato with the sauce as I don’t like fish. Also of my mother saying how they would go to the movie theatre in Portobello Road, probably to see a silent movie and there was an interval when tea and cakes were served! 

Incidentally my parents could not agree on a name when I was born in 1930. They went to see a movie called Rio Rita, hence my name! I also remember the trams from Paddington Green when going to see my grand parents, probably my father’s family who lived in the Prince of Wales area near the canal. The trams had metal runners in the road with overhead cables. Bicycles would get trapped in the metal runners.

Rita Runacres

The Butcher

My grandfather, James Reed opened a butcher’s shop at 338 Portobello Road in 1875. When my father Frank and his brother grew up they took over the family business and ran the shop until it was sold in 1960. The shop opened six days a week at 7 am and did not close until 8 or 9 pm. On a Saturday night meat was auctioned off very cheaply. This enabled poor families, who could not otherwise afford it, the chance to have meat at least one day a week. On Christmas Eve, it was open much later until 11 or midnight. People in those days had no fridges or freezers and no means of storing perishable goods for long. People often waited until the last minute in the hope of obtaining a cut price goose or turkey for Christmas dinner.

Frances Reed (taken from Portobello Its People Its Past Its Present by Shaaron Whetlor and Liz Bartlett).

Portobello Road west side 339-341 1969 KS209 copy

Portobello Road, west side nos 339-341,1969. Photo RBKC Local Studies.

Portobello Rd looking West neg2979 KS201 #363-365 (21-8-69) copy

Looking north from the corner of Faraday Road, 1969. The building on the corner had previously been a chapel. Photo RBKC Local Studies.

My own mother who grew up in the 1920s on nearby Wheatstone Road recalled this corner building, no 363 Portobello Road. She knew it as the Talbot Mission and it was where she went to Sunday School. It was an outpost of the Talbot Tabernacle.

Sue Snyder

Portobello Road - east side, 346-348 1969 KS203 copy

East side of Portobello Road at the corner of Faraday Road, 1969. Photo RBKC Local Studies

The 1960s

The photo above shows ‘Bill Cane’ ‘Turf Accountants’, a somewhat grand title given that Bill couldn’t write, however he had the nous to open three betting shops in the area shortly after they were legalised in 1960 and did very well with them. Prior to that he had been an illegal bookie collecting bets, via ‘runners’ at the local workplaces. He was also canny enough to employ young William Hill trained staff looking to supplement their wages on their days off and in 1965 I was one of them. I worked in his shop at the very top of Wornington Road, one of a short parade of shops close to the junction with Ladbroke Grove. The shop was a madhouse, always packed and Bill chain smoked c60 cigarettes a day often having one on the go at the counter and another in the ‘back office’. One day he sent me to collect money from the Portobello shop and that was even madder than Wornington. One day he came in with two packets of 20’s and sat beside me….. and just before the last race asked me if I could give him a cigarette… his packets were empty! The shop had a low ceiling and nearly all the customers smoked and looking back I don’t know how anyone could breathe in there. I was 17 at the time and it was illegal for me to even be in a betting shop let alone work in one! Fortunately Bill didn’t bother to ask how old I was and as I’d been recommended by another of his William Hill men he just threw a pile of bets to me to get on with … I think that concluded the interview.

John Henwood

If you have any memories of this section of Portobello Road please send them in to northkenstories@yahoo.co.uk or add a comment below.

Posted in Local industries and businesses, Shops, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 7 Comments

A Second hand Clothing shop in Portobello Road by Pat Terry and Mick Kasmir.

Kasmir Portobello Road

Isaac Kasmir and his assistant outside his shop at 276 Portobello Road

Our stepfather Alfred Kasmir came over to England when he was six from the Ukraine with his parents and sister, Regina. We have not got a lot of the history of this time except that his father Isaac bought a house in Lancaster Road (Pat still lives there), and then opened a shop in Portobello Road, which we can only think was rented at that time. He sold second hand clothing and had an assistant who did alterations and tailoring.

Our stepfather learnt the violin. His father was very strict with him about learning this instrument and he started his working life playing in orchestras at various venues, one being the Lyons Corner House at Marble Arch which had silver service with afternoon tea (which we went to often). He had given up playing because of the lifestyle, so he said, as in between jobs (gigs) he had passed the time by gambling, to which he became a bit too addicted! Also his health had suffered after swallowing a mouthful of ice cream during a break whilst playing in the West End one summer, which had the effect of freezing his stomach.

He then became a ‘Tally’ man, going around collecting money from people for stuff they got on TICK (hire purchase). He had plenty of interesting stories to tell. The firm he was working for was called Evans, a furniture store on the corner of Cambridge Gardens and Ladbroke Grove, which is now a Tesco. He met our mother there where she worked in the office and when he was a Tally man. They married in 1948. Friday the 13th as it happens! The News of the World somehow heard of this and thought it so amusing that they published a tiny note about it on their front page! Wish we still had a copy of this.

When he and our mother got married, he opened 276 Portobello Road (his father’s old shop) and sold and bought second hand clothes with an assistant called Joan doing the alterations. This is now the men’s clothing shop called Tonic.

Kasmir first shop now.ss

276 Portobello Road in 2014

When they first opened our mother had to put a lot of her own clothes in the shop to stock up the rails, also countless pairs of small boys short trousers made by a friend of theirs.

She used to come and collect us each day from our primary school in Hammersmith, which was in St. Paul’s Church on Hammersmith Broadway, till we moved to Solomon Wolfson Jewish School in Lancaster Road.

