Odd London News Items
Random items of local London interest: The Mayfair Times and Kensington & Chelsea Times.
Traffic congestion in King Street, St James's, is reaching intolerable proportions according to the Mayfair, Piccadilly and St James's Association which is now lobbying for it to be made one-way only.
Representations have already been made to Westminster City Council and the police, while association members hope that council leader Lady Porter will take a look at the problem herself if action is not taken soon.
King Street is one of the few in the area which still retains two-way traffic now that almost all of St James's and most of Mayfair have adopted one-way traffic management.
The association claims life in King Street has become intolerable for several other reasons including noise, obstructions and disruption caused by a succession of major long-term building projects on the south side of the street.
Exasperated association members have already called in police and council officials to see for themselves with PC Keith Elliot, officer in charge of building works at Vine Street police station, followed by Westminster City Council's environmental enforcement officer, Mr B. G. Turton. Between them they moved several large vehicles obstructing the road outside Christie's auctioneers; found cable-laying by Mercury Communications was not being conducted properly; that builders' compressors were parked illegally on the roadside; and that contractors had been found illegally digging holes in the street.
Furthermore, although contractors had temporary permission to close the pavement outside the old Dunlop site, the police and council were keeping a close watch to see that the obstructions were removed and pavements reinstated as soon as required.
The association believes that none of these problems would have been half as disruptive and unpleasant for residents and businesses if King Street had been a one-way street forming part of the St James's Square, Pall Mall and Lower Regent Street system.
Furthermore, the inevitable necessary delivery vans at Christie's and the many fine art galleries in the street would cause far fewer obstructions, it says.
"This is admittedly, only one of dozens of environmental issues which we are constantly monitoring," says association secretary, Jack Creed. "The point is that unless we act as an ear and a mouthpiece there's no easy way for people in the area to channel their views and get things done."
When British athletes win gold medals in Seoul, Ronald Jones, director and general manager of Claridge's will know just how they feel. Having won the coveted 1988 Hotelier of the Year award, he says he feels on top of the world.
"Although it has taken me 44 years to become an overnight success, it's as if I've been training for the Olympics all these years and now I've won the gold medal."
Entirely responsible for the day-to-day image and success of what is arguably the world's most famous and prestigious hotel, association member Ronald Jones was voted a winner for his personal qualities rather than the reputation of Claridge's. The son of a superintendent of railway dining cars, Mr Jones wanted to be a chef from the age of seven. In a steady progression he rose through every department of The Adelphi Hotel in his native Liverpool to become general manager of the five-star Turnberry Hotel in Ayrshire and, later, the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington before masterminding the total redevelopment and re-launch of The Athenaeum in Piccadilly.
Today he is responsible for a major 4 million project to rebuild the kitchens and extensive redecoration and renovation works to the hotel's 209 bedrooms and sumptuous reception rooms.
"Generations of our guests expect something special from Claridge's and we try never to disappoint them," says Mr Jones who, along with a dedicated team, is answerable to the most discriminating and hard-to-please clientele in the world. After just three years in the job his efforts have been recognised, not only by his peers in the hotel industry and his very exclusive guests, but also, it is said, by the Royal Family to whom Claridge's is a sort of Buckingham Palace annexe and one of their favourite venues for private parties.
"I have not changed anything for the sake of it," says Ronald Jones, a member of the Worshipful Company of Distillers and a Freeman of the City of London. "I have simply polished the product."
And the secret of his success: "Always to be a good listener !"
West End stage star Judy Campbell made a plea to the Times from her dressing-room at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, this week.
"I terribly want to trace a kind lady who wrote to me from an address in Kensington, W8," said Miss Campbell who herself lives in Old Church Street, Chelsea.
"This lady wrote such a delightful letter, saying she had seen the show twice, mentioned that she had known Kathleen Nesbitt and had information relating to Sarah Bernhardt. I was just about to reply and ask her to meet me sometime soon when I found I'd lost her letter."
Miss Campbell, a leading lady in Noel Coward's pre-war shows and the very first person to sing A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square says that she had most of the backstage staff of The Sleeping Prince (in which she stars with Omar Sharif) searching for the lost letter.
"I'd hate her to think I hadn't bothered to reply," she said. "If anyone knows this lady or she sees the Times, please ask her to get in touch with me."
Judy Campbell (mother of the actress Jane Birkin) is the wife of David Birkin, one of the most remarkable figures in World War ll clandestine naval warfare. He served as a leader of commandos of the elite British SBS [Special Boat Service], frequently crossing the English Channel on clandestine missions in small boats to occupied France to deliver and collect British agents or to carry out sabotage missions against German coastal positions. He was one of the most modest, amusing and delightful people I have known. Sadly his increasing frailty prevented us from collaborating on writing his memoirs which would, I think, have given us an extraordinary glimpse into secret warfare in World War ll.
© (1976-1988) Christopher Long. Copyright, Syndication & All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
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