21 March 2023

On the tiles again

Another set of six images of tiles to be found taken within or or near to the ticket halls of some London Transport tube stations

Can you identify any of them?

10 March 2023

More wood black paving – Kentish Town, Brixton and Clerkenwell (Part 5 in a series)

I'm returning to wood block paving again, because I've found a few more patches that I'd like to share with you and add to the list. 

This bygone type of street surface was used on some roads, mainly busy streets, but also in areas of high use as per in a courtyards or private access ways where the noise from horses' hooves could be kept to a minimum. But horses leave evidence wherever they go in the form of wet and gloopy stuff and these deposits made the streets of old rather stinky. The wood blocks were also often stolen for use as firewood ( though consider the aroma!). 

Other forms of street surfaces superseded the wood blocks but it's still possible to find evidence here and there, mostly within man hole covers and just like finding an unusual shell on a beach, you then 'get your eye in' and start finding more. Find my previous posts on this subject there.

Here are two more new finds and an update...

This first one is a manhole cover I had spotted a few years ago and completely forgot about until recently. Having not made any note of it or taken any photos back then, I had to wander the streets to rediscover it. It sits in outside 111 Kentish Town Road. The wood within it is here clearly enhanced by the recent wet weather:

Similarly, in South London, near the entrance to Brixton Village covered market on Coldharbour Lane, there is another manhole cover where some of the old wood blocks are still visible. I'm sure there must be more examples of this type in the vicinity and I will look out for them when I am back in SW9 later this month.

And, finally, here are some better pics of an unusual off-road example in Clerkenwell that I mentioned in an earlier post. 

Leo Yard is a narrow alley on the north side of Clerkenwell Road, just wide enough for a small horse and cart, that leads to what would have been workshops and distribution hubs at the rear. This particular patch of wood blocks set within a maintenance access plate forms a pleasing grid pattern. The blocks are barely worn and most have have slightly domed tops. Also, the wood here appears to be a very dense type, more so than within the circular plates like the two shown above. I wonder if the wood used here was offcuts from the furniture making industry. 

No doubt I'll find some more of these on my travels and I'll be writing 'Part 6' sometime soon... do let me know if you can add to the collection.

9 March 2023

Unusual and endangered animals at the Natural History Museum

I was out and about two Sundays ago and it was really biting cold out there so, rather than go home and wait for the house to warm up, I headed for Museumland because I wanted to see an exhibit within the NatHistMuseum about the loss of the Great White Rhino due to poaching them for their horns. I just cannot fathom how some human beings still believe that magic remedies can be obtained from what is basically the same as our fingernails. 

The museum was really busy. Lots of visitors. Mainly foreign families. And after finding the CGI exhibit I really enjoyed wandering the mammal galleries, something I haven't done in a while. 

I read every information panel and pressed every button and found it quite endearing how so many of the interactive pieces in those rooms have voiceovers that sound like TV programmes from my childhood – very clipped Queen's English pronunciation. Well, I say. How jolly marvellous.

I took some square format snaps of some of my favourite animals, some of which have already made their way into my Instagram feed @janeslondon – I'd never realised before how so many of these beasts are toothless and from South America. What's that all about? 

And it had never occurred to me that 'glutton' is another name for a wolverine. makes sense really.

I am also intrigued by some of the fishy oddities on this planet – who needs sci-fi books and movies when we already have multi-toothed weirdness like this?!

Every day is a new learning experience.

4 March 2023

Colourful and creative Bermondsey – Kaffe Fassett at The Fashion and Textile Museum and Imi Knoebel at The White Cube Gallery

On a whim yesterday afternoon, suddenly finding I had a free afternoon and not wanted to spend it indoors in front of a screen (like I am doing now, oh the irony!) I hopped on a bus and headed down to Bermondsey High Street. I specifically wanted to catch the Kaffe Fassett show at The Fashion and Textile Museum because it finishes next week (last day 12th March) and I wasn't sure I'd have another window of opportunity. 

A marvellous riot of controlled colour and clashing patterns that just works. 

Interesting to note the demographic in there yesterday – mostly women over 50 and gay men...!
But even if you don't fit into those two categories, or you have never picked up a needle and thread, I think you are sure to find this inspirational in some way. 

