Queenstown Road station’s new entrance – progress at last?

It’s taken a while – but plans may finally be getting rolling to create the second entrance to Queenstown Road station. The Battersea Exchange development that’s funding it has been finished for some years now, and we have been writing the occasional post about it for some time – but nothing happened on the station works. They essentially mean a new entrance will be created at the back of the station building (which is the one outlined yellow in this photo) –

It was designed to improve transport access to the new flat, so residents can get to the station without having to walk along busy and traficky section of Queenstown Road. It links the station more directly to the school in the development and Patcham Terrace, which is currently a rather isolated near-dead-end road where the small shops and offices under the railway arches have been slow to let. The plans will also allow passage through the station (during opening hours) for non-ticketholders, which means people heading from (say) the Shaftesbury estate can ‘cut the corner’ by going through the foyer of Queenstown Road (shown in yellow below) and get through to Battersea Park station.

After a very long silence, where we really wondered if the development would ever proceed – a new planning application has just been submitted, updating the original plans for the works (which go all the way back to 2014!) to current railway standards. Specifically, application number 2022/1325 includes the planned layouts, and a new entrance leading on to Patcham terrace – pictured below.

These works are the final connection in the overall masterplan for the Battersea Exchange development, whose construction ran from early 2015 to December 2020. It’s also the last of the ‘Section 106’ obligations for the developers – the things they agree to fund in the surrounding area as part of the development – before they can finally sign off on what has proved a pretty successful project overall, with a very efficient use of the land around the viaducts that seems to have sold well and which brought all sorts of unusual little plots of railway land back in to productive use.

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There has been a little bit of cost-cutting along the way: the original plans included a wheelchair lift to handle the change in levels, which is no longer being included (so wheelchair users will need to keep using the Queenstown Road exit). We understand this is an ask from National Rail rather than cost cutting by the developers, TaylorWimpey – ostensibly to make the staircase wide enough, but one could maybe imagine it’s also designed to keep maintenance costs down. On the plus side, there’ll be a new disabled-accessible WC, which will be linked from the station foyer.

A few other minor changes are being made compared to the initial plans, including not bothering to have a door at the bottom of the stairs (which seems fairly sensible – bearing in mind that the station is pretty much open air anyway and there’ll be a security gate at the top of the steps). A small glass shelter will be included at the bottom of the steps to keep rain out of the station building. The floorplan diagram below shows the new access route in yellow (with Queenstown Road entrance at the bottom of the photo), and the new Patcham Terrace entrance at the top.

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Given that a series of very similar plans have already been approved over the years none of this is likely to be controversial from a planning perspective – but because the whole of the station (including the scruffy and little-seen rear yard) is a listed building, the finer details matter and a new planning application is needed before works can start. This photo shows the currently-rather-messy back yard of the station as it is now, as seen from the new road Patcham Terrace (i.e. the right hand side of the yellow square in the map above). The new entrance will be at the back left, which means opening up a new door in the building. There’s a bit of a height change as well (about ten steps).

This photo shows the current ticket hall – the new way through will emerge where the left hand white door is now, just to the left of the ticket machines.

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Precise timings for the works are still uncertain – but the fact that updated plans have gone in (again) is a good sign that the project is not completely forgotten, and still on track to happen at some point. As a relatively cheap project with obvious benefits for Taylor Wimpey’s development (making it have rather better access, especially for the new office and retail units), and some benefits for Network Rail in terms of general station access, it seems likely that this will now go ahead.

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The 1960s canopy around Clapham Junction’s Arding & Hobbs building is coming down

Works are really gathering pace on Clapham Junction’s Arding & Hobbs redevelopment – with the pavement canopy being removed right around the building. It’s a feature many people assume was an original part of the building – but it was actually added in the 1970s as part of a modernisation that tried to make the ground floor look more like the fashions of the time. Our photo below shows a sliced-off section, and in the background, a section still in place above the entrance to T.K. Maxx, propped up by scaffolding.

