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NW5: A fleeting glimpse

NW5 is Kentish Town. Probably nothing to do with Kent but maybe named after a man called Kentish. In researching NW5 I discovered that the river Fleet runs right through the postcode. The Fleet is one the “lost” rivers of London as it is almost entirely hidden from view from its start on Hampstead Heath […]

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NW2: Life’s not Hollywood …

“Life’s not Hollywood, it’s Cricklewood” is a quote from comedian Eric Morecambe and was used as the subtitle of a 2004 biography of Eric Morecambe by his son Gary. It kind of sums up the ordinariness of Cricklewood, NW2. It is a very workaday kind of place which interestingly has two famous companies called Smith associated […]

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NW1: Spirits move me …

NW1 is Marylebone, Regent’s Park, Euston and of course Camden Town. There is so much here, and I cannot possibly cover it all. So I will forego the delights of the first three and concentrate on the gritty reality that is Camden Town. We start our walk a Camden Town’s main Post Office which is […]

W14: Welcome to the Pleasure Dome

W14 is West Kensington – home to many artists and musicians,  the location of a major exhibition centre, the stores of some of our major Museums and the site of a major food factory which was also oddly home to the first computer used by a commercial business.

We start our walk at the Post Office at 8 – 10 North End Road, W14. Turn left out of the Post Office and at the end of the road cross over the main road and turn to your left.

Stop 1: Number 66 Hammersmith Road

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This modern office block half hidden by gardens along with the neighbouring office buildings was the site of the headquarters of tea shop and food manufacturer J Lyons and Company.

This collection of buildings was called Cadby Hall. This had been the location of a piano manufacturer called Charles Cadby. When he died in 1884, the site was sold and amongst the new occupiers in the 1890s were the Kensington Co-operative Society and Schweppes, the carbonated drinks company.

The J Lyons company purchased property near Cadby Hall at Number 62 Hammersmith Road and they expanded gradualy by taking over the Hall and adjoining sites itself. They retained the name, although the official address of Cadby Hall was 66 Hammersmith Road. This complex became one of the largest food factories in the United Kingdom, growing to cover an area of more than 13 acres – and employing 30,000 people.

There is a fascinating link to the history of this site here: http://www.kzwp.com/lyons/cadbyhall.htm

J Lyons and Co went into decline in the 1970s and the site was redeveloped in the early 1980s. As far as I can see there is no physical evidence of the existence of Cadby Hall but there is a little reminder of the company in that the pedestrianised way which runs down the right hand side of 66 Hammersmith Road is called Lyons Walk.

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Fascinating fact: Cadby Hall has a place in history as the location of the first ever business computer, LEO – the Lyons Electronic Office. This was developed by Lyons between 1949-1951 to automate its clerical and administrative tasks.

I included this in a quiz I set recently and although a couple of teams got it right, most of the room thought the business innovation introduced by Lyons in 1951 was the teabag! (that of course is a much older invention  – first commercial teabags date from around 1904 – and they came from New York of all places!)

Now walk down Lyons Walk and at the end turn right into Blythe Road. Almost immediately ahead on the left is our next stop.

Stop 2: Blythe House, Number 23 Blythe Road

This was originally built as the headquarters of the Post Office Savings Bank between 1899 and 1903 and then extended in the 1920s.

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Architectural historian Pevsner was not impressed –  saying “its vast bulk not very convincingly dressed up with Wrenaissance trimmings.”

The bank headquarters was moved to Glasgow as part of the dispersal of civil service jobs in the 1960s and the bank finally completely moved out in the 1970s. Somehow it survived demolition and found a new use as a store and archive by three major London museums – Victoria and Albert, Science and British Museums.

So from being a workaday civil service building, it is now home to assorted treasures of some of our great national institutions. There must be some amazing stuff in here which rarely sees the light of day.

Fascinating fact: This building featured extensively as the fictional headquarters of MI6 in the 2011 film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

Retrace your steps to Lyons Walk and then at the end turn left into Hammersmith Road

Stop 3: Olympia

You are walking alongside the 1930s section of the Olympia exhibition centre. This site started life as the National Agricultural Hall in 1884, but soon changed its name to Olympia, as it was aiming not just for agricultural shows.

