Monday 31 March 2008

The Bonham Carter's of Torrington and Queen's Park...

Celebration reception Wednesday 2nd April, 7.30pm, National Liberal Club

The Torrington by-election in March 1958 was the first gain by the Liberal party in Britain at a by-election since 1929. The election of Mark Bonham Carter provided a major boost to Liberal fortunes at the time.

For the Liberal Party it was a short lived victory - Mark was defeated eighteen months later in the 1959 general election and didn't re-take the seat in 1964, but Torrington proved to be the first Liberal success in the long revival that continued in the 1962 Orpington by-election.

Mark went on to be the first Chairman of the Race Relations Board, Director of the Royal Opera House, Vice Chairman of the BBC and in 1986 was made a life peer serving as Foreign Affairs spokesman in the Lords. He passed away in September 1994.

My own contact with Mark was at Party Conference (1990?) when I was a volutneer steward and was asked to help Mark with a round of media interviews essentially acting as a bag carrier. The result was that I had an amazing time and effectively trailed round with Mark for a week accessing receptions and fringe meetings. His kindness and warmth to me was very special and I remain grateful to him.

Coming full circle, one of Mark's daughters Virginia now lives in Hampstead and Kilburn (Queen's Park) and has been immensely supportive of our campaign locally and that was how the idea for this commemoration came about.

Members of Mark's family - including his widow Leslie - will be joining us on Wednesday 2nd April in the David Lloyd George Road at the National Liberal Club, London. The meeting is open to all those interested in Liberal history, the Torrington by-election and the fortunes of us winning another parliamentary seat in Hampstead and Kilburn.

There will be a collection and the evening will commence at 7pm for 7.30pm.

More information is helpful or to confirm attendance email me on or ring 020 7625 6300

Friday 28 March 2008

Hampstead Old Town Hall war memorial

In the genre of plaques I thought we could branch out into war memorials - this one in Hampstead Old Town Hall is especially impressive.

It's to the 32 members of staff of Hampstead Borough Council who dies in the First World War.

The Coats of arms is listed in full detail here:

I'm a 'friend' of Hampstead Town Hall and have a real affection for it. Thomas Stearns Elliott was married to Vivien Haigh-Wood there (, there is also another war memorial for the Boer War, it has great architectural plans on display in the reception area (side room) and has an air of the grandeur with which local government used to conduct itself.

Of course the Town Hall building was famously declared suplus to requirments in 1994 by the Labour Council and that led to the campaign to save it, re-open it and preserve it on a footing for the future.

The war memorial is listed on the national inventory: as is the one from the Boer War:

Thursday 27 March 2008

Post Offices? Que?

Just in case you were in any doubt...

As the deadline for responses to the 'consultation' [read 'sham'] get closer temperature is rising.

There is genuine anger and genuine desire to 'do something'.

I think Labour have got themselves onto a very sharp hook and will struggle to shake off this major major blunder...

Petition to get rid of Glenda Jackson and Frank Dobson

Finding yourself on the wrong side of the debate?

I am agitated about Post Office closures and in particular the threat to South End Green, England's Lane and Harrow Road - on the one hand it's a great campaign and it's exciting collecting signatures, drafting responses, but crucially on the other hand it really really matters. Beyond the fun as we do the petitions, the campaigns, the leaflets the aim is to save the Post Offices from closure.

MPs voting in the house last week could vote against the closure programme...

Here in Hampstead and Kilburn we have two MPs currently: Sarah Teather MP and Glenda Jackson MP. Both spoke in the debate, both spoke against closures, both have been cited in their press as being against the closures in their area. YET WHEN IT CAME TO THE VOTE GLENDA JACKSON ABSTAINED. Sarah Teather voted against the closures, as did other local Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone I'm delighted to say. Frank Dobson MP voted with the Government for the closures.

So here is today's verdict of the local paper the Ham and High (Hampstead and Highgate Express). For a local newspaper and a cartoon this is astonishingly but hilariously damning - It's a huge credit to them for putting their finger bang on the button.

Saying it in three words

Sometimes newspapers say the nicest things - or at least their billboards do...

For some of us the Queen's Park by-election (march 13th 2008) wasn't a great shock - but the scale of the victory was at the upper end of anyone's prediction. But it's good to see it on the record.

Well done to Simon Green - he's proving to be a great councillor already and has only done one planning committee for local residents.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

The bird theme :-)

In the bird theme ( this is one of the more interesting pubs around - at the bottom of West End Lane - it's near (3-400 yards) from the junction with Kilburn high Road on Kilburn Vale.

