August 12th promised to be – weather wise, at least – somewhat less than “glorious”; however, being my birthday and a Monday off work, what better way to pass a late morning and afternoon than on a quest to unearth some more of Jack and George’s old haunts.
For this trip, I decided to try and hit a cluster of map-pins around the Holland Park and Shepherd’s Bush area – taking in a NW(ish) corner of Kensington on the way. This choice was partly because there were a nice number of locations within a walkable distance, partly because it was just south of my previous set of locations, and there were a few ‘pick up shots’ I wanted to try and get – and partly because there’s a Brew Dog in Shepherd’s Bush, and I get a free beer in their bars on my birthday. (Well, why not.) So as usual, it was Travelcard in hand and up to Waterloo, this time getting the Jubilee then Central Lines to Holland Park.
Episode Context – S1E07, “The Placer”
Regan has gone undercover as a driver to get to a gang of hijackers who are taking lorries. By posing as ‘bait’, Regan becomes known to the gang as being fairly handy, so when Carter arrests Chris Kesey, the driver for the gang’s mastermind Harry Poole, Regan is asked to fill in on driving duty and thus places himself at the heart of the gang.
Poole’s pad is in Holland Park Mews (1); it is here that Carter takes Kesey in, and where Poole subsequently asks Jack to fill in. We see external shots of the Mews with conversations around the car, but although we get an impression that the house is somewhere in the middle or perhaps towards the ‘top’ end closer to Holland Park itself, it’s not really clear which exact house it is:
As you can see (and as is often the case) apart from a bit of face-lifting and sprucing, the Mews houses look much the same. The above shots are looking NE towards Holland Park; the large white building (36 Holland Park) still dominates this end of the Mews. In the shots below, however, the motor seems to be parked on the other side of the Mews and we’re looking more SW, towards where Holland Park (the road) becomes Abbotsbury Road.
Again, you can see that there’s not much change in the buildings, they’re just a little less grimy (and probably 10x as costly).
Walking out of the Mews under the arch, I turned left along Abbotsbury Road and alongside the Western edge of the park itself, before heading SW into a corner of Kensington, and back to an episode in Season 2 that we’ve previously encountered.
Episode Context – S2E02, “Faces”
Our old friends, Tober and ‘Evil’ Willie run a gang of politically motivated robbers out of a junk shop on Goldborne Road, North Kensington. Carter suspects that local snout Albert Milligan may have some information that would help the squad, and goes to find him at a bookies where they frequently meet. However, something (or indeed, someone) has clearly put the wind up Milligan, and he has it away on his toes to try and avoid speaking to George.
The ‘bookies’ is on Russell Gardens (2), in what appears to be currently a vacant shop (the white-fronted one right in the edge of this shot – I couldn’t quite manage to take it from further back due to parked vans and people loading / unloading ‘behind’ me here):
Some of the shop fronts have been changed in the intervening years; the ‘Alounak’ restaurant (as it is now) looks fairly similar though, from what I can glean from the episode angle. Switching our POV, we follow George as he exits the bookies and heads in pursuit of Milligan, who has disappeared round the corner into Russell Park Mews:
The large building he runs past is yet another example of what was in the past clearly a pub, and is sadly now no longer so. As ever, ‘progress’ dictates that it is now some kind of blandly modern set of commercial and/or residential units; far more economically viable, but far less appealing (IMO, at least).
The final shots in this chase sequence are taken around the corner in the Mews (3), where Milligan (no match for our George in the athletic stakes) is caught:
I’ve occasionally wondered when (as much as ‘if’) someone would wonder what I was up to, particularly when taking photos of fairly secluded / residential areas; as it turns out, the answer was ‘on a Monday in Russell Gardens Mews’. I got chatting with ‘Q’, who’d asked me who I was looking for (a not unreasonable question of someone wandering into your road and then gazing up and down thoughtfully); it turns out that his house – one that features in the above shots – used to be owned by Michael Crawford, amongst others, and there have also been segments of ‘Some Mothers…’ filmed nearby. After arranging to email him some stills from the episode that show Sgt. Carter in action outside his house, I departed for ‘The Bush’ and the next set of locations.
Episode Context – S1E02, “Jackpot”
During an ambush on a gang of armed robbers returning from a cash heist, the squad apprehend the villains but in the melees and punch-ups a bag containing £35,000 goes missing. Digging into the minds and motivations (beyond the obvious) of the suspects involved, Regan learns that one of the gang, Biggleswade, has a daughter with a serious medical condition. He goes to meet with a doctor to find out more about the child’s illness and whether it plays a part in the unfolding story.
Regan meets the doctor outside Verulam House (4), in Hammersmith Grove just off Goldhawk Road. (As an aside, if I ever do a series on ‘Quadrophenia’ locations, I’d likely be coming back to this neck of the woods.)
As you can see, the frontage of the building is much the same, a slight lick of paint here or there aside. It doesn’t look as if cars park in the small forecourt area nowadays (it’s kind of fenced off), but otherwise Jack could pretty much be on his way round the corner. For my part, I was away just up the road to the market.
