While we have reminisced Chelsea’s history in its entirety, King’s Road has a special je ne sais quoi and vibrancy that brings Chelsea to life today. From its humble beginning as, quite literally, the King’s Road, to the highly spirited fashion movement in the 60s, this quaint piece of antiquity is something to recollect.
Built in 1694, the King’s road was initially established as King Charles II’s private road that was used to travel for ease between his palaces in St James’ and Hampton Court. Until the 1800s, the road was only accessed by members of Royalty, courtiers and the aristocracy.
When the new Borough cemetery opened in 1855, King’s Road was renamed ‘Cemetery Road’ until 1911, when it was changed back to honour the coronation of George V.
Henry VIII may have set the tone for Chelsea, but the construction of King’s Road built a higher sense of exclusivity for the neighbourhood and its future as one of the most popular and traditional spots in London to this day.
As we mentioned in our previous blog, 1960s London was the place to be to witness the latest fashion trends rock down the King’s Road. Famous fashion designer, Mary Quant, led the way and it was at this point in history that she brought the iconic mini skirt to life.
Independent boutiques soon filled the properties along the street, and King’s Road became a global hotspot, not only for fashion but also music.
The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were just a few of the iconic bands rocking the King’s Road. Led Zepplin even started his record label, Swann Song Records in 1974 at number 484. Vivienne Westwood leading punk movement in the 1970s opened up a whole new world of music and fashion trends. The King’s Road soon became home to some of the most legendary musicians in the industry.
What is now a Mcdonalds used to be the quintessential Chelsea Drugstore in 1968. The drugstore took inspiration from American-style malls which offered music, clothes, food, drink and a chemist within an eye-catching building that attracted many of the residents of King’s Road.
Today’s concept of Deliveroo was even initially practised by the Chelsea Drugstore ‘flying squad’ delivery service, where young women in incredibly bright purple catsuits would deliver items to consumers’ homes via motorcycle.
While it became one of the chicest and modern spots on King’s Road, it was closed down in 1971 three years after opening. This was partly due to the design of the building but also because of its shocking 16 hour opening times – something unheard of in the 1960s. The destination was certainly ahead of its time but paved the way for King’s Road and its unapologetically unique way of shopping.
King’s Road has come a long way in recent years, and despite its arguably sophisticated and elegant presence, it has certainly kept its eccentric, expressive and inventive art forms with pride, oozing more charm than the whole of London as a whole.
As a true London landmark, King’s Road is still the place to be and shop when visiting or living in the city. Come and indulge the heritage of our wonderful neighbourhood and witness the history for yourself.
As responsible custodians of the Sloane Stanley estate, we are committed to preserving the distinct heritage and character of the Chelsea area, while strengthening our diverse and engaged community. We love our neighbourhood and we want you to enjoy the experience as much as we do.