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HOLLAND HOUSE THEN AND NOW

Pictures of Holland House in West London before and after WW2

HOLLAND HOUSE in Holland Park (west London) was built in the early 17th century (about 1604) in the Jacobean style. It was designed by the architect John Thorpe (dates uncertain: c1555-c1655), who is thought to be the creator of Audley End House in Essex. In 1939, King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) attended a debutante ball at Holland House. Little did they know that this was to be the last great ball to be held at the house. After the German Luftwaffe began devastating London, Holland House was hit by twenty-two incendiary bombs during a ten-hour raid on the night of the 27th of September 1940. Much of the old house was destroyed apart from the east wing. Fortunately, the library and its valuable contents remained undamaged. A video (www.britishpathe.com/video/holland-house-damaged) made by Pathé News shows the house shortly after it was bombed.

The house remained as a ruin until 1952 when its then owner, Giles Fox-Strangways, 6th Earl of Ilchester (1874-1959), a Member of the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England from 1939–1959, sold the remains of the house and its extensive grounds (now Holland Park) to the London County Council. Eventually in 1986, what was left of the building was transferred to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. In normal, non covid19, summers, the now well-preserved remains of the house become the home of a temporary theatre where opera is performed. For many years, but no longer, the relatively intact part of the house was used as a youth hostel by the YHA.

Recently, I have acquired a facsimile edition of “History and Antiquities of Kensington” by Thomas Faulkner, which was published originally in 1820. I have also my own copy of an original edition of Volume 5 of “Old and New London” by Edward Walford, published in 1878. Both books were published when Holland House was still intact, and both contain engravings showing how the house looked both outside and inside. Faulkner’s book contains a lengthy detailed listing of all the artworks and books that the house contained. These items included several paintings by artists as famous as Teniers, Canaletto, Joshua Reynolds, and Hogarth, to name but a few. Luckily, most of the art treasures in the house were removed for safety before the outbreak of WW2. The illustrations, some of which I have reproduced, demonstrate how great a tragedy it was that Holland House no longer remains intact.

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 04:33 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london park britain kensington ww2 holland_park luftwaffe jacobean Comments (0)

JAMES JOYCE AND THE UNDERGROUND TRAINS

A PECULIAR WALL IN KENSINGTON AND THE AUTHOR OF “ULYSSES” & "FINNEGANS WAKE" etc.

THE IRISH AUTHOR James Joyce (1882-1941) lived at number 28B Campden Grove in Kensington in 1931. While living in this flat, he worked on his novel “Finnegans Wake” (published in 1939) and married his long-term companion and muse Nora Barnacle (1884-1951).

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A blue plaque, which I had never noticed before during the 28 years I have lived in the area, on the house records his stay in Kensington. Joyce was not keen on this dwelling. In 1932, he wrote to Harriet Weaver Shaw:
“'I never liked the flat much though I liked the gardens nearby. That grove is inhabited by mummies. Campden Grave, it should be called. London is not made for divided houses. The little sooty dwellings with their backs to the railway line etc etc are genuine; so is Portland Place. But houses like that were never built to be run on the continental system and as flats they are fakes.” (quoted in http://peterchrisp.blogspot.com/2019/05/campden-grave-james-joyce-in-london.html)
A few yards further west of Joyce’s temporary home, I spotted something else that I had not seen before and is relevant to what Joyce wrote.

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The rear outer wall of number 1 Gordon Place is best viewed from near the end of Campden Grove just before it meets the northern end of Gordon Place. That rear wall is unusually shaped. Its windows are set into a concavely curved brickwork wall rather than the normal flat wall.

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Today Gordon Place extends southwards, then briefly joins Pitt Street to run east for a few feet before making a right angle to continue southwards, crossing Holland Street and then ending in a picturesque cul-de-sac lined with luxuriant gardens.

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This has not always been its course. A map surveyed in 1865 shows Gordon Place as running between Campden Grove and Pitt Street. The section of today’s Gordon Place that runs south from Pitt Street to Holland Street was called ‘Vicarage Street’ and the cul-de-sac running south from Holland Street was then called ‘Orchard Street’. A map complied in 1896 reveals that Gordon Place was by then running along its present course. Vicarage Street had become renamed as part of ‘Gordon Place’.

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In each of these maps, the ventilation shaft is circled in red

Aerial views of the curved building, number 1 Gordon Place, show that its curved rear wall forms part of a deep opening that extends below the ground. Maps compiled from 1865 onwards show the presence of this hole and within it short stretches of railway tracks. The hole is a ventilation shaft for the Underground tracks, currently the Circle and District lines, that run just below the surface. Standing on Campden Grove close to the back of number 1 Gordon Place, one can hear trains clearly as they travel below the hole in the ground. How deep is the hole? The corner of Gordon Place and Campden Grove is 86 feet above sea level and High Street Kensington Station is at 43 feet above sea level. The railway lines do not slope too much between the ventilation shaft and the station. According to Transport for London, between Notting Hill Gate and High Street Kensington, they descend by 12 feet (www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/70389/response/179967/attach/html/2/Station%20depths.xlsx.html). Using the information we have, we can estimate the depth of the shaft to be at least 43 feet (i.e. 86-43 plus a little more because the rails are several feet below the surface).

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The Metropolitan Railway that included the stretch of track between Notting Hill Gate and High Street Kensington stations was laid before 1868, and from the 1865 map, it was already present before the date when the map was surveyed. According to a detailed history of the area (https://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol37/pp49-57), houses near the corner of Camden Grove and Gordon Place (and in other locations nearby) had to be rebuilt after the railway was constructed between 1865 and 1868. The 1865 map shows no house at the site of the present number 1 Gordon Place. This building with its concave curved rear wall appears on a map surveyed in 1896. It would seem that the developer who constructed number 1 did not want to waste any of his valuable plot; he constructed the rear of the building right up to the circular edge of the ventilation shaft.

