Local residents recall the Barlby and Kensal Road end of Ladbroke Grove.
The following posting originally appeared in 2008 and 2009 in our first rather short-lived local history blog: http://aroundkensalroad.blogspot.com
Today’s maps no longer show Edinburgh Road, whereas it is clearly marked on the deeds of houses in Barlby Gardens. These were built in 1916.
It ran from the top end of Barlby Road, near Ladbroke Grove, beside the railway lines towards Old Oak Common. Today the start of Edinburgh Road can still be seen in Barlby Road, but it used to be made of cobbles and tarmac whereas now it is part of a small concreted car park for the occupants of these houses.
The cobbles were still in place in the 1980s and the road was used to carry lorries on to the site behind Barlby Gardens to warehouses storing Fyffes bananas. Their large advertising hoardings could be seen easily from the road.
This warehousing was removed about 1992 when the area was developed by British Rail for milling/cleaning sheds for Eurostar trains. In turn, with the opening of St.Pancras in early 2008 these sheds themselves are no longer in use.
Back in 2008 when this was written, the Cowshed pub on the northwest corner of the Barlby Road and Ladbroke Grove roundabout had recently closed. It is now razed to the ground ready for redevelopment and will I believe, be replaced by flats.
Looking south down Ladbroke Grove from the Cowshed D.M. remembered the terrace of shops on the western side of Ladbroke Grove (still there).
To the right of the junction stood a parade of shops, about six or seven. This brought back memories of my childhood. I remember two of the shops quite clearly. The corner shop was demolished to make room for a wider road on the corner was a baker’s run by a German family. The other was an Italian ice cream shop about two doors up run by Polo Lisi. His granddaughter Margaret, was in the same class as me at St Charles School. The ice cream was made on the premises – vanilla, strawberry, chocolate – there were few flavours at the time, but they were all delicious in a cornet or wafer. Sadly the shop closed down sometime in the fifties. Looking at a photograph taken in 1870 brought back memories.
Across the road from these shops, the street layout was changed with
redevelopment in the 1980s. There is no longer any road access from Ladbroke Grove to Portobello Road and Wornington Road. All that is left is pedestrian access through the northern edge of the Wornington Green Estate built in the 1980s.
The Ladbroke Grove Bridge – Bartle Bridge
The track of the Great Western Railway runs south of the canal and was opened in 1838, running from Paddington to Bristol. Up to 1870s both the canal and railway were crossed and ferry via footpaths to Kensal Green Cemetery which had been opened in 1833. All funerals had to use the Harrow Road. The footpath was a continuation from the convergence of Portobello Road and Wornington Road. This later became Ladbroke Grove Road and ultimately Ladbroke Grove.
A bridge must have been built during the 1870.
“It was widened in 1881 to 1883 to the designs of H. Vignoles, the contractors being Messrs. Nowell & Robson of Kensington. It may be noted that the iron founders who supplied the materials were J.M.Bartle & Co. a local firm with premises in Lancaster Road.” (Survey of London, Volume 37 p.333 – 339ref.7)
This must be the reason why the bridge has been known as Bartle Bridge.
Bartle’s foundry was situated at the end of Rillington Place. This subsequently became Ruston Close following the Christie murders and when the road was rebuilt it was named Bartle Road.
Dark doorways – Victoria Dwellings
As child I am certain that I never ventured into Kensal Road but we used to visit my parents’ friends in Harrow Road and in the Avenues and did so via Ladbroke Grove.
We would walk across the iron bridge and pass the “gas flats” (Kensal House, but opposite there was Hamrax, the motorcyclists‘ emporium, and next the black painted tobacconists cum sweet shop. Beside this were, and still are, the Dickensian steps leading down to wherever they went. After that came some flats, high, dark, ominous buildings looking more like “dwellings” to me rather than homes.
These flats were entered through dim, arched door ways which lead on to stone stairways, heading both up and down to the flats beyond. The insides of these arched entrances were tiled in beautiful, dark coloured Victorian tiles each panel portraying a scene of working people. Despite being grubby they had a richness about them which was attractive.
It seemed a pity that they were destroyed when the flats were demolished but I doubt if anyone considered them worth preserving at the time.
nb. This particular stretch of Ladbroke Grove is currently under redevelopment.