Archive for September, 2011

Thackeray Street Family Street Party: Sunday 18 September 2011

Thackeray Street Party organised by the Kensington Court Residents Association is a wonderful example of local businesses and residents getting together to enjoy a marvellous Sunday afternoon family party.
Fantastic food from Otteomezzo, Montparnasse Cafe and a Sausage Sizzle sponsored by Gallery 19; The Builder’s Arms provided drinks; Lumina and Thackerays sponsored the music; The Milestone Hotel sponsored the children’s activities with General Manager Andrew Pike on hand judging the colouring competition; Kall Kwik provided the invitations and the KCRA committee with some local residents responsible for the organisation.
Many local businesses and retailers were very generous with raffle donations and proceeds raised will again go to the Knightsbridge Group of Riding for the Disabled. Although the rain poured exactly at 5.00 pm. (the start time), it gave way to a nice sunny evening, and the turnout was tremendous.  Congratulations to all involved for a most successful family street party.
Images: Copyright Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine

Cherry Trees Summer Party

This was the last of the Cherry Trees Summer Parties.  A great occasion to get together and meet friends and neighbours.  Who says Kensington isn’t a friendly place?  Initiatives like this and the Thackeray Street Party are great examples of how much local communities can get together. Thanks go to the Chair, Charles Penney, his wife and many other helpers who provided nibbles and logistics. Wine, again with thanks, was provided by Huntsworth in Kensington Church St.

Main topic of conversation – would the weather hold?  Which indeed it did, somewhat miraculously. The Cherry Trees Residents Association is a thriving Association concerned with the well-being of our locality, from street lighting to onerous planning applications.

Image copyright:  Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine


Last chance to see inside the Commonwealth Institute, W8

As part of Open London Weekend, the Commonwealth Institute opened its doors to the public for the very last time, before works start on the new Design Museum. This was a tremendous opportunity for people who love architecture or photographic architecture to take advantage of the tour provided.

The Design Museum will be moving to the former Commonwealth Institute in 2014. The building has, sadly, been empty for over 10 years, but during the tours it was evident many had been before, some in their school days and those who could remember their first impressions of ‘seeing other cultures’ being exposed to anthropology for the very first time. Apparently it was quite ahead of its time, with plenty of activities to involve school children and generate their love and understanding of our commonwealth cousins.  And not least to mention the glass clad walls, which was considered innovative in the 1960s and is still used now in many modern buildings.

The internal remodelling of the building will be carried out by John Pawson Architects. The new Design Museum is expected to welcome half a million visitors to its exhibitions every year, offer 60,000 learning opportunities and display the museum’s important collection of twentieth and twenty-first century design. Design studios and workshops, a library, restaurant, cafe and auditorium will be housed in a beautiful, state of the art building underneath the stately curves of the original 1962 copper and concrete roof.

Originally the Commonwealth Institute housed an exhibition celebrating the fifty four nations of the Commonwealth. It was an undisputed icon of British post-war architecture. The radial deisgn inside extends out from a marble circular platform which stands at the centre of the square building’s diameter and at the exact mid – point of its height. On entering the building the visitor arrives on the platform, at the central point of a huge spatial volume – a powerful first impression. This platform situates the spectator not only at the centre of the Exhibition Hall but at the symbolic centre of the world of the Commonwealth. From here the visitor could ‘travel’ the staircases to visit the many different countries represented here. The most striking feature of the Exhibition Hall is the complex hyperbolic paraboloid roof. Its copper cladding was designed to mellow in harmony with the greens of Holland Park. Its tent like exterior lines complement the park’s soft treelines. Building materials donated by Commonwealth countries augmented the tiny budget for design and construction. Zambia donated 25 tonnes of copper from its mines. Unfortunately, this arrived in the form of copper ore and had to be processed before it could be applied to the roof. Much of the hardwood used in the flooring and other applications also come from Commonwealth donors.

