Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Walk Through 1980s London

When I get the time, it is great to have a walk round London without any fixed purpose other than look at the buildings, shops, streets and people. I always have a camera with me to record how London continues to change.

Last year I posted a number photos we took of 1980s London on a number of walks just exploring the city, and for this week’s post I have another selection of photos from across London in 1986. (The earlier posts can be found here and here)

Many of these shops and businesses have long since disappeared, however surprisingly a number still remain and thankfully many of the buildings have survived.

This was only thirty years ago, but in some ways, a very different City.

To start with, this is the shop of Amos Jones, theatrical chemist on the corner of Drury Lane and Long Acre, Amos Jones has long since disappeared however the building is still there and looking much the same.

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S. Krantz & Son, Specialist Shoe Repairers, 180 Drury Lane. Another closed business, but the building remains.

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L. Cornelissen & Son, Artists’ Colourmen in their original shop in Drury Lane. The business is still going and is now located at 105 Great Russel Street. The photo also has one of the parking meters that were so common on the streets in the 1980s (on the left, underneath the number 22). Funny how what was so common on the streets can disappear without really being noticed.

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G. Smith & Sons – Smith’s Noted Snuff Shop Est 1869 at 74 Charing Cross Road. Lasted for over 120 years, but now closed. The building remains the same.

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Dodds the Printers, 193 King’s Cross Road. Again, closed but the building is still much the same.

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Covent Garden now and N. Mann, Picture Framers, closed many years ago.

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Into the City, and the corner of Wood Street and Cheapside. The building is still there, but L & R Wooderson, Shirtmakers, have been replaced by a gift card shop.

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Attenborough Jewelers, 244 Bethnal Green Road. The past 30 years must have been good to them as they now occupy the building to the right as well as the original building.

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The Monmouth Coffee House at 27 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden. Still at the same location, but now called the Monmouth Coffee Company. Unfortunately the impressive display of coffee beans hanging above the shop are not there now.

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Albert France & Son, not sure where this photo was taken, however they are still in business and based in Lamb’s Conduit Street.

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James Smith & Sons, 53 New Oxford Street. Umbrella manufacturers since 1830. Still in the same shop with the same signage as back in 1986.

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F. W. Collins & Son, 14 Earlham Street, Covent Garden. Run by seven generations of the Collins family, with each first-born son always being named Fred to ensure the continuity of the business. Closed around 2006.

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J. Evans, Dairy Farmer on the corner of Warren Street and Conway Street. The shop has long closed, however the exterior decoration has remained and the shop is now a cafe.

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LLoyd and Son, Dairy Farmers on the corner of River Street and Amwell Street. The shop has closed, but the building and the original exterior decoration is still in place.

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Another photo of Lloyd & Son showing one of the shop windows. Corner shops like this just do not exist anymore.

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Another Camden shop – walk along Camden High Street today and the shops are much the same,

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Syd’s Coffee Stall, opened in 1919 and still going strong on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Calvert Avenue.

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Did not make a note of the location of this building – original signs on the walls. Do not recall having seen this building in recent years.

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B. Flegg in Monmouth Street. I suspect these signs are not there anymore as I do not recall seeing them when I last walked down Monmouth Street as I would have taken another photo.

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Advertising signs on building on the corner of Cambridge Gardens and Ladbroke Grove. The building is still there (much cleaner now) but the signs have gone.

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F. Bowman, Engineer’s Pattern Makers, 13 Amwell Street. Although the business has long since closed, the shop front is still in place.

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London is a fantastic city to walk, having a few hours to go on a walk with no clear direction and turning down streets at random just to see what is there often reveals so much about the city. Hopefully now that the lighter evenings are here with the hope of better weather, there will be plenty of opportunities for more long, random walks.

Chelsea Old Church

So many historical buildings were destroyed across London in the last war, however few have been reconstructed with such care, and continue to fulfill their original function as the subject of this week’s post.

A quick look at the following photo and it is another bomb site, however the white monument on the right of the photo confirms exactly where this is, the site of Chelsea Old Church, at the junction of Old Church Street and Cheyne Walk. When my father took the photo, very little of the church remained apart from the chapel on the right. The main body of the church along with the tower had been completely destroyed.

