The wealthy riverside neighbourhood of Chelsea, situated in the centre of the capital, began as a Saxon village outside of London town. Although its population had grown to 3,000 by 1694, Chelsea was still considered rural, which was part of its attraction as a fashionable destination for the rich. With the development boom of the nineteenth century, however, the `village of palaces' was fully absorbed into the metropolis, yet retained its charm and identity separate from the surrounding city.
Chelsea Bridge opened in 1858, Albert Bridge in 1873, and the Chelsea Embankment in 1874. During the nineteenth century, the district's Victorian artists' colony gave it a reputation for bohemian creativity, and this re-emerged in the 1960s when Chelsea became identified with `Swinging London', a centre of creativity and expression. The story of the district, home of the famous Chelsea bun, the Chelsea Porcelain Factory and Chelsea FC is chronicled in this unique collection of old and new images.
Brian Girling, a keen London historian, was born in London in 1940 and lived either in central or outer London all his life. After 30 years as a social and wedding photographer he went on to be a picture postcard dealer and had access to a large private archive of photographic images of London. He published several titles on London's history for Amberley.