The King’s Road, once a private royal route to Hampton Court, is Chelsea’s main road, stretching south-west from Sloane Square it curves round World’s End before going, (as New King’s Road, to Putney Bridge.
From smart Sloane Square, dominated by the Royal Court Theatre and the department store, Peter Jones, the King’s Road becomes more downmarket, particularly after the bend at World’s End, where the pub of the same still stands.
The elegant glass façade of Peter Jones shop, a member of the John Lewis group, sweeps around Sloane Square into the King’s Road. Built in 1935 – 38, the department store was one of first glass-curtain structures to be erected in Britain.
Shopping is the King’s Road’s main obsession and the street is packed with small fashion shops. It has always been at the forefront of fashion: the mini-skirt revolution started here in the 1960s and in the 1970s punk was born at Vivian Westward’s clothes store, ‘Sex’.
Today many of the trendy boutiques have been replaced by high-street chains but the upmarket clothes shops that survive offer cutting-edge designs to a youthful market. Vivian Westward’s store, now known as ‘World’s End’, is at No. 430.
Antiques are important in the King’s Road, and on the south side of the road there are three areas of stalls for antique-lovers: Aniquarius at No. 131 – 141, Chenil Galleries at Nos. 181 – 3 and the Chelsea Antiques Market at No. 253.
Sir Terrance Conran opened his Habitat household store in the King’s Road, opposite Chelsea Town Hall, as a direct challenge to old-fashioned Peter Jones. Heal’s, Habitat’s upmarket sister, was established at No. 234. Conran extended his restaurant empire into the King’s Road, with Bluebird, at No. 350, a converted 1930’s garage with a restaurant, café, luxury food store, cookware shop and flower stall.