The inaugural event in 1886 was the winter show of the Paris Hippodrome Circus. It became a major venue for shows and exhibitions. It was home to the Ideal Home Show for its first 70 years until 1978. But it has housed shows of various kinds, most significantly it was home to the Royal Tournament from the early years of the 20th century to 1950.

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There are 7 different venues on this site, but the one that is least well known is the magnificent Pillar Hall which is a classical room, with ornate fittings and Corinthian pillars

Walk along the Hammersmith Road in front of Olympia, crossing the main road when convenient. Soon you will see a turning on the right called Avonmore Road. Go down here and as it bends to the right take a left turn into Lysgar Terrace. On the right hand side there is a modern block which is our next stop.

Stop 4: site of the Grange

This building proclaims itself as “The Grange” and it is in fact the site of  an 18th century house to which Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones and his family moved in 1867 from Kensington Square – we saw that house in W8.

Not sure when the house was replaced but all there is to remind us of the house and its famous occupier is the name of this building plus another block on the same estate called Burne-Jones House. This is just around the corner and faces North End Crescent.

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Continue along Lysgar Terrace and then turn left into Matheson Road. At the end you are back in Avonmore road. Here turn right. Our next stop is at the end.

Stop 5: Kensington Village

Avonmore Road terminates at some gates with an archway. On the pediment is a sign which says “Kensington Village”.

In fact Kensington Village was built in the 1880s as for department store William Whiteley, and the initials W W can be seen in the gates. This was the Furniture Depository, laundry and stables.  Originally the building now known as the Warwick Building was used to store furnishings for families who were spending time in the colonies.

Now the imposing warehouse buildings have found new uses as offices and apartments. As you can see from the pictures, these buildings look like they could have escaped from somewhere like Wapping – not what you expect to find on the borders of Kensington.

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Now retrace your steps along Avondale Road. Our next stop is past Matheson Road on the left hand side.

Stop 6: Number 53 Avondale Road

This was the home of Sir Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934) – that quintessentially English composer. His best-known compositions include the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches and various choral works, including The Dream of Gerontius.

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Elgar had only one important commission while in London and this came from his home city, Worcester. The Worcester Festival invited him to compose a short orchestral work for the 1890 Three Choirs Festival. This was called Froissart, and was inspired by the chronicles of the 14th century French writer of the same name.

Elgar only briefly lived in this location in 1890/1891  It seems he moved because he could not find enough work in London and so he and his family went to live in Great Malvern, which was his wife’s home town. There it seems he could earn a living conducting local musical ensembles and teaching.

Elgar was one of the first composers to take the gramophone seriously. After 1914, he conducted recordings of most of his works. And of course as we heard when we were in W1, it was the great man himself who opened the original HMV shop at 363 Oxford Street in July 1921.

Continue back along Avondale Road until the end and then turn right into Hammersmith Road. Then take the first right.

Stop 7: Number 7, Addison Bridge Place.

This street only has houses on the right hand side as the West London railway line lies in a cutting on the left. This line was quite an early line which was authorised by Parliament in 1836 but because of money troubles only opened in 1844. It ran from Harlesden to a station just south of here. Beyond the station was a canal basin from which a canal ran to the Thames. The canal was built in 1828 and was supposed to go on further north to reach what we would now call the Grand Union Canal, but it proved too difficult and expensive and so it stopped short on the edge of Kensington.

But the railway came along and the idea was that this would be a way to access the London docks, with goods being transshipped between the railway and the docks via the canal and the Thames. Neither the canal nor the railway were a commercial success.

In the end the obvious thing was done, the canal was filled in and the railway was extended southwards on its alignment, then it went over the Thames to connect with the various lines south of the river. This opened in 1863 and although there were huge possibilities to run through trains, only a few actually operated and the train companies concentrated on running trains to and from their own London terminals.

This line was well used by freight but passenger services virtually ceased after the Second World war with just a minimal unadvertised peak hour passenger service between Clapham Junction and Olympia – largely put on for the staff of the Post Office Savings bank.