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So, now we have an explanation for the curiously curved wall and for Joyce’s complaints about houses with their backs to railway lines. Some friends of ours own a house with an outer wall that forms part of another ventilation hole on the District and Circle lines. They told us that should they need to make repairs to the outside of the wall that overlooks the tracks, they would need to get special permission from the company that runs the Underground and that many precautions would be needed to protect the workmen and the trains running beneath them.

Life is often far from straightforward, but London is endlessly fascinating. James Joyce preferred Paris to London, where most of his books were published. I hope that it was not his experience with trains running close to where he lived in Campden Grove that influenced his preference.

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A brief video that I made gives another view of the ventilation shaft described above:
https://youtu.be/js87XIWn1gU

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 08:42 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trains london underground kensington subterranean james_joyce Comments (1)

KNIGHTS TEMPLAR AND SHOPPING AT WAITROSE

Temple Fortune in north London

THE FIRST TWO HOUSES to be built in the ‘utopian’ Hampstead Garden Suburb (‘HGS’) still stand on a short stretch of Hampstead Way about 500 feet from Finchley Road, where it passes through the oddly named district of Temple Fortune. These houses are relatively close to shops, whereas most of HGS is not. For, the Suburb was designed with several churches, a couple of schools, but no shopping facilities. In 1905 and a few years following it when HGS was designed and largely built, few people owned motor vehicles. So, for most of the inhabitants of the HGS, shopping had to be done on foot or by bicycle in one of the few shopping areas outside the boundaries of the recently laid out district.

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When I was a child living in HGS, the nearest shops to my home were in Temple Fortune, about half a mile’s walk away. In my early teens, the main shopping attraction for me in Temple Fortune was the branch of WH Smiths, which I noted recently is still functioning where I remember it to have been long ago. Smiths, in those far-off days, had a good stock of books, although not nearly as good as the now non-existent High Hill Books in Hampstead, and gramophone records. It was at Smiths that I bought my first classical music LP, a Music For Pleasure disc with a recording the Second Symphony by Sibelius. Buying that LP was the start of my great love of classical music.

There was a newsagent in Temple Fortune’s Bridge Lane, close to where it meets Finchley Road and neighbouring a hardware shop, which sold cultural material not then stocked by WH Smiths. This included American cartoon comics (‘Superman’ etc.) and ‘Mad’ magazine, which I loved and on which I was prepared to spend my precious pocket money. Unlike Smiths, this shop and the hardware store have disappeared.

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In my youth I never wondered why the somewhat dismal shopping centre was called Temple Fortune. The area was formerly part of a Saxon Hamlet called Bleccanham (www.barnet.gov.uk/libraries-old/local-studies-and-archives/pocket-histories/hendon/temple-fortune-hendon-nw11). The ‘Temple’ part of the name ‘Temple Fortune’, which appears on a map prepared in 1754 refers to the Knights of St John (or more likely, the Knights Templar), who owned land around Hendon in 1240. ‘Fortune’ probably derives from ‘foran tun’ meaning a small settlement on the way to somewhere, in this case the larger settlement of Hendon.

Finchley Road, on which Temple Fortune lies, was only completed in 1835. Before that road was built, the hamlet of Temple Fortune lay on the route from Hampstead to Finchley. In the far-off days before the existence of Finchley Road, to reach Finchley from Hampstead it was necessary to proceed as follows. First, the traveller would have to traverse the range of hills to the north of Hampstead, using a road that roughly follows the present North End Road and its continuation, Golders Green Road. After passing the open fields and common land of Golders Green, which was all that existed of that place before about 1908 when the Northern Line arrived, the traveller would have taken a right turn into Hoop Lane, and gone along it in a north-easterly direction to its end where it met the currently named Temple Fortune Lane. Next, the traveller would have had to go northwest along this lane until he or she reached a triangular open space, which is now the position of modern Temple Fortune. This spot was the southern end of Ducksetters Lane, which wound its way north-eastwards to Finchley. Temple Fortune was also important as a node in northwest London’s road system. The current Bridge Lane was the road along which travellers could travel from Temple Fortune to Brent Street close to Hendon.

I have written about the significance of Hoop Lane in my life elsewhere (https://londonadam.travellerspoint.com/48/). Temple Fortune Lane, which leads to Temple Fortune, was also a place I visited often until my early teens because it was where my then best friend, who passed away a few years ago, used to live. Also, in the late 1960s, our family practitioner moved his surgery to this street from its former location in his home next to Golders Green Underground Station.

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Sad to say, but most of the shopping centre of Temple Fortune is not pleasing to the eye. The exceptions are two large buildings with covered walkways (arcades) with elegant archways at pavement level. Placed either side of the start of Hampstead Way, they form an elegant ‘gateway’ to HGS. Temple Fortune House is on the north side of Hampstead Way and a similar looking building, Arcade House, is on the south side. Nikolaus Pevsner and his colleague Bridget Cherry describe these buildings in “Buildings of England. London 4: North” as follows:
“ … detailed by Unwin’s assistant AJ Penty (1909-1911). Their Germanic silhouettes are inspired by the mediaeval towns, like Rothenburg … Identical hipped gable ends with faintly Regency vertical iron balconies, but otherwise the buildings are subtly different: Arcade House (originally a tea room) partly timber framed, Temple Fortune House (flats) with lattice timber balconies.”
Number 166 Hampstead Way, next to Temple Fortune House, is in the neo-Georgian style and is the area manager’s office called Vivian House.

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In my childhood, much of the ground floor of Arcade House was occupied by a large store called Pullens. This shop supplied uniform to the pupils of numerous north London private schools as well as other children’s clothing. Pullens moved to new locations some years ago. A shop on the ground floor of Temple Fortune House was until recently the premises of Kusum Vadgama, the optometrist. Although I never made use of her services, friends gave good reports of her. I mention her because in addition to caring for people’s vision, she has also authored several books about the history of Indian connections with the UK.

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Many of places that used to be part of the Temple Fortune scene during my childhood have disappeared. At the southern end of the area, near the Police Station, there was a shop that sold rubber hoses and cut pieces of rubber to order. This was on the corner of Finchley Road and a narrow lane. Further south on Finchley Road, there was Kanu Stores, which sold everything you might need for preparing recipes from the Indian subcontinent.

