Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Bayswater station is on the Circle and the District line. The station was opened by the steam operated Metropolitan Railway in October 1868. Constructing the railway line meant they had to dig a tunnel using the cut and cover method. A trench 13m deep was dug between brick retaining walls and  was then roofed over with brick arches so that building work could continue above.

A short section of the trench was left roofless so that smoke and steam from the trains could escape from the tunnels.

The other end of the platforms were covered with a glazed roof making it much lighter than most tube stations.

At the top of the stairs from the platform is a beautiful flower display. I spoke to one of the cleaners who likes to look after the display and she told me how people love to see the flowers which brighten up the station. It was obvious she was very proud of the station and its displays. This is the second station I have visited on the Circle Line that has flower displays. I wonder how many more have flower displays.

The station is just 100m away from Queensway station on the Central Line so once again I need to be careful about not revisiting places already mentioned in previous tube posts.

Queens skating rink and bowling alley is midway between Queensway and Bayswater stations but it was closed for refurbishment when I was last here so now I could have a look around.
This is Central London's only all the year round skating rink and has been here since 1931. Many temporary outdoor rinks appear during December and January but this is where you have to come if you want to skate during the summer. I was pleased that you can go in and have a look without having to get on the ice.

Next to the rink is Queensway indoor Market.
A warren of small shops selling electrical and household items, computers and food.

A couple of small Turkish restaurants inside the market.

Across Queensway from the market was another Turkish restaurant with Hookah pipes on tables outside.

The building that really stands out on Queensway is Whiteley's. It was founded in 1863 with the current building constructed in 1908. In the 19th century this was the leading department store in London and the business went public on the Stock Exchange in 1899. It was founded by William Whiteley who came to London from Yorkshire in 1855 at the age of 24. He served an apprenticeship in the drapery trade for 6 years and managed to save £700. He must have been very well paid because that seems an awful lot of money at that time. He used his savings to open a small shop in Bayswater which was not the fashionable area it is today.

Over the next 20 years as his business grew he bought more property around Queensway which eventually covered more than 14 acres. He bought farms and built his own food processing factories to provide produce for the store. He employed over 6000 members of staff who lived in accommodation provided by the company. They worked from 7am to 11pm, six days a week. He was a ruthless business man and undercut all his local traders. He was not popular and his shop was the subject of five serious arson attacks.

Whiteley was a very successful business man as well as a well known benefactor but he was not a good man to work for nor a faithful husband. His wife divorced him for adultery and cruelty. On 24th Jan 1907 a man claiming to be his illegitimate son shot and killed Whiteley and then attempted suicide. Whiteley's two sons attempted to continue the business but ended up selling it their rival Gordon Selfridge.

Old Posters have been reproduced and are displayed on columns inside the store.

It's heyday is now over. From one of the great department stores alongside Selfridges and Harrods to a shopping centre with many of the shops now closed. There is still a cinema inside but planning permission has been sought for two 10 storey blocks of 100 homes as well as a hotel, cinema and shops. Due to public opposition the plans were revised in May 2017 to reduce the towers by one floor. The exterior of the existing building will be retained. Westminster council has approved the new plans. So by the time I have finished exploring the Circle line Whiteley's will no longer exist as a shopping centre.

From Whiteley's I walked down Porchester gardens which brought me out  into the squares of large white Victorian and Edwardian terraced houses with the private garden in the middle of the Square.
This is Kensington Square garden - not accessible to the public.

This beautiful building on Westbourne Grove has a bookshop on the ground floor whilst the upper floors are occupied by the interior designers HBA.

Victorian Gentlemen's toilet. Many of these toilets have been closed or converted into small bars.

I am now on Bishop's Bridge Road, a continuation of Westbourne Grove. This magnificent Art Deco building was for most of its past life Queens cinema, part of a small independent circuit of cinemas in West London. Built in 1932 the name Queens is set in the middle of a glazed terracotta zig-zag pattern. In 1935 it was taken over by the Association of British Cinemas and in 1962 was renamed the ABC  with blue cladding hiding the Queens name. It was taken over by the Cannon cinema chain in 1986 and closed less than two years later.
The building remained empty for a number of years before it was reopened in 1995 as a TGI Friday's restaurant but it closed in 2007 and once again remained empty until 2013

The building has now been converted into apartments and the original facade returned to its past Art Deco splendour. On the ground floor is a retail unit occupied by Heal's, the upmarket furniture and lighting design store.

On the corner of Queensway and Porchester Road is The Porchester Centre. It is a Grade II listed building built between 1923 and 1925.

 In 1927-29 Turkish baths, a library and assembly rooms were added.
On the opposite side of the road is Porchester Square and garden. Porchester Square was completed between 1855 and 1858.  The gardens were acquired by the Borough Council and opened to the public in 1955.

From Porchester Square I returned to the station via Porchester Terrace North.

On the corner was an old bank with its name clearly visible. Further research revealed 'The National Bank' was established in London in 1835 to provide capital for Irish economic development. Initially an Irish bank, it expanded into England and Wales. By 1914 it had 150 branches of which 135 were in Ireland. In 1966 the bank's Irish business passed to the Bank of Ireland. The Irish and Welsh branches passed to the National Commercial Bank of Scotland to eventually become part of the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The old bank looks as though it is part of a residential building now.

Hallfield Estate on Bishops Bridge Road was one of the largest and most ambitious housing schemes built in the capital in the immediate post war years. The scheme covered 17 acres providing housing for 2,362 people in six 10 storey blocks and eight 6 storey blocks. The estate was planned to include communal amenities such as garages, shops, laundries and schools.

Before I got back to the station, this statue caught my eye. mainly because it looked new and secondly because of the dates of the person it represents.  It is a statue of George Skanderberg  (1405-1468). On the plinth it says ' An invincible Albanian National hero, defender of Western Civilization'. The statue was erected in November 2012 to mark the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence.

The next station on this line is Notting Hill Gate which I visited when I was doing the Central Line. For more information on that station click here


  1. The station looks particularly nice and flooded with light. I hope a fired never breaks in front of the fire extinguishers. They seem to have all their eggs in one basket. I already know Bayswater is expensive and from your photos, it is easy to see why.

  2. What a super walk around and such a nice are for London. Such a shame about Whiteley's though it is the first time I have heard of it. I feel we loose something when places like that disappear

  3. Well despite the close proximity to Queensway you found plenty of interesting buildings to photograph and write about. I can remember going to the ice rink many many years ago.

  4. Oh I almost died of embarrassment when you said that a TGIF had opened in that beautiful building and am so glad it closed and that they restored it to its former facade. (I don't like franchises even here in the country where they started -- a very poor thing for us to export). A lovely walk as always and the history of Whiteley's was very interesting and a little horrible to think about - he's like those people who die in an Agatha Christie mystery -- you never feel too bad about them because they always deserve what they got ;>).

  5. What a fabulous gad about! Glad the exterior of the existing building will be retained. What a fabulous city (cliche` I know) but I look forward to exploring it at your guidance.

  6. oh gosh I can't believe you have skating rinks there, I use to go to one weekly when I was a teenager - was so much fun.

  7. Wow that is a posh area. I enjoyed reading the history of those fine buildings. A bit sad about the old shopping centre dying. Queens looks great now. I bet its not cheap to live there. Another great tube post.

  8. Seems to be a nice area of London !

  9. a fine station, I love the stairs :)

  10. I look forward to exploring it at your guidance.

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