In the 1990s the worth of this orbital line was recognised and today it is now part of the London Overground with a train every 15 minutes, plus the odd through train running between East Croydon and Milton Keynes.

As you go along Addison Bridge Place, you will see a couple of blue plaques – the first is for political theorist Harold Laski and the second at Number 7 is for poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 – 1834).

 

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Not sure exactly when Coleridge lived here but it must have been very different before the railway sliced though (and presumably resulted in the demolition of the houses on the other side of the road). He travelled a lot but seems to have been based in London from 1810, although from 1817 onwards he was living in Highgate, so I guess he was here during the period 1810 to 1817.

Coleridge most famous poems are The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan. The latter was (according to Coleridge’s Preface to Kubla Khan) composed one night after he experienced an opium-influenced dream whilst he was staying in Somerset. He had been reading a work describing Xanadu, the summer palace of the Mongol ruler and Emperor of China Kublai Khan (not sure why he chose to spell it Kubla rather than Kublai). Upon waking, he set about writing lines of poetry that came to him from the dream until he was interrupted. He never did finish the poem. Hence its subtitle “Or, A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment”. It was only finally published in 1816, some 19 years after it was written.

The opening lines are:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree

This was misquoted in the 1984 Frankie Goes to Hollywood song “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” where they say “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a pleasure dome erect”. It is odd because the Frankie version does sound plausible.

Now retrace your steps back to the main road and there turn right and go over the railway. Our next stop is across the road at the corner of Holland Road.

Stop 8: Universal Music offices, Numbers 364 – 366 Kensington High Street

This unassuming building turns out to be the offices of Universal Music for most of the world outside of the US. Universal is apparently the largest music corporation in the world and although French owned, it is headquartered in the US.

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It has some of the most famous labels in its roster, including Capital, Deutsche Gramophon, Decca, Island and Virgin, and some very big selling artistes, from Abba to Take That.

Amongst the current big names signed to Universal are Mumford and Sons. Their second album babel (released in september 2012) includes a song called Holland Road. This is apparently a name check for the road here. It may be about a personal relationship but it could be read as a critique on the music industry as represented by Universal Music which lives here at the corner of Holland Road.

Useless fact: Although Frankie Goes to Hollywood records were released on the ZTT label, they were on Island Records in the US.

Now go up Holland Road (for quite a long way)

Stop 9: Number 100 Holland Road

Eventually you will get to Number 100, on the right hand side.  Freddie Mercury wrote the classic Bohemian Rhapsody whilst living at 100 Holland Road in the 1970s.

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Of course Freddie did not hang around here once he became rich and famous.  But he settled down not too far away in Logan Place W8 and he used this as his London home until his death in 1991.  Although this is over the border in W8 and not on our route today, I have to include a photo of the entrance. It has a strange shrine around the door which consists of clear plastic sheeting where people can pop in a picture or a poem.

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Now retrace your steps  until you get to Addison Crescent and follow this as it sweeps off to the left. Then follow the main traffic as it turns right into Addison Road. Continue along Addison Road until the left turn before Kensington High Street. Take this turning (Holland Park Road) 

Stop 10: Number 20 Holland Park Road

Soon on the left hand side you will come across the first of two blue plaques in this street. This is for a man called Phil May.

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I have to confess, I did not know the name – and I have to say I did found it odd that a man who lived mostly in the 19th Century should be called Phil. It just seems much more modern to shorten the name Philip to Phil.

I tracked down some of his work and although the plaque describes him as an artist, he was best known as a cartoonist. Here is a link to an interesting book (open it as HTML)

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/37767/37767-h/37767-h.htm

This includes a series called “On the Brain”. These have various famous people of the day with the top of their head hinged off and a suitable image or images to indicate what might be going on in their head.

