Some Kentish Town and bubble art in Fitzrovia

Saturday, January 30th 2016

The last time we tried to have breakfast at Cafe Renoir in Kentish Town, we found them closed (see Views of Kentish Town and a glimpse of Pimlico). We thought we would try again today and – hurrah! – we were successful. Afterwards, we went for a little walk, trying out the backstreets where we had not been before.

Victorian Police Station
Kentish Town’s Victorian Police Station

In Holmes Road, we found Kentish Town’s Victorian Police Station. The date 1896 is emblazoned on the façade but that is the only information I have discovered about this building. There is a door, on the left, for pedestrian access and a larger door or gate, on the right. Did mounted police or horse-drawn vehicles once pass through here? Vehicular passage is now blocked by the installation of a wheelchair ramp.

School Board for London School
School Board for London School

Further down the road we encountered another Victorian era building. Its fine symmetrical design includes a delicate tower, topped by a weather vane, that I imagine once held the bell used to call children to their classes.

School Board for London Plaque
School Board for London Plaque

The plaque shows who was responsible for providing the school. It bears the monogram of the School Board for London which was created in response to the Elementary Education Act of 1870 and remained active until 1904. The schools that it built all bear the monogram. This particular school was built in 1873-4 and continued in its original use until the 1930s. After that it was used for various purposes, including educational use for adults, but became redundant in 2008. It is now the home of the Collège Français Bilingue de Londres (London Bilingual French College). It is Grade II listed.

Inkerman Garden
Inkerman Garden

The corner of the street is rendered pleasant by the installation of a garden called Inkerman Garden, created as a joint project between Camden Council and the Inkerman Area Residents’ Association.

The name Inkerman alludes to the fact that this area was developed after the Crimean War and some of the streets bear the names of that war’s famous battles.

The George IV Decorative Face
The George IV

Continuing the Victorian theme (and the floral theme!), we found the George IV pub on the corner of Holmes Road and Willes Road. Above window and door level, it is decorated with a row of faces that peer our from the ivy cladding. The first mention of this pub that I can find dates from 1869 so that is the approximate date of its foundation.

Another 'Crimean' street, Alma Road
Another ‘Crimean’ street, Alma Road

Leading off Holmes Road is Cathcart Street, named in memory of Sir George Cathcart, general and diplomat, who lost his life in the Battle of Inkerman, and this leads into Inkerman Road. Almost opposite the end of Cathcart Street is the above road, Alma Street, recalling another battle of the Crimean War.

Bedford Square
Bedford Square

We took a bus to Bedford Square and visited the Architectural Association School of Architecture to see the exhibition Walter’s Way – The Self-Build Revolution. It was interesting in its way and photography was allowed but nothing really excited me photographically.

We next went to an art gallery called Different in Percy Street. Not possessing the sort of income that permits the buying of original artworks, I always enter commercial art galleries with some trepidation because I am only going to view the works, not buy them. However, in this gallery we met with a warm welcome and spent quite a long time looking at the art and discussing it and art in general. This turned into quite a special occasion for us as a result.

The current exhibition is a solo show entitled Naked Music of paintings by Chris Gollon, done as a collaboration with singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy whose album of the same name was launched at the exhibition. I didn’t take photos but you will find examples of Gollon’s work on the artist’s Website.

Magda Danysz Gallery
Magda Danysz Gallery

Next, we walked along into Charlotte Street where there is the London branch of the Magda Danysz Gallery (the others are in Paris and Shanghai). The current exhibition there is also a solo show, this one by Charles Pétillon and entitled Invasions (a word that works in both English and French).

General gallery view
General gallery view

To say that all the photos contain an element in common is an obvious remark though a true one. All contain what appear to be white bubbles or balloons of various sizes filling, stuffed into and/or flowing out of various structures, such as buildings or a vehicle (see below).

Art by Charles Pétillon

We were given permission to take photographs and I collected just a couple of samples, the one above and the one following.

Artby Charles Pétillon

I am not sure what to make of this. According to Pétillon’s Website, he is a commercial photographer producing pictures of products for sale and this is his first foray into art photography. Not that that in any way detracts from the artistic intent. Artists have to earn a living like everyone else. Some of the photos certainly caught my eye, not least for their quality of unexpectedness, but overall, I think I would describe them as ‘interesting’ rather than as great art. Have I missed something? (That is always possible.)

The BT Tower
The BT Tower

We passed along Cleveland Mews where you have this rather unusual and startling view of the BT Tower. (For more on this structure see A famous Belgian in Covent Garden.)

The BT Tower seen through branches
The BT Tower seen through branches

Or, if you prefer, here is a more romantic view, seen through branches, a shot that is possible only in winter.

We were on our way to the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in Portland Place to see their current exhibition Creation from Catastrophe. Although the exhibition was interesting I didn’t feel moved to take any photos. Instead I photographed the figures on the Weymouth Street façade, starting with this one:

RIBA from Weymouth Street

Having to point the camera upwards at such an angle produces a less than pleasing effect. I therefore spread my wings and flew up to be on a level with the figures, thus:

RIBA from Weymouth Street

No, I didn’t do that, of course. Everyone knows that tigers don’t have wings. What I really did was to use ICE editor to correct the perspective to a pigeon’s-eye view. Some people might call that cheating but I don’t mind a little cheating in a good cause!

Copyright © 2016 SilverTiger,, All rights reserved.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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4 Responses to Some Kentish Town and bubble art in Fitzrovia

  1. WOL says:

    The bubble photography was interesting. I wonder what the bubbles were made from, white balloons?

  2. Mark Elliott says:

    How interesting to see the bubble photography; it reminded me of The Prisoner. This connection was further reinforced by your photo of the BT Tower which, if memory serves me right, featured in the opening credits.

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