Bermondsey has changed a lot since the first time I visited this road, its local high street, back in the early 1980s when a work friend lived nearby. The area was run down and grubby – dilapidated buildings and disused warehouses intermingled with social housing blocks. The warehouses and old factory buildings, the high street shops too, have since been snapped up at low prices, converted into offices and residential spaces, hence how large developments such as Zandra Rhodes and Jay Jopling were able to afford to establish themselves there, both creating bespoke environments. It's all very 'nice' there now. Shops full of trinkets, coffee bars, designer pizza, all the old pubs converted into gastrohubs.

And so to JJ's White Cube gallery. I really like this space. It's like The Tardis in there, as in it seems so much bigger when you walk inside than it appears from the exterior, which, to those not aware that this is a gallery, looks more like a functional space, or a distribution hub within a car park. It certainly does not shout "come on in and see some art – it's free to enter!"

What I really like in here is the vastness of it. The long corridor as you enter and that fabulous highly-polished concrete floor that reflects the artworks on display and also the light sources from above.

Here are some pics of what's on at the moment (until 26th March).

That's me bottom right. 

1 March 2023

On the tiles on London Transport

This is the first in a collection of six square-format snaps of some of interesting tiles and details within or adjacent to the ticket halls on the TfL network.

We often walk past these things and never see the patterns or reasoning behind the designs.

Can you recognise any of the stations?

27 February 2023

Ghostsigns in Goldhawk Road, W12

Last week I wrote about a ghost sign in Uxbridge Road and said I'd find out more info about some of the others in that area.

Starting at Ravenscourt Park (western) end of Goldhawk Road, the Brymay matches sign on end of King's Parade, has seen better days. The pic to the right shows how it looked when I photographed it in 2008. There's only about half of it there now, thanks to the insertion of a multi-level extension, and what remains of the lettering is now rather faded. It makes a kind of top and tail with another Brymay sign on Shepherds Bush Green

But I was extremely pleased to find that one of my favourite 'hidden' gems is still there, obscured by Melville Court and a large fir tree on the side of No.1 Cathnor Street. It is an ad for Herbert W. Dunphy, a local estate agent. It could be argued that this doesn't really qualify as a ghost sign being as his company is still trading today albeit with a slightly different name. 

The 1908 office was at 162 Goldhawk Road, and they later expanded into No.164 – see Google Streetview 2008. If you head there now, you'll find they're only at No 164 and it's evident that the whole building was once covered with a painted advertisement. A modern banner affixed to the side shows the company today is 'Dunphy and Hayes'. I checked their website for more info... if you scroll down to the bottom here and read the small white text under the company logo, you'll see that they offer 'efficiant' and 'propfessional' services with 'qaulity' assurance. I wonder what Herbert would have made of that?!

Heading eastwards towards Shepherds Bush, there's another ghostsign, this time on the end of Goldolphin Road, on the side of No.152 Goldhawk Road. This, in the 1930s, was a colour merchant's shop, with Shaw Motors on the garden at the rear. Indeed, Dolphin Cars still trade out of that space. Try as I might, I really cannot fathom the lettering on the sign. There looks to have been at least two over-paintings, though I am sure I see 'THE' centred at the very top and 'LONDON' along the bottom edge. Ideas welcome. 

Note some gorgeous old shops on the opposite side of Godhawk Rd at 155-161, three of which retain curved window frames etc.   

And so back to Usbridge Rd... Opposite the Player's cigarette ad, there is a tantalising glimpse of something poking out from under the paint on an east-facing wall that is clearly partially covered by later building.  The paint is gradually eroding away, but with so little to go on, it's hard to ascertain whether this was a sign for a business at that location or a managed rental site. I haven't managed to decipher anything here as yet, except that there looks to be '...ES' about a third of the way down on the right edge. I wonder if this might have been an old Nestlé ad

As ever, any help or further info is always welcome. Please either use the comments facility or contact me at jane@janeslondon.com

26 February 2023

BBC TV Centre – tiletastic!

Last week I went with my friend to be part of the audience for a panel show recordingw. 

We arrived to found hundreds of people; the queues were way too long. The organisers of these things always over subscribe due to the percentge of no-shows but I think in this instance they'd sent out the invites in triplicate. Whoops.