And then there is a great one where a woman is trying to get into what is described as “a Provincial Banquet” and this is the conversation:

AT A PROVINCIAL BANQUET

Flunkey: “Excuse me, mum, but the banquet has commenced, and I can’t admit you. Them’s my orders.”
She: “But the Mayor is here, isn’t he?”
Flunkey: “Oh, yes, he’s here right enough.”
She: “Well, but I’m his lady.”
Flunkey: “It makes no difference, mum; I couldn’t admit you if you were his wife.”

Classic stuff.

Stop 11: Leighton House, Number 12 Holland Park Road

Then just a little further along is Leighton House – the former home of Frederick, Lord Leighton (1830 – 1896) and now a gallery/museum run by Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

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To be honest, this is not the most attractive building. It is very boxy with limited ornamentation, and strange proportions. But inside there is a real treasure – the two storey Arab Hall, built in the late 1870s to house Leighton’s collection of tiles collected during visits to the Middle East. Leighton’s very own little pleasure dome.

And there is permanent display works of art by various well known victorian painters including John Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones and George Frederick Watts and of course over 80 oil paintings by Leighton himself. Well worth a visit.

Now walk to the end of the street and turn left into Melbury Road.

Stop 12: Number 18 Melbury Road

Melbury Road was the location of Little Holland House which was where George Frederick Watts (1817 – 1904) lived from 1876 until he died. Unfortunately the house was destroyed in a Second World War bombing raid. I have not been able to establish exactly where it might have been.

But Number 18, which still stands, was the home of another artist – the pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt (1827 – 1910) lived and died here.

 

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Holman Hunt was one of the original three members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais. This was in 1848 and at the time he and Millais were still students at the Royal Academy of Arts.

He was not initially successful but he became well known for his religious paintings, in particular The Light of the World (1851–1853) which is now in the chapel at Keble College, Oxford. In 1900, he painted another version which toured the world and eventually found a home in St Paul’s Cathedral.

Curiously this house also has another blue plaque – to Cetshwayo. (1832? – 1884). He was the King of the Zulu Kingdom from 1872 to 1879 and their leader during the 1979 Zulu War.  He led the Zulu nation to victory against the British in the Battle of Isandlwana but then he lost a subsequent battle (at Ulundi) in July 1879.

After this he was deposed and exiled first to Cape Town and then to London. He stopped at this house in 1882. The British then allowed him back to Zululand in 1883 but he was dead within a year or so.

Now we have reached the end of our W14 walk – well almost. I thought I would add a post script.

Postscript: Kyoto Garden, Holland Park

This walk has been largely about pleasure (!) – what with all those luscious Victorian painters, musicians such as Edward Elgar, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Freddie Mercury and Mumford and Sons plus a museum store, not to mention an exhibition centre and a former food factory.

But to wind up I suggest you visit Holland Park itself. Holland Park is in fact the grounds of a 17th Century house,. Holland House. The house was badly damaged during the Second World War. One wing was saved and is used as a youth hostel. A remaining section of the front terrace is now used as a backdrop for open air theatre productions and classical concerts in the summer.

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But I think the best bit is the Kyoto Garden. This was donated by the Kyoto Chamber of Commerce in 1991 as was part of a Japanese Festival in 1992. It is very peaceful and when I was there, there was a heron looking longingly at the fish in the pool.

 

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To get there go back down Melbury Road and turn left into Ilchester Place which has a gate into the park. The Kyoto Garden is to the left of the main buildings.

For onward travel return to High Street Kensington where there are various buses. Or else turn right when you get to the High Street and head back down to Kensington Olympia Station which has regular Overground trains and the occasional District Line train (weekends and special events only)

 

 

W13: Are you (still) being served?

W13 is West Ealing. This is a fairly small postcode which nestles between Ealing and Hanwell and many people seem unaware West Ealing has a separate postcode from Ealing.

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Although you might not guess it now, West Ealing was once an important shopping centre, with a full range of shops including large branches of Woolworth’s and Marks and Spencer’s plus a couple of independent department stores. But you can see why it has not survived as the go-to shopping centre of west London. It was all strung out along a main road with no dedicated car parking or a pedestrian precinct. Plus it was just down the road from Ealing itself, which in its heyday also had two department stores.