Here’s a photo comparing with a few weeks earlier, before the work started to remove the canopy.

The most striking feature of these works is just how much the canopy reduced the height of the windows on the ground floor. As sections are chopped off the building, we can see that it had rather an unusual construction: a series of large horizontal girders running along inside the old windows, propping up more large girders angled over the pavement. And above the girders, at least another foot of what had originally been window was also blocked off, as can be seen in the photo below. The windows would originally have gone right up to the top of the stonework, but after the canopy was built they only ran up to the very bottom of the photo. Also visible is an asbestos warning sign – ‘DANGER ASBESTOS CANOPY’ – which must have been another headache for the builders.

This diagram, from the planning docu,ents for W.RE’s refurbishment works, shows the design of the canopy, and what is envisaged as the replacement.

When the works are complete, the facade will end up looking much more like the original design, shown below (photo courtesy the London Picture Archive) –

It makes quite a difference to the look of the building – which becomes a lot more visible from the pavement compared to the previous view below. The canopy had originally had fully-lit sections above all the main entrances, and also lights right around the outer edge that hadn’t worked for a good few years (other than a brief attempt to resuscitate them in the late 2000s). It’s fair to say that while canopies like this were very much the style for mid century department stores, and this one has certainly given several decades of service as a shelter from the rain, fashions have moved on.

The plan is for awning blinds to be reinstated above the windows, echoing those that are visible on historic photographs of the building (and which still work on a scattering of Clapham Junction’s most well preserved shopfronts).

Meanwhile in T.K. Maxx (which is not affected by the building works around it and will continue to trade once the new development is finished), a series of what look like minor leaks has led to several ceiling tiles being removed – and if you look closely, you can see the original high ceilings and the decorative plaster coving is still in place and in surprisingly good condition:

Here’s a closer view. It’s similar to what is still on display in the homewares section on the upper floor, which doesn’t have a suspended ceiling. We’re not sure why the fit-out didn’t take the same approach in the rest of the store as the ceiling looks like all it really needs is a coat of paint.

Two final photos: one of the building increasingly covered in scaffolding, showing works underway on the cupola –

And one at the back, showing restoration work getting underway on the brickwork and windows.

A large crane also made an appearance on the 11th June, to help with the construction of the new roof levels.

It’s good to see this ongoing work to restore the building. For more on the ongoing works at Arding & Hobbs, see our recent article on the first confirmed tenants after the works, another on the building work that is going on at the roof level, and our previous detailed article on the overall plans to redevelop the building – adding two floors to the roof and convert the upper levels to office space.

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A bold new look for Khan’s Indian restaurant

Khan’s has been around for ages! One of the longest standing restaurants on Lavender Hill, noted for relatively low-fat cuisine free of artificial colourings, an approach which they adopted ahead of its time. Along with its sister restaurant in Epsom, Khan’s has served generations of residents with decent food in relatively simple surroundings.

But after the best part of two decades, there’s no denying that the restaurant itself had started to look past its best. The sign had lost a few letters, the boast that the premises were ‘Fully Air Conditioned’ was increasingly reminiscent of hotels boasting of “Colour TV”, and the interior was tired with worn flooring and a general decor that (despite the occasional minor update) had been overtaken by its neighbours – all in all, it needed a bit of a spruce up.

And that’s exactly what Khan’s has just done. With a new owner and what looks like quite a significant amount of investment, it has – over a few months – had a comprehensive makeover. Works started quietly with new bathrooms and work on the bar, but have really ramped up over the last month with new high-gloss flooring, a new backlit bar, new walls and ceiling, a huge amount of floral decoration, a smarter more streamlined counter, a complete replacement of the furniture (which now includes stone-and-brass tables and far more comfortable chairs), have had quite an impact. There’s been a bit of minor building work too, as the pillars that used to rather get in the way have gone, to open the space up properly.

