Blog Archives

The Chelsea cows – the story behind Wright’s Dairy and its surprising musical legacy

Have you ever spotted a cow’s head sticking out of one of Chelsea’s buildings? Here’s the history behind them…

Wrights Dairy King's Road © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The former Wright’s Dairy on the Kings Road now houses a Carphone Warehouse

Today, the London district of Chelsea is famous for its football club, trust fund socialites and designer boutiques. However, until the 19th century, the area was a rural neighbourhood. Chelsea served as a market garden for the rapidly-expanding city, with corn, barley, fruit and vegetables grown on the area’s numerous farms, orchards and gardens. It was particularly known for its root vegetables and was the first place in Britain where lettuce was grown successfully in the mid-to-late 18th century. Meanwhile, the area became fashionable for the wealthy from the 16th and 17th centuries, with its residential districts starting to overtake the farms in the late 19th century.

Wrights Dairy © Memoirs Of A Metro Girl 2018

The Wrights Dairy head office in Old Church Street

One such farm which held on longer than others was Wright’s Dairy. The dairy was one of the first in Chelsea and was erected on Cook’s Grounds (the site of Glebe’s Place today) in 1796. Around 50 cows and two goats grazed nearby, providing milk for the dairy. In advertorials for their business, they were described as ‘dairy farmers and cowkeepers’. A frequent visitor to the dairy was Scottish philosopher and writer Thomas Carylyle (1795-1881), who lived a few minutes walk away on Cheyne Row. At the time of Carylyle lived in Chelsea, the dairy was run by W. H. Wright, whose late father had founded the business.

The Old Dairy was forced to move slightly west due to rapid redevelopment in the late 1800s, with Cook’s Ground and the nearby kitchen gardens of the Chelsea Rectory being swallowed up by housing. Wright’s Dairy set up their headquarters and a shop at 38-48 Church Street (now Old Church Street). The fields behind the dairy were used for the grazing cows. The street – which runs from the Embankment to the Fulham Road – is one of the oldest recorded streets in the area and dates back to the 16th century. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, business was booming for Wright’s Dairy and it was well-known and respected in the area. Its advertising in 1914 (see here) boasted about being “under constant medical, veterinary and sanitary inspection” and “acknowledged to be the finest and cleanest dairy in Chelsea”. One of their big selling points was stocking “humanised, sterilised and special nursery milk in glass bottles for infants and invalids”. As well as their Old Church Street base, Wright’s also had a shop at 69 King’s Road. Like many dairies of the time, both shops and the headquarters featured cow head sculptures sticking out of the top of the buildings.  Read the rest of this entry

Cocktails, hot dogs and movies as Bluebird Chelsea launches Foodflix

Bluebird Foodflix
As the temperatures drop and the nights set in, cosying up in front of a good film is more appealing than ever. This autumn, Bluebird Chelsea is launching a weekly movie night with films, food and cocktails. Cointreau will transform the King’s Road venue’s cinema room into a wintry orangery.

Every Tuesday evening, film fans can enjoy hot food, Cointreau cocktails and popcorn as they settle down to watch a movie. Sit on a comfy sofa or chair surrounded by orange tress as you watch films that have been chosen for their popular soundtracks. Among those being screened include The Greatest Showman, Dreamgirls, Moulin Rouge! and Whiplash. By the time December arrives, things will be taking a festive turn with Love Actually and The Holiday.

On arrival, guests will receive a welcome drink of Cointreau Fizz (Cointreau, sparkling water and freshly squeezed lime juice). Cointreau will also be serving two popular concoctions from their wooden pop-up bar: Royal Sidecar (Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, Cointreau and freshly squeezed lemon juice) and Hot Cointreau Mulled Cider (spiked Cointreau cider made with Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cider, star anise, cloves and garnished with a cinnamon stick and slices of orange and apple).

Bluebird Foodflix

Sip on a Cointreau cocktail while watching a film

Meanwhile, your appetites are also fulfilled for as your ticket includes a Bluebird hot dog (spiced pork, pickled cabbage and chilli mayo) or a vegan burger (mushroom and edamame with sriracha mayo and baby gem). Additional food and drinks can purchased on the night.

The film programme is as follows:

30 October : The Greatest Showman
6 November : Dreamgirls
13 November : Moulin Rouge!
20 November : Whiplash
27 November : Love Actually
4 December : The Holiday.

  • Bluebird Chelsea, 350 King’s Road, Chelsea, SW3 5UU. Nearest station: South Kensington. Tickets: £25 (includes film, welcome Cointreau cocktail and a Bluebird hotdog or vegan burger). For more information, visit the Bluebird Chelsea website.

To find out what’s on in London in December, click here.

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