Never mind. There'll be other dates. Instead, we went for a walk around the marvellous building and the surrounding area. 

I really like the dirt green tiled walls with the contrasting scarlet red lines. Ooh. And the sculptures by Huxley Jones, especially Helios on a tall pole at the centre – check out his strange knobbly knees!

More info about the building and the artworks here

22 February 2023

Players Cigarettes Ghostsign near Shepherd's Bush Green

Isn't it strange how you can walk or drive up and down a road for decades, even go on many hunts for old signage and the like, yet never notice a something as big as this? Made worse when looking at retrospective Google streetview and finding out that this has always been visible. Doh! 

Perhaps it was always a dull day when I was sleuthing there in the past. I dunno. However, in this case, I do think the painted advertisement above Winkworths, has become a bit clearer of late, perhaps due to layers of grime having been gradually eroded by rain. Or, as I suspect by the evidence of recent repointing on this east-facing wall, perhaps it was given a clean before the application of new cement.

The advert is for packets of Player's Navy Cut Cigarettes 'Medium' created in 1945 and available until 1989. Local residents could have bought this brand of cigs at the tobacconist shop at the other end of this terrace where it meets Godolphin Road and then purchased throat lozenges from the chemist shop below the sign!

I've enhanced one of my images using Photoshop (above) and it helps us to understand how the sign might have looked when it was first painted, echoing the colours on the packets. Two sizes of packs are advertised: 10 for 6d (sixpence) and/or 20 for 11d, as shown top left and bottom right respectively. In the early days they also made packs of five!

This is the second time I have found something impressive, yet previously unnoticed, in Uxbridge Road recently (see here for a sign in Acton Vale). I've also found some others in the area which need some sleuthing so I will share those when I've got more info. 

3 February 2023

Impressive slabs of York Stone paving

Last September I wrote about the variety of coal hole cover plates in a specific area of Marylebone and within that I made mention of some very large pieces of York Stone paving in Balcombe Street that I estimated were about the size of a double bed:

I had wondered how on earth these heavy slabs had been transported and installed and, since then, I have I kept my eye open for more of the same. I found a few similar-sized examples in and around churches, specifically in Southwark Cathedral and through Bunhill Fields cemetery where the footpath through the centre is made from large York stone slabs of uniform size, each approx 2m x 1.2m.

Then, whilst leading a walking tour through Central Avenue in Covent Garden market, shown here in this delightful screen grab from Google Streetview, I was talking to the group about how this avenue was originally built as trading outlets for the merchants here and, as I pointed out the lines on either side which indicate the curtilage of each store, the line over which goods could not be placed otherwise they'd hinder through traffic, I happened to notice that the paving was York Stone and that some of the slabs are EEE-normous! 

Indeed, one of the men in my tour group, a builder by profession, was just as impressed as I was and after the tour we returned to better examine the stone and discussed the hows and whys of installation in the 1820s when this market building was constructed (opened in May 1830). 

I haven't actually taken a tape measure to these slabs, but I'm fairly good at guesstimation and I reckon one of them is approx 3x2 meters in size (a little over 6x9ft) and about twice the size of the ones in Bunhill Fields cemetery. These must weigh, oh I don't know, tons.

Go see for yourself and do get back to me if you have any further info or know about any similar large pieces. 

27 January 2023

Wood Block paving in Camden (Part 4 in a series)

You might have already seen my posts about remnants of wood block paving still in situ in today's roads. See here. This kind of surface was implemented to minimise the clippity-clop noise of horses' hooves back in the days before the motor car, yet here and there on today's Tarmac'd streets you'll see small patches of this old surface type, though mostly within man hole covers or on private forecourts.

I'd been told there are some examples hiding in plain sight in Camden, and so last week, on a walk from Hampstead to Mornington Crescent, I kept an eye open for them. 

Heading down Chalk Farm Road, the first cover plate I found with rectangular blocks within it was between the railway bridge and Regents Canal adjacent to Camden Lock Market, shown above looking north. 

I then found a second one on the other side of the canal, this next pic is also looking northwards:

There are more cover plates along that western side of the road, almost evenly spaced, between the canal and the tube station. 