There’s also a completely new shopfront – replacing the increasingly creaky wooden-framed doors and windows with a fully-glazed affair, which looks quite a bit better from the street. And a new name, of sorts – as Khan’s Restaurant has become Blossom by Khan’s. And we’re pleased to report Khan’s are still providing a very decent curry! The specialities are the main event, with some quite interesting options that do go a little off the beaten track – albeit the core options are also available, as well as a few milder curries (and proper home-cooked breads) that are appreciated by your author’s resident pre-schooler.

It’s good to see this investment, which has created something much more contemporary, and in comprehensively dealing with the somewhat tired premises that were increasingly becoming their Achilles’ heel, should set Blossom by Khan’s up for a good few years.

Blossom by Khan’s. 159 Lavender Hill, Battersea SW11 5QH. And as we always say – if you live nearby and have the time to collect, calling for a takeaway in person’s a better way of supporting your local traders than paying a 34% cut to a company in California! 020 7978 4455.

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Several new cycle sheds on the streets & estates around Lavender Hill

Last summer a whole bundle of new on-street cycle hangars were announced, with 74 planned for streets and another 15 for estates across Wandsworth. They’re useful facilities, in a borough with one of the highest numbers of cycle commuters in the country, but also one where many struggle to find space to fit bikes in small flats, and even those who can may fear the inevitable loss of deposits that comes with scuffed walls and carrying cycles up to the top floor.

They’re typically a fairly solid metal structure sitting on the road or the pavement that can hold six bikes, and keep them dry and reasonably safe from theft. Spaces within these cycle hangars are usually in very high demand: as at the time of writing all of the on-street hangars in Wandsworth are fully booked – and while there are a few hundred more in other boroughs (shown inCyclehoop’s map below), everything within a five mile radius is also full! Those who live on or near the location of the hangars are usually prioritised in the queue, not that this would make much difference until a few of the new ones come online. The larger hangars on the estates, like the one above, have decent availability for the time being (but are restricted to estate residents).

There have been a lot of calls for more secure cycle storage – but as installations have got going there have also been complaints that the proposed new hangars are more focussed on the north and east of the borough, with only a scattering proposed for Putney and Roehampton. That said – areas like Lavender Hill do seem to be the areas with the highest concentration of both cycle commuting and smaller flats and houses. Wandsworth’s own selection process for locations was a mix of locations that have had a lot of historic requests for storage facilities in a public consultation they ran a couple of years ago (which saw over 500 requests for hangars), and locations with a high proportion of residents who don’t have garages / gardens / houses & flats large enough to store bikes; with a further filter to make sure that locations won’t look ugly or cause road safety issues by blocking views at junctions. Some of the nearby shortlisted locations include Queenstown Road; as well as Gowrie, Taybridge, Jedburgh, Thirsk band Sugden Roads on Clapham Common Northside; and Eckstein Road near the station.

We’ve recently seen one appear on Queenstown Road (tactically installed on an unusually wide bit of pavement to avoid losing parking spaces), and a larger one has also now appeared in the Gideon Road Estate, capable of housing at least a dozen cycles – pictured above. The latter is located on one of the concrete platforms that used to house storage sheds that were rented to residents of the flats (which were removed because they weren’t really being used for storage, but the hidden passageways between them were giving cover for crime and other troublesome activities). There’s also an existing one at the very southern end of Ashley Crescent, which has long been a bit of a mystery as it seems to have its own resident family of stray cats!

The hangars cost £2500 to buy and install; which Wandsworth has mostly got from a TfL centralised cycling budget. The process for renting a space in one of the on-street Bikehangars is managed by a company called CycleHoop, who manage similar facilities for 26 local authorities including several London boroughs. There’s an annual fee of £72 (and a key deposit of £25) – which gives you a specific numbered space in a specific hangar. The fee covers administration, managing access, and occasional cleaning and maintenance; but not the original construction cost. Renting one in Lambeth is a fair bit cheaper, at $42 a year – because they subsidise the running costs as well as the original construction costs, whereas Wandsworth only covers the initial construction costs. To hire a space in one of the on-street hangars visit CycleHoop.