For many years, Brentford Nylons occupied a huge shop in an unattractive building on the corner of Bridge Lane and Finchley Road. WH Smiths and Boots the Chemist are further north along Finchley Road, exactly where they were in my childhood. Somewhere near them, there used to be a Wimpy Bar, into which I never ventured. There was also a delicatessen called ‘Panzers’, which my parents used occasionally, but somewhat reluctantly because one of its employees was often rude to customers.

A narrow-fronted shop somewhere along the west side of Finchley Road housed the barber shop of (Mr?) Lee. For many years, my friends and I used to have our haircuts there. It was quick and cheap, rather than ‘haut coiffure’. Somewhere on the same side of the main road, there was Kendricks, Temple Fortune’s well-stocked toy shop. To my young eyes it was a veritable treasure trove. However, once we had a poor experience there. We were just looking, minding our own business, when the owner came up to us and told us to “bugger off”. As a fairly sheltered nine or ten year old I was shocked and when I returned home, I related the tale to my parents, who were horrified that an adult could speak to children with such language. I am not sure whether I ever entered Kendricks again. The shop no longer exists.

Waitrose grocery store was another feature of the Temple Fortune of my childhood. It still stands in its original position but looks as if it has been enlarged. Around the corner from it in Hayes Crescent, there used to be a small car mechanic’s workshop. I remember this because it was where my friend’s father used to take his well-groomed, leather-seated, wonderful old Austin (A40 or similar) to be serviced.

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One of my main reasons for visiting Temple Fortune apart from shopping was to see films in the now non-existent Odeon cinema, which was on the east side of Finchley Road, a few hundred yards north of Temple Fortune House. It stood between Birnbeck Close and Childs Way. Originally named the ‘Orpheum’, the cinema was opened in October 1930 (http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/26429). Serving both as a cinema and a theatre, it was renamed the ‘Odeon’ in 1945, and then later the ‘Odeon Golders Green’. For a few shillings, one could spend an entire afternoon, from two until after six pm, at the Odeon. After having to stand for the National Anthem, the audience was treated to a full-length feature film, then a documentary from the “Look at Life” series, then advertisements and film trailers, and then another full-length feature film, a new release. Today, cinema-goers are lucky if they get anything more than the trailers and a feature film. After several lean years in the 1970s, the Odeon was demolished in May 1982 and a non-descript block of flats built in its place.

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Between the former Odeon and Temple Fortune House, and set back from the main road, stands a Marks and Spencer food store, which opened a few years after my mother died in 1980. If I remember correctly, the site occupied by M&S used to be the premises of a car showroom or, if not that, some kind of large garage. The original showroom, which might still be part of the structure of the current food store was in the art deco style and was built in 1934 (www.hgstrust.org/documents/area-16-finchley-road.pdf).

I began by writing that there were no shops built in the HGS. This is not strictly true because a row of shops, the Market Place, runs along Falloden Way (part of the A1), which separates the Suburb into two distinct sections, the older (original) and newer parts. However, the original plan was not to include shops. Next to Arcade House at the beginning of Hampstead Way, there is number 16 Arcade House, a small detached single storied building almost surrounded by hedges. It is edifice typical of some of the styles of architecture found in the Suburb and ever since I can remember, it has always been a small shop. In my childhood, I believe it supplied electrical fittings or picture framing, but now it houses another kind of business, related to design. Given its postal address, it must have been something like an outhouse for its larger neighbour, Arcade House.

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One place that I associate with later in my life, during the 1980s, is a Chinese restaurant that served excellent food. I used to eat there occasionally with my father and friends. One of the dishes I remember that we enjoyed was a starter consisting of scallops served in their shells. The restaurant closed long ago, which is a pity. Now, scallops, in common with all other shellfish, are not kosher and therefore observant Jewish people do not eat them. Temple Fortune was and still is in a neighbourhood where many observant Jewish people, who adhere to kosher dietary rules, reside. During my childhood and still today, there were and still are several shops selling food that satisfies the kosher requirements. One of these shops, which existed in my childhood, Sam Stoller, the fishmonger, remains in business, but the other stores have sprung up since I became an adult. A report in “My London” dated 22nd of June 2020 (https://www.mylondon.news/news/north-london-news/police-stumble-across-huge-cannabis-18457845) revealed:
“Metropolitan Police officers were called on Friday night (June 19) after water was seen running out of Sam Stoller & Son fishmongers, a ground floor shop on Temple Fortune Parade … there was a "significant" water leak from the flat above … Firefighters helped the officers force their way in only to find a sophisticated cannabis farm of more than 300 plants … It was the hydroponic system used to water the many illegal plants that was leaking…”
Well, I had no idea that glum Temple Fortune could be such an exciting place. Talking of horticulture, there is a garden centre near to the end of Temple Fortune Lane where it meets Finchley Road. This establishment has been there for many decades but the off-licence shop opposite it is no longer there.

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Temple Fortune remains an important shopping and meeting centre for those who live in the shop free HGS. Many of the places that I remember from my childhood have disappeared from it, but a few remain. Walking along Finchley Road through Temple Fortune still evokes memories of my childhood and during our sporadic visits there, we ‘bump’ into old acquaintances occasionally.

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Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:51 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london shopping memory judaism childhood golders_green temple_fortune Comments (2)

WANDERING ALONG WARREN STREET

Warren Street is a station on the Northern and Victoria Lines of London’s Underground network. Situated at the intersection of Tottenham Court Road and Euston Road, both important arteries, Warren Street itself is comparatively small and of minor significance in the greater scheme of things. Be that as it may, this short street, which runs south of and parallel to Euston Road, has had some importance in my life.

Warren Street

Warren Street

When the Underground Station was opened in 1907, it was named ‘Euston Road’. In 1908, it acquired the present name. By the time that I began using the station regularly (in 1970), the Victoria Line had been serving the station for two years. Warren Street itself was built in the late 18th century as part of the Fitzroy Estate. It was named after Anne Warren (1737–1807), who married Charles Fitzroy (1737-1797), First Baron Southampton.

