Worldsenders

Some of you won't recognise the picture above, probably taken in the thirties from the eastern corner of Langton Street, looking south south-west across the World's End towards the power station. The road running from left to right is the King's Road. The World's End pub is just off picture to the left; the bus is standing roughly in front of what is now the World's End Pharmacy.
I like to think of the young lady with the long hair, third from the left, walking towards us as Beckett's Celia:
"She had turned out of Edith Grove into Cremorne Road, intending to refresh herself with a smell of the Reach and then return by Lots Road, when chancing to glance to her right she saw, motionless in the mouth of Stadium Street, considering alternately the sky and a sheet of paper, a man. Murphy"
Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lost streets, Meek Street and the Proud City


World's End 1894-6

The World's End has lost many street names over time. From east to west these include Ann's Place off Milman's Street (once Milman's Row), Gilray (previously Strewan) Square and Lacland Terrace, all buried beneath the council's Cremorne Estate, completed in 1956, the latter two being commemorated in the blocks Gilray House and Lacland House. Riley Street, which used to run from the embankment in a straight line up to the King's Road and coming out opposite Limerston Street, has survived, albeit bent around Apollo House and the gardens and playground in front of Riley House and truncated so as to end at Ann Lane. Jackson's Buildings and Foundry Place, two cul-de-sacs running north off World's End Passage, had already been swept away by the Chelsea Housing Improvement Society Limited's slum clearance of 1929-31, which erected Follett, Albert Gray, Macnamara and Walter Houses.


Further streets were sacrificed to the World's End Estate, completed in 1977; Luna Street, Seaton Street and Dartrey Road disappeared, along with Raasey, Bifron and Vicat Streets. Rather like Riley Street mentioned above, Blantyre Street remains as a stump.

Of the criss-cross of streets south-west of Cremorne Road, between the King's Road and Lots Road, only one has gone, victim not to any housing scheme, but bombed out of existence during the Second World War, as the Germans sought to hit Lots Road Power Station. Meek Street ran from Lots Road across Tetcott, Upcerne and Uverdale Roads as far as Tadema Road. It still exists according to Google Maps (according to Google Maps the whole of Chelsea is called Kensington), but in effect what remains of it is now considered to be an extension of Uverdale Road, as the street sign says. The rest of Meek Street now lies beneath Westfield Park, laid out over the bomb site.

Below is a photograph of the junction of Meek Street and Upcerne Road taken in 1944 after the bombing.


Walter E. Spradbery, who produced 62 successful posters for the London Underground between 1912 and 1944, clearly based one of his posters on the photograph above. In 1944 he produced a series of six posters under the title The Proud City, depicting iconic London buildings which had survived the Blitz in the midst of devastation all around. Lots Road Power Station (Chelsea Power House in the poster) was honoured along with the Tower of London, the Temple Church and Library, St Thomas's Hospital and the Houses of Parliament, the Church of St Clement Danes and St Paul's Cathedral. Each image is accompanied by a poetic quotation. One time West Chelsea resident James McNeill Whistler provides that for the Power Station:

"... the poor buildings lose themselves in the dim sky, and the tall chimneys become campanili, and the warehouses are palaces in the night, and the whole city hangs in the heavens ..."


At the end of the war a number of prefabs, still standing in the late sixties when my dad took me round to gape at them, were erected on the bomb site. Ex-Chelsea star (though apparently a boyhood Fulham fan) Alan Hudson is known to have been brought up in one of these. A glimpse of them can be had on the left-hand side of this still from the 1952 film I Believe in You, which shows Cecil Parker walking down Upcerne in the direction of the Power Station. Most of the site is now covered by Westfield Park.

11 comments:

  1. As usual, a captivating, informative and picturesque post!

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  2. can you still get this film? Shame Chelsea got loads of neo lib ponces move in. Basically they are working class who think theyve gone up in the world

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    1. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00CX5Z3VG/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=B00CX5Z3VG&linkCode=as2&tag=reelstre-21

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  3. Superb work, thank you - I was researching the raids of 23rd February and of the very little that is written about Chelsea almost all is about the Gunness Buildings. I think there were four bombs (from one plane?), probably quite big ones, that fell around 10.30pm. One hit Upcerne Road and also killed people in Ulverdale Road, one and maybe two fell on the Guinness Buildings / Kings Road, and one is reported as falling in Lamont Road but seems to have caused no deaths. In all, I think at least 83 people died.

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    1. I think the one that fell on Lamont Road bombed out my grandfather and his family.

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  4. Sorry to see "seaton street" has gone. Thanks to census forms I found my great great grandfather lived there with his wife and children in 1871. Anyone with any memories or info about seaton street would be much appreciated.

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    1. Visit the facebook page "World's End Chelsea"

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    2. My mother lived in Seaton street up till 1941 when they were bombed out. She had the name Ward then. Be interested to know your family name.

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    3. My mother lived in Seaton street up till 1941 when they were bombed out. She had the name Ward then. Be interested to know your family name.

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    4. My family name is Pain. My dad's family moved to the World's End in about 1928 and lived in rooms at 446 King's Road, two doors away from the Stanley Arms until they were bombed out.

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  5. Thanks for this information. My mother was Ruby Foster and she and her mother (Gertrude), sister (Christine) and baby brother (John) lived in 9a Upcerne Street when the bomb hit 2 houses away [she said]. She remembers hiding under the stairs with her sister. Her mother and (baby) brother were injured and spent many months in hospital. My mum and her sister were sent to Barnados and ended up in Ripley Castle in Yorkshire before being shipped to Australia. Mum's grand-daughter is visiting London soon and I am sending her this link so she can learn more and visit the area while she is in town. Cheers, Anne M.

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