While we’re on the subject of the concrete platforms in the Gideon Road estate – it’s good to see one of these long-abandoned concrete platforms finally used. But there are still two more of these huge platforms just left there, years after the sheds were removed – and as what is actually quite a decent little bit of land, with big trees and set back and slightly down from the road to shelter it from traffic, and plenty of space to not be right next to any flats, these could be used as an ideal ready-made base for an outdoor gym (like the ones installed at the edges of Clapham Common – shown below).

Or maybe even a supplement to the existing childrens’ playground that is buried rather deeper in the Gideon Road estate, in a neighbourhood that is becoming more and more populated and which is relatively lacking in green space.

It’s quite surprising to think that the relatively small space with its concrete platforms is one of the largest open spaces in the whole area – but it’s a side effect of the Shaftesbury Estate’s originally-planned central square, Brassey Square, never having been delivered, which left the whole of the Shaftesbury estate lacking any open space at all.

The Gideon Road estate did a bit better in this regard – but as the architects’ original plans (shown in the picture above) make clear, while it was built with quite a lot of open space, most of it was car parking and the rest was scattered in lots of tiny little patches that tend to be overshadowed by buildings set at right angles to it. This means that with the exception of the playground, most of of its open spaces aren’t used much at all, and tend to suffer from a lot of fly tipping. The new cycle shed is a clever place to put the bike store, it’s good to see some of this space in use again – and maybe the remaining concrete platforms will also be able to find a new purpose that improves the estate as a whole.

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Donna Margherita: Is this goodbye?

Sometimes things just don’t go to plan. And so it proved for Donna Margherita, at 183 Lavender Hill – one of our longest serving Neapolitan restaurants with two decades on Lavender Hill, and a firm favourite for years. When Coronavirus hit, restaurants were some of the hardest hit of all – but as we reported, Donna Margherita found a whole new opportunity, opening a delicatessen at a time when shop stocks were scarce and many were staying close to home and avoiding crowded supermarkets. A wide assortment of Italian produce was on sale, and while maybe not what they’d planned for, this clever approach kept things ticking over until we started to see light at the end of the tunnel. By spring last year, it was looking like the worst might be past, and they were again offering food service.

But then another disaster struck, with a kitchen fire in April 2021 that destroyed the back of the premises, and caused smoke and water damage around the building. With cruel timing this closed both the shop and restaurant with immediate effect. Initially there was shock and uncertainty on the part of the team, as they wondered if insurance would come to the rescue – but things started to fall in to place, leading to a substantial rebuilding exercise just as they had hoped to get going again after the worst of the pandemic. And having seen what the deli could do, the owners set out to rebuild as a pizza restaurant as well as a delicatessen.

Works got going quite fast, with a clearout of the fire damaged contents, and building works to repair the back of the premises. As we understand it, things proved a bit more complicated than initially expected, and the premises needed rather more work than expected – so what had initially seemed like maybe a couple of months work stretched out in to more like five or six months, including quite significant repairs to the flooring beams, a complete rewire, and various other works.

The opportunity wasn’t lost though, to create something brighter and fresher than what had gone before, with a new look – including bringing light in to the back of the restaurant area with the previously largely hidden window, a curved new feature ceiling in sky blue, and a crisper, simpler overall design, There was still the all important pizza oven, at the back of the premises.

Things were actually coming on pretty well, to the extent that by September last year, we could start seeing what Donna Margherita 2.0 was going to look like. Donna Margherita’s Instagram was clearly showing the enthusiasm too: “Ciao Amici! We’re still full-on working hard on our Donna Margherita 2.0, works are proceeding great but unfortunately, it might take a few more months before we can safely open our doors.We appreciate every single one of you reaching out and we hope to see you as soon as we open! This is the longest break we took in over 20 years and it will probably be the longest one we’ll take ever, we love our job and making you smile with our food!“.

