We've got some great news to share this week as we've just submitted a planning application for a unique property in Ladbroke Grove. 15 - 17 Hewer Street is a stunning Victorian building that once served as a stable block for The Nodes family, who have lived and worked in the area for over 100 years. The family also owned and worked on Zero Alfred Road, another Uplift project, so we are really proud to be part of the future of both sites.
Last week Kam went round and met our new neighbours on Hewer Street, who were super keen to tell us what they knew about the property and also to share their hopes for its future. So thanks to them and the Nodes family, and some research in the local library, we've learnt a lot about the building's history. And we're now using this knowledge to restore the building to its former glory, whilst at the same time giving it a new use and purpose in the neighbourhood.
Our plan is to provide 16 new homes within the main building arranged around an internal courtyard and also to create a small studio or office space for a local start-up company in what was once the coach house.
We are really proud to be the new owners of the site and can't wait for work to begin.
In the meantime, here's a little bit more about the building's history and a story of horses and heroism that we really love...
The site of 15-17 Hewer Street appears in the 1888 Kensington street directory as ‘Dawlish Yard' coach house and stable block. The building was owned by John Nodes, who ran a local family undertaking and stone masonry business. The stone masonry work was carried out at his yard on Zero Alfred Road, which Uplift are also carefully developing, and the property at Hewer Street was where he kept his horses. Traditional black Friesians, these horses would have played an essential part in the grand Victorian funeral processions of the time, wearing black ostrich feather plumes and pulling ornate carriages decorated with flowers.
According to historical records, the stables were built in 1881, and were still operating when war broke out in 1939. An archive of WW2 memories includes the story of a stable fire in 1942, told by a local boy who was 17 at the time.
Ernest Walsh was sleeping in a brick shelter with his family during an air raid, when he heard his friend Ronnie banging on the door, shouting: “We’ve got to get round to the dairy, it’s been hit with about 20 incendiary bombs… and the horses are trapped next door”. The boys rushed to the dairy where they saw fire in the John Nodes stables next door and heard the horses in distress:
“Together with Ronnie and Uncle Bob, we climbed over the boundary wall… to find the door of the stable would not open! I threw a milk crate up, smashed the window and climbed in. An incendiary bomb was burning fiercely in the far corner of the stable.
I groped my way to the horse nearest to the burning canister. ‘Betsy’ was jumping about wildly. “Steady there girl" I said, "we’ll soon get you to safety”.
The fire seemed to be gaining hold… then suddenly the stable door crashed open! Betsy broke away from me and literally flew out of the door… and when we got to ‘Billy’s’ stall we placed a damp blanket over his head; leading him out to safety.”
When the fires were put out and the remaining horses rescued, Ernest’s response was “I could really murder a cup of tea”.