Monthly Archives: August 2018

LLoyd’s Dairy And The Lloyd Baker Estate

The fascination of walking in London is that you can turn off a busy street and discover a completely different place, somewhere with a very unique character and history. For this week’s post, I went to find if an old shop front had survived from the 1980s and found the unique Lloyd Baker Estate.

The following photo is one of my father’s photos from 1986. It shows the dairy shop of Lloyd and Son on the corner of River Street and Amwell Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Whilst Lloyd and Son ceased trading a number of years ago, their shop front has been retained and this is the view today:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Amwell Street runs from Rosebery Avenue in Clerkenwell to a short distance from Pentonville Road. Development of Amwell Street took place during the first couple of decades of the 19th century, partly on land owned by the New River Company.

The New River Company was the 17th century company formed to build an artificial river to bring in water from the north of London to feed the ever growing need for water of London’s rising population. The New River Head where the company’s reservoirs were located is a short distance from the location of the shop.

River Street was named after the New River and Amwell Street after Amwell in Hertfordshire through which the New River ran, and where some of the springs that fed the river were located.  The history of the New River Company, traces of the company around Clerkenwell and where the river can still be found are hopefully subjects for future posts.

The Lloyd’s Dairy business opened on the corner of Amwell Street and River Street in 1905. I cannot find the year when the business closed, but I believe it was in the late 1990s.

A side view of the shop in 1986:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The same view in 2017. The shop is now occupied by the saloon of BHC Hair.

Lloyd Baker Estate

A close up of the shop window in 1986. Piles of cereal boxes and the milk bottles used to advertise the business. On the far side of the shop are rows of tinned fruit and above are a couple of posters with a boy and girl advertising milk.Lloyd Baker Estate

The shop is located in the end building of a terrace of early 19th century houses. There were once so many corner shops across London. The majority do not retain their shop front, but it is still possible to see traces of the original shop on the corners of 19th century streets.

Lloyd Baker Estate

At the top of the brick walls on the corner of the building there is a layer of light coloured brick.

I found the following photo in the London Metropolitan Archives Collage archive showing the building in 1973. The reason for the lighter coloured brick layer is now clear, as it was once covered by a large advertising sign for the dairy.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_080_73_10889

I had walked to find Lloyd’s Dairy from King’s Cross Road. The map extract below shows the location of the dairy marked by the orange circle in the top right. River Street runs from the location of the dairy to the top right. the old New River Company reservoirs were just below River Street.

King’s Cross Road is the orange road from lower centre to top left of the map. Much of the area between the location of the dairy and King’s Cross Road is occupied by the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Lloyd Baker Estate

If you follow King’s Cross Road from the lower centre of the map, pass Margery Street on the right, the next turning on the right is Lloyd Baker Street. On the corner of Lloyd Baker Street and King’s Cross Road is the Union Tavern:

Lloyd Baker Estate

A pub / tavern has been on the site since the early 18th century. In the book “The History of Clerkenwell” (1865), William Pinks writes:

“At the north-west corner is a respectable tavern known as the Union, which, a few years ago, had pleasant tea gardens in the rear of it. Formerly on the site was a public-house of low repute, distinguished as the Bull in the Pound, a resort of thieves and other vicious characters.”

Thankfully there were no thieves or other vicious characters when I stopped at the Union. There is a rather nice boundary marker on the King’s Cross Road side of the building to add to the collection:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The Fleet River ran along and slightly to the west of King’s Cross Road and the above ground evidence that a river once ran here in a valley can be seen looking up past the the Union, up Lloyd Baker Street where the land rises rather steeply (for central London) away from King’s Cross Road.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Lloyd Baker Street is lined with some rather uniquely designed villas.

The original ownership of the land between King;s Cross Road and Amwell Street was through a series of individual owners and the New River Company. In the late 17th century, a Dr William Lloyd became owner of part of the land. Ownership continued through a couple of generations of the Lloyd family to Mary Lloyd, a daughter of John Lloyd.