Next door to this shop on the north side, towards Golborne Road, was a newsagent and sweetshop where our father bought his cigarettes and our sweets, and which also delivered our newspapers and comics (my first job was as a paperboy). This shop is now Honest Jons record shop.

There was a bakers on the corner of Cambridge Gardens and Portobello Road opposite our shop from which we had a cake each day on our return from school, one in particular sticks in my mind was a cream bun, with the synthetic cream of the time, pretty yucky.

DSC07018

Looking south towards the railway bridge (pre Westway)

Next door to his shop going South was a chemist, Mr. Fish, which is now Falafel King on the corner of Acklam Road. The next corner going down was a pub. And next to this another newsagent named Tommy Littles (the boxer), and next to this a rag and bone shop to which us kids took old newspapers, rags and lemonade bottles that we had collected and which we got a few pennies for.

Moving further down on the same side was a shop named Kirk’s selling workmen’s clothing. This was about the only place one could buy jeans at that time – they were Levi’s too! Trouble was you had to take them to an alteration shop opposite the Royalty cinema in Lancaster Road just past the KPH pub, because our father wouldn’t allow Ada, his alteration assistant to do them because he didn’t agree with narrow trousers (drainpipes)!

Still going South from Kirk’s just as you come from under the tube train bridge was our GP’s surgery, a very unprepossessing green wood clad structure, where now exists as a metal gate into a council area.

Opposite this are the two arched metal gates that led into North Kensington Central (Technical) School, the other entrance to the school being in Lancaster Road near the traffic lights, and which is now the private Chepstow School. You now go through these two gates on Portobello past some colourful clothes stalls into an Italian restaurant. Next to this, back on Portobello Road is the Grain Store which then was a pie and mash shop.

Many years later he was offered 259 Portobello Road to rent, so moved down to a new part of Portobello Road. This shop, now One of a Kind, in the 1950s used to be a very good toy shop. So when the leaseholders retired my father took it over, and moved his second hand clothes business down from no 276.

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We were a lot older then so have much clearer memories of this shop.

He used to buy clothes from people in the shop, and then sell them on to other customers. People always needed money in those days. John Christie, the famous 1950s serial murderer came in sometimes and sold some of his wife’s (not only his wife’s!) clothing to our father, who had to record all items bought and sold in a large ledger. He later had a visit from the police to check this out. Also Timothy Evans’ mother used to come in to talk about her son (who was hanged for crimes committed by John Christie). She desperately wanted her son to be pardoned, which he was years later with the help of Ludovic Kennedy.

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Our father died in 1978 from cancer, and our mother carried on running the shop for a few months, but her heart wasn’t in it. There was still about eleven years left on the lease, but she decided to hand it over to the landlady’s son. The landlady, Mrs Holland, was a really charming woman, but had died a few years previously. She probably wouldn’t have let our mother Anne simply hand back the lease. When friends asked what was happening to the shop, they were all aghast. How could someone simply hand back a leasehold shop in Portobello Road, with still eleven years to run on the lease? As far as they were concerned she was simply throwing away thousands of pounds a year in rental income.

But she was adamant that she wanted no more to do with it. And even though friends would ask if they could try to talk her out of relinquishing the property, they all failed. She never did take much interest in money! The landlady’s son then sold it on to the Notting Hill Housing Trust. I think the shop carried on selling second hand clothing for a while and then turned into the ‘Bead Shop’ run by Stephanie Heatherwick. And possibly after this it became ‘One of a Kind’, which it still is (see below).

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More memories of Portobello from Mick

There was a stall outside the shop at 276 that sold some kind of cure for tape worms. On the stall was a huge collection of large glass jars containing various worms in formaldehyde, which I found so fascinating that I couldn’t stop thinking about them!

I remember one morning in 1956 having breakfast whilst listening to the Today programme, with my father shaving in front of the mirror with his cut throat razor, when they announced the news of the Russian invasion of Budapest. He immediately put down his razor, wiped the shaving cream from his face, put on his coat and went straight up to the newsagent and cancelled his Daily Worker. He had become a communist more from being an anti-Fascist than anything else. This being quite common during that time, being very left wing because repulsed by the other side.

I have a lot of memories of sitting at the back of the shop chatting to the amazingly varied collection of regular customers who often as not popped in to see the ‘guvnor’, making cups of tea on a small gas ring next to the gas fire. The customers varied from manual workers to out of work actors, with a few writers and artists chucked in for good measure.

Pat remembers….

My memories are from the late 1960s , early 70s.

259 Portobello 1960s.ss

Other shops alongside 259 were 257 which was the Dry Cleaners. It did change and eventually sold Jamaican Patties for a while and now after quite a few changes of trade, it’s a Tourist shop. No 255 was an English butcher, which then changed to a Halal butcher and now sells Japanese merchandise

Going the other way towards the railway bridge was a TV sales and repair shop which I think at some time before that was a Radio Rentals shop, then on to No 269, the famous Ceres natural food store, the first in the UK. Ceres stills sells lovely vegetarian food and is now called the Grain Shop. After Ceres was Isaac Newton School. Then came the betting shop which our father frequented regularly, leaving a back in ten minutes sign on his own shop door.

Opposite was Tavistock Road with a café on one corner and a fabric shop on the other. Then going back towards Lancaster Road came Kay’s children and ladies outfitters as it was called in those days. It is now Garcia’s Spanish Delicatessen. Then Food for Thought where they stir-fried food while you waited, in giant woks, it was delicious.

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After that came the really tasty Jacks Fish & Chips Shop which was next to the Golden Cross Pub, a really thriving community premises where our father played cards and everyone knew each other, market stall holders included. They also had a Public Bar on the corner entrance, but we used the Saloon Bar entrance in Lancaster Road. It is now Ukai, a bar and restaurant serving Japanese food.