But then everything stopped. We hoped it was just a case of struggling to find people to do the finishing touches in a very tight market in the building trades. But six months on, the site remains deserted and there’s no sign of action, suggesting that the pressure of keeping afloat with the restaurant a building site may have been too much.

So… is this goodbye? It would be a sad end to a local institution. What went wrong? Can Donna Margherita still rise from the ashes? We’ve tried to get in touch and will let you know if we hear; and if any of our readers can provide any update on the team or the restaurant, do let us know.

Posted in Business, Food & drink | 4 Comments

The new rooftop floor is appearing Clapham Junction’s landmark Arding & Hobbs building

The first signs of the new two storey extension have appeared on the roof of Clapham Junction’s former Debenhams, as part of the work to turn the upper floors in to an office building.  As we have previously posted, the rooftop extension has quite a different style to the building below, and is set back to provide a roof terrace as well as reducing its visibility from street level.

The roof extension, shown in the cross section above, is a lightweight structure made partly of wood – to not overload the structure of the building.

The structure is not really visible at all from St John’s Road, but can be seen from the back of the building – the photo above is from Ilminster Road, where the metalwork is becoming clearly visible.

To see the wooden lattice roof section, which is set to have quite a presence in the new upper levels, you need to go further away – the photo below is a street further east, on Beauchamp Road next to the former Corner Stone Christian bookshop (which we recently posted on).

Meanwhile in T.K.Maxx downstairs, various parts of the roof have been removed, seemingly because of water leaking in to the structure. It’s easily fixable – but one small benefit is a rare chance to see the original decorative plasterwork in the ground floor, which was the grandest part of the old department store.

It’s in surprisingly good condition! Some sections of these old ceilings remain visible in T.K.Maxx’s first floor homeward section, and we know there is lots of this ceiling still in decent condition in the part of the building that was previously Debenhams. We know that W.RE are well aware of the quality of the building they have acquired, and that they plan to make the most of these high ceilings and period features in the new office section. It’s a bit of a shame that most of the ceiling in the T.K.Maxx section has been hidden away.

All in all, the roof extension is so far looking true to the artist’s impressions that were shared during the planning stage. Coupled with the news we broke last month that developers W.RE have already secured at least two tenants, which got a lot of attention and was picked up quite widely, this adds further confirmation that as former department stores around the country struggle to find a new purpose, Arding and Hobbs’ future is both fully on track, and likely to be delivered to the high standards this landmark building deserves.

Posted in Arding & Hobbs, Business, Environment | 1 Comment

Fabrics Galore, celebrating 30 years of saving good people from bad fabrics…

Fabrics Galore is celebrating its 30th birthday today – one of the longest established traders on the street, bringing a huge range of fabrics from the subtle & understated to the bold and eclectic since 1992. It is a proper family business: owner Paul Johnston’s great grandfather was a trader and convertor in the then-booming fabric business in Bradford, with his father running The Shuttle fabric shop in Bradford, and his grandmother having done the same in Skipton. Paul himself started his career at John Lewis’ flagship store on Oxford street – a business notable for, among many other things, its comprehensive haberdashery section – before branching out and setting up his own business at Fabrics Galore.

Fabrics Galore has a loyal audience that stretches from regulars who have been customers for years or even decades, to those just something to make an interesting tablecloth or children’s craft project. Fabric is a category where it’s really best to actually see it – but Fabrics Galore has moved with the times and developed a healthy online business, including the ability to send sample swatches of fabrics to far flung customers, which proved it’s worth in keeping the show on the road during some parts of the Coronavirus, and which runs alongside the shop.