In the early 1970s, when I was studying at University College London (‘UCL’), one of my fellow students on my BSc course in physiology was a young Indian girl, Lopa, who is now my wife. She spent a couple of years living at the International Students House (‘ISH’) which faces Great Portland Street Underground Station. She and other Indian students introduced me to really good Indian food. This was served at the now no longer existent Diwan-i-am restaurant on Warren Street. It was here and at other nearby restaurants, such as Diwan-i-khas, Lal Qila, and Agra, that food was cooked by Indians and Pakistanis rather than by Bangladeshis, who operated the majority of so-called Indian restaurants in the UK. While Bangladeshi cuisine might be excellent, much of the ‘Indian’ food cooked by Bangladeshis is less satisfactory.

Tiranti, Warren Street

Tiranti, Warren Street

When the Diwan-i-am was in business, so were many car dealers who had their premises on Warren Street. These have long since disappeared. One business that still exists and predates the Diwan-i-am is Tiranti, an important supplier of, to quote their website: “…materials, equipment and tools to sculptors, modelmakers, mouldmakers, designers, prototypers, woodcarvers, stonecarvers, specialist plasterers, building picture and furniture restorers, potters and ceramicists.” Giovanni Tiranti started this enterprise in High Holborn in 1895. The company first began using premises near Warren Street in 1945. I am not sure when the Warren Street shop opened, but it was about 20 years ago at least. I never purchased anything there but my late uncle S, an engineer by profession and a keen sculptor in his spare time, was a regular customer.

I studied at UCL for twelve years. During the last five of these, I was studying dental surgery at the now, sadly, no longer existing Dental Hospital. Warren Street Station was the most convenient place from which to reach the Dental School from my home in Golders Green. It was a few yards from the station to the passage that led from Tottenham Court Road into Mortimer Market, where one part of the Dental Hospital was housed. In those days, the passageway was flanked by an official Iraqi Tourist Office. I used to visit this occasionally to look at the fine exhibitions of photographs shown there. The staff, no doubt agents of the late Saddam Hussein, were friendly. Once, they gave me a gift of four LPs of Iraqi folk music. Many of the ancient sights in the photographs might well now have suffered damage during the troubles that afflicted Iraq long after I had become qualified as a dentist.

Warren Street

Warren Street

There were several photography suppliers’ shops on the stretch of Tottenham Court Road near Warren Street. Their windows displayed a huge range of camera bodies and lenses. I bought my first SLR camera at one of these shops. They have mostly gone now. So also has Sterns. This electrical shop was well-known for its superb stock of African music LPs. Some years after I had left UCL finally (in 1982), Sterns, which opened in the early 1950s, moved from its somewhat aged premises on Tottenham Court Road to a newer shop around the corner on Euston Road. This has also disappeared, but Sterns still goes on in the form of an on-line firm.

One rainy early Monday morning, I emerged from Warren Street Station, and walked to the Dental School. The streets seemed emptier than usual. When I arrived at the school, the doors were locked closed. I was puzzled. Then, I bumped into another student, also soaking because of the weather. Shamefacedly, we realised that we had turned up on a bank holiday.

Evans Dairy, Warren Street

Evans Dairy, Warren Street

Some time during the mid to late 1970s, a branch of McDonalds opened on the corner of Warren Street and Tottenham Court Road. Occasionally, I used to pop in there for a snack on my way home. Now, some decades later, Warren street is lined with ‘trendy’ eateries, one of which is housed in an old dairy on the corner of Conway Street. Much of the original tilework of the former dairy of J Evans has been preserved. Although there are many newer buildings on Warren Street, a few of the original late 18th century structures have survived.

Warren Street

Warren Street

While Warren Street is not worthy of a long detour, it provides much more than a name for an Underground Station.


Posted by ADAMYAMEY 07:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london england india restaurants university iraq student ucl Comments (2)

IN GOLDFINGER’S SHADOW: North Kensington

The north end of Portobello Road crosses Golborne Road, the heart of a vibrant multi-ethnic community in London's North Kensington.

Golborne Rd

Golborne Rd

Between 1994 and 2001, I practised dentistry in a surgery on Golborne Road in North Kensington. The street crosses the better-known Portobello Road a couple of blocks north of the elevated Westway. Despite no longer working there, I make regular visits to this lively part of North Kensington, which is home to people originating from many parts of the world. Although much remains from when I began practising on Golborne Road, changes keep on occurring.

A detailed map surveyed in 1865 shows that where Golborne Road is today, was then open countryside through which ran ‘Portobello Lane’ (now Portobello Road). Thirty years later, what had been a narrow footpath running through fields from Notting Hill to Kensal New Town (laid out north of the Harrow Road in the 1840s and the railway tracks) was shown on a later edition of the map as Golborne Road, solidly lined with buildings. In 1870, Golborne Road, named after Dean Golbourne (vicar of St. John's Church in Paddington), was widened and lined with shops and houses. By the start of the 20th century, the area around Golborne Road had become an overcrowded slum (see: http://www.golbornelife.co.uk/golbornehistory.html). From the beginning of its urban development onwards, the cheap accommodation in the area attracted waves of immigrants, many of whose descendants still live there. The first group to arrive were Irish folk. Others will be described below. In the 1960s and ‘70s, there was extensive slum clearance, the Westway was built, as were apartment blocks such as Trellick Tower, which dominates the horizon. Abutting the wealthier parts of Kensington, North Kensington, which includes Golborne Road, has remained a less prosperous part of London, but this is beginning to change slowly.

Ladbroke Grove

Ladbroke Grove

This exploration begins in Ladbroke Grove just north of its Underground Station. Beginning on a morbid note, there is a branch of John Nodes Funeral Service close by. This company has been serving the area since 1828. In 1920, when the body of the Unknown Soldier was brought back from France: “…H Kirtley Nodes of John Nodes in Ladbroke Grove and together with … the Revd John Sowerbutts, they accompanied the coffin to and from France.” (see: http://lafd.org.uk/funeral-service-in-london-a-short-history). Recently, I was passing by when I saw a horse-drawn hearse loaded with a coffin waiting to depart from the premises. The two horses were decked with black ostrich feathers, and the driver, dressed in Victorian garb with a top hat, sat above them in front of the glass-sided vehicle.