We start our walk at the Post Office sorting office on Manor Road at the corner of Drayton Road – just north of West Ealing station. From here, go up Manor Road to the main road (Argyle Road) and turn right crossing the road at the zebra crossing. Take the first left into The Avenue and almost immediately ahead across is our first stop.

Stop 1: The Drayton Court Hotel

 

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This was built as a hotel in around 1898 and carried on as a hotel until the 1940s when it became a full time pub and off licence. Since 2011 it has returned to be a hotel or rather (as it calls itself)  “A great pub with superb rooms”. It is said to have one of the largest pub gardens in London.

The hotel’s website also has this fascinating little paragraph:

“The Drayton Court Hotel is one of the oldest pubs in Ealing, and probably the only establishment in London to have one of their cleaners go on to become a world leader. The Former Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, toiled in the kitchens of the Drayton Court Hotel in 1914, before going on to change his country’s history, driving out forces from Japan, France and the United States.”

Bit of an odd way of putting it, wouldn’t you say? Ho Chi Minh is credited as the founder of the modern day Vietnam and the city formerly known as Saigon has been called Ho Chi Minh City since 1976.

Ho Chi Minh does have a blue plaque in London but it is not here. It is at the 1960s New Zealand House at the bottom of Haymarket. It is there because he worked at a hotel called the Carlton which used to be on that site. I guess the West End trumps West Ealing when it comes to blue plaque locations. Shame because West Ealing is a bit short on celebs and as far as I can discover there is not a single blue plaque or indeed any similar type plaque in the whole of W13!

Return to the main road and here on the bridge is our next stop

Stop 2: West Ealing station

Although the section of the Great Western Railway passing here opened in 1838, the first station dates only from 1871. Initially it was called Castle Hill Station. In 1878 it was renamed Castle Hill and Ealing Dean Station, only finally becoming West Ealing in 1899.

Today it is rather a sad affair. Maybe there was a decent station here once but now all you have is this little brick box with an occasionally open ticket office.

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Behind looms a modern block with a new quite large Waitrose below, accessed from the side street on the south side of the station. The block contains flats and has the delightful name of “Luminosity Court”. Sounds like something out of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Sadly the building does not live up to its name.

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When you go in the station, there are covered stairs down to the platforms, but the platforms themselves have no canopies – just a couple of small bus shelter type structures. The two platforms are eccentrically numbered 3 and 4. There were once platform numbers 1 and 2 on the fast lines and you can just make out the ghost of platform 2 on the other side of the fence of platform 3.

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It has two services which each run every half hour thus providing a 15 minute service to Paddington. One of these is the stopping service to Heathrow (Heathrow Connect) provided by electric trains at least four coaches long. The other is the local service to Greenford, which is operated with two coach diesel trains. I did actually venture on this line to discover that the local stations towards Greenford can only handle two car trains, which is a bit of a surprise on a service so close in the central London.

Things will change when Crossrail arrives. I believe that the through service between Paddington and Greenford will cease and there will be a shuttle service between West Ealing and Greenford. But there will be more trains on the main line which will go right into central London, so West Ealing should get a better service.

Amazingly this station has no sunday service, but no doubt that will also change when Crossrail comes along.

Keep walking down the main road, which has become Drayton Green Road. Our next stop is ahead on the corner of Alexandria Road.

Stop 3: Sanders Depository

This must have belonged to the J Sanders department store – the one we saw in Ealing (which was featured in a Dr Who episode and whose former building is now Marks and Spencer’s)

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Many of the big department stores had depositories. Harrods famously had one by the river in Barnes. I kind of assumed these were the predecessors of those big yellow storage facilities. But perhaps not. It seems these were in effect warehouses for the shop and used also to house furniture too large to display in the store.

Keep walking along Drayton Green Road and turn left at the main cross roads. Our next stop is soon on the left

Stop 4: Numbers 140 -144 Uxbridge Road (former Abernethie & Son store)

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Abernethie & Son Ltd was what I seen described as “a drapery department store” but I have also seen it referred to as a men’s clothing store.

In 1944 the store was destroyed by a bomb and so I guess what we see today is a 1950s rebuild. The company celebrated 75 years of business from 1879-1954 with a commemorative catalogue.