I used to help dress his windows which he really liked me to do for him. I also helped out with the customers on Saturdays, my Saturday job. He had a lot of characters popping into the shop to chat to him which made it very lively.

He was there in his shop till he died of cancer in 1978.

 

Pat Terry and Mick Kasmir, June 2017

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Horsmans West London Saw Mills and Joinery Works

The Electric Cinema is a Portobello landmark.  Building work for it started in 1910 and it opened on 27th February 1911. It was built on the site of a Saw Mill and Timber Yard, which the Trade directories of the period describe as Thomas Saunders Timber Merchants. But at some point – we cannot say exactly when, it was taken over and run by William James & Henry Horsman – their West London Saw Mills And Joinery Works was a substantial company of master joiners, carpenters and timber merchants. They were also involved in the construction of quite a few buildings and rides for the 1908 White City Exhibition.

Until recently facts about the family and the business were quite sparse. Hopefully more information will eventually come out.

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Portobello Road looking north from Finch’s pub towards the woodyard. Love the painted advertisements on the walls of the building beyond it. No space that could be used for advertising was wasted in those times either (early 1900s). Photo RBKC Local Studies.

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Woodyard looking South from Blenheim Crescent/Talbot Rd (early 1900s). Photo RBKC Local Studies

The development of the Ladbroke Estate was like the Wild West, a tangled web of frontier capitalism with developers going bankrupt, buying land off each other and my favourite – lending someone the money to buy the land off you. The owner/developer of the block between Elgin Crescent and Blenheim Crescent was a solicitor Thomas Pocock who was active elsewhere in the Ladbroke Estate. It seems he did not have any money of his own, but operated as an intermediary. He had sold (and bought back) land to the other big developer in the area – Blake.

Pocock sold the south side of Blenheim Crescent to a Charles Chambers, who is described as a Timber Merchant and Engineer. Chambers probably built the first saw mill and timber yard on the site as shown in the 1862 map. In 1862 there was only Finch’s pub, the  Chapel, and shops north up to the saw mill on the block. Just past and next to the saw mill were a stables and a garage for Hansom Cabs. By 1896 the whole block was filled up with buildings.

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OS map Portobello Road, 1862

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Portobello Road, OS map 1896

A 1909 booklet called The Interesting History of Portobello Road by Ernest P. Woolf suggests that the Horsmans were related to Charles Chambers and that Chambers’ saw mill/timber yard had been constructed in 1853. At that time house construction was going up all around the area at a very rapid rate. The builders would have needed timber and at that time it was all pretty locally sourced.

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1874 Plan Of the Layout of the Saw Mill in order to get permission to lay a sewer pipe. RBKC Local Studies

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Architect Seymour Valentin’s 1909 drawings for the proposed  Electric Theatre handily shows the outlines of the existing Saw Mill/Woodyard buildings. RBKC Local Studies

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W.J. Horsman is third from left with black flower, Henry Horsman 2nd from right.

In 1890 William James Horsman had moved to London from Beirton, Buckinghamshire where his family were woodworkers and carpenters. The 1891 census has him living at 19 Montgomery Rd, Acton, the home of another carpenter. William James brother Henry and his partner in the business followed him along with other brothers. WJ and H obviously established themselves with their trade and the family must have built a reputation as quality woodworkers and created a thriving business. Big and good enough to create the newel post, supposedly carved by WJ himself, for the staircase at the very swanky Piccadilly Hotel which opened in 1908.

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The newal post for the Piccadilly Hotel Staircase

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Inside the Workshop, with WJ supposedly carving the newel Post for the Piccadilly Hotel

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Piccadilly Hotel – Staircases

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The Horsmans were also busy working on three or four of the buildings and at least one rollercoaster ride at the 1908 White City Exhibition

191 Portobello Road must have been a busy little yard, factory and business. They had a rough lumber storage shed along the southern side, a steam engine to power the saws, A workshop for the joiners and a cut timber storage space, then a office back on the street. Seasoned wood for them would arrive in logs or rough cut standard lengths and sizes which would have been delivered by horse and cart. Cut and planed to size and shape then worked on. Or sold. Whatever you wanted made in wood Horsmans could make it.

At their peak, when  building for the White City Exhibition, Horsmans had up to 100 (sub) employees and shared 191 Portobello Rd with a company of plasterers’ Mortlemans, who were doing the fibrous plaster work at the 1908 Exhibition. We can assume that Horsmans and Mortlemans had worked together on other jobs as well.

The White City Exhibition

The 1908 White City buildings the Horsmans were involved in were –

The Scenic Alpine Railway – the Great Divide.

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The Wooden Framework for the Great Divide/Alpine Ride.

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Carriage made by Horsman’s.

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Horsman workers at the ride.

The Palace of Fine Art

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Palace of Fine Art under construction

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Palace of Fine Arts – completed.

Palace Of Women’s Work

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Palace of Women’s Work completed.

The Congress Hall

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Congress Hall under construction. You can see the frame supporting the roof and the wooden exterior shape being constructed by Horsmans

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Congress Hall and cascade at night.

The 1911 Census finds WJ and his family living very near work, at 151 Portobello above the City and Midland Bank on the corner of Portobello and Colville Terrace. So they probably had been doing well, as the White City contract was pretty substantial and it must have taken them a few years to finish

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Midland and City Bank, Portobello Road. Photo RBKC Local Studies.