Chelsea Old Church 1

The same location today, with the reconstructed church. The monument and buildings to the right confirm the location.

Chelsea Old Church 2

And to confirm how accurately the church was reconstructed, the following photo shows the pre-war church.

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In 1957 a booklet was published to raise money for the rebuilding fund. Titled “Chelsea Old Church, 1941 – 1950” it tells the story of the destruction of the church and the battle to rebuild.

The booklet starts with a paragraph summing up the night on which the church was destroyed:

“On the night of the 16th-17th April 1941, four hundred and fifty German bombers attacked south and central London for nearly eight hours. Civilian casualties were over one thousand killed and two thousand seriously injured, and among the buildings hit were eighteen hospitals and thirteen churches, one of which was Chelsea Old Church.”

Chelsea was heavily bombed that night with a total of five parachute mines, a range of high explosive bombs and hundreds of incendiary bombs. Parachute mines, or landmines were really the same mines as used at sea. They were dropped by parachute and detonated either by vibration or magnetism making them a problem on the ground until they could be safely dealt with.

April 16th had been a fine spring day, much like the day I visited the church, with the sun shining all day long.

The air raid sirens sounded at five past nine in the evening and the residents of Chelsea either headed towards air raid shelters or stayed in their homes and the fire watchers took up their positions ready to deal with any fires caused by incendiaries and to try and deal with any casualties of bombing.

Parachute flares were the first signs of the attack, dropping over the south east of Chelsea and over the Lots Road Power Station. The raid then intensified and the booklet takes up the story:

“By one in the morning about forty trapped casualties had been reported at the Royal Hospital Infirmary. A wardens’ post nearby had dealt with more than that number of walking cases and homeless persons. The Post Warden was conducting his senior officer, the District Warden, on a tour of the area, and they were returning from watching incendiary bombs rattling down on the warehouse roofs across the river when they saw six members of the Old Church Fire Party leave the shadow of the tower and walk away from it along Cheyne Walk towards Danvers Street.

The Post Warden had returned to Cook’s Ground School and was just lowering himself into a chair to make an entry in the Log Book when two heavy explosions occurred close at hand. The time was twenty past one. Everything in the room jumped, dust was shaken down, the noise of breaking glass and splintering woodwork came from elsewhere in the building. Leaving the telephonist in charge of the Post, the Post Warden dispatched all available wardens to investigate and went out himself. The District Warden joined him in the corridor. His windows had been blown in on top of him as he sat in his office, but he escaped injury. As they turned the corner from Gleve Place into Upper Cheyne Row light came from some of the houses; windows and window frames complete with blackout had been sucked out into the road or pushed into the room. Tiles, broken slates, lath and plaster, bits of wood and glass littered the roadway; but this was only the minor damage. Justice Walk was blocked halfway in from Lawrence Street and it was evident that the center of the damage was somewhere on the other side of it. As they ran round the corner into Cheyne Walk they were brought down by a length of garden railing. They saw flames leaping up in a thinning dust haze. Near Danvers Street in a shallow crater in the road a gas main was on fire. And then it came to them both: “The Old Church has gone!” There was a jagged stump of brickwork and projecting timbers silhouetted where the eye had expected the massive square tower.”

The account in the booklet then explains what had happened to cause such destruction:

“About the time the sirens sounded the “Alert”, Mallett and the others on duty had gone up to the top of the church tower, the first time they had been up there, he said. They stayed up there for a time watching the flares and then went down to the embankment. Later on they went back to the room on the first floor of Petyt House (just behind the church) for a cup of tea. After that they were in and out all the time. About one o’clock they went along Cheyne Walk towards Danvers Street and some of them were talking to one of the fire party on duty at the cafe on the corner there. The ack-ack fire had been very heavy and there was a lot of shell casing lying about. 