Mary married a Reverend William Baker who added the name Lloyd to his surname to form the hyphenated name Lloyd-Baker in the late 18th century.

William Lloyd-Baker started some development in the area, but it was not until around 1820 when major development of the area commenced with the next generation of the Lloyd-Baker’s.

Work started with the redevlopment of the Union around 1819 and then continued across the area between King’s Cross Road and Amwell Street, with work being mainly complete by the early 1840s. The Lloyd-Baker family continued to own the estate after construction had completed and the area was known as the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Architectural styles vary between reasonably traditional terrace housing and the villas which can be found in Lloyd Baker Street and Wharton Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

The above photo shows the unique style of the villa and also the stepped layout of the buildings to accommodate the rising height as the villas ascend the street.

The development included a couple of squares. Granville Square between Wharton Street and Lloyd Baker Street, and at the top of the two streets, Lloyd Square. This is the view looking across the square from the top of Wharton Street.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Bordering Lloyd Square are more villas, but here the land is flat after ascending roughly 42 feet from King’s Cross Road (which I know is a trivial rise in height, but these are central London streets).

Lloyd Baker Estate

Ian Nairn in Nairn’s London described the area: “Lloyd Square has the tightness of the terraces loosened by being made up of linked pairs, each with a pediment, The sight of them dutifully climbing Lloyd Baker Street, two by two, is like a parody of the Greek Revival. But what you remember is half a doorway, someone’s curtains, the flicker of leaves in sunlight or wet bare branches. The underlying pattern is there all right, but it is never intrusive.”

Nairn provides a perfect description of the Lloyd Baker Estate. After the noise and traffic on King’s Cross Road, it is the quiet along with the flicker of leaves in the sunlight, and the doorways at different heights within a pediment that attempts to retain an impression of the same height for the two doorways.

Lloyd Baker Estate

William Pinks  wrote of Lloyd Square “This square, which is situated between Baker Street and Wharton Street and has a well kept enclosure in the centre, was erected about 1828.”

The well kept enclosure is now a very well maintained garden in the centre of the square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The view along Wharton Street from Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The eastern edge of Lloyd Square has a very different building to those lining the other three sides.

This is the House of Retreat built by the Sisters of Bethany in the first half of the 1880s. This side of the square was lined by the original villas, however the Lloyd-Baker family allowed these villas to be demolished for the House of Retreat.

Lloyd Baker Estate

This is the terrace of houses along one side of Lloyd Baker Street that leads from the square to Amwell Street, opposite the original Lloyd’s Dairy shop.

Lloyd Baker Estate

The southern side of Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Corner building with the original, painted street name just visible on the first floor:

Lloyd Baker Estate

One of the problems I have when taking photos of buildings in London is that there are often cars lining the length of a street and obscuring the ground floor of a building. There are cars parked on the streets of the Lloyd Baker estate, but there are considerable lengths of the streets with no cars, and some lengths are protected by double yellow lines. It makes for a very pleasant set of streets to walk, and to admire the buildings along the streets.

King’s Cross Road and Amwell Street border the Lloyd Baker Estate. Both these streets run north to south, so there is no real reason for traffic to cut through the estate. This lack of traffic and nose to tail parked cars also contributes to the unique feeling of the estate.

As well as the streets leading of from Lloyd Square, a short distance down Wharton Street from the square, an alley leads into Cumberland Gardens. also part of the Lloyd Baker estate with the same distinctive buildings.