Chesterton Rd looking northeast

Chesterton Rd looking northeast

The short Chesterton Road, lined with Victorian terraced housing, links Ladbroke Grove with the western end of Golborne Road. It is dwarfed by the massive Trellick Tower beyond it. The best days to visit Golborne Road are Fridays and Saturdays, when its street market is working. Many of the market stalls on the south side (or right side as you approach from Ladbroke Grove) are dedicated to selling used or ‘pre-loved’ goods, a term which sounds politer than ‘junk’. The vendors demand ridiculously high prices for their often almost worthless wares, but are willing to haggle sometimes. Books are sometimes on offer; these are rarely costly. When I worked in Golborne Road, there used to be a bookstall outside the surgery. Only once during my seven years working there did I ever acquire a valuable book at a bargain price. Whatever the value of the goods, they include an amazing assortment of items – everything from rusty tools and furniture (‘on its last legs’) to colourful disused shop signs.

Golborne Rd flea market

Golborne Rd flea market

The 'gentrification' of Golborne Rd

The 'gentrification' of Golborne Rd

I will describe the south side first. East of Portobello Road, there is a Danish restaurant, Snaps and Rye, next door to an Austrian one, Kipferl. These have opened in the last few years, and appeal to visitors rather than locals, who would regard them, as I do, as being overpriced. They are part of the ‘gentrification’ of the area, which had already begun with the establishment of Warris Vianni, an upmarket textile company, which opened in 1994 a few months before I began working in the area (see: http://warrisvianni.com/about-us/). Nearby, at number 91, presently the home of the smart-looking Zayane Modern Moroccan, there used to be a modest Arabic eatery with good food (Moroccan and Lebanese), where I often lunched. This used to be patronised mostly by North African men, some of them wearing traditional Berber costumes. I remember that whenever I brought my wife to eat with me there, all the men would turn to stare at us, not always approvingly. Many of these men have Moroccan heritage, Golborne Road and its environs having a large population of Moroccans.

L'Etoile Golborne Rd

L'Etoile Golborne Rd

Golborne Fisheries

Golborne Fisheries

The Etoile de Sous has changed little since I worked nearby. This north African café/bakery offers a selection of Middle-Eastern confectionery, including beautiful freshly-made baklava. It stands on the corner of Swinbrook Road opposite the Golborne Fisheries. This fishmonger contains a bewildering variety of fish and seafood that rivals many the stock in many good aquaria, except that all the creatures lie motionless on beds of crushed ice. The range of seafood on offer reflects the diversity of its customers, many of them locals. Many of the folk who have settled around Golborne Road are keen seafood eaters, for example: Irish, Spanish, Portuguese, Brazilian, Afro-Caribbean, Moroccan, and Tunisian. A seagull often lurks close to this shop.

Golborne Fisheries

Golborne Fisheries

Les Couilles du Chien

Les Couilles du Chien

Les Couilles de Chien (the dog’s balls), a little further along the south side, has been in existence for more than 25 years. Its friendly owner Jerome and his staff sell a wide selection of “… unusual and decorative antiques and natural history curiosities…” (see: https://www.lescouillesduchien.com/). Facing this corner shop across Wornington Road, there is another corner store, Rainbow News. Until recently, this newsagent was a well-stocked, shabby-looking establishment. It used to be run by two Gujarati brothers from East Africa. After one of them learned that I often visit Bangalore, he would always ask me whether I ever visited Puttaparthi in Andra Pradesh, where until recently Shri Sathya Sai Baba (died 2011) ran his ashram. For the record, I have not yet visited the place. In about 2014, the Gujaratis sold their shop. Its new owners have spruced it up impressively.

Rainbow News

Rainbow News

The newsagent was separated from ‘my’ dental practice at number 59 by a Moroccan community advice centre (no longer there). When I joined the practice in 1994, I had no idea what an exciting professional life I would lead there. Back then, drug-dealers and their customers loitered outside the building despite it being under scrutiny by closed-circuit TV police cameras. Many of my patients, especially the drug-abusers, had a better knowledge of pharmacology than my colleagues and me. The richly varied backgrounds of my patients reflected that of the local population. Generalising a bit, almost the only patients who turned up punctually were the Portuguese. Just about everyone else, despite having made appointments, turned up whenever they felt like it, either on the appointed day, or on another, or not at all. One day to my great surprise, a Tunisian turned up on time. When I praised him for this, and vented about the unreliability of most of my other patients, he turned to me, and explained: “You must understand people around here believe in what the French call ‘rendez-vous africain’”. After learning this, I began feeling as relaxed about my patients’ attitudes to punctuality as they did.

Many of my patients at Golborne Road required careful handling. Some of them were schizophrenics, who had been encouraged to mingle in the community. Others were excitable, unused to not getting their own way. There were people who had endured spells in prison on several occasions. On one occasion, a couple of young men burst into my surgery. One of them demanded that I extract a certain tooth because he was in agony. I examined him, and realised that he had a broken jaw, and that extraction, apart from being dangerous, would not relieve his pain. I suggested that he headed for a hospital, but he was aggressively unwilling. In the end, his friend persuaded him to leave. I met the friend some days later, and asked how the chap with the broken jaw was getting on. He replied: “He’s on holiday,” and then paused before adding: “… a very long holiday. He won’t be back for a few years”.

Dental Surgery, 59 Golborne Rd, where Adam yamey worked

Dental Surgery, 59 Golborne Rd, where Adam yamey worked

Another man started visiting me for a course of appointments during which he was going to have a set of complete dentures constructed. He had an intimidating appearance, and told me that he needed permission from the police to visit Golborne Road, as he was barred from staying there. At the penultimate appointment, I told him that he would need to attend the following Friday. He replied that it might be difficult because he was “seeing the judge” on Monday. I asked him if he would let me know if he could not make it. He said that he would be able to ring from jail. He burst out laughing when I said to him: “You can ring from prison? Is that what they mean by a ‘cell phone’?” And, talking of mobile ‘phones, once a young fellow, a patient I saw often, came rushing into my surgery looking ‘frazzled’. I asked him what had happened. He told me that his ‘phone had just been stolen. I expressed my sympathy, and then he said: “I know who’s done it, and I’m going to get the boys in south London to put him six feet under.” You could not ‘mess’ with most of my patients!