He had picked up a nose cap which had fallen outside the house with the copper panels on the gates (75 Cheyne Walk). He remembered saying to himself; ‘This is made of phosphorous bronze, expensive stuff to chuck about like this’, and then he heard something fall on the road beside him. It landed with a thump, not very loud, ‘like a fifty pound weight falling on soft ground’. It was not an alarming noise, and he looked round casually  to see what it was. Actually it must have been painted dark green, with the sea green parachute collapsing beside it. Mallett described it as a ‘big thing about seven feet long and as big as you could get your arms round.’

He shouted a warning to the others and started running. They probably saw it first for they were ahead of him and had turned into Old Church Street when a second mine struck and exploded between Petyt House and the Church. the explosion detonated the one which had landed unexploded beside Mallett. How he was not killed, blown to fragments like Michael Hodge and the others caught in the open, can only be guessed at. He said he was running too fast to turn the corner and follow the others up Church Street, and he was kneeling beside the fire alarm post on the corner of the street when the explosion took place. As he was on the far side of the tower and probably below the level of the church yard wall he was protected from the direct blast of the first explosion. There was in fact a fraction of a second’s interval between the two. It may be that the debris of the tower collapsed beside him into the roadway in time to divert the blast of the other mine lying not more than seventy-five yards away.”

The tower and the majority of the church had been complete destroyed. Only the More Chapel at the far end of the church from the tower remained (as can be seen in my father’s photo).

Map of the area in 1940 showing the church just above Carlyle Pier on the river with the street names, Old Church Street, Danvers Street, Lawrence Street, Cheyne Walk mentioned above.

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The following plaque in the entrance to the church records the names of the fire watchers who were killed when the church was bombed.

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Whilst the plaque records their names, the booklet provides some background to help us understand more about the people who died protecting the church:

“There was a leader appointed for each night in the week. Normally Wednesday’s leader was Mr Bottley of Gregory Bottley & Co. Mineralogists, 30 Old Church Street and Mrs Bottley made one of the party, but they had gone away the week before on a three weeks trip to North Wales to obtain geological specimens and their places on the rota were taken by their manager, Mr Fred Winter and optical lens maker Mr. Sidney Sims. Both men had been with the firm since leaving school and were highly regarded. Sims was engaged to be married, Winter was married with two children. With Mallett, Winter and Sims on duty that Wednesday were Mrs. Greene, Michael Hodge and Mr. Franklin. The later was a carpenter employed by the Westminster Carriage Company, 48 Old Church Street, and was not strictly speaking a member of the Fire Party but had attached himself to them for the company and they included his premises in their patrols. Michael Hodge was aged seventeen and very tall for his age. He was waiting to go up to Cambridge but talking of enlisting in the Black Watch. He was staying at the Grosvenor Hotel with his parents and used to come down to Chelsea on Wednesday evening by taxi. Yvonne Greene of 34 Old Church Street, a Canadian and newly married to a Canadian army officer, was a part-time Auxiliary Fire Service driver.”

With the church destroyed, the challenge was now to protect the church site and plan for rebuilding. Anything that could be recovered from the site was quickly recovered and stored, however the site attracted problems during the years after the bombing:

“During the next two years there were no major engagements, though it was necessary to carry on a constant warfare against children who used the site as a playground, scribbling undesirable remarks on the stones and carrying off wood and bricks for their own purposes; and against adults, whom less excusably, stole lead to sell and wood to burn. It was Mr. Stewart Jones who took the initiative by getting the site fenced, and organised a concert to pay for it.”

The challenge for the church was getting approval and the funding needed to rebuild the church. The amount of damage across London meant that both funding and the labor and materials needed were in short supply during, and in the years after the war. There was no automatic assumption that Chelsea Old Church would be rebuilt.

Approval for reconstruction and funding was subject to Diocesan authority and expenditure required the consent of the Diocesan fund. A Diocesan Reconstruction Measure of 1941 placed the church on a list of bombed churches that would not be rebuilt within five years from the end of the war and there was doubt whether the church would ever be rebuilt.

