Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Chelsea - what makes it so unique?

Yesterday we posted pictures of Eleanor's jogging route. Much of this is in the Chelsea area. Chelsea is a very unusual area. Obviously, it's quite posh. Houses can go for up to £30m (or even more) in the area, and even a small flat will cost you at least half a million. With that comes the usual array of upmarket restaurants, designer clothing shops and the like.

But what makes Chelsea really unique is who owns most of it. About 300 years ago, it was mostly owned by Earl Cadogan. For that reason place names including Cadogan are ridiculously common. Cadogan Arms, Cadogan Pier, Cadogan Gardens and Cadogan House are all within seconds of the Kings Road (which itself was once only for royalty and the monarch's preferred guests to use as the name suggests).

Cadogan was loaded. As a feudal owner, he had a considerable estate. This was vested in a company called Cadogan Estates. 300 years later, it's still in the Cadogan Family, and managed with an unusual ethos.

Firstly, they let rather than sell. That keeps the stock for sale low, forcing more into renting and driving up prices. Clever but not rocket science.

Secondly, they cherry pick commercial lets. Rather than going for a quick buck, they rent to independent store owners which gives the area a unique array of shops. From Tiffany's and Omega to The Botanist, Chelsea doesn't look like a high street. This creates a unique shopping district that brings in rich visitors and upper middle class Brits looking for status symbols. That success draws more upmarket shops thus giving a high rental yield and ever increasing demand. Even in the recession, they still had a waiting list for units. That's pretty impressive, and very far sighted.

If you want to find out more, have a browse of their website at

I think this is a useful perspective to have when thinking about books. Long term gains are the name of the game. If I write 4 books a year from now until retirement I'd have over a hundred novels to my name. It wouldn't take many sales per title to maintain a prosperous retirement, and it's pretty hard to ignore someone who takes up that much (virtual) shelfspace.


  1. I love Chelsea & the King's Road, but can only afford to window shop! Feeling a little depressed as if I were to write four books a year until retirement I'd have well under one hundred to my name.

  2. That does raise an interesting point - at what age will book royalties become inefficient? Dan at 16 has a good 70 years to earn from Dead on Demand. But if you write a book at say 60, you won't personally benefit from it as much. Copyright subsists for 70 years after the authors death, but that is scant consolation if you can't pay the bills while alive. Some authors, like Karl Stig-Erland Larsson, only become big names post humously. What other profession doesn't pay you until you're dead?

    Re prices - I agree, most of them are absurd. Even the pubs will try and charge £12 for a cocktail (e.g. Beaufort House).