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)

Friday, March 19, 2010

King's Road, Chelsea, 1940 - Faith Sheppard

This view of the north side of King's Road from the corner of Park Walk almost as far as Beaufort Street is dated 1940 and is the work of Faith Sheppard (1920). Painted when the artist was just 20, probably while she was studying at the Chelsea School of Art, it appears to be her only painting of Chelsea: most of her other canvasses depict France and in particular Provence.

The kerbs on the S-bend have been painted black and white; this was done in 1939 in preparation for the black-out.

The bend was partially straightened out around 1970 when most of the houses and shops on the southern corner of the bend, opposite the ones shown in the painting, were demolished to make way for Moravian Tower.

On the left of the picture at 392 King's Road we can see the Man in the Moon, once a very fine pub, which for 20 years until 2002 was also home to a theatre. With the arrival of the new millennium the Man in the Moon went the way of too many other Chelsea pubs and became a restaurant. Trading under the name of Eight Over Eight and selling pan-Asian fare, it has been closed for refurbishment since October 2009 following a serious fire which broke out in the kitchen while about 50 people were in the dining area.

Next door at 390 is the Maypole Dairy, which I know not only because the word "Maypole" is written above the shop but also because I consulted the 1934 Post Office Directory for London. For this particular stretch of the King's Road, moving from east to west, i.e. from right to left on the painting, and starting from the archway through to Chelsea Park Dwellings in the middle of the strangely ecclesiastical-looking block, the directory gives the following: are Chelsea Park dwellings...
380 Ashford & Sons, newsagts
382 Davies Wm. dairy
384 Rosenthal Saml. draper
386 Wyatt Wm. Hy butcher
388 Mac Fisheries Ltd. fishmongrs
390 Maypole Dairy Co. ltd
392 Man-in-the-Moon, Harry Wasley is Park walk......

The directory is six years older than the painting but it looks as if the shop next to Maypole's is still a Mac Fisheries in 1940, with its distinctive shop sign, or I should say two signs overhanging the pavement. Today the shop is a Starbucks with a very similar sign sticking out ... just one, and green not blue.

The shop to the left of the archway, number 380, looks very much like a newsagent's (you can see the newsboards propped up against the shopfront) and in 1934 that's exactly what it was. It was a newsagent's in 1921 too, belonging to Alfred Frederick Vedy, with a sideline in postcards of Chelsea. It was still a newsagent's in the 1990s and the place where my dad would spend most of his mornings after he retired, chatting to his friend Sami who worked behind the counter and to anyone who came in to buy a paper. This was how he got to know Yasmin and later Simon Le Bon, who were living in Apollo Place just off the embankment at the time.

Further on is a row of one-storey shops set further back from the street. The pavement follows the line of shops as the road widens. This row has recently been rebuilt and now has two-storeys. The work is ongoing.

On the right of the canvas we can see the side wall of the Roebuck, known to be the favourite watering-hole of Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols back in the 70s.

1 comment:

  1. The Mac Fisheries was there during my childhood (to about 1970?). I always admired their simple fish logo, often trying to draw it myself. There was a Chinese restaurant a little bit further towards Beaufort Street nd a sub-post office and, of course, the Laundry opposite.