There is no doubt that in the 1990s, Golborne Road was a rough area. One of my patients, a tall fellow with a deformed nose, told me that if ever I was in trouble locally I was to say: “I am a friend of Mick’s”. Another helpful patient was standing next to me in a queue, when he turned around and said: “If you ever need a motor, just tell me what make you want, and I’ll get one for you.” Many of my patients had challenging dental as well as social problems, but once I got know them many of them were very nice to me, and greeted me as a friend in the street, and, even today more than sixteen years after I left, some of them still stop and greet me cheerfully.

Lisboa Cafe

Lisboa Cafe

Lisboa Cafe

Lisboa Cafe

Lisboa Cafe

Lisboa Cafe

The practice, which still exists but is now under new management, is next door to the Lisboa Patisserie, which is a little bit of Portugal in London. When my ‘boss’ at the next-door surgery was interviewing me, he bought me an espresso coffee from Lisboa. I believe that it was the high quality of the coffee that helped me decide that I wanted to work in his surgery. Apart from excellent coffee, this popular café, where there are frequently queues, offers a great selection of Portuguese snacks, both savoury and sweet. It is famed for its ‘natas’ or baked custard tarts, but everything else is worth sampling. One wall of the café is decorated with a beautiful blue and white tiled (‘azulejo’) panorama of Lisbon depicting times long past. Next door to the café there is a Portuguese gift/stationery/book shop, the Lisboa Papeleria.

Lisboa Papelaria

Lisboa Papelaria

Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre Acklam Rd

Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre Acklam Rd

Just before reaching the railway bridge, St Ervans Road leads to Acklam Road on which the Al Manaar, Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, housed in a purpose-built brick building, is located close to the tracks. It is an Islamic community centre.

Golborne Rd railway bridge

Golborne Rd railway bridge

Golborne Rd railway bridge steps

Golborne Rd railway bridge steps

Golborne Rd railway bridge steps

Golborne Rd railway bridge steps

The iron railway bridge carrying Golborne Road over the Great Western Railway was built in about 1870 (see: http://www.golbornelife.co.uk/golbornebridge.pdf). At its north-eastern corner, there is a set of several curved steps edged with coloured tiles and paving stones, on which various historic events related to the area are recorded with inlaid letters. These dates include, for example: 1870, when Golborne Road was widened from a track; and 1948 when the ‘Empire Windrush’ set sail for the UK from Australia via Jamaica, beginning a period of immigration from the Caribbean. The walls of the bridge abutment next to these steps are decorated with strips of coloured ceramic tiles with names and dates scored in them.

Former Earl of Warwick pub

Former Earl of Warwick pub

On the corner of Golborne Road and Southam Street, there stands the former ‘Earl of Warwick’ pub, undistinguished architecturally. A plaque above its corner entrance records the death of Kelso Cochrane (1927-59). Kelso, a carpenter from Antigua, was fatally wounded near this pub in what was most probably a racially-motivated attack. When this happened, the area was a stronghold for Oswald Mosely’s Union Movement and other racist groups (see: http://www.obv.org.uk/news-blogs/death-kelso-cochrane). The pub is almost directly beneath Trellick Tower.

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Designed by the left-wing Hungarian-born architect Ernő Goldfinger, and erected by the London County Council in 1972, Trellick Tower is a brutalist-style apartment block (217 flats and maisonettes, mostly state-owned, but some privately owned) that people either love or hate. I love it, but the creator of James Bond (Agent 007) Ian Fleming (1908-64) did not like Ernő’s architecture (especially the home he constructed for himself in Hampstead). Fleming’s evil character ‘Goldfinger’ was so-named because of his creator’s animosity towards the architect of Trellick Tower (see: Guardian online, 3 June 2005).

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Trellick Tower

Holmfield House

Holmfield House

A separate slender tower connected to the main block by short covered walkways houses the lifts and staircases. Nikolaus Pevsner, the architectural historian, approved of the building. He wrote of it in 1991: “…by the 1970s public housing on such a monumental scale was already a dinosaur from another age, however handsome and generously planned (the entrance halls are marble lined, the balconies are large)…”. At street level the block has several shops, two of which include the name Goldfinger in their trading names. The ground floor of a neighbouring block, Holmfield House, contains a shop named ‘Rellik’, which opened in 1999 and continues to sell ‘vintage’-style clothing.

Lisboa delicatessen

Lisboa delicatessen

Lisboa delicatessen

Lisboa delicatessen

Lisboa delicatessen

Lisboa delicatessen

Crossing over the bridge back to the stretch of Golborne Road to its west, we will next explore the northern side of the road. The Lisboa Delicatessen is opposite the Lisboa Patisserie. All the staff at the ‘deli’ and most of its customers are Portuguese speakers, either from Portugal or from its scattered former colonies. At least one of the serving staff hails from Angola. His parents moved there from Goa, when it was a Portuguese colony. The shop contains every ingredient that might ever be needed to prepare Portuguese dishes. You can buy salted-cod; prepared meats including hams (e.g. Portuguese ‘presunto, which rivals the Italian ‘prosciutto’ and Spanish ‘jamon serrano’) and salamis; wines and other drinks; fresh breads; confectionery; olives and olive oil; Portuguese cheeses; frozen goods from Portugal; and so on. We often buy ‘presunto’ here; it is freshly cut to whatever thickness is required and far cheaper and tastier than that which is available sealed in plastic in supermarkets.

