Street Where I Live.
I have lived in this part of Putney(Lower West) for more than thirty five years. Along its main road, off High Street-the Lower Richmond Road there have been changes. The hospital derelict for twenty years is at last being demolished to make way for a school. The nearby pub where Dickens may well have visited-The Cyclists Rest- is now an art gallery. The dairy-a left over from the 19 th/20th century farm on the Common- an apartment block.
One of London’s most famous customised bike shops Holdsworth is now a residential house. Once it was the only bike shop in Putney now there are at least three others. There used to be several antique shops-we are not far from the Kings Road-now we have bathroom and kitchen show rooms and of course estate agents. Once you could hardly get a meal now there are five places you can get breakfast and one or three highly rated independent coffee shops. You can eat out at a different restaurant or pub every day for almost a fortnight in the road. We used to have one or two decrepit Paki shops selling out of date fruit now we have a supermarket attached to the garage.
The heroic chemist died of cancer, the lovely Iranian who ran the dry cleaners has just retired,the long established butcher with his rosy cheeks and jolly way eventually succumbed to a heart attack but has been taken over by a very efficient and up market crew,the creepy lock smith long gone as has the chain smoking Cypriot tailor. But Wynn the long retired Indian post master still feeds the sea gulls every day.The two convenience stores one smiling and one glum carry on come rain or shine.
As well we had a run of the mill art shop selling prints and doing framing. Now we have two of the best small galleries in London. The Spencer which used to be a hang out for tragic people and worse beer is now a very well established gastro pub. The Half Moon always a great rock and roll venue now also sells good food. The Dukes once the first among equals has slipped but will always do well because of its river position. And then there is the darling perfectly formed Bricklayers Arms. I know nothing about the Star and Garter except it used to run by Vivien’s father’s company. Although we have lost two off licences to the all conquering supermarkets one wine shop does hang, on though now in its umpteenth ownership.
Somehow along the way we have acquired or kept a flower shop, a cake shop,a bakers, a clock maker, wedding dress makers, a specialist vintage comic emporium, a cobblers, two chippies, a greasy spoon.a tile shop,a pet shop,two hairdressers , a nail salon and an electrical shop not to mention the Lebanese ,the sushi bar and the three Indian take aways. Then there is the specialist Mini garage/dealer .Some shops are now the offices of accountants, mini cabs and property management companies. A toy shop and a Polish deli came and went. The two sub post offices have been rationalised.Two or three sites are empty. The long standing posh restaurants have failed as have one or two of the too many Indians. But for an example of how a sub prime street in a residential area evolves, survives and even prospers I think our road barely half a mile long is a bit of a test case.