Anyone travelling out of London along the A4 (or the Great West Road as it used to be called) must have seen this row of houses on the left-hand side at Talgarth Road (numbers 135-149), just before the Hammersmith flyover. They were designed as artists’ studios by Frederick Wheeler (1853-1931) and built in 1891. Wheeler designed the studios in the Arts and Crafts style for James Fairless, a publisher of prints of classical works of art. The houses were meant for bachelor artists and had three rooms on the ground floor and in the basement a kitchen and a room for the housekeeper. Despite this intention of providing houses for single artists, many inhabitants managed to cram more people into the studio than was originally envisaged; in 1911, William Logsdail, for instance, lived at number 5 with his wife, his son and daughter and a servant. The studios themselves were situated on the first floor and were 30 feet long and 22 feet wide (9.1 × 6.7 m). The large barrel-vaulted windows, facing north, were specifically designed to let in as much light as possible.
Just to the west of the studios, at number 151, is Colet House, which, although not part of the studio project, is in the same style and often referred to as 9 St. Paul’s Studios. It is a larger property that has been used for various purposes, such as the ballet dance school where Margo Fonteyn worked. It was originally thought that Colet House was also designed by Frederick Wheeler, but recent research favours Fairfax Blomfield Wade-Palmer (1851-1919). For more information on Colet House see here.
In 2007, the contents of one of the studios came on the market and the sale was reported in the Hammersmith & Fulham News of August 2007. In the leaflet, a number of photos of the interior of the studio give a good idea of what they must have looked like when they were just built. Disregard the modern office chairs for a moment and you could be back in the 1890s.
The stretch of Talgarth Road with the studios started life as Red Cow Lane, later to be named Colet Gardens after John Colet, Dean of St Paul’s. It received its present name in the 1960s. Over the years, many famous and not so very famous artists have lived in the studios. From various sources, the following – most likely incomplete – list will give you some idea. Click on the * to get more information on an artist. A ? before or after a year means the artist may have lived there before or after that date, but I have found no information on the exact period. If you can add to the list, please leave a comment.
At studio number 1 (135 Talgarth road)
– ?1905-1911? Grosvenor Thomas (1856-1923), painter (*)
At studio number 2 (137 Talgarth road)
– ?1893-? Miss E.C. Adlington, painter
– ?1901-1911? Gertrude Ellen Demain (Hammond) McMurdie, book illustrator, watercolorist (*)
At studio number 3 (139 Talgarth road)
– ?1901-1911? Frederick De Haenen (1853-1928), illustrator
– ?1943 Arthur David McCormick (1860-1943), painter (*)
At studio number 4 (141 Talgarth road)
– ?1901-1911? Herbert Sidney (1858-1923), painter (*)
At studio number 5 (143 Talgarth road)
– 1892-1900 Jeannie and/or her daughter Ruby Levick (ca.1872-1940). Ruby was a sculptor. (*)
– ?1897-1901? Lillian Etherington, painter
– 1901-1903 Inglis Sheldon-Williams (1870-1940), painter and illustrator (*)
– 1903-1922 William Logsdail (1859-1944), painter (*)
– 1922-1938 George Kruger Gray (1880-1943), coin designs, stained glass windows (*)
– 1949-1950 Ernest Gébler (1914-1998), playwright (*)
At studio number 6 (145 Talgarth road)
– ?1897-1901? [William Albert] Darent Harrison, sculptor
– ?1905-? Robert Hugh Buxton (1871-?), painter (*)
– ?1911-? Abraham (Abbey) Altson (1866-1949), painter (*)
At studio number 8 (149 Talgarth Road)
– ?1901-1911? George Harcourt Sephton (1885?-1923), portrait painter
– ?-? Margot Fonteyn (1919-1991), ballet dancer (*)
– 1926-1948 Martin Travers (1886-1948), designer of church interiors, stained glass (*)
I would not think that any artist can nowadays find the peace to do creative work at St. Paul’s Studios with the cars on the A4 thundering past, spewing filth and noise, just metres away from the studio window, but maybe I am wrong. And although the outside of the buildings needs regular cleaning to avoid total blackness, the houses are still as quirky and individual as they were when the studios were first built in 1891.