Former Hicks greengrocers

Former Hicks greengrocers

Oporto cafe

Oporto cafe

Next door to the delicatessen, there is an abandoned shuttered shop bearing the name ‘W Hicks’ in fading gold lettering. When I worked at the surgery across the road, this was an old-fashioned greengrocer with friendly staff. After it closed some years ago, it premises began to be used to house stock for the delicatessen next door. The Oporto on the corner of Wornington Road is another Portuguese café. I went there a few times in the 1990s, but did not find it as congenial as the Lisboa across the road.

Vegetables and junk Golborne Rd

Vegetables and junk Golborne Rd

Tropical veg Golborne Rd

Tropical veg Golborne Rd

The north side of Golborne Road near to the Oporto has a group of fruit and vegetable barrows, which are in business on Fridays and Saturdays. The lively salesmen, who man them, joke a lot and yell out their special offers. Once I heard one of them shouting: “Collies, collies, collies … three collies, wuppa, wuppa, wuppa!” It took me a while to work out that three cauliflowers were being offered for one pound. Apart from ‘European’ fruit and vegetables, they also sell tropical foods. These greengrocery stalls have been present ever since I began working in Golborne Road, but this is not the case for the several pavement-side stalls containing kitchens where delicious Moroccan food is cooked and consumed.

Al Houida Golborne Mosque

Al Houida Golborne Mosque

There are two shops, Le Marrakech and Le Maroc, selling the conical ceramic containers for cooking tagines. Both are Morroccan groceries, which include in-house halal butchers. Near them, there is a shop frontage, the entrance to the Al Huda Mosque, a small mosque with room for only thirty men. The mosque on nearby Acklam Road (see above) can accommodate 1500 worshipers (men and women). Both mosques, although open to all worshipers, caters for the local North African community.

Unrestored half of Price and Sons

Unrestored half of Price and Sons

Le Maroc’s neighbour is the double-fronted “E Price & Sons. English and Foreign Fruiterers and Greengrocers”. One half of the shop, the left as you face it, is closed-up and dilapidated. The other half was restored in 2017. When I worked in Golborne Road, the shop was fully open, and staffed by an elderly pair, a brother and sister. They used to be out on the pavement peeling the deteriorating outer leaves off cabbages and lettuces. As a result, day after day, the peeled items gradually decreased in size. It was a place where I only bought fruit and vegetables as a last resort.

Restored half of Price and Sons and Le Maroc

Restored half of Price and Sons and Le Maroc

Tagine pots at a Moroccan shop in Golborne Rd

Tagine pots at a Moroccan shop in Golborne Rd

Restored half of Price and Sons and Le Maroc

Restored half of Price and Sons and Le Maroc

Recently, young members of the Price family have restored one half of the shop, and have begun selling a wide selection of groceries, some basic and others luxury, in their very attractive shop. The large, healthy, fresh cabbages that they have on offer are a complete contrast to what used to be available in the 1990s from the ageing siblings, who died in about 2016. Nearby, there is a ‘cash and carry’ shop run by some Sikhs. This has an extensive stock of ingredients required for preparing food from the Indian subcontinent, as well as for several other non-British cuisines.

Cash and Carry at 84 Golborne Rd

Cash and Carry at 84 Golborne Rd

Galicia Portobello Rd

Galicia Portobello Rd

The Galicia is a Spanish restaurant on Portobello Road, a few feet south of Golborne Road. Its name, that of a north-western part of Spain, reflects the origin of many of the local Spaniards, who live around Golborne Road. Although there have been Spaniards living in London since mediaeval times (a notable example is Eleanor of Castile [1241-1290], whose death is commemorated in several places including Charing Cross), there was a significant influx of refugees from Spain to North Kensington during the Spanish Civil War.

Spanish Institute Portobello Rd

Spanish Institute Portobello Rd

I will not write much about Portobello Road, which is far better-known than Golborne, but I will mention the Spanish Institute (Instituto Español “Vicente Cañada Blanch”) close to Galicia. It is an independent co-educational school run by the Spanish government. It follows the Spanish school curriculum, and is housed in a former Dominican convent. The rather grim-looking brick building surrounded by brick walls was built in 1862 (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/vol37/pp298-332#h3-0012), designed by Henry Clutton (1819-93), and later modified by his student John Francis Bentley (1839-1902). On Saturdays, there is a lively flea market on the stretch of Portobello road where this Spanish school stands.

Georges Portobello Fish Bar

Georges Portobello Fish Bar

Going north along Portobello across Golborne Road, you will soon reach George’s Portobello Fish Bar, which was founded by the late George Periccos from Cyprus and has been in business since 1961 (see: https://www.timeandleisure.co.uk/articles/food/1123-fish-and-chips). I used to buy lunch there occasionally. Incidentally, of all the localities where I have practised, none could begin to match the Portobello/Golborne area for the variety of reasonably-priced, good food available at lunchtime. Portobello Road continues north, and becomes steadily less interesting. Faraday and Bonchurch Roads both lead to Ladbroke Grove.

North Kensington Fire Station

North Kensington Fire Station

St Michael Ladbroke Grove

St Michael Ladbroke Grove

The attractive contemporary red and grey North Kensington Fire Station stands at the corner of Faraday Road and Ladbroke Grove. It opened in 1984, replacing an older one that had been in almost the same location since 1882 (see: http://www.london-fire.gov.uk/150/map-of-london-fire-stations.asp). The parish church of St Michael is a few yards south of the fire station. Built mainly in brick in 1871, it was designed by James Edmeston Junior (1823-98). Pevsner describes its style as “Rhineland Romanesque”.

The Eagle Ladbroke Grove

The Eagle Ladbroke Grove

Proceeding north along Ladbroke Grove, after passing the fire station, the Eagle pub is reached. This pub has been in business since the beginning of the 1870s.

Ladbroke Grove Railway Bridge

Ladbroke Grove Railway Bridge

Kensal House Ladbroke Grove

Kensal House Ladbroke Grove

Kensal House Ladbroke Grove

Kensal House Ladbroke Grove

Further north, the Grove crosses the railway over an impressive metal bridge, whose girders are richly covered with the dome-like heads of rivets. Kensal House, a slightly curved apartment block on the west side of Ladbroke Grove, was opened in 1937. Its principal architect was Maxwell Fry (1899-1987). He was one of the few British exponents of the Modernist Style that included Walter Gröpius of Bauhaus fame, as well as Le Corbusier. Fry was assisted in the designing of Kensal House by Elizabeth Denby (1894-1965), who was an expert on social housing.