The building itself is admittedly not one of the street’s most elegant structures, being a fairly functional newish build. There was previously a small local post office on the spot, in a building we believe had been built in the 1960s; thanks to our readers we have a photo which just about captures that old building shown below, taken by Peter Marshall in 1988 – you can just about see it at the right hand side, it’s only about half the height of its neighbours. When that building was redeveloped the post office moved to what is now the Tesco a bit further down the hill, and then again to the Queenstown Road. We suspect that Fabrics Galore might be the first and only tenant of the current shop – there aren’t many businesses who can say this on the street!

So here’s to a happy 30th and many more years of interesting fabric. Meanwhile at Fabrics Galore there’s a special 30% off sale for today only. Fabrics Galore, 52-54 Lavender Hill, SW115RH.

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Reopened: Maiella Worth Cafe

The new ‘Maiella Worth’ Italian cafe & restaurant is open again, after being mysteriously closed for three weeks. Apparently there was an unpaid electricity bill from the previous tenants (a very big one – years’ worth!) which they only found out about when the power was suddenly disconnected… cue a lot of cost and delay to get the power on again.

Do visit, for fresh baked croissants and pastries, good coffee and food from the Abruzzo region of central Italy (including pasta made on site), partly as it’s a really welcoming place but also because a sudden three week shutdown with a large reconnection bill is the sort of nightmare every small business dreads; it’s hard to get back on track. At the time of writing there’s also a £3 raffle with a pretty high probability of winning a large easter egg (as I understand they bought the stock in just before the unexpected closure 🙂 ).

Maiella Worth, 789 Wandsworth Road. Open from 7:30 most days; menu here.

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Back to the future with a new front entrance for the Clapham Grand

Update: The temporary sign, in use for filming, is now visible – revealing a bit of a clue as to what has been filmed for the last few weeks, with rumours of it being part of Magic Mike 3, aka Magic Mikes Last Dance (you can see the same rather smart Rolls Royce in this associated news article).

It’s hard to miss the Clapham Grand’s new front entrance. For a long time it has just been a series of doors, sometimes with a queue snaking down the road and round the corner. But in recent days it has acquired a platform, and a full replica Victorian cast iron entrance pavilion, complete with flamboyant ironmongery, ornate columns and glazed roof.

It certainly gives the Grand a bit more presence! The building has for a long time lacked any particular front awning, even though it had one when it was first built. This new front, which follows a careful cleanup of the brick and stonework and the windows right around the exterior of the building, gives it back some of its Victorian charm.

This pavilion echoes the shape of the front doors. It’s by no means the first pavilion the building has had over the years – the photo below from the Theatres Trust‘s database shows a glass & cast iron awning that was on the building from when it opened in 1900 as “The New Grand Theatre of Varieties”.

The original front was later altered to turn it in to something more akin to a cinema frontage, when the main hall was fitted out to also work as a cinema in 1927 – with a streamlined shape and neon lighting, as shown below. It was still called the Grand Theatre, as it continued to do theatre, music hall and cinema between 1927 and 1950, when it converted to a full-time cinema called the Essoldo Cinema.

We don’t know when this awning was removed; it was still there throughout the life of the Essoldo Cinema – but in 1963 the cinema closed and the building went in to a rather sad phase which saw it stripped of some of its original features – including the front awning. For those interested in a little more of the story of the Grand their website is worth a look – it notes that one of the more surprising proposed new uses at the time was a attempt to replace the venue with a petrol station – a use which may not seem so strange if you have seen our previous article on the stuff-of-nightmares plans for giant motorway flyovers around and indeed on top of Clapham Junction station at the time, which were very nearly actually built and which would likely have seen both the station and the Grand demolished.

