Sunday, 23 December 2007
'The Pavement' on Mill Lane
Some roads you think you know so well and then 'bingo' you notice a feature for the first time. Yesterday was one of those.
I have been up and down, onto and across Mill Lane, West Hampstead, more often than I can remember and yet I had never noticed this sign that identified 'The Pavement 1888'. Now of course, this range of shops running from 41-83 Mill Lane on the North side are a great little run - inlcuding the famous Mill Lane Post Office.
So a bit of digging in the books at home and the best insights I can currently find is in 'Kilburn and West Hampstead, Weindling and Colloms' which references actor Joss Ackland as saying:
"I remember the little row of shops [The Pavement] around the corner. The sweet shop with liquorice bootlaces - all different colours; Mickey Mouse toffees - twopence a quarter; packets of Imps - tiny sweets made from liquorice with menthol, with the kick of a mule; pennyslabs of choclate - brown and white; packets of sherbet with liquorice straws; bottles of Tizer and fizzy tablets that exploded in the mouth.
"There was a chemist that smelt of camphor and a grocer where the salty rashers of bacon blended with the sweet icing smell of biscuit animals, and a hardware store with bundles of wood to light fires and the smell of parafin lamps, and of course, the newsagent and toy shop with copies of the Buzzer, Magnet, Gem, Champion and Film Fun and many others, sometimes with magnificent free gifts - water pistols, Japanese flowers that erupted from the shells when put in water and divers that bobbed up and down in the bath.
"And there were the soldiers and the cowboys were of lead - penny ones that stood; twopenny ones on horseback and sixpenny knights with removable swords - mounted magnificent and unobtainable."
The row is still a busy parade of shops and of course includes the popular Mill Lane Post Office. The picture here is taken from Mill Lane, where Aldred Road drops down onto it - for reference this is just opposite the top of Holmdale Road.