In March 1945 proposals from the Diocesan Reorganization Committee recommended limited reconstruction of the church with just the More Chapel being retained to house the monuments recovered from the church.  The concern was that the remains of the church would be little more than a museum for the recovered monuments. A hard-fought campaign was needed over the following years to convince the Diocesan Reorganisation Committee that the full church should be rebuilt with permission and funding to build to the same design as the destroyed church. Fund raising took place and approval was finally given with the More Chapel reopened for services in 1950 and the whole church reconsecrated in May 1958.

The history of Chelsea Old Church requires a dedicated post to do justice to the church, however the following is a brief walk round the church.

Looking across the church to the More Chapel, the Jervoise arch and the memorial to Lady Jane Cheyne:

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The church is the only one in London with any chained books. In a case within the church are five chained books, presented to the church by the Lord of the Manor, Sir Hans Sloane. The books consist of a Bible from 1717, first and third editions of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs from 1684, a 1723 book of Common Prayer and a 1683 volume of Homilies.

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The remains of the tomb from 1555 of Lady Jane Guildford, Duchess of Northumberland.

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The inscription reads:


Standing in the church and thinking about even the recent history of the church, the words “this transitory world” are so very true for all those who have lived in, and traveled through London.

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Although the bomb blast destroyed the majority of the church, the More Chapel was mainly intact and between the main body of the church and the More chapel, part of the original wooden construction of the church was exposed by the blast. The wooden “King Post” from the pre-Tudor construction of the building was not plastered over during rebuilding and has been left exposed.

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Monuments and plaques from the 16th century onwards:

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A view of the Sanctuary and on the right the memorial to Sir Thomas More.

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Built by More for his first wife and intended by More also for him and his second wife after their deaths. The inscription, written by More describes his life and ends with a tribute to both his wives:

Sir Thomas More’s first loving wife lies here

For Alice and myself this tomb I rear

By Joan I had three daughters and one son

Before my prime and vig’rous strength was gone

To them such love was by Alice shown

In stepmothers, a virtue rarely known

The world believed the children were her own

Such is Alicia, such Joanna was

It’s hard to judge which was the happier choice

If piety or fate our prayers could grant

To join us three we should no blessings want

One grave shall hold us, yet in heaven we’ll live

And Death grants that which Life could never give

Another of the monuments from the original church, the triumphal arch commemorating Richard Jervoise:

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The sundial on the south-facing tower of the church, remade in 1957 and identical to the original (see the pre-war photo at the top of this post to see the original sundial in the same position).

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There are a number of monuments outside the church, including this water fountain built-in 1880 by the widow of George Sparkes of the East India Company:

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The 1969 statue of Sir Thomas Moor.

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Sir Thomas More’s association with the church began when he settled in Chelsea, the owner of a large estate close to the church. When he moved to Chelsea in 1520 he rebuilt one of the chapels and with his family, worshiped at the church when at his Chelsea residence.

Another memorial to a person with a close connection to Chelsea is the memorial to Sir Hans Sloan, who was also involved with the founding of the nearby Chelsea Physic Garden:

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The fact that Old Chelsea Church is still here is a tribute to those who fought hard for the church to be re-built and to the same design as the pre-war church. It also reminds us of those who died trying to protect the area in which they lived and worked during the last war.

To finish, the following photo is an enlargement of a small section in front of the church from my father’s photo. I suspect this is an ice cream vendor cycling round the streets of Chelsea – very different to the busy road in front of the church today.

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A church with a fascinating history and highly recommended for a visit, even if it is not a beautiful spring day in London.

Tenison Street and Howley Terrace – Lost Streets On The Southbank

The area on the Southbank between Waterloo Station, the Thames, Waterloo Bridge and County Hall has seen considerable change over the last 70 years. Originally the location of industry and closely packed housing, post war the streets and buildings were almost completely erased and the Festival of Britain was built on the site in 1951.

Following the end of the Festival, the Royal Festival Hall remained with later additions including the Hayward Gallery and Purcell Room. On the area between Belvedere Road and Waterloo Station, Shell Centre, the UK head offices of the Royal Dutch Shell oil company were built, consisting of a tower block and upstream building to the west of Hungerford Bridge, with a downstream building to the east. The downstream building of Shell Centre was converted into flats some years ago, and currently the wings around the tower building are almost fully demolished ready for the construction of more residential towers (see my post covering a walk round the Shell Centre viewing gallery for more information).