Episode Context – S1E04, “Queen’s Pawn”
Johnny Lyons, along with his fellow flash criminals Budd and Clarke, are acquitted on robbery changes despite the Squad being certain of their guilt. Unable to get to them via direct means, they pursue other angles of approach, including leaning on what they see as the ‘weakest link’ in the chain, Budd – or moreover, his wife – in an effort to make them crack and turn on the rest of the gang to save themselves. Looking for information that will assist them, Regan and Carter head to Shepherd’s Bush Market to meet Ronnie, a local with his ‘ear to the ground’.
The conversation with Ronnie at his stall is somewhere indoors / under cover, that is not really possible to pinpoint exactly. Regan and Carter walk through the main outdoor part of the market (5), however, and discuss the case as they go:
You can just about glimpse enough of a building in the 2nd episode shot to tell that it was near the ‘North’ end of the market facing out onto Uxbridge Road; besides that, there is general market ambiance that could have been at any point along the stalls. The market layout itself hasn’t changed much; the stalls themselves are now less household wares and typical old London traders, and more Asian fabrics and foods, but the character is still vaguely similar.
After wandering up and back down the market, it was pushing lunchtime – and more to the point starting to rain heavily – so I took that as my cue to duck into Brew Dog and procure my free birthday beer (OK, and a couple of friends to join it) and wait out the weather with some lunch. Not sure what Jack and George would make of craft beer bars as opposed to grubby boozers, but I enjoyed having the place as my own private bar for a while!
Once the weather cleared up (and the bar had got too crowded – 3 other people in there) I moved on to the next little cluster of locations slightly to the East of Shepherd’s Bush and back into Holland Park.
Episode Context – S1E02, “Jackpot”
First up, we return to the exploits of Biggleswade and his gang, and the location where the Squad ambush them after their cash raid. This takes place in Royal Crescent Mews (6 – first map) – a scene that we replay many times during the episode, including in slow-motion detail, as The Sweeney revisit film footage of the ambush and try to piece together what happened to the missing cash.
The most noticeable thing when walking through the Mews in general, is that the old green garages – against which many a copper and villain was flung during countless individual battles – are no longer quite so prevalent (though a few remain, as can be seen in the lower-right of the second pair of photos); otherwise, the general look of the houses and such is pretty much the same. As with the other Mews (I do love a good Mews…) we’ve visited on this jaunt, I daresay the price bracket is the thing that has changed the most.
Walking up and along Queensdale Road, I next tried to find one of the ‘establishing shots’ showing The Sweeney en-route to the ambush; however, try as I might I couldn’t – at least on this occasion – be 100% sure I was looking in the right place. Either the roads and layout have changed sufficiently to throw me, or the reported location (this is one that was listed in IMDB) is not quite correct. I may do some more Google-research; but for now, this is as close as I think I can get, in the general area (7):
Episode Context – S1E05, “Jigsaw”
Eddie Boyse is a recently paroled ‘wireman’, who is now working in a local electronics factory during his day release. A job goes down that Regan is convinced has Eddie’s trademark all over it; the only slight problem being, that Eddie has a seemingly cast-iron alibi for when the robbery occurred. Attempting to verify this, Carter is dispatched to a nearby church to confirm with its motorcycle-riding vicar whether or not Eddie is telling the truth.
The church in question is St. James’s, appropriately enough in St. James’s Gardens (8), just back and North a little from the walk up Queensdale Road. The church – as would be expected moreso perhaps than pubs or residential buildings – is largely unchanged:
Episode Context – S2E05, “Hit and Run”
George’s wife, Alison Carter, is mown down and killed in an apparently targeted hit and run attack. It comes to light later on that the intended target was Judy Grinden – a fellow teacher at Alison’s school, who had lent Alison her coat to wear out to the shops. It becomes clear that Judy is involved with a smuggling operation facilitated by her frequent school trips to France, but had told the gang involved that she wasn’t prepared to play her part any more.
We pick up the trail of this episode a short way from the church, on Swanscombe Road (9) at a parade of shops where Judy is followed by Alan Fowler, the boss of the gang (Gary Waldhorn, better known to most for his turn as David on ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ – or to me as Lionel on ‘Brush Strokes’) who tries to persuade her to do one last job:
Somewhat remarkably, the two stores in shot – a newsagent and a launderette – are still serving their same respective purposes today, albeit likely under new ownership. Indeed, the whole parade of shops does feel like it probably hasn’t changed a great deal, archaeologically or socioeconomically speaking, in a good many decades.
Episode Context – S2E04, “Big Brother”
Finally, heading back towards Latimer Road to catch the tube back to Waterloo, I detoured into Bard Road for the first of two ‘pick ups’. (I daresay there will be countless times that I realise I either missed a shot from an episode I was tracing, or else that a different episode I’d not researched yet had locations right nearby that I could have visited at the same time. As said elsewhere, no matter.)
This first pick up was from where the armed gang ambush a security van; in the episode we see a shot initially from the South side of the bridge, which I’d missed:
Episode Context – S2E05, “Hit and Run”
The second pick up is an episode that we’ve only just encountered – but with a location that could also have been snagged on my previous jaunt. This time it’s on Freston Road, on which I’d already taken a number of photos; here we see the squad car stop so that Regan can use a public phone.
In the background of the shots, you can see the school building that features in a number of shots from the previous location visit. Although many of the buildings alongside where I stood to take the photos are long since torn down and replaced (or are entirely new on ground that was previously empty), looking in this direction the view has changed surprisingly little.
And with that, another Sweeney mission drew to a close! Till next time.