The building was designed by the distinquished practice of Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall and Partners. James Gardner was the exhibition designer – he had been the principal designer to the Festival of Britain an his work on the Commonwealth Institute revived and impr9oved on may of the innovations he had developed there. Dame Sylvia Crower designed the landscaped gardens. Lord Cunliffe was the original project architect and has consulted on initial plans for the Exhibition Hall’s remodelling into the new Design Museum. Construction began at the end of 1960. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the buildings in November 1962. Its construction cost £440,000. The Exhibition Hall was listed Grade II* in 1988. Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest. The Exhibition Hall’s place in the social history of Britain and its ‘swept’ roof define its listed status. It has been described as the outstanding British examples of hyperbolic paraboloid roof and as one of the most carefully thought out experiments in post-war English architecture. The works are due to begin on site in early 2012 and will be completed in 2014. The magnificent concrete and copper roof of the Exhibition Hall will be preserved. A central viewing platform will offer visitors views of the interior roof span.
From ‘Open House London: Design Museum’ promotional flyer

Image Copyright: Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine

Chelsea AutoLegends: Royal Hospital Road

A wonderful chance to see more than 600 of the finest and most celebrated classic, competition and supercars in Central London.  As a precursor to Glorious Goodwood and closer to home, this was fantastic.   An impressive line up of over 30 iconic Le Mans cars ranging from Bentleys of the 1920s, through the Ferraris and Porsches of the 1960s and 1970s right up to today’s state of the art diesel prototypes that currently rule the French classic.  Also on show were the Aston Martin One-77, Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari 599 GTO, Pagani Zonda and the new McLaren MP4-12C.   Other highlights included special 50th birthday celebration displays of the E type Jaguars and Mini Coopers, plus the presence of two film legends: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Pink Panther car.   Added to this were a further 350 members who bought their own classic cars to Royal Hospital Road.  Despite the torrential rain, this was a wonderful day with many enthusiastic fathers sharing their passion with their wives and children.

Image copyright:  Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine


Obituary: Donald Rider, Managing Director of Rassells Garden Centre, Earls Court Road

We were very sad to hear about Donald Rider’s death, albeit not totally unexpected. He had been ill for a number of years but in recent months it was evident that at 92, his usual six days a week working at his beloved Rassells was getting more difficult.

There are not many people who devote such service in their life to one business. Donald arrived at Rassells in 1935 as an apprentice on 5 shillings a week – and with the exception of the war period had been there ever since.  I first met him in 1999 when I would wistfully walk around the garden centre wishing I had more than a studio flat to do justice to his wonderful array of roses and camellias.   In 2007 he gamely agreed to be reviewed for the magazine and we had an entertaining time interviewing each other (the magazine was in its infancy – it was only the fourth edition).  He was a very kind supporter of this magazine, and was a creature of habit.  He would advertise, with a half page, every September and October, and occasionally in the May.  One year he was rather excited and thought he’d try advertising a rather rare tulip.  He was thrilled when he received an enquiry from Australia!

Donald had no immediate family thus the staff at Rassells, including Jocelyn who had worked with him for the past 47 years were his family.  Some years ago Mary came to live in the flat above the shop premises; she has been with him since then acting in all manner of capacities, a companion, a friend, a helper and everything else.  In memory of Donald she has arranged a wonderful ‘wall of tribute’ to him which is in the main entrance of the shop on the back wall (anticipated to be there during September and perhaps part of early October, dependent upon the bulbs).  Images and newspaper cuttings show a dapper Donald besides his various sports cars, Donald with various cats (particularly ‘Whiskers’ an ardant fan of the nursery and a very sociable resident of the square, who invited himself to parties and pretty much any event he thought would be fun!), and Donald with various girlfriends and friends over the years.  This small, simple tribute is very heart warming. It shows Kensington at its best.  As a village and a strong community.  There is a book to sign – the well known or unknown folk of Kensington – have signed and it is a tribute to Donald’s modest and charming nature that he touched so many folk in Kensington.

Rassells will continue to serve the community of Kensington – it is still the only garden centre in the area, and as such we should cherish it.  The staff – or ‘Donald’s family’, will continue to serve you with the courtesy, passion and expertise Donald gave each and every one of his clients.

Image copyright: Lucy Elliott/The Kensington Magazine