I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet
Print-friendly version of this page North Kensington lies either side of Ladbroke Grove, W10.
I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet was a clothing boutique which achieved fame in 1960s "Swinging London" by promoting antique military uniforms as fashion items.
I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet was opened by Ian Fisk and John Paul and managed by Robert Orbach at 293 Portobello Road
, Notting Hill, London, in 1966. Among the shop’s customers were Eric Clapton, Mick Jagger John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix.
Robert Orbach arranged for his ex boss Warren Gold aka Lord John to rent the shop in Wardour Street to John Paul. Another new branch of Kitchener’s was opened in Foubert’s Place, off Carnaby street, also arranged by Orbach selling Militaria and Swinging London novelty items, that was rented from Henry Moss and Harry Fox of Lady Jane fame.
In 1967 two more Kitchener’s outlets opened on Carnaby Street and later expanded to sites in Piccadilly Circus and then King’s Road (where the shop was named I Was Lord Kitchener’s Thing).
In the summer of 1967, Fisk and Paul dissolved their partnership. Fisk took sole ownership of the Portobello road premises, which became the Injun Dog head-shop (subtitled Once I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet).
The last Kitchener’s outlet in Coventry Street closed its doors in 1977, but is still remembered as an important Swinging Sixties boutique.
The New Vaudeville Band recorded a song titled "I Was Lord Kitchener’s Valet" in tribute to the shop.
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North Kensington was rural until the 19th century, when it was developed as a suburb with quite large homes. By the 1880s, too many houses had been built for the upper-middle class towards whom the area was aimed. Large houses were divided into low cost flats which often degenerated into slums, as documented in the photographs of Roger Mayne.
During the 1980s, the area started to be gentrified although areas in the north west of the district at Ladbroke Grove
and Westbourne Park remain deprived and run down to this day.
Waves of immigrants have arrived for at least a century including, but certainly not limited to, the Spanish, the Irish, the Jews, the West Indians, the Portuguese, the Moroccans and many from the Horn of Africa and Eastern Europe. This constant renewal of the population makes the area one of the most cosmopolitan in London.
The Notting Hill carnival was first staged in 1964 as a way for the local Afro-Caribbean communities to celebrate their own cultures and traditions. After some rough times in the 1970s and 1980s when it became associated with social protest, violence and huge controversy over policing tactics, this is now Europe’s largest carnival/festival event and a major event in the London calendar. It is staged every August over the Bank holiday weekend.