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1973 Biba Fashion House Opens at 99 Kensington High Street

99 Kensington High St side view
99 Kensington High St side view

The grand art deco building contains 7 floors and opened in 1933.

Biba Story, 99 Kensington Highstreet
Biba Story, 99 Kensington Highstreet

 

99 Kensington Highstreet the former Derry and Toms department store
99 Kensington Highstreet the former Derry and Toms department store.

 

The Intro appears #OnThisDay 10th September https://wp.me/p9H7Q3-19D

Biba fashion was based on inspirations from Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Kitsch. Bell swooping sleeves one of their signature shapes.

The Designer Barbara Hulanicki and Simon Fitzsimon her husband spent a million or so on refurbishing the store. It was known as “Big Biba”. The shop not only stocked the Biba clothes and accessories, it also sold,  a mixture of other goods. For example,  furniture, household goods, decorating materials, sports goods, things for children, food and hosted a restaurant. It was not like the conventional stacked, looking clinical type of store. It was artistic in its design interior and themes. Big Biba closed on that site around 1975.

Please click this link; Biba Interior  which has some wonderful photos of the interior of Big Biba

The Designer Barbara Hulanicki, vintage images about Biba can be found by clicking this link; Vintage Images of Biba House

99 Kensington High St side view

99 Kensington High St side view

99 Kensington High street entrance sign Derry St W8
99 Kensington High street entrance sign Derry St W8
99 Kensington Highstreet Entrance
99 Kensington Highstreet Entrance
99 Kensington High street entrance sign
99 Kensington High street entrance sign
99 side entrance Kensington High street
99 side entrance view rooftop edge-on view, Kensington High street

 

99 Kensington High street decorative panel side of Derry st
99 Kensington High street decorative panel side of Derry St

 

Prior to 1973, at  99 Kensington High Street

The building was known as Derry and Toms Department store. Derry and Toms were brothers in Law and by the 1870s owned a lot of the shop buildings in that area, after having started out with just one small shop.

Barkers Department store next door

The Building next door to number 99, was a department store too and displays the name BARKERS in the stonework, that can still be seen to this day. At the start of the 1920s, John Barker & Co bought Derry and Toms, keeping the original name people knew it as.

Barkers Department store next door to 99 Kensington High St
Barkers Department store next door to 99 Kensington High St

 

1930’s

At the start of the 1930’s plans for a new building on the site of 99 Kensington High street resulted in the grand Art deco building we can still see today.

Top area Barkers Department store next door to 99 Kensington High St
Top area Barkers Department store next door to 99 Kensington High St
Side of Barkers department store
The side of Barkers department store
Top with Union Jack flag, Barkers department store
Top with Union Jack flag, Barkers department store
Side View of Barkers opposite 99 Kensington High street
Side View of Barkers opposite 99 Kensington High street

99 Kensington High st Design Features

Bernard George was the Architect. Walter Gilbert designed metalwork embellishments, his handwork also seen to the Gates of Buckingham Palace. Panels with Bas-relief depicting animals nature entitled “Labour & Technology” by CJ Mabey.

metal work embelishment
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street

 

metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street
metal work embellishment 99 Kensington High Street

 

Decorative Stone embellishments

99 Kensington Highstreet stone embellishment
99 Kensington Highstreet stone embellishment

 

 

 

99 Kensington Highstreet stone embellishment
99 Kensington Highstreet stone embellishment

 

Who thought of putting the garden on the Roof?

Trevor Bowen was the Vice President of Barkers, he had initiated the idea that rooftops of these large buildings could be turned into gardens. 99 Kensington High street, has a 6000 m2 / 1.5 hectare,  rooftop area. This was landscaped by a specialist Ralph Hancock around 1936-38. Noted for ( Rockefeller Centre rooftop Gardens )

99 Kensington High street building stone embelishment
99 Kensington High street building stone embellishment
part of 99 kensington High street roof garden edge
part of 99 Kensington High street roof garden edge

 

Other design features of the building

Windows 99 Kensington High street
Windows 99 Kensington High street
Decorative underside to window bays 99 Kensington High St
Decorative underside to window bays 99 Kensington High St

 

Towards the end of the 1930s

The Public was charged a shilling to enter the gardens when they opened in 1938, it had a tea pavilion, themed areas. Gardens were themed as, Spanish, English, Tudor. Archways, trees, ducks, Flamingos, lavender, vines, pond, palms.  The money went back into Charity for medical causes.

1970’s

The Kensington & Chelsea Council placed a preservation order on the trees of the garden and the roof gardens, in around 1976.

1980’s

The buildings became grade II English Heritage listed 1981. Around this time, the roof garden area developed into a nightclub. Towards the end of the 90s, further registrations were awarded.

Millennium years

In 2001 the company Virgin transformed it into the Babylon Restaurant.  Virgin ended the business January 2018. It is closed now to the public. Speculation that the lease would not be renewed despite Virgin Maestro Branson wanting to renew. Other sources say the business was at a financial loss and not renewed for those reasons. The Family of the Landscape gardener were invited to view the area before it closed. Short notice seems to have surrounded its closure, leaving many people not able to say farewell or take memento photos.

Today

Today the building has many different companies and stores that use parts of the buildings. The Numbers carry over M&S for example being 113 Kensington High street.

Part of the building at 101-111 Kensington High street Currently is hosted by Japan House London. https://www.japanhouselondon.uk/

part of art deco building kensington high st hosts Japan House London 101-111
part of art deco building Kensington high st hosts Japan House London 101-111

 

 

The Kensington Society

See their interesting link about the roof garden

What will happen to Europe’s largest roof garden?

Here is an Arial view of the Kensington rooftop gardens at No. 99, 

taken by specialists who use small flying gadgets.

 

Where to find it

 

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