The shop finally closed in the early 1980s. Half the ground floor is now a Tesco Metro.

Keep walking along Uxbridge Road.

Stop 4: Numbers 96-122 Uxbridge Road (site of Daniel’s store)

Today you will see there is a shop called Daniel at 132 – 138 Uxbridge Road. It is a furniture and household goods store, but actually Daniel used to be a department store just a little further along the street at Numbers 96 – 122.

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There is a curious tale – as explained on this link.

http://www.ealingtoday.co.uk/default.asp?section=info&page=eadaniels001.htm

This says that Walter James Daniel first rented 96 Uxbridge Road West Ealing to sell drapery and fashions in 1901. It was still in the Daniels family in the new millennium and in September 2003 they obtained planning permission to demolish the old Department Store and replace it with a new one. As part of the permission they were also allowed to build 137 flats in a tower block immediately. The 137 flats were built in 2006/7 with the ground and first floor left for the ‘Department Store’. But this was boarded up in 2007.

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Today there is a gym on what would have been the upper floor and part of the ground floor is a mini Morrison’s. Ealing Today says “Rumours trickled out in 2007 that the Daniels family never had any intentions of building, occupying or running a new Department Store on the site. “

Daniel also has a store in Chiswick and claims to have the largest department store in Windsor, not that there is much competition for that title.  So no doubt they had a pretty good idea West Ealing would not a great location for a new department store.

Now return back to the cross roads and keep walking (the road is now called “the Broadway”, until you reach the corner of Green Man Lane, where you will see a 97p Store (how low rent is that).

Stop 6: Site of F H Rowse store

This corner was the location of  F. H. Rowse department store which originally opened in 1913.

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It was used as a backdrop in the 1960 film Carry On Constable (some fascinating now and then pictures of here and other bits of West Ealing on this link: http://www.thewhippitinn.com/carry_on_film_locations/carry_on_constable/

This link suggests the old store was demolished in the 1970s. However the store survived until January 1983, so maybe they were responsible for this ugly building.

Keep walking along Uxbridge Road.

Stop 7a: site of Marks & Spencer store

Just a little further along on the right is a new built – part of which is occupied by Wilkinson’s. This was apparently the site of the Marks and Spencer store here in West Ealing.  I guess it was inevitable that M & S would pull out of here given the decline in the street as a shopping area and the fact they had a sizable store just down the road in Ealing proper.

 

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Stop 7b: site of Woolworth’s store

And just next door is a handsome deco-ish building which was the old Woodworth’s store. It dates from 1926 and here is a fascinating article about the shop:

http://www.soultsretailview.co.uk/2010/12/13/west-ealings-surprising-former-woolies-building/

 

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Strangely you then come to a BHS store here – really this seems an odd survivor given all its rivals seem to have left.

Now return back to the junction of Northfields Avenue. As you do, watch out for the 99p bakery on the right hand side of the road. First time I have seen this concept!

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Back at the cross roads, turn right down Northfields Avenue

Stop 8: Former Lido cinema

Just along Northfields Avenue from the corner of Uxbridge Road is a modern block of flats and offices called Lido House. This is the site of a cinema.

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The first cinema building dated from 1913 and was called the West Ealing Kinema. This was rebuilt as the Lido Cinema in 1928 . It retained the Lido name until it was taken over by the Star Cinemas group in the 1970s. The stalls were converted into a bingo club, and two small cinemas known as Studio 1 and Studio 2 were fitted into the circle area.  It was taken over by the Cannon Group in the 1980s and became known as the Cannon.

The bingo hall eventually closed, and the space was converted into a snooker hall. The cinema became known as the ABC but closed in March 1997. It then became a ‘Bollywood’ cinema first known as the Belle Vue and then as the Gosai Cinema. It finally closed as a cinema in the spring of 2001. The building sat empty for a while and was demolished in September 2004 and replaced by what we see today.

Now go down the side street here on the left. By St John’s Church take the road which veers off ahead to the right. This is Churchfield Road. Almost immediately on the right is Somerset Road. Go down here. 