Lloyd Baker Estate

Tree lined Wharton Street:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Not all the Lloyd Baker Estate is original. I have already mentioned the House of Retreat on the eastern edge of Lloyd Square, there are other examples of later buildings. The map below is an extract of the 1895 Ordnance Survey map from the National Library of Scotland. In the centre of the map there is a church alongside Cumberland Terrace and facing onto Wharton Street and Lloyd Square:

Lloyd Baker Estate

This was built on one of the parcels of land not owned by the Lloyd-Baker family. I have not found any photos of the church, apart from the following photo (dated 1910) looking up Wharton Street towards Lloyd Square, where the tower of a large church can be seen on the left:

Lloyd Baker Estate

Image credit: London Metropolitan Archives, City of London: catalogue ref: SC_PHL_01_090_81_35_2380_37

The church closed in 1936 and Olive Lloyd-Baker purchased the land and built Archery Fields House on the site to maintain the appearance of the estate. This is Archery Fields House today:

Lloyd Baker Estate

The name of the house is a reference to the archery target ground that occupied part of Wharton Street in the early years of the 19th century, before the start of the main construction period of the Lloyd Baker Estate.

Another project that involved significant demolition of part of the estate was the construction of the original Metropolitan Railway, built between 1859 and 1862, which ran from Paddington to Farringdon. This involved demolition of houses at the King’s Cross Road end of Wharton and Lloyd Baker Streets. If you look back at the 1910 photo above, you can see houses on the right and left of the photo, closest to the photographer. These are houses built to replace those demolished during the construction of the railway.

Olive Lloyd-Baker was the last long term owner of the estate from the Lloyd-Baker family. She inherited the estate in 1924 and continued owning and managing the estate until her death in 1975. A life long spinster, Olive lived in the family home at Hardwicke Court, Gloucester. She was deeply involved in farming and agriculture and in 1966 was president of the Three Counties Agricultural Show. A local newspaper report describes Olive Lloyd-Baker as “A country woman with a practical experience in agriculture and with years of experience of managing property in Gloucestershire and London valued at about £1 Million, she is well equipped for the office.”

As well as the 10 acres of the London estate, Olive Lloyd-Baker owned 5,000 aces of country estate in Gloucestershire. The newspaper report also included a photo of Olive Lloyd-Baker in 1966:

Lloyd Baker Estate

After Olive’s death, the estate was broken up with Islington Council purchasing a large number of properties, others sold to private buyers, with the Lloyd Baker Estate retaining a much smaller number.

One of the buildings in Wharton Street with coloured doors, again showing the way the buildings manage the height change as the street descends towards King’s Cross Road.

Lloyd Baker Estate

One house of the pair has a blue plaque recording that Amelia Edwards, Egyptologist lived in the house.

Amelia Edwards was a 19th century novelist and author of travel books which she would also illustrate. After a visit to Egypt she became fascinated by the ancient history of the country and the threats to the archaeology and monuments that could be found across the country.

She wrote about her travels in Egypt and in 1882 also helped set-up the Egypt Exploration Fund to explore, research and preserve Egypt’s history. The fund is still going today as the Egypt Exploration Society, continuing to be based in London at Doughty Mews.

More descending doorways as the terrace runs along Wharton Street:

Lloyd Baker Estate

It was a fascinating walk around the Lloyd Baker Estate, and also finding Lloyd and Son’s Dairy shop front still in place in Amwell Street.

There is more to the estate than I have been able to cover in a single post. The now demolished church in Granville Square, the steps leading from Granville Square down to King’s Cross Road and their literary associations. The New River Company is also in the background to the areas history which I hope to explore in the future.

What I like about the Lloyd Baker Estate is that the buildings have been designed to work with the physical features of the land. Standing in these streets, it is easy to visualise the high ground where Lloyd Square now stands, with the land then descending down to where the River Fleet once ran just to the west of King’s Cross Road – all to be seen in the doorways as the terraces move up and down the street.

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A Forty Year Return Visit To A Secret Nuclear Bunker

A rather somber post this week, following a return to a location I was last at forty years ago. In the late 1970s, after leaving school, I started an apprenticeship with British Telecom (or Post Office Telecommunications as it was then). It was a brilliant three year scheme which involved both college and practical experience moving through many of BT’s divisions and locations. For a couple of months I was based at the telephone exchange at Brentwood, Essex. A typical day would involve maintenance and fault fixing on the telephone exchange equipment, however at the start of a day that would be rather different, the Technical Officer in charge was giving out jobs, and one job involved fixing a fault at a rather unique location – a secret nuclear bunker.