However in 1910, the plot of land on which their West London Saw Mills And Joinery Makers sat was sold. The freehold was bought by the London And Provincial Electric Theatre Ltd to build the Electric Theatre. It was the end of an era for them and the Horsmans filed for bankruptcy. Then they seemed to concentrate on building wooden rides in Ghent in Belgium and France and invented a ride called the Snake Wiggle. We assume that European enterprise was curtailed by WW1. There is no information about any WW1 war work they did and in England during the war nobody seemed to be spending money on fairground rides. After the war part of the family moved to Grays in Essex to start a Building and Decorating business.

WJ married twice, after becoming a widower went and lived in Abergavenny Wales with his daughter. Of the descendants of the family, a few are in England and one branch went out to Australia in 1964. I am in contact with Sam Horsman in Adelaide who is carrying on the family tradition and is a carpenter!

People talk about the history of the Electric Cinema as being a significant development in the history of Portobello Road. Yes but it is also on plot of land that has had a prior claim to fame that is only now being discovered. I think you could make an argument for putting Chambers original Saw Mill & Timber Yard as the first building on that block?

This has been a voyage of discovery for the Horsmans family as well as for me. I worked at the Electric Cinema in the 1970’s and wondered about when the saw mill/timber yard was actually built, then seeing pictures of it made me realise it had always been there.

Dave Hucker, 2017

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North Kensington at War

Last summer our local history group did some research and a walk on the effects of WW2 bombing raids in North Kensington. Posted below is an excerpt from a history originally written by Carole Ann Burnett in 1997 for the 40th Anniversary of St Pius X, St Charles Square. It was deposited in the Local Studies Archive of RBK&C and also with Kensington & Chelsea Community History Group (no longer in operation). It seems to be a very good account of the area during the war.

North Kensington during WW2

Kensington suffered a total of over 12,000 air attacks, most of these being by incendiary bombs. Many of these incidents were in North Kensington. In the borough as a whole 2,718 people were injured, 412 fatally. There were over 3,000 seriously damaged houses and over one thousand had to be demolished.

The Parish (St Pius, St Charles Square), was quite heavily bombed, possibly because of the proximity of two Railway Lines and the Canal, still used then for some freight transport. Extra gates were installed along this to contain flooding from possible damage to the elevated sections – the remains of these can still be seen today. North Pole Road Station on the West London Railway was damaged in 1940; all the stations down to Clapham Junction were closed to the public and the line came into its own, becoming a vital link between all the main railway systems. The line was used for troop, hospital and ammunition trains, and even had anti-aircraft guns running up and down it.

In the St Charles area there were many reported incidents. On one night in October 1940, no less than eight high explosive bombs fell on the area. This was to be the pattern for many months to come as the Blitz raged over London. One of the incidents concerned was the gardener’s cottage (the house next to the Presbytery) belonging to the Training College, where there was ‘damage to the building, with a large crater outside’. A First Aid Post which had been at number sixty St Charles Square had to be evacuated to the College because of extensive damage. On this same night, eleven adjoining houses in Rackham Street were all damaged: this was redeveloped in 1949 and is now part of the Balfour of Burleigh Estate, with Bruce Close roughly being where the street stood. The Sutton and Peabody Estates were also badly damaged: a Community Centre in Sutton Way was hit, with many casualties, including five dead.

The St Charles College and school buildings suffered badly during the Blitz. On the first raid, bombs fell near the Carmelite Convent, almost completely destroying the Demonstration School and smashing all the College Chapel windows. A week later incendiary bombs destroyed much of the top floor of the College, and a few days later more bombs fell in the grounds. Finally, on 25th October 1940 incendiary bombs fell along most of the building, almost totally destroying the top floor. Only the block facing Norburn Street remained relatively intact and the Hall was used for dances and other Parish functions. The already-damaged school buildings were badly burned, but thankfully no one seems to have been killed or injured in these raids. The ruined buildings were still standing in the early 1950’s.

The Carmelite Monastery thankfully, seems to have escaped many of these raids. A bomb fell in the road outside (Hewer Street)  with some damage to the wall and to the roof of the lodge, so that for a short time curious children were able to peep through into what was previously forbidden territory!  St Charles Hospital, considering its size and height, was very fortunate in remaining so intact, as was the nearby Princess Louise Hospital although an incident reported on the same night as the College damage reads “Hospital unable to accept casualties as all windows blown in and no lights.”

Some of these air attacks delivered mines, two of which fell on St Mark’s Road, damaging the houses adjacent to the Kensington Memorial Park. Others landed in the Cemetery- with not surprisingly, noone injured and one fell on the Sunbeam Talbot factory (Rootes site) on Barlby Road, at the time used for the assembly of Rolls Royce Merlin Aero Engines. Land nearby, a playground (now Notting Barn Road Estate) was requisitioned from Barlby Road School and used as a Barrage Balloon depot. St Helen’s Church was heavily bombed during the blitz and was completely destroyed when a V1 Flying Bomb landed where the vicarage is now. What little was left was demolished along with houses in Kelfield Gardens. There were thirty eight casualties with two dead.

During the period of late 1940 and early 1941 there were no public basement shelters in North Kensington and it was not until later in the war that these were built. Some people had Anderson shelters in their gardens or a Morrison shelter indoors; many used coal cellars and the like. Further afield, at Holland Park station, many of those sheltering were killed when a high explosive bomb fell directly on it..