My father took a number of photos of the area just after the war and during the building of the Royal Festival Hall. I have already covered posts on Building the Foundations of the Royal Festival Hall, the South Bank before the Royal Festival Hall, Construction of the Royal Festival Hall, and Sutton Walk.

Scanning through negatives, I have since found additional photos of the area and I feature these for this weeks post.

The map below is from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Atlas of Greater London and I have marked the locations and directions of view of this week’s photos.

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The following photo is from position 1 on the map and was taken from the end of the footbridge that ran alongside Hungerford Railway Bridge. The Lion Brewery is on the left and the railway into Waterloo East and across the river to Charing Cross Station is on the right, with Waterloo Station being the building on the far right. The buildings at the end of the road alongside the railway are along Belvedere Road. The building with the white lower level is a pub, however I have been unable to confirm the name, there were a number of pubs along Belvedere Road but I cannot find the name of this one. Sutton Walk is to the left of the pub.

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Enlarging the photo, the building to the right of the pub has the name “Westward Ho” on the sign above the ground floor door and window. Not sure what this was, however in the Survey of London volume for the area there is a drawing of the building, the online page can be found here. Unfortunately, the Survey of London does not shed any light on the name of the pub. It does confirm that these buildings were numbered 116 and 118, the only pubs I can find were the White Hart at number 35 and the Green Dragon at number 68.

These photos were taken in 1948, before demolition took place in 1949. Another view at a slightly different angle from the end of the footbridge:

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The Royal Festival Hall now occupies the area on the left and the whole scene has changed dramatically. Standing on the end of the new footbridge alongside Hungerford Bridge, I took the following photo.

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My father visited the area again as demolition was taking place. This must have been around 1949 as this was the time when the area was being cleared ready for construction of the Festival of Britain.

The following photo is from the same position on the end of the Hungerford Bridge footbridge and is looking slightly to the left of the above photos. Much of the Lion Brewery has now been cleared with only the entrance arch to Belvedere Road remaining. It also looks as if the pub has been gutted with empty windows now looking out onto the area.

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The tall buildings in the background to the left all remain to this day. The church is St. Johns at Waterloo, the building to the left of the tall office block is the old Royal Waterloo Hospital for Women and Children.

I featured the following photo in my post on Sutton Walk. This was taken outside the pub with Sutton Walk running off to the right and part of the Lion Brewery directly opposite.

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I have repeated this photo as the following photo was taken from roughly the same position after the brewery buildings had been demolished. The bollards confirm the location. This is looking from point 2 on the 1940 map.

The buildings that edge the open area are houses that ran along Howley Terrace.

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Sutton Walk has changed location, however the following photo was taken from roughly the same location and looking in the same direction. This whole area is now occupied by the White House Apartment Building (the old Shell Centre Downstream Building).

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Moving along Belvedere Road towards Waterloo Bridge, the following photo is looking along point 3 in the map, along what was Tenison Street. The buildings have all been demolished but the road, pavement and street lamps remain, however they will also soon go ready for the Festival of Britain.

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It is difficult to get the precise location today as the White house building obscures the view of Waterloo Station, however I took the following looking in the direction of where I believe Tenison Street ran.

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As I covered in one of my earlier posts on the area, many of the roads in this area were named after Archbishops of Canterbury. Tension Street was named after Thomas Tenison who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1695 to 1715.

Move a bit further along Belvedere Road, and the following photo is looking along Howley Terrace (view 4 in the above map). The approach road running up to Waterloo Bridge is to the left of the photo hence the large advertisement on the side of the building to catch the eye of those travelling across Waterloo Bridge from the north to the south.

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As part of the reconstruction of the area, a new approach road was built up to Waterloo Bridge. This approach road covered some of the area occupied by most of the housing on the left. Today, at the end of the approach road to Waterloo Bridge, at the junction with York Road and Stamford Street is a large roundabout which covers the space occupied by the houses at the very end of Howley Terrace.