Another woodblocked example can be found on the corner of Inverness Street, viewed here from outside Offspring:

I thought I'd found four examples, but it seems I only took pics of three. Camden is alway so busy it's hard to see where you are going, let alone go on a woodblock hunt. 

The man hole at the end of the road, opposite the tube station, almost at the junction with Parkway, is infilled with Tarmac. I did a quick search around the junction in the hope I might find some others but, no.  

I'm sure there are more to find in this busy zone. After all, with the amount of stabling in the vicinity, today converted into subterranean market spaces, there surely must be many more pockets of wood paving here are there in the back streets, especially around the canal where Gilbey's and other large companies had their distribution depots. I'll update you when I find more evidence.

25 January 2023

Whitby's of Acton – a ghostsign for the garage

Aha! As I had suspected... the ghost sign facing East along The Vale in Acton, W3, that I alluded to a few weeks ago in my post about Christmas Day, is indeed advertising the services of a business further along the street. 

I messed about in Photoshop with one of my other images until I could make out the following:

[3 letters] PEOPLE
[rely on or similar?]

A quick Googlywoogle and I found this 1935 ad showing that Whitby's was a motorcycle dealership specialising in BSA bikes. 

A second bit of printed ephemera here shows that the building was adapted to how we see it today in a more Streamline Moderne style, complete with long horizontal windows and hexagonal corner turret and this is how it appears today. I have often made many mental notes to find out more, but never applied myself to the task until now and I am really glad to have discovered that it was indeed part of motoring history. 

However, I hadn't considered motor bikes and had long assumed that the building was previously a petrol station or a car showroom. Aha again. This is backed up by the Post Office listing for 1939 which shows, Whitby's of Acton, Motor Car Agents. At that time the company is also listed at No.7 The Vale here at the junction of Askew Rd, which I am assuming was the office for admin etc. 

I do love an old pre-WWII garage, especially those that were adapted or newly constructed at that time in what was to later be called the Art Deco style, the best known of which is the Daimler Garage in Bloomsbury

Back to the ghostsign... as regards the two layers of yellow and black paint peeking out at top left, I am doubtful that these allude to Whitby's, even though the first letter we can see is indeed a W, albeit lower case.  I think, judging by the style, it was more likely for a completely different company or brand, possibly a newspaper.,

19 January 2023

Parliament Square – coal holes and thieves

Have you ever spotted the coal hole cover plates around the edge of Parliament Square?

Dark pics taken on a January evening. 

We take for granted that this open space adjacent to Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster has always been here, but it wasn't created until 1868, as these well-spaced coal hole plates along the southern side of the square clearly indicate – there used to be houses here. 

The new square was designed to improve traffic flow, indeed the first set of traffic lights was installed approximately where Winston Churchill stands today. The revised road layout necessitated the loss of many buildings and a complete change in the topography of the area. 

Here are a couple of maps to show the layout before the parliament buildings, the grass and demonstration space:

Above, Greenwood's map of 1828 shows a labyrinth of little streets – I particularly like the name of the street with the dog leg; Thieving Lane!

The second map is from the 1890s and shows the District Line running under the area and Charles Barrie's parliament buildings.

I am still unclear which exact buildings the coal holes actually served. Any help welcome.


8 January 2023

M. Walker & Sons, Tanners, Vinegar Yard, Bermondsey

For years – actually at least two decades now – I have been revisiting a ghosted hand-painted sign that overlooks Vinegar Yard in Bermondsey, here, to see if I can decipher the wording

Well, it's finally showing through, and there are some lovely logos also visible these days.

At the top, above and behind the crane, it reads:


Extract is a reference to vinegar, used in the leather tanning process. 

Then, to the left, below the crane there is a logo of sorts that reads: 

around an illustration of a rose

Underneath in block letters, we have:

AND [oil?] SOLES
[horizontal rule]
[something... I can't see below that]

On the right side there is a correlating panel that starts with diamond-shaped motif containing the words:


REGD and LEATHER are set smaller than the product name.
It continues:


It appears the company was making heavy quality leather for shoes and work boots.
William Walker and Sons, 1895-1980, are listed here with lots more info about the company here in The Bolton News

There are quite a lot of ads for Dri-Ped available online. My favourite is this one.

