Most people know Kensington High Street. When I was a child it was my local shops. My father worked for Barkers as a young man.
A long time ago Ethel in Eastenders got a taxi up west and came back full of sadness asking where all the great department stores had gone. She mentioned Derry and Toms. I think those days were quite special and great service. Are you being served? times.
Take a look the remains are still recognisable.
This is how it was:
Kensington High Street is one of western London's most popular shopping streets, with upmarket shops serving a wealthy area. From the late 19th century until the mid 1970s the street had three classic department stores: Barkers, Derry & Toms and Pontings. Barkers bought Pontings in 1906 and Derry & Toms in 1920, but continued to run all three as separate entities. In a big building project which started in 1930 and was not complete until 1958 (the Second World War halted the project), the company made Derry & Toms and Barkers into Art Deco palaces. On top of Derry & Toms, Europe's largest roof garden area (1.5 acres) was created, consisting of three different gardens with 500 species of plants, fountains, a stream, duck, flamingos and a restaurant - serving the best high tea in Kensington.I well remember the 3 tiers pates of crustless sandwhiches and cakes and the knickerbocker glories yummmm.
In 1957 House of Fraser bought the Barkers Group and started to dismantle it. Pontings was closed in 1971, Derry & Toms in 1973, and a much condensed Barkers (from 600,000 square feet (56,000 m) over seven floors to 140,000 square feet (13,000 m) on less than four floors) was allowed to continue until January 2006, when the 135 year old department store was closed for good.
Part of the Barker premises has now been taken over by American Whole Foods Market, which has opened the UK's first organic superstore there in June 2007. The rest was added to existing office space used by the headquarters of Associated Newspapers.
Kensington High Street was also the site of Biba in the 1960s and early 1970s. When Derry & Toms closed the iconic store took the building and accentuated the its Art Deco style further. But the 1970s recession, coupled with idealistic business ideas, killed Biba in 1975. The Derry & Toms roof gardens still remain, now known as the Kensington Roof Gardens and owned since 1981 by Richard Branson's Virgin.Be prepared for expensive!
There is a set a set of four sculptured reliefs on the former Barkers Department Store in London's Kensington High Street.
The Art Deco building was constructed in 1932.The architect was Bernard George. (The 'London Footprints site states that the building was constructed in three stages between 1927 and 1958)
They concentrate on a combination of modern transport and a range of items that can (presumably) be purchased in the store. It's clear that the emphasis is on modernity; I find that attempts to depict futuristic items seem to date very rapidly; if these were created in the 1930's then they look very dated some 70+ years on.
Barkers was one of three adjacent deparment stores in Kensington High Street, the others were 'Derry and Toms' and Pontings. Derry and Toms closed in 1972, and Pontings ceased to trade in 1970. Much of the Pontings building has been demolished; the Derry and Toms building is extant and occupied now by Marks and Spencers and H&M.
Barkers finally closed at the beginning of 2005 after a long decline, the building is now given over to offices with an arcade of shops on the ground level only, excepting a 'wholefood' store that occupies parts of the basement, ground and first floor at the East end of the building.
So now we have identical chain street stores like every other city.
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