The following photo is looking along the same view today.

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Remarkable how the area has changed. The original buildings along Howley Terrace (named after William Howley, Archbishop of Canterbury from 1828 to 1848) were crowded, multi-tenant housing with very basic facilities. Apartments in the White House now sell for between one and three million pounds.

William Kent in his 1951 edition of An Encyclopedia Of London has a couple of references to Tenison Street and Howley Terrace:

“The Lion Brewery has always been associated with a famous crime. In 1872 Dr. W.C. Minor, who had been a surgeon in the American Civil War, and on a visit to this country, was staying at 41 Tenison Street, shot a stoker, an employee of the Brewery in Belvedere Road. At the trial, he was found guilty but insane. From Broadmoor criminal lunatic asylum, where he was confined, he contributed between five and eight thousand quotations to Sir James Murray’s famous Oxford English Dictionary, and his name will be found in the acknowledged assistants to that great work.

In the process of making a site for the Festival of Britain, in the course of excavations, a skeleton was found near Howley Terrace. It was 12ft below ground and in 2ft of mud. It is believed to have been two hundred years old. Its legs were sprawled in odd directions, which seemed to indicate a violent end.”

Kent also states that during the preparation of the site for the Festival of Britain, sixty men used 93,000 tons of demolition material to build the river wall which is 1,691ft long,  so it is interesting to think that as you walk along the Southbank, next to the Thames, you may well be walking on all the materials that once made up the brewery and houses that occupied this area.

It is fascinating to walk around the Southbank with the photos from this and previous posts on the area. I can now build up a detailed photographic record of this small but fascinating part of London. I plan to bring these all together in a future post for a detailed walk around the area covering before, during and after the Festival of Britain to the current day.

A Temporary Wartime Chelsea Bridge

The bridges over the River Thames are key transport links between the north and south sides of the river and closure of any of the bridges can quickly lead to congestion during a busy London day. Today, any closures are normally for short periods of time, however during the last war there was a real risk that one or more of London’s bridges would be put out of action by bombing. Destruction of any of the bridges would quickly impact the day-to-day business of Londoners and would also cause problems for the emergency services and troop movements.

To help mitigate the impact of any damage to London’s bridges, a number of temporary bridges were constructed to provide alternative routes across the river. I featured the temporary bridge between Westminster and the Southbank in an earlier post, and whilst searching through my father’s photos I found a photo of one of the other bridges, the temporary Chelsea Bridge, this one providing a route across the Thames from Chelsea to Battersea Park and built across the river between the Albert and Chelsea Bridges.

The photo was taken in 1947 and shows the bridge in the final stages of demolition with only the centre box girder section in place, along with the full set of piers sunk into the river. One of the chimneys of Battersea Power Station can be seen to the left of the photo, and just to the left of the box girder section of the bridge is the blue gas holder at Battersea, a local landmark built in 1932 and finally removed in 2015.

Wartime Chelsea Bridge 1

The view from the same position in 2016.

Wartime Chelsea Bridge 2

Today, there are no remains of the bridge to be seen, which makes trying to locate the landing point of the bridge rather difficult and I have been unable to find the bridge marked on any maps from the period. Estimating the position from my father’s photo and looking at the roads in the area, I suspect that the bridge landed on the north bank on the Chelsea Embankment at the junction with Royal Hospital Road. The following map is from the 1940 Bartholomew’s Reference Atlas of Greater London. The streets in this area of Chelsea are almost unchanged. I have marked where I believe the bridge crossed the river with a red dotted line.

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One of the reasons why a temporary bridge was built in this location was a concern that German bombing would be aimed at the Chelsea Barracks (see top right of the 1940 map) and that the local bridges would also be targeted.

I took the photo below from the Chelsea Embankment looking north into the junction with Royal Hospital Road. It is here that I believe the bridge landed.

Wartime Chelsea Bridge 3

Both the Albert and Chelsea Bridges continued in full service during the war, so the temporary bridge was not needed, but it demonstrates the planning that was put in place to ensure that key transport routes would continue to be available, even if the main London bridges were put out of action.