5 January 2023

Charles Herbert Tidman, optician in Stockwell

I just pulled together a montage of some of the nice things I spotted in the Wandsworth and Vauxhall area last week, and added it to that post see here. Whilst doing that, I rediscovered a couple of pics I'd snapped from the top deck of that No.88 bus, just north of the Stockwell station junction.

Facing the street outside the house at No.247 South Lambeth Road I spotted what looked like railings at that resembled co-joined spectacle frames:

Here's the view from checked on Google Streetview: 

A quick delve into the old street directories shows that an optician called Charles Herbert Tidman was here in 1939, though I have no other access to other info to find out when he might have had these marvellous railings installed.
My guess is that this was his home and workshop where he performed eye tests etc, and No.159 was the shop/showroom were customers could choose frames and make appointments. 

The Stockwell Partnership is at No.159 on the corner of Tradescant Rd today, complete with some interesting nature-inspired pavement mosaics – these two pics I photographed back in 2009:

I wonder how many people in the Stockwell area walk past these things without noticing them...?  

4 January 2023

Overground to Willesden Junction and Harlesden in the rain

I had an appointment in Kentish Town on Wednesday 28th December at 10am. I took the 29 bus from Holloway and got off at Camden Town Station. This reminded me that I'd read on Ian Visits, that the Overground Line was making a detour for a few days to allow for maintenance work on the section between Camden and Willesden, so after my appointment I returned to the station to take advantage of the mystery tour.

From Camden Town Station the train branched left (ooh the excitement!) then slowly glided (glid?) over Hawley Street to the west side of Chalk Farm Road passing the rear of The Roundhouse and stopping for a while at the moss covered defunct platforms of old Primrose Hill Station. How annoying it was raining. Photos were futile. And then we chugged slowly through a tunnel to emerge at South Hampstead, which is basically Swiss Cottage East, if there was such a place.

I toyed with the idea of getting off at Kilburn, but decided to stay on the train to Willesden Junction. By now it was raining quite heavily. I'd only popped out for an hour for a journey that was supposed to involve a quick bus ride to Camden and back and there I was in the wide open spaces of NW10. I considered getting on a Bakerloo train that was pulling in to the adjacent platform. It said 'Elephant and Castle' on the front and I was tempted to head south, for the novelty of using a tube line that I only ever get on if I need to go to Wembley Central from Baker Street, which is rare, but instead found myself climbing the steps to street level where I headed north and investigated the nearby streets, along pavements I haven't pounded for about 10 years.

Willesden Junction isn't really near Willesden Green or Willesden cemetery at all. It's actually the main station for Harlseden which, until only a few decades ago, was a go-to shopping area. I recall going there many times with my friend back in the mid-80s. Its demise as a shopping zone must have come about when Brent Cross shopping mall opened followed later by Westfield at Shepherd's Bush. Both are short bus rides away. 

Near the station, there's a marvellous old hotel building complete with imposing portico and mosaic threshold, but the building appears to empty now. 

Further into the shopping streets, I was pleased to see that Harlesden town centre retains many signs of its Victorian heyday. 

A few hand-painted ghostsigns are still there including the fab Whitbread stout sign, but a little further along that terrace I hunted in vain for the vitreous enamel sign that announced 'you may telephone from here' that used to be above the newsagent
A large hand-painted sign at the end of the High Street, facing north into Craven Park still needs deciphering, though I think it's advertised Victoria Wines Ltd. Any ideas?  

At 4 Park Parade there is a grocer shop that was once part of the David Greig chain. I have a bit of a thing about DG shops and have been known to shout "Stop the car!" if, when passing, I notice remnants of an old shop. These are evident by the name, the initials or thistle motifs. Having just done a quick search of this blog it's hard to believe I haven't pulled together a collection of my collection as it's far bigger than the pics shown in the above link. As you can see from streetview the Harlesden shop still retains the DG pilasters on each side of the exterior. Inside has fully-tiled walls sporting the thistle motif, though most of those tiles are covered by products and many of the tiles are damaged where shelving brackets have been added and removed. Nevertheless it is one of the best DG interiors I found in London. 