Luckily the petrol station plans, and the motorway plans, fell through. But like a lot of older cinemas, theatres and music halls, the building was converted for use as a bingo club under a series of owners, and gradually lost parts of its original design. This saw various bits of the building fall in to disuse and included the upper parts of the theatre being boarded off. The poor building wasn’t used at all between 1978 and 1991, but it was listed in 1978 which probably prevented its demolition. In 1990 the Mean Fiddler Group – who we have written about in their new guise as Festival republic, who run events on Clapham Common – took it on and (to their significant credit) got it back back in to shape and took it back to its roots by fitting it out as a live music venue. Unfortunately for Mean Fiddler the refurbished venue wasn’t especially successful, closing in 1997 and being sold to Wetherspoons at a point where they were opening enormous pubs around the UK. But even in the hands of Wetherspoons it proved a complicated venture: Wetherspoons failed to get a license even following a public inquiry, and eventually rather reluctantly accepted it would become a pub (though the location stayed on their radar as a good place for a pub, as we found with their opening of the London & South Western).

So it has stayed true to its roots as a club, live music venue, theatre and event space, and indeed while the business has had its ups and downs, including a rough ride through the Coronavirus as one of the sectors worst hit by closures and cancellations, there’s no doubting that it has a strong and enthusiastic team behind it and has done pretty well in recent years. This new work to recreate some of its long-lost Victorian flair, with a new entrance shows we’re nowhere near the end of the story for the Clapham Grand.

Thanks to some of our keen readers’ on-site observations we know some of these works are serving for a major film underway at the moment. Will the new entrance, which counts as temporary (and doesn’t have planning, but which is properly built to an unusually good standard for a mere film prop), survive? We hope it does.

Posted in Business, Curiosities, Food & drink, Local history | 3 Comments

Carpetman, the new occupier of Mr Liu’s old takeaway

Mr Liu, at 115 Lavender Hill, was a Chinese takeaway from the old school, with all the hallmarks of the first generation of Chinese restaurants in the UK: tiled floor, tiled walls, kitchen just out of sight – it didn’t look like much from the street. There was no heating other than a portable gas burner, which meant the place could get quite distinctly cold in winter. It was cash-only too: this was never a place that was going to promote itself on Deliveroo or develop an app. There was no website either – but someone had helpfully uploaded some photos of the menu to Google.

But Mr Liu wasn’t seeking to compete with the fashionable takeaways elsewhere on Lavender Hill – and he didn’t need to. Because this was a place that was all about the food! Mr Liu’s cooking had a status few other matched – widely seen as one of the best takeaways for miles around. Family-run for as long as anyone could remember, everyone played their part – their student children would make appearances keeping things running outside term time. Service was friendly and efficient – you’d get a call back if they were busy when you called. And Mr Liu knew the regulars, who would be given a calendar around the new year. Unsurprisingly, word spread far and wide, which meant the business was never short of customers!

But all things come to and end and age and ill health were starting to catch up with Mr Liu, so in autumn 2019, after decades serving the people of Battersea, he called it a day and headed to a well earned retirement. This led to a couple of years of building works: the whole building was accessed through the takeaway, and the works instead created a separate entrance to the flat upstairs so that the shop could be let separately; the whole premises also had a substantial renovation. And it has now been let – to Carpetman, who sell and install carpets, rugs and wooden flooring. They are new to Lavender Hill, but they’re not new to the area – having been based at 7a Putney Bridge Road (just off the Wandsworth gyratory) since 1997. We presume the reason for this relocation so that Carpetman’s current site – a large warehouse which was originally a printing press – is set to be redeveloped: as a 545 square metre plot of land right in the middle of Wandsworth, with planning permission in place to demolish everything and build eight flats and a three-bedroom house, it is currently on offer with a guide price of 2 million pounds.

This will be Lavender Hill’s second carpet shop, with Braggins Carpets continuing to trade at the opposite end of the street. Carpetman run a wide range of carpet types, from smart custom designs for architectural houses, wood and vinyl flooring, and a surprisingly large range of seagrass carpets, all the way to cheap and resilient wall-to-wall beige carpet for rental properties, and by the standards of the carpet sector they are well reviewed. So it’s a warm welcome to Carpetman, as they start to trade from their new home at 115 Lavender Hill.

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