The land belonging to the St Charles Training College (in St Charles Square) was given over for the “Dig for Victory” campaign, as were the Notth Kensington Lawn Tennis Club grounds. For a short time the Training College was put to another use. In a Council Report of “The Emergency and Finance Committee”, it states that instructions have been received from the Ministry of Heatlh as to ‘arrangements for the billeting of Dutch and Belgian refugees’. Accordingly a dispersal centre was opened at the college. Apart from the Belgian and Dutch there were also refugees from France, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Russia and Czechoslovakia: their ages ranged from infants to people in their eighties. Landladies were paid 21 shillings a week for ‘full board and lodging’ and official records had to be kept by them listing every visitor a person had, presumably to lookout for spies!

Later on in the war, the grounds of the College were used for a Wartime Day Nursery. This was housed in prefabricated huts and would have stood at the back of where the Parish Centre is now. It opened on 1943 and was to remain in use until December 1948.

Early on in the war, the Home Guard were stationed on Wormwood Scrubs, attached to a heavy-duty anti-aircraft battery. In the later years of the war a Prisoner-of-War camp was established close by for German prisoners. These prisoners were allowed to come to Mass in the Parish:they were permitted to walk unsupervised, two at a time, and had to wear an identifying patch on their clothes.

Carole Ann Burnett, 1997.

 

n.b. Carole Burnett, who researched the above at RBK&C Local Studies Centre would have used the Bomb Index files.  On small index cards. filed under the address of each incidents are details concerning the date, time and type of incident and include the damage to both property and injury to residents.   They form a great record from the War. The index box is not complete – there are some missing.

The next posting  will be about three particular bombsites in North Kensington:  St Helen’s Church and Kelfield Gardens, the northern end of St Helen’s Gardens near the Kensington Memorial Park and the crossroads of Wallingford Avenue and Kelfield Gardens. All of these resulted in buildings and homes being demolished and rebuilt.

If you have some information about any of these WW2 incidents and would like to share it,  please send it to me,  Sue Snyder at northkenhistories@yahoo.co.uk

 

Posted in Churches, Hospitals, Schools, Streets, Uncategorized, World War Two | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Maxilla Gardens

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Maxilla Gardens , 1908 from St Mark’s Road. Photo: RBK&C Local Studies.

In recent years Maxilla Walk (previously Maxilla Gardens) has been familiar to the local community as a small patch of green that hugs the motorway. For many years it was used annually for the much loved Westway fireworks display (sadly no longer) and for Maxilla Nursery School, also now closed. There seem to be few pictures of the small road that ran from Cambridge Gardens, curving round to come out on St Mark’s Road. These houses were of generous proportions with front gardens and basement, all demolished to make way for Westway,  so it was good to hear from Brian who sent in both photos and stories of the original Maxilla Gardens.

A second account written by one of his neighbours, Audrey Burtt (nee Waite) follows. Thanks to Audrey for sending it in. Because of its length, I have added it to this posting rather than putting it as a ‘comment’.

Growing up in Maxilla Gardens –An account by Dr Brian Wybrow Ph.D. (London)

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OS map 1950 showing 11a Maxilla Gardens. Where Maxilla Gardens exited on Cambridge Gardens there is now a house.

My parents, and my brother and sister, moved to 11a Maxilla Gardens from Cornwall Crescent W11, before WWII. The houses had a first, second, and third floor, with a basement flat below, presumably originally for the servants. This was in the times when the street had (from my mother Edith’s memory) top hatted men on duty at the gates to Maxilla Gardens, at the entrances from St Mark’s Road and Cambridge Gardens. The houses in Cambridge Gardens were similar, with a basement flat, but tended to be semi-detached, with a side-passage between each pair of houses. We, of course, in our basement flat had the advantage of the garden, and this was essential for my father’s building business. My father, Harold Wybrow, was a Master Builder before, and after WWII, living in Maxilla Gardens until 1957, and then moving to Clarendon Road, W11. He worked for a Mr Crump, an Edwardian gentleman who owned lots of houses in North Kensington. Harold worked with my brother, Clive, and the building business was based at 11a Maxilla Gardens, North Kensington, W10, with the ladders, etc., in the back garden. They maintained houses all over North Ken. and would have been very well known to those who lived in the associated houses.

The surrounding streets, e.g. Cambridge Gardens, Oxford Gardens, and St Marks Road, were all about of the same standard, but Rillington Place (famous for the Christie Murders) was rather older looking, and more primitive, with quite short, sometimes concreted, front gardens, and narrow, cramped rear gardens. There was thus rather a contrast between our side of the railway to the North, and the other, to the South!

During my early years, after WWII, from about 1947 onwards, I remember that Maxilla Gardens was a peaceful street, due to its “U” shape, with little traffic. We children had the street to ourselves, playing cricket (at the other end, where Maxilla Gardens joined Cambridge Gardens; my stretch was from the St Marks Road end, down to the bend) and many games were played, including, Rounders, Hopscotch (marked on the pavement with chalk, outside 11a) and of course, hide and seek; plus stone throwing (no doubt getting on the nerves of neighbours!). I used to help the Express Dairy milkman deliver milk from his horse-drawn milk cart, and I remember the street being re-laid a number of times. They used wooden blocks; covered them with tar, and then spread sand on that. They then rolled over that with a steam roller.

Brian outside 11a Maxilla Gardens looking towards St Mark's Road.

Brian outside 11a Maxilla Gardens looking towards St Mark’s Road

When living in Maxilla, I attended Lancaster Road Infants School, which was situated in the continuation of St Marks Road past the junction with Lancaster Road, on the left, and near the corner; it had large green gates for access in Camelford Road, and I used to like the gates being open, because of the connection with “the outside world”! I attended Oxford Gardens School from the age of 7 years, to 11. Following this, I attended Haverstock School, Chalk Farm, and I then attended Holland Park School, from 1959 to 1961.