The rain was starting to get the better of me and my hat was not really the right one for wet weather. I was also starting to get hungry. A No.18 bus came down Craven Park with Euston Station on its bus blind. I nabbed a top deck front seat and sat there all the way to the end peering through the steamed-up rain droplet-ed windows at intriguing buildings along Harrow Road, making a mental note to go back again soon. 

I was back home in Holloway and changed into dry clothes by 1.45pm. What an interesting, unexpected and productive morning. Who needs world travel when London offers so much..? 

1 January 2023

Boxing Day 2022 – Holloway to Highgate, Clapham to Vauxhall

Happy new year people. Where did 2022 go?!

I am here catching up with my travels this past week. 

On Boxing Day, 26 Dec 2022, after a day spent admiring Art Deco temples to industry, I had intended to stay at home, take it easy, edit yesterday's photos, perhaps do a bit of DIY, mend a few things with the sewing machine, listen to music, watch a couple of recorded movies etc.  

But the sky was blue and inviting – it was much too nice out there to be staying inside so I walked out of the front door and followed my nose then zig-zagging through Tufnell Park and Dartmouth Park, I found myself heading north towards Highgate Village and as I passed the tennis courts the driver of a No.88 turned the ignition key. Its destination blind announced it went all the way to Clapham Common. Ooh, I thought, I've never travelled this route. So I hopped on and took up a 90 minute residence on the upper deck front seat above the driver. And what a treat... 

It went through Kentish Town, across Camden High Street into Delancey Street and then left into Albany Street, across to Gt Portland Street area and down Regent Street to Oxford Circus. There was at that point an audible 'wow' but not because of a marvellous view. I was amazed to see how many people were out shopping. From my elevated viewpoint the crowds looked like a writhing mass of black ants being as there were hardly any colours other than than the dark end of monochrome being worn. It was basically a sea of uniform black puffa jackets and dark jeans. It occurred to me that their carrier bags were also probably full of the same replica clothes. 

The people on the seats nearby were also commenting on this. This led to some amusing conversations with us all questioning why would these shoppers, who we all decided were visiting tourists, be doing this on such a nice day when there was so much more to see and do in London. Perhaps the best sale-price puffa jackets get snapped up quickly? It was definitely consumerism because once past Piccadilly Circus the density of humans on the streets subsided considerably and I noticed that Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Parliament Square were fairly empty. 

The bus continued past Westminster Abbey and turned left into Gt Smith Street and Marsham Street to stop behind The Tate Gallery. Then over Vauxhall Bridge with great views up and down the Thames. Then into Vauxhall bus station which confuses me for many reasons. I recently asked a friend who lives near there 'where is Vauxhall?' – I was serious, because there is nothing much left of Vauxhall at all as regards a shopping street or obvious centre. Just a row of buildings that hint at a bygone high street, and a Georgian era house clinging on to a plot of land, today occupied by Lassco the reclamation company. Every time I revisit that area always have to go and check that it's still hanging on in there.

The junction is surrounded by areas of wasteland and a half-designed recreation space surrounded by high rise glass – here's the view from Vauxhall bus station. Many years ago I went to a promotional thing about the renovation of the area. They talked about 'Vauxhall Village' and I queried where that was supposed to be. They as good as said they were creating it, as some kind of community environment. I'm still looking for it.

From the canopied island, the No.88 bus continues down South Lambeth Road to Stockwell where it joins the A3 and makes its way down Clapham High Street. 

I got off the bus just before the end of the route at Clapham Common South Side so that I could check up on some of the old hand-painted ghostsigns in the area including the well-documented printer's one, the insurance one and chemist's one (see the montage below). 

The Old Town here still retains some lovely old original shop exteriors, with many still sporting large display windows, threshold mosaics, spindle window frames, and old shop names such as at 16 The Pavement which has WSD (Welford's Surrey Dairies Ltd.) at low level between lovely green tiles complete with black and white border tiles that were so common on dairies and groceries in the past.

Just north of there, at 13 North Street, there's an old hand-painted sign for the local Wavy Line grocery store. I'm surprised here's no Wikipedia site for that company as I recall in the 1970s they were everywhere, the equivalent of a Sainsbury's Local today. Go Google.

