Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Pop Culture & The World’s End

Why on earth would I embed this video!? At the beginning of the clip, in a tribute to their early years, the Stones show the name of a street,’ Edith Grove’, where as unknown, underfed, musicians they shared a ‘low rent’ apartment.
Edith Grove lays in The World’s End a deceptive name given to a small, once poor, area of the otherwise affluent London borough of Chelsea-Kensington. I have long had a deep felt affiliation with the locality, mostly due to the fact that I was born and raised there. The locality has a long and colourful history; stories of drinking, gambling and whoring, a many! Also a brave and courageous past, as being one of the most bombed areas of London during World War 2. My commentary, though, relates to the important role it has played in ‘pop’ culture. 

In the early 1962, for want of a better place to stay, a group of young musicians moved into a couple of shabby rooms at -102a Edith Grove, London SW10. For a few shillings a week, they also rented a rehearsal room above a local pub, the Weatherby Arms, named them selves after a Muddy Waters song, ‘Rollin’ Stone’, and began their climb to be one the greatest rock bands ever. 

Due to its close proximity of the more affluent Sloan Square and Knights Bridge, and the birth of ‘boutiques’, a few daring fashion designers took advantage of the lower rents and set up shop in the vicinity. Boutiques, carrying such psychedelic names as ‘Granny Takes a Trip’ and ‘The Sweet Shop’, became the favourite clothing outlets for the likes of, Jimmy Hendrix, The Beatles, Stones, and other 60’s luminaries, such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. From being an insiders shopping destination, it soon grew to be popular with the week-end Dandies looking for that ‘extra special’ article of clothing.

We can’t remark on The World’s End of the 1960s with out a mention to Gandalf’s Garden a mystical community, part of the London hippie movement that ran a shop and a magazine of the same name. It emphasised the mystical interests of the period, and advocated meditation in preference to drugs. Hippie notables as Joan Baez and Donavan could be sometimes seen paying a visit. One of the prominent initiators of the project, Muz Murray, is now known in India as Ramana Baba and teaches mantra yoga and Advaita Vedanta worldwide.

As quickly as they come, decades go; the 70’s stepped into the 60’s shoes, and kept The World’s Ends pop-connection alive.

In 1971 a young couple, Vivienne Westwood and her boy friend Malcolm McLaren opened a boutique at 430 Kings Road, called ‘Let it Rock’- later known as ‘Sex’, Too fast to Live Too Young To Die’. During this period McLaren got the idea to form and manage a band. By combining a revolutionary new ‘musical concept with four of the boutiques most outrageous customers, the band ‘The Sex Pistols’ was born, and along with them-punk! Dame Vivienne still owns this shop, which is now known as World’s End, from which she sells the World’s End label.

There are many other legends surrounding the neighbourhood, Bob Marley is reputed to have written ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ while staying with a friend in the area; having no fixed proof I can not claim this as a true fact.

No man stands in the way of progress, it bulldozes its way through history and time, indifferent to what it has to destroy to make its path. The World’s End is no longer the community it once was. Huge impersonal blocks of apartments now dominate the area, and most of the real World’s Enders have disappeared into time and space; but I still can hear the music that was born in its streets!


  1. I like this story. I didn't know that the World's End was such an exciting place.

  2. Richmond Fleming8 January 2012 at 21:38

    I had the fish and chip shop here in the sixties before it was all redeveloped. They were exciting times and lovely people

  3. Hi Richmond! Why don't you join the World's End community on Face Book. Always great to have new faces! Alex