I had just left school, so at the time this was a genuinely exciting experience as I headed out in one of BT’s yellow vans with a couple of other engineers.

I have always wanted to revisit the site and was in the area recently so I took the opportunity to return to what is now a tourist attraction as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker.

The decades prior to the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, and the very real threat of nuclear war now seem many years ago, however with recent international politics a visit to the secret nuclear bunker is a thought provoking and very real reminder of what the impact of such a war would be, and the futility of preparing for such an event.

The origins of the bunker are in the early 1950s when the Government realised there was an urgent need for an improved air defence system to provide an early warning system to detect incoming enemy aircraft. The scheme, code named Rotor consisted of a number of radar systems and bunkers built across the country. Small R1/2 bunkers were built at radar sites whilst a small number of much larger R4 bunkers were built, the bunker at Kelvedon Hatch being one.

The bunker was operational by 1953 and being used for coordinating air defence.

In the 1960s the role of the bunker changed from being an air defence operations centre, to an emergency regional seat of government for London. The assumption being that in the build up to a nuclear war, key members of government would leave London and head for the bunker, along with scientists and civil servants. Those safe in the bunker would monitor and attempt to coordinate what was happening on the surface, then weeks after the nuclear confrontation, would emerge from out of the ground and attempt to establish some form of government across what ever remained on the surface.

This was the role of the bunker during my visit to look at a fault on the telephone exchange deep underground.

By definition, a secret nuclear bunker is secret, so there is very little visible on the surface. The entrance to the bunker is through what was meant to look like a typical rural bungalow or farm building sitting on the side of the hill. This is the view on my recent visit – very similar to my first visit when we pulled up outside in the BT van.

secret nuclear bunker

To give an idea of the rural location of the bunker, it is marked with an orange circle in the following map. The M25 runs from lower centre to top left and the town in the lower right is Brentwood  (Map  “© OpenStreetMap contributors”).

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker was constructed by excavating a very large hole, laying a gravel base to act as a shock absorber then building the bunker with 10 foot thick concrete reinforced walls designed to withstand the blast from a nuclear weapon, with the walls surrounded by a wire mesh acting as a Faraday Cage to absorb the effects of an electromagnetic pulse which would have damaged the electronic devices within the bunker.

The excavated materials were then used to cover up the bunker and create a hill on top to provide further protection. The bunker was equipped with its own means of generating power, purifying air, maintaining temperature and had suppliers of water, and in the lead up to a war, would have been stocked with food to keep the inhabitants sustained during their weeks underground.

A plan of the bunker is shown in the following photo:

When operational, the bungalow acted as a guard house and it was through here that we entered to be checked and signed in ready to visit the telephone exchange. Today, there are no armed guard at the entrance. All you have to do is pick up the audio tour device.

The bunker is then entered through a long entrance tunnel that leads from the bungalow down to the base of the bunker. The view looking down:

secret nuclear bunker

The view looking back up:

secret nuclear bunker

At the end of the entrance tunnel are blast doors leading into the bunker. The entrance to the body of the bunker is also an L shape to deflect any blast that breached the doors.

secret nuclear bunker

Looking up at the three levels of the bunker:

secret nuclear bunker

The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker was decommissioned in the early 1990s. It was removed from the secret list, and the Government removed the majority of the equipment within the bunker. It was then sold back to the farming family from whom the land had originally been purchased, and they reequipped the bunker and opened for visitors.

This is the room I had come to see. The telephone exchange for the bunker that would connect the internal telephones with the outside world (on the assumption that there would still have been someone in the outside world able to answer a phone and that the infrastructure had not been destroyed).

secret nuclear bunker

The telephone exchange equipment is not original. It was a Strowger electro-mechanical exchange, before being replaced with an electronic exchange. A Strowger electro-mechanical exchange has been reinstalled – the same type of equipment that was in the bunker when I was there as an apprentice. If my memory of 40 years is right, it does look much the same as when I was there in the late 1970s.