On reaching Wandsworth Road I checked up on a few hand-painted ghostsigns in the area. The Redfern's one, the Nestlé one, the sanitary engineer one. I took a few photos but by this time it was well gone 3.30pm and light was fading, so my pics aren't that good. A strange Art Deco structure beckoned me and I was tempted to investigate the industrial streets behind it to the north but decided it was probably best to postpone that for another, brighter, longer day. 

I continued my walk along the main road passing Larkhall Park where there's a pub sporting the name of a North London brewery on the left and a ghostsign for pungent pink ointment on the right, as well as many hints of old shops and the like.  There is an interesting mis of architecture here including Georgian houses converted to shops at low level, imposing but elegantly-design social housing developments, a 1928 Royal Arsenal Co-operative branch building pronouncing "Each for all and all for each" and a 1936 Granada cinema building that is now a gym. I notice that cinema was opened by Gracie Fields. She seems to have been very busy cutting ribbons and laying foundations stones at that time.

As I approached Vauxhall proper I recalled that a workmate lived in this area in the early 1990s. I do remember that we went shopping in the big new Sainsbury's to get stuff to cook for dinner. I recall a little Victorian cottage very near to the railway lines which I thought was probably between Wyvil Street and Miles Road. so I wandered up and down that vicinity but couldn't find anything suitable. Looking at an old map now, perhaps that residential street has been demolished as it could have been here at truncated Trenchold Street. However, more likely is that he lived on the other side of the junction here in the little streets adjacent to Vauxhall Park (not the pleasure gardens) in what must be, drum roll please... the only bit of 'Vauxhall Village' left today.  

And then I remembered that I used to visit here often about ten years ago when Kiwi friends lived adjacent to Lansdowne Gdns. Isn't it weird how we forget things. It was by now getting dark. And cold. I toyed with the idea of waiting for a No.88 to take me back but decided, seeing as I'd have to then change to another bus in Camden, that the Underground was much a more sensible idea, Victoria Line to Finsbury Park.  

Another really good day out. Here's a montage of some of the nice things I spotted:

30 December 2022

Christmas Day 2022 looking at Art Deco architecture and ghosts of the past

I hope you spent Christmas Day doing something that makes you happy, because I surely did.

A friend picked me up in his car and we headed to NW London where we at first pootled around the streets either side of Scrubs Lane in North Kensington and East Acton, specifically in the industrial estates around Willesden Junction. 
Ooh I love a well-designed old factory building, especially one that pre-dates WWII, such as this fine example which wa originally constructed as the Rolls Royce manufactory. 
We then investigated the upper slopes of Counters Creek, one of the mostly-disappeared Thames' tributaries that, as it makes its way southwards from its source somewhere near Kensal Green Cemetery, becomes Chelsea Creek, for obvious reasons. 

From there we made our way down Old Oak Lane, stopping to lament at the sad loss of a lovely old green and gold shop front that was once W. Burrow & Sons Fish and Chip Restaurant. 

These pics show how the shop used to look back in January 2009 but there's nothing left of it today except the hand-painted sign, high up on on the east side of that building, hinting at a world before UPVC windows.
Further south, we investigated the buildings in Warple Way and Stanley Gardens, an area that used to be railway sidings. 
Acton's main shopping streets boast some interesting old shop fronts and repurposed buildings plus quite a few ghost signs of various kinds. We tried to decipher the letters in the multi-layered ghost sign on the East-facing wall above 265 Uxbridge Road. There's at least two signs there. The earlier one is black script on yellow and a later sign is red on white. I will return to this at another date when I've got more time to work it out.

And so to the A4, the Great West Road, the main arterial thoroughfare cutting through Brentford. We were specifically interested in the short stretch of road just west of the River Brent which boasts many excellent examples of interwar architectural elegance. Consider that these fine constructions, which resemble cinemas or grand hotels, were actually built as factories!  
These temples to industry were constructed for Gillette, Pyrene, Coty and Firestone, the last of which only the gateposts remain after the vicious demolition of the main building on August Bank Holiday Monday 1980. 
A fab day out. 
Shown here are some pics I took with my phone. I took lots more, but they're on my camera. i need more hours in the day, more days in the week...