 

Our basement flat had an internal staircase up to the first floor, which was presumably originally used by the servants. In our time, there was a brown curtain draped across the bottom of these stairs, and I often felt rather scared when I was in the house on my own, which was quite often! For instance, in the winter, I would get home from school before my mother came home from her work as a cleaner/housekeeper for some wealthy people around Kensington, and the house would be rather spooky. We only had lino on the floors, and, because the coal fire had “died out”, the house would be cold when I came home from school. The solitary feeling, coupled with the dark winter atmosphere, led me to put on the wireless as soon as I got in (to listen to Children’s Hour) and as many lights as possible; whilst the cellar, just to the right of the front door, added to the drama. As one walked down the passageway to the kitchen, with a narrow, partitioned off bathroom to the right, one passed that curtain, and the stairs to the first floor flat. It always scared me!

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Brian with his sister Shirley.

One entered the basement flat via the front door, which was on the right, at the bottom of a set of steps, which were to the left of the steps which led up to the first floor flat. The region to the left of the basement steps, and in front of the basement bay window, was known as “The Area”, and there was a gap of about two and a half feet between the front of the bay, and the wall holding back the front garden. I had a pedal-driven jeep, which I am amazed to remember that I threw down the steps when I wanted to come in! I also used to play “buck and four stones” at the top of our steps.

Pat Friend (the friend of my sister, Shirley) who lived next door to us, at number 9, in the first floor flat, moved to Maxilla at the age of about 8 in about 1936, and Pat has told me that she did have electricity, but that she remembered the man coming to “light the gas lamps in the street, with a long pole”. We had electricity, but I do remember my mother plugging the electric iron into the lighting socket, which was presumably because the, I believe, only two-pin, mains socket in the room, was being used for something else, probably the radio. We had a second-hand radiogram, at one stage, and a radio that could receive all wavelengths (Short, Medium, and Long). The aerial for the radio was strung-up into the Poplar tree at the end of the back garden. My brother Clive used to climb the tree, with me following him. We must have got higher than the railway line!

We did not have a television until we moved to Clarendon Road, but I used to go to a neighbour’s house around the corner, to watch children’s’ television with other children. We watched “Muffin the Mule”.

In the right-hand corner of the kitchen, at number 11a, and built against the wall overlooking the back garden, there had been a “copper”, which was originally used as a boiler for water, but this was not used in my time. The kitchen sink was a large white one, of rectangular shape; now popular as the “in thing”. It was located against the back wall, and just below the kitchen window, which overlooked the garden. The sink had just one cold-water tap.

Brian with his mother, Edith, looking northeast towards No 9 Maxilla Gardens

Brian with his mother, Edith, looking northeast towards No 9 Maxilla Gardens

My father used to boil a bucket of water on the gas cooker, which was just beyond the entrance to the bathroom, and was located against the party wall with number 13a, Maxilla Gardens. Many of these “buckets full of hot water” were tipped into the adjacent bath. Alternatively, I would have a “bath”, in front of the coal fire, in the front room of the house, standing up, in a so-called tin bath, which was probably made from galvanised iron. Clothes washing was either done in the bath or sink (neither, very often) or at the “Bagwash” (very often, and particularly the bed sheets) which was located at the bottom of Lancaster Road, opposite the swimming baths. I believe that one would go to collect it when it was ready, but I also believe that it was delivered to us. We cleaned our teeth with, I believe, toothpaste from a small round, low profile, metal container; and shampoo was in a sachet.

Washing was hung out on a conventional clothes line, with a pole to support it, in the garden, but others, living in the first floor flats of some of the houses, used a continuous clothes line that had a pulley wheel fixed to one of the poplar trees at the end of the garden, so that they could put out, and then retrieve, their washing.

The coal fire needed the ash emptying almost every day, and it was rather messy. It also had to be lit every day, unless it had been “kept alive”.  My father used to frighten me and my mother by placing a newspaper across the front of the fire, in order to draw the air into the fire place, via the grill, below. This paper would often catch fire, but my father would quickly screw it up into a ball, and throw it up the chimney! Although it did not happen to us, this could well have been the cause of some chimney fires, or even house fires!

Sometimes some paraffin would be added from a paraffin lamp (used for my father’s plumbing work) to “get the fire going”!  Chimneys often caught fire, due to the build-up of soot on the internal brickwork up to the chimney pot on the roof. The Chimney Sweep, with his collection of interconnecting wooden “rods”, having threaded metal ends (male threads at one end, and female threads at the other) connected at the end with the “brush”, used to come every few years to clean out the soot which had built up in the chimney.

Since we lived in the basement flat, we had our coal delivered by so-called “shooting it” down the “coal hole”; a hole in the roughly horizontal concrete path, leading to the steps which rose to the front door of No. 11. The hole was covered by a metal cover, which thieves would try to lift out, in order to get into the house via the cellar! This was countered by having a lock inside, or having a lock on the cellar door, inside the house. The gas meter, which was in the cellar, was a prime target! One could hear the roar and tumble of the coal as it entered the coal cellar, and, since we had no light in our cellar, it was dark, and spooky, and had that characteristic smell of coal dust. The coal came in a horse-drawn cart, operated by I believe, Earlies Coal (spelling may be wrong) which I believe had a depot at West Drayton.