Stop 9:  Number 16 Somerset Road

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In 1890, the tall thin house at Number 16 was the birthplace of the writer Nevil Shute. He is perhaps best remembered as a novelist but he was also a successful aeronautical engineer. His full name was Nevil Shute Norway and he used this in his engineering career. “Nevil Shute” was his pen name, apparently to protect his engineering career from any potential negative publicity in connection with his novels. A number of his novels have been turned in to films, notably “A Town called Alice” and “On the Beach”

Continue to the end and then turn right into Rathgar Avenue. This is a handsome street, probably dating from just before the First War. 

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The houses are quite close to the street so apart from in a couple of places it has not been possible to pave over their front gardens, so the street scene has not been transformed with forecourt parking. Whereas the road you get to at the end (Loveday Road), the houses are set further back and so lots have lost their front gardens.

Take a left into Loveday Road and then at the end a right into Dudley Gardens. At the end go right again (into Northfields Avenue), crossing over at the zebra crossing. With an estate agents on one corner and a wine shop on the other take a left into Northfield Road. Our next stop is at the end on the right. 

Stop 10 Former Fruit Warehouse (Charles Steel and Company)

In the 19th Century much of the land to east of Northfields was market gardens and orchards. The building at the corner with Northcroft Road is a little reminder of this as it was a Fruit Packing Warehouse, built by a company called Charles Steel. Now it has been turned into apartments.

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Return to Northfields Avenue and turn right. Our next stop is just a little further down on the right.

Stop 11: Parkers Bakery, Number 64 Northfields Avenue

This shop opened in the 1950s and is the last surviving shop of a small chain of family bakers which was first established in 1913.

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Their first shop was in 276 Uxbridge Road and they expanded over time with another 4 shops. The others were closed in 1989.

This has a villagey feel to it. There are some other interesting looking shops along this stretch of road including a butchers, a fish shop, a deli and a Polish shop, somewhat classier than they usually look. (NB these pictures are not in the order you see them on the ground and the fish shop is actually after our next stop)

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So whilst W13 has lost its “big” shops, there still seems to be a range of more interesting independents along here.

Stop 12: Lammas Park

Now just a little further on from Parkers Bakery on the left is an entrance to a park, with the unusual name of Lammas Park.

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This nice looking green space was originally laid out in the 1880s for the benefit of the local population. The name derives from “Loafmas Day” which was a harvest festival celebrated on 1 August. This marked the start of when the locals could graze their animals on the common land known as Lammas lands. This grazing period ran until Candlemas which was 2 February. Not too sure what they did with their animals from March to July.

Keep walking along Northfields Avenue and soon you reach Northfields station which is right on the border with W5.

Postscript

Northfields station is another of the Charles Holden stations which were built when the Piccadilly line was extended west. The line here was opened by the District railway in 1883 but there was no station here until a little halt was opened in 1908. This was rebuilt in 1932 at the same time as the Piccadilly line depot was built here. District line services continued to run here until 1964 since when it has only been served by the Piccadilly line.

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So we are now right at the edge of W13 here, and before we leave this area, I have to mention an old cinema which is just a little further on in Northfields Avenue, even though it is in W5.

This was built in 1932 as the Avenue Cinema, although it was taken over and became an Odeon in 1936. It traded as an Odeon for most of its cinema life, but in its last few years from 1981 to 1985 it was known as the Coronet. It was converted to a night club which lasted from 1988 to 1994 and then it was taken over by the Elim Pentecostal Church

This is a most unusual cinema for the UK. It was an atmospheric cinema with a Spanish theme. It had little villas along the side walls and draped fabric overhead to mimic a tented “ceiling” to provide shade from the “sun”, rather than the more usual painted sky with lights for twinkling stars. The fabric has been replaced but it appears to be still fairly intact as a building.

 

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That brings us to the end of W13. A place that in many ways has seen better days, in particular in terms of the shopping centre. Yet there are still some good little local independent shops along Northfields Avenue, so it is not all doom and gloom. We are now at Northfields station for onward travel.