I recall a few people around and some calls going through the exchange, but it was very quiet compared to what it would have been during a real event when up to 600 people would have been working in the bunker. The exchange room was the only one we went to – it was not the sort of place you could have wandered round for a look. When we had completed our work, it was back up the tunnel and out into daylight.

Many of the other rooms have been equipped to show what they would have looked like at the time. Here, teleprinters ready for sending and receiving printed information with the outside world.

secret nuclear bunker

The secret nuclear bunker was equipped with a BBC studio. From here, broadcasts would have been made to the general population above ground.

secret nuclear bunker

A few years ago, the BBC released the transcript of the announcement that would have been broadcast in the event of a nuclear war. The transcript starts:

“This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger.

If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and
without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which follows a nuclear explosion, is many
times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and
walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.”

The full transcript is a rather sobering read and can be found as a PDF on the BBC’s website here.

In the late 1970s there was also considerable discussion in Government about how much preparation there should be, and how much the public should be informed about preparing for an attack. Tensions were heightened in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

As part of the planning to prepare the general population for an attack, the Protect and Survive booklet was written. This would have been distributed to all households across the country in a period of heightened tensions when a nuclear attack was seen as a possible outcome.

The booklet included advice on how to prepare for an attack and how to survive in the days after an attack.

The front cover of the booklet:

secret nuclear bunker

The front cover is from the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and the full booklet is available as a PDF download at the URL in the following citation for the source:

Document-110193,   Author = Great Britain. Central Office of Information and Great Britain. Home Office,  Title  = Protect and Survive, URL  =  http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/110193

Institution = Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars publisher   = History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive

A film version of the booklet was also produced for broadcast on TV during the possible lead up to an attack. There is a copy on YouTube here.

The early 1980s also produced some landmark TV and films covering the impact of nuclear war. In September 1984, the BBC produced film Threads was shown on BBC2. A genuinely frightening portrayal of the impact of nuclear war on the city of Sheffield. A sample of the film can be found on YouTube here. I remember it as one of the most frightening programmes I have ever watched then or since on television.

Another example was the 1986 animated film of Raymond Briggs graphic novel, When the Wind Blows.

My just out of school, apprentice excitement at going to such a place as the secret nuclear bunker was most certainly taken back down to earth with the reality of what such a war would mean as depicted in the films mentioned above, as well as so many other books, films, and programmes of the time.

Continuing around the bunker, there is a re-creation of what the room may have looked like where plots would have been drawn on large maps showing where bomb blasts had taken place.

secret nuclear bunker

The position of the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker as the regional headquarters for the Greater London area is shown in the following photo:

Continuing further down in the bunker and the air filtration plant. This would have taken in air from the outside and filtered to remove dust and radioactive particles.

secret nuclear bunker

The machine room where equipment maintained the air conditioning of the bunker.

secret nuclear bunker

There are a couple of rooms within the bunker where senior Government officials would have had their own room. One of which was available for the Prime Minister should they have been able to get out of London and into Essex in time.

secret nuclear bunker

The main operations room where representatives of Government departments, the armed forces, transport, energy etc. would have been represented.

secret nuclear bunker

Apparently some of the few items not removed by the Government when they vacated the bunker are the signs around the operations room indicating the working space for each of the Government departments.

secret nuclear bunker

The bunker also contained facilities to accommodate the staff who would have been based here during an attack.

secret nuclear bunker

Up to 600 people would have been based in the bunker in the event of a nuclear war. Whether they would have had any contact with the outside world during their time underground is questionable, and one can only imagine the scene that would have met them when they emerged onto the surface after weeks in the bunker.

It was interesting to return after 40 years. The world is now a very different place, but having places such as the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker available to visit are essential to provide a reminder of the real horrors of nuclear war.

Full details are on the web site of the bunker. Thanks to the owners of the bunker for letting me use my photos of the interior.

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