The stairs to the first floor from our flat, were generally unused, except in WWII, when the people on the first floor (“the Proctors”) would come down and shelter in our flat. One place to “hide” from the “bombing”, was the cupboard under the internal stairs to the first floor flat. I had one of those WWII babies’ gas masks but would not go into it. However, I did play with it and with the family gas masks, after WWII. I also used to play with my father’s bits of electrical equipment, such as wires, transformers, a meter, and other junk, and all of this (which was a great inspiration for a future scientist and inventor) was in an old Bluebird Toffee tin! My father also used to make me toy soldiers, from lead (poisonous!) moulded in a special moulding block, into which he would pour the molten lead which had been melted in a pot on the gas stove. He would then wait for it to cool down, so that the toy soldiers would solidify.

There were two cupboards in the hallway. One cupboard was on the left, just beyond the entrance to the front room, and the other, was also on the left, and was located just before the entrance to the kitchen and after the entrance to the back room. Both cupboards were full of my father’s tools, general “junk” (including shrapnel which was collected by my brother and sister; after the bombing) and paint tins; although many of these tins were stored outside. During WWII, there were thus just two rooms; for two adults and three children!

Brother Clive in the back garden.

Brian’s brother Clive in the back garden.

We only had an outside toilet (those upstairs must have had internal toilets). Outside, at the rear, immediately outside the back door, the area was covered by the floor of the first floor flat, from the outside of the rear bedroom wall, to a line about three or four feet back from the front of the kitchen wall. After exiting via the back door of the kitchen, you would see the outside toilet, under cover, in the left corner of the intersection of the continuation outwards, of the rear bedroom wall, with the wall dividing 11a Maxilla from number 9a, next door. Mr Waites and Family, lived at number 9a; he was an electrician, and above him, on the first and second floors, lived Pat Friend (my sister Shirley’s friend) and her mother, Doris. Mr Waites would often sit in a hammock, in his rear garden. Pat has told me that, roughly opposite 11a, a famous Band Leader, named Sydney Lipton, and his daughter, Celia Lipton, who was a famous actor and singer, lived for a period.

My mother used to collect her groceries from a small grocers shop on the left side of St Marks Road, in its stretch which continued on the other side of Lancaster Road, beyond Lancaster Road Infants School, and she used an open-topped, single-handled, wickerwork shopping basket to get her daily shopping. Other shopping was done in Ladbroke Grove, Portobello Road, Shepherds Bush (particularly the market) and in Hammersmith; which latter two, were travelled to by Metropolitan Line train from Ladbroke Grove. There were also trips to Edgware Road (where my grandparents on my mother’s side, lived) by train from Ladbroke Grove Station. My grandparents on my father’s side, died before I was born, and although my grandmother died before WWII, my grandfather was alive during WWII, but was “bombed out ” of the family’s “second hand-come builders’ supplies shop” in Westbourne Grove. A frequently bought meal, was fish and chips, wrapped in newspaper in the early days, and bought either in Ladbroke Grove or at the bottom of Lancaster Road, opposite the swimming baths.

I remember that the lady in the top flat of the house opposite number 9, in which Mrs Reynolds lived (first floor flat) often used to throw down her door key, plus money, wrapped in paper or a cloth, so that I could go round to the newsagents (named Maslin’s and later Thomas’s; or the reverse!). I got just threepence for that! I always used to be going into the newsagents to ask if my “Beano” and “Dandy” comics were in. Later, I also had “The Eagle” comic, which was quite instructive.

BRIAN HOLDING FISH-MAXILLA DONE 250216

Brian in the back garden with a fish.

I remember the winter of 1947, during which the gutters of the houses had icicles about 18 inches long hanging from them, and that it was always very cold and snowing.

A boy named Terry (no surname known) who lived above Mrs Reynolds, once went to the White City Stadium with me and my parents, and we spoke to Gordon Pirie, the long distance runner, in the region underneath the stadium seats. My parents often went to the White City, more often, greyhound racing, and I was always dropping used tickets through the gaps, in the concrete seating/standing area, for the supporting pillars for the roof, to see if I could get them to land on mens’ trilby hats! There was not much else to do! I also used to collect “Turf” cigarette cards, which were part of the packaging for the cigarettes.

We finally moved to Clarendon Road in about 1957, and the house was in complete contrast with the basement flat in Maxilla, which we had rented. We owned the whole house in Clarendon Road, and we occupied the basement flat because of my father’s building business.

Dr Brian Wybrow Ph.D. (Lond.) 30-04-16

Growing up in Maxilla Gardens, London W10 by Audrey Burtt (nee Waite) following an account above by Dr Brian Wybrow PhD

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Sisters Audrey and Joyce in front of the dahlias in the garden of No 9 Maxilla Gardens. 1930.

I was very interested to read the account by Dr Wybrow about growing up on Maxilla Gardens, as I was the girl next door to him at No 9. More accurately I was one of the girls next door, as I remember there were four of us between 1920 and 1939. I am now 94 years old and was born Audrey Waite in 1923 at No 9 Maxilla Gardens, following my sister Joyce who was born in 1921. The other two were Barbara Acland and Patricia Friend who came to live in the flat upstairs much later nearer WW2.

Number 9, although attached to No 11 was rather different because it was semi-detached and had a substantial, gated, side passage next to the side passage of No 7. This meant that the garden was wider and that the side wall of the house was pierced by quite a lot of large windows on every floor, thus avoiding the cold and creepy atmosphere felt by Dr Whybrow as a little boy, home alone in a Victorian basement.

My family was lucky, as we shared two floors of No 9, the basement and the first floor with my grandmother, Elizabeth Scott and my unmarried Aunt Florence. So, as children, my sister and I had the run of a fairly large garden which faced south with a flight of iron stairs leading up to the big rooms of the first floor where my grandmother lived. From up there one could get a good view of several other gardens facing south to the huge brick viaduct of the Metropolitan Railway (now Hammersmith and City Line) screened by a row of lovely Lombardy poplars. It was a leafy, flowery part of North Kensington with a horse chestnut in No 5, three purple lilacs at No 7, dahlias and sweet peas at No 9 and ladders and builders’ paraphernalia at No 11. These last were of course essential to Mr Wybrow senior’s successful business as a builder based at 11A Maxilla Gardens until 1957.

