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.


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.


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.


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).

Kasmir shop now.ss

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.


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

  1. Brin Allum says:

    Very interesting I used to be a paper boy for Tommy Litle there were about 4 of us must have been about 1950/51 at the time Tommy was a boxing referee, when I got married we lived just round the corner in Cambridge gdns

  2. Audrey counsell says:

    This is a wonderful glimpse into part of the varied history of Portobello Rd and I hope will be recorded forever. I don’t see these times returning; they will never be the same again and it is important to record these memories to be appreciated. Very important.

  3. Margaret Mckenzie says:

    I really enjoyed reading this. I lived in Acklam Road. I used to go into the clothing shop when they had sales and a lot of garments were two shillings, ten pence in today’s prices. He did that to get you in the shop. I remember the pie and mash shop well. Brought back lots of wonderful memories.

  4. Tom Quinn says:

    I remember many of the places mentioned in this excellent piece – my parents bought their furniture in Evans and I recall the pie and mash shop and the rag and bone shop clearly. My mother bought her cigarettes, incidentally, from former Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s mother who worked in the tobacconists at Ladbroke Grove Station.
    Extraordinary how the whole area has changed in 40-50 years.
    I enjoyed reading Pat and Mick’s account very much indeed. One thing I remember that has completely vanished is the long line of totters’ horses and carts that were always parked at the top end of Portobello Road for the Saturday market. When they built the Westway the horses were accommodated (I think) at the point where Latimer road was cut in two by the new flyover. Or am I imagining things!?

  5. JOHN HENWOOD says:

    Many thanks for an intriguing read. I have clear memories of this area and period. On Saturdays a busy second hand market in all manner of things was staged along Golborne Road in the area of 276, your original shop. In c1955 I wanted a bike but money was v.short so my mother bought a second hand one for, I think, 10/- from a stall very close to your shop….it was pretty moderate and though I got on with it I was nonetheless envious of my friends better ones so later she went back and bought one for 15/- which was a slight improvement. I became proficient at cycle maintenance.

    I got a new one for Xmas in 1961 as by then I had passed 11 plus and was cycling to school at Hortensia Road, Chelsea.

    Later, in 1964 when I was a serious and fully fledged Mod, I had a US Air Force Parka (fashionable at the time) which I wanted to embellish with fur around the hood. I bought a fur stole for 5/- on a stall close to 276 and glued it into the hood. I wish I had a photo.

    I also well remember the pie and mash shop adjacent to your second shop at 259 …it had lovely copper receptacles which held the parsley liquor and mash. There was another pie and mash shop on the west side of Golborne Rd (Reene’s?) which was cheaper and also inferior – the liquor was white and anemic looking, not the green luxuriant version in Portobello but in times of extreme penury it had to be Reene’s.

    • Margaret Mckenzie says:

      My dad had a second hand stall in Portobello Road. He sold amongst other things, fox furs that boys used to buy for their lambrettas. I was wondering if you bought yours from him. It was a wonderful place to live. I was born in Chesterton Road from there Acklam Road then when I got married, St Ervans Road. Lovely memories and people.

  6. Richard Wilkins says:

    excellent recall of Portobellow Market in the fifites. I grew up in Golborne Road in the early middle fifties. I remember wearing my mother’s old Rabbit Skin coat with the arms cut off at the hight of the hippy period. The whole of Portobello Market in the early sixties was full of hippies buying goat skin coats which stank to high heaven!
    As a child in the early middle fifties I remember my mother buying a Christmas tree, a big one, and dragging it back to our house, 17 Golborne Road (the White Shop.)
    I loved exploring whatever was going on or for sale during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I remember buying Elvis Costello’s album with Oliver’s Army as one the tracks and Bob Marley’s album with the track Exodus.
    I bought a really, flash Slim Jim tie which unfortunately somebody washed it and ruined it. Shame.
    Richard Wilkins

  7. Karen O'Toole says:

    My mum Jean and her two sisters June and Kathleen Robertson lived at 1 lancaster road in the forties and fifties with my Nan Ann and my grandad Auther Robertson x She would tell me story’s about Christie and when he asked my Nan to go back to his house because she had a headache and she said no xx thank goodness x

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