Detail of  330 Ladbroke Grove under restoration by Cubic

Detail of 330 Ladbroke Grove under restoration by Cubic

There is a small house, number 330 Ladbroke Grove, which was under restoration in late 2017. The restorers have added an old carved stone to its façade. The stone, which looks like a milestone or boundary marker, reads “KP 1860”. KP might mean Kensington Parish. Old, pre-restoration photographs of the building do not show the stone, which means that it might not have originally been located here. Whatever the inscription means, the northern half of Ladbroke Road is a parish boundary along much of its length.

Canalside

Canalside

The brick building with stone facings just south of the bridge over the Paddington branch of the Regents Canal is aptly named Canalside. It is almost all that remains of an extensive gasworks that was built on a site now partly occupied by a large branch (built 1989) of Sainsbury supermarket and its car park. The Gas, Light, and Coke Company that owned the gasworks was responsible for the building of Kensal House, already noted above. A couple of gasometers can be seen west of the store. They are sandwiched between the mainly Victorian Kensal Green Cemetery and the railway tracks that lead to and from Paddington Station.

Townhouse in The sky

Townhouse in The sky

Close to the supermarket and Canalside, there is a modified water tower. Mounted on its four original concrete legs, there is a cylindrical structure which has several windows and is clad with wood. Tom Dixon, the designer associated with the Habitat chain of furnishing stores, bought the disused water tower, and had, by 2009, converted its 5000-gallon cylindrical tank into his futuristic high-altitude home, the ‘Townhouse in the sky’. The water tower had been built in the 1930s to store water to be used in case of fire braking out in the gasworks spread out below it.

Ladbroke Grove railway crash monument

Ladbroke Grove railway crash monument

On Monday the 4th of October 1999, I arrived earlier than usual at Paddington Station from Maidenhead, where I worked several days a week. Being early, I bought my ticket to Maidenhead for the following day. Usually, I bought my ticket a few minutes before boarding the train at Paddington. On Tuesday the 5th, having already purchased my ticket I did not have to waste time at the ticket office, and was able to take the train before the one that I usually boarded at a few minutes past 8 am. Had I boarded my usual train, the 8.06, I might not be writing this today. My ‘usual train’, a local stopping train, collided head-on with a heavier express train (travelling at high speed) very close to the branch of Sainsburys mentioned above. Thirty-one people were killed, mainly of them passengers on the local train leaving Paddington and well over four hundred people were injured. A simple stone monument to the victims of this accident, inscribed with the names of those killed, stands between Sainsburys and the railway tracks. Whenever I think of this incident, I shudder, and say inwardly: “There for the Grace of God…”

Barlby Gardens

Barlby Gardens

Returning south along Ladbroke Grove and turning into Barlby Road, we pass Barlby Gardens, a short crescent lined with houses of the type that can be found in almost any of the housing developments built in London’s suburbs during the years between the two World Wars. They are a far cry from their terraced neighbours with porches supported by pillars, which are so typical of most parts of Kensington.

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

Hewer Street former laundry

Hewer Street former laundry

Exmoor Road leads towards the enormous Victorian St Charles Hospital compound. Along Hewer Street, which branches off Exmoor Street, there are some old brick buildings that once housed one of the many laundries that used to exist in the neighbourhood. Described as a “fortress-like pile” by Pevsner, this hospital was built 1879-81 and designed by Henry Saxon Snell (1831-1904), an architect who specialised in creating health-related buildings. It was built as a hospital for the poor by the Board of Guardians of the Poor Law Union of St Marylebone and known as the ‘St Marylebone Infirmary’ until 1922, when it was renamed briefly, before being re-named once more as St Charles Hospital in 1930 after having been taken over by the London County Council.

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

St Charles Hospital

For lovers of Victorian architecture, this place with its open-air cast-iron walkways, and numerous gothic-revival features, is a real treasure. For the patients, who visit the numerous out-patient clinics which are now housed there, its exterior, redolent of oversized Victorian funerary chapels, might seem rather forbidding. However, the interiors have been pleasantly modernised, and made to look as welcoming as can be expected of hospitals.

Carmelite Monastery

Carmelite Monastery

By St Charles Hospital

By St Charles Hospital

The hospital abuts a Carmelite monastery. On the wall connecting the monastery and the hospital, there are two letter-boxes. One, now sealed up, bears the letters ‘VR’ standing for Queen Victoria. Its neighbour, still in use, bears the letters ‘GR’, which refer to one (or both) of the two King Georges that reigned after Victoria and Edward VII.

St PIUS X Church

St PIUS X Church

The Roman Catholic church of St Pius X can be entered from St Charles Square. Designed in a neo-classical style by PA Lamb and R O’B North, it was built in 1908 as part of the former St Charles Training College (for boys), which was founded by Doctor (later Cardinal) Henry Manning (1808-92) in 1863 and closed in 1903. After the college closed, its precincts including the church were taken over by the nuns of The Sacred Heart for use as a training establishment. The church became a parish church in 1955. Its barrel-vaulted interior, reminiscent of 18th century churches in Italy, is delightful and airy. A short walk leads from the church to Ladbroke Grove, about five hundred yards north of the funeral parlour, where this exploration commenced.

St PIUS X Church

St PIUS X Church

Golborne Road and its environs is an area where the multi-cultural nature of London can be explored enjoyably and rewardingly. Not being a lover of crowds, I would avoid the area during the annual world-famous Notting Hill Carnival, but that is not a view shared by many. The area is full of memories for me. I worked in its heart for several years, and became acquainted with many people who live there. I continue to visit it regularly to enjoy a coffee at Lisboa, to buy ‘presunto’, and to mingle amongst people enjoying the markets that flourish at the end of the week.

Golborne Rd bus stop

Golborne Rd bus stop

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 10:33 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london market morocco portugal kensington portobello golborne goldfinger Comments (2)

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