Other successes were achieved in those times in Maxilla Gardens. For example, Barbara Acland, the oldest girl next door, won a scholarship to the City of London School and dazzled us all with her scarlet blazer and gym slip. My sister and I, starting out at Oxford Gardens Infant and Junior School both won scholarships to the Godolphin and Latymer School in Hammersmith. Pat Friend, who was much younger and also very pretty did well too. Joyce, Audrey and Barbara met again, by chance at Oxford University where they all got degrees.

Now I must write about another very successful inmate of No 9. His name was Joycelyn Acland, Barbara’s little brother who, when he grew up, became Joss Acland the famous actor. I last saw him in a film, Gosford Park playing an old aristocrat, which he was.

Across the road among the even numbered houses at No 6 possibly, lived a little girl called Celia Lipton, the daughter of Sidney Lipton, a musician who became a famous band leader and his beautiful wife, a singer. Every night, the couple would go off wearing evening dress in a taxi to appear at the Grosvenor Park Hotel in Park Lane, waving goodbye to little Celia watching from her bedroom window. Celia herself became a singer and eventually married a rich American.

After the houses and the people, I must not forget my father, the ‘Mr Waites’ referred to by Dr Wybrow, described asleep on Sundays in a string hammock, strung up in the garden. Harold Waite (not Waites) was a veteran of the 1914-1918 war and afterwards suffered badly from post traumatic stress. He countered this by filling his house, No 9 and his garden with pet animals and birds. We had pigeons in their house in the garden, canaries and budgerigars inside our house, an Alsatian dog, a black cat and finally a large heated tank of tropical fish.

When not attending his pets, my father planted and tended a lovely garden, full of roses, sweet peas, dahlias, lily of the valley etc. He even allowed us to pick the flowers for the house. On Sundays he sang regularly in the choir at St Helen’s Church and he had a fine tenor voice. He soothed this, after the service by drinking a quantity of beer at the Earl Percy in Ladbroke Grove. Consequently on sunny Sundays he slept the whole afternoon in his hammock to the amusement of the family next door.

My sister and I finally left No 9 Maxilla Gardens in August 1939 as evacuees with Godolphin and Latymer School. We landed in Newbury, Berkshire, eventually got to Oxford University and married there. We did not return to Maxilla Gardens until after the Second World War, when we both settled in the North Kensington/Notting Hill area in flats in Kensington Park Gardens.

Audrey Burtt, September 2017

Wartime memories of Maxilla Gardens by Michael Shanahan

From about my very early years our family lived in the basement flat of number 5, and my sister Mary, born in January 1944, was the last of the three children. So, for up to 1945 it was the mainly nightly visits to the bomb shelter that have stayed with me. My father Tom Shanahan worked at the White City Stadium and he was a fire watcher there, so that when the alert went it was my poor mother Julia Shanahan who had the task of getting the (finally) three children out of bed and across the road to our surface shelter. It would of course be crowded and I assume the occupants were from the road itself, but not really certain as who could check when the alarm was given. It was often claimed that John Christie from nearby Rillington Place would take shelter in his duties as an emergency policeman but of course I would have no knowledge of this. One of our neighbours would bring her Aladdin vertical oil heater from her basement flat but she must have had her favourites when it came to who could share in the heat.

Walking from St Marks Road, number 1 Maxilla Gardens was lived in ( four levels of course) by members of the Fisher family and that is about all I knew of the residences; there was an entrance to a builder’s yard adjacent to number 1 but I have no real knowledge of that.  At number 3, Mr and Mrs Easley * lived with children Peter and Pam in the basement flat (the area, as it was known then). Mr Easley spent the war years in the army (desert).  The lady on the first flor was a Mrs Eales (she had clear memories of the first Boer War) and was fond of her overweight dog called Sally. To my eternal shame I found it funny to see the poor animal swung in a circle by her tail when her owner was not about. Almost as bad as my shouting German Black Sausage at the pet dachshund of a lady at the top of the road by the junction .

For the two levels above I have no memory of who lived there. In the basement of number 5 it was the Shanahan family occupying cramped quarters almost identical to that of the Whybrow family. We however had NO bathroom, but would have to employ the services of a bungalow bath normally dangling from a nail outside. Compared to Brian’s description we were at least self contained. Above us would be Sam and Betty Page and above them was an elderly couple, Mr and Mrs Isaacs, but no memory of the family on the top floor .

We had a garden and my father kept chickens for a number of years. In number 7 was Jack and ? Colpitts* and, initially a nice daughter Dorcas*. A son arrived some years later. Above them were Mr and Mrs Hammond and we were to frequently hear about grandson John. I think the occupants above the Hammonds were a Mr and Mrs Gerrard and with two young children and the husband may have worked in electronics. I recall that they formally complained to the council about my father’s chicken rearing activities, and possibly they were not unfair. The above brings me to the first block of four houses. Of course the back gardens were below the Metropolitan line to Hammersmith and electric trains, plus London Transport steam trains became the delight of my life and still are today.

For brevity I will stop for now.

*The closest spelling I can come to.

Michael Shanahan 2018

Postcript: For more on Maxilla Gardens, see

https://rbkclocalstudies.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/dreams-of-the-westway-2-desolation-row/

Maxilla Nursery Archive    http://maxillaarchive.com/

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