- Kensington High Street
Kensington High Street is the main shopping street in
Kensington, west London.
Kensington High Street is the continuation of
Kensington Roadand part of the A315. It starts by the entrance to Kensington Palaceand runs westward through central Kensington. Near Kensington (Olympia) station, where the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelseaends and Hammersmith begins, it ends and becomes Hammersmith Road. The street is served by High Street Kensington underground station.
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 & Tomsand 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 Warhalted the project), the company made Derry & Toms and Barkers into Art Decopalaces. 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 - said to serve the best high tea in Kensington.
House of Fraserbought the Barkers Group and started to dismantle it. Pontings was closed in 1971, Derry & Toms in 1973, and a much condensed Barkers (from convert|600000|sqft|m2 over seven floors to convert|140000|sqft|m2 on less than four floors) was allowed to continue until January 2006, when the 135 year old department store was closed for good. [cite news |url= http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/retailing/article557174.ece |title= Organic grocer replaces Barker's |work= TimesOnline |date= 20 August, 2005 |author= Sarah Butler ]
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.cite news |url= http://www.designweek.co.uk/Articles/135005/Whole+Foods+Market+opens+London+flagship.html |title= Whole Foods Market opens London flagship |author= Sarah Harris |format= html|work= Design Week|date= 5 June 2007|quote= Covering three floors and 7400m² of the regal Barker Building on Kensington High Street, the organic superstore promises to offset 100 per cent of its electricity in partnership with wind power supplier Ecotricity, compostall its food waste, and offer full recyclingfor glass, tin, paper and plastic. ] The rest was added to existing office space used by the headquarters of Associated Newspapers.
Kensington High Street was also the site of
Bibain 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 Gardensand owned since 1981 by Richard Branson's Virgin.
Kensington High Street's future as a shopping street has been threatened by both the western expansion on London's congestion charge zone, which came into effect in February 2007, and the large
Westfield London, which will open a few kilometres away in Shepherd's Bushin late 2008.
However, these factors may be offset to some extent - or even outweighed - by recent changes to the road layout, intended to make the street a pleasanter place to shop. The local council (
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea) decided to experiment with the concept of shared space, which deputy leader Daniel Moylan had studied abroad. Railings and pedestrian crossings were removed, thereby enabling pedestrians to cross the street wherever they choose. Bicycle racks were placed on the central reservation. The effect over two years was a dramatic cut in accidents, down 44% against a London average of 17%..cite news |url= http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/feb/29/guardiancolumnists |title= Rip out the traffic lights and railings. Our streets are better without them |author= Simon Jenkins |format= html|work= The Guardian|date= 29 February 2008]
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060824082337/http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/gallery/barkers/johnbarker.pdf The story of John Barker & Co Ltd, Kensington, London] , from Michael Moss and Alison Turton, "A Legend of Retailing: House of Fraser", Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1989.
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20061004135529/http://www.archives.gla.ac.uk/gallery/barkers/default.html Remembering Barkers of Kensington 1870-2006] Images from the Barker & Co archives
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
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