Photos of London cafes from 2001

Before the London Sound Survey, I had vague plans for a website appreciating those homelier aspects of the scruffy old city which seemed to be on the way out. Nothing came of them apart from some photos of traditional-style cafes taken in 2001.

Dave's Diner, Battersea


In the late 1990s I was living in Battersea in a ground-floor flat on Queenstown Road. It had an outside toilet subject to frequent invasions by slugs. To avoid stepping on them at night my flatmate took to urinating in bottles which he then hoarded in his room. To the uninformed, it looked like he was seriously into home brewing.

Queenstown Road then was in the early stages of a substantial change of character, just as many other parts of London were. The long post-war decline in population was starting to reverse. Some of the cafes in the area were doing quite well as a result, because large numbers of tradesmen were being employed on local house renovations and they needed somewhere to eat.

When I went back in 2001, most of the cafes along Battersea Park Road were unchanged, including Dave’s Diner. The young couple who ran it were cheerful and happy to talk, saying that business was doing well.

Dave's Diner, Battersea

Several other cafes were along that stretch on the north side of Battersea Park Road, including the Jimmy Griddle and Corelli’s, the latter also a popular ice cream parlour. A more grotty greasy spoon lurked by the railway bridge to the east, and close by Queenstown Road station itself was the Corner Cafe, which is still there with its old ‘Dining Rooms’ wall sign visible (you can see it on Google streetview here).

The friendly atmosphere extended to at least some of the cafe’s customers that afternoon, like these two tradesmen.

Dave's Diner patrons

Dave’s Diner must have closed fairly recently, as it still appears in some online listings. The premises are now occupied by a fried chicken shop.