I have no experience of the pub being open, though clearly it has been open in recent times ( - but it's a great location and I think dead good that the occupier has kept the facade and all the features. - especially the pub sign.

Monday 24 March 2008

Birds of prey on Fortune Green

A huge well done to Mark Stonebanks and the team that are the committee of the Friends of Fortune Green.

On Saturday they had an open day type event with a exhibition of birds of prey.

To quote Camden Council website:

"Birds of prey fascinate people. On Saturday 22 March between 11am and 3.00pm you can get up close and personal with a range of native owl and other species, many of them rare.

"They will be on display as part of our ongoing work to raise awareness about nature conservation and offer hands-on opportunities for children and adults."

It was really stunning to see the birds up close. It was great to see how many people were coming along to what was a fairly smallish event - but there was a really steady trickle of people with the crowd rarely dipping below 20-30 people... Snapped this nice little image of local councillor Flick Rea and this lovely barn owl.

Fortune Green is a great open space and is really beginning to benefit from the enhanced care and attention that the Friends are bringing it.

The litter has been minimised through a pretty intensive litter pick the other week, graffiti is dropping and being tackled as it occurs and the paving round the fountain has been improved.

We just need to get the fountain working again now (and a clever source says the pipes are all there - they just need connnecting up)

Sunday 23 March 2008

Open space in urban London... in pictures

It's been a slow Easter weekend - lots of food, walking, cafes and of course, living in North West London - the visit to Kenwood House.

It's all part of the heath but of course managed separately - but the vast space and sense of openess is truly magnifcent for this part of urban england.

I have just bought a copy of 'Hampstead Heath, by Deborah Wolton and David McDowell, photographs by Sandra Lousada' and whilst I can't match their pictures - taking pictures of what you see and being able to enjoy them at home is astonishingly satisfying.

So this is just a small photographic reflection of the trees and colour - it's truly awe inspiring in the best possible way and so good and so easy to just sit back and see the natural environment for what it is.

The list of tributes for those who saved and enhanced the Heath is itself interesting:

  • The 3rd Earl of Mansfield

  • Octavia Hill

  • Thomas Barratt

  • Henrietta Barnett

  • Arthur Crosfield, Robert Waley-Cohen and Henry Goodison

(more to follow I think!)

But this fails to recognise the work done by the men and women who work every day and every week on the heath and at Kenwood House.

Since I have served on the management committee, I have come to understand the nuture of the flora, fauna and trees - issues such as pollarding seemed harsh but are in fact necessary: But also to respect and appreciate the tenderness, the care and the love felt by those who work and volunteer on the heath and in its environs.

It also makes for great photography and dramatic shadow on the sky-line...

To see more of these pics you can click on them and they should open up larger if you want.

Saturday 22 March 2008

The types of street name plates

Usually I am reporting the historical change of street names - yet here we have a charming compliment to the post of the other day.

Dynham Rd. N.W.6. - in the old style, just inches below the even older style of DYNHAM ROAD NW painted onto the wall.

There are a few other examples, but most seem to be the painted old name and then the tiled new name.

Should the painted signs be restored? Are they part of our local heritage?

In appreciation of the 'ye olde innocent road name sign' I'm attaching these nice pics below on the otherside of town - furthest flung Hampstead - of Tanza Road, Parliament Hill, South End Green.

I posted earlier about how I like Platt's Lane as a name - Tanza sounds pretty exotic...

Alas however, there is a much simpler origin it would seem.

Tanza was built in 1890 and was spelt Tanser Road, it was changed in 1894 and the new spelling agreed with the Borough - it is thought that the original spelling might originate from Tansor, a village in Northamptonshire, just south of the village of Nassington. Though I'm unclear of the actual linkage with Northamptonshire...

Origins of Platt's and Kidderpore...

By nature of the local government boundaries areas that exist, communities that in fact are part of a whole appear to be split in two by nature of one road - so it is with Platt's Lane.

Platt's Lane sounds really idylic (and it is) - is one of the most attractive street names around - and yet at the far northern border of the London Borough of Camden - or even on the far south of the London Borough of Barnet is slightly isolated from appreciation.

I remember speaking with Peter Cadogan when he blamed a cleric (bishop?) of St Alban's who had the chance to re-unite Kilburn in the 1300's and who didn't, thus sundering the commujnity of Kilburn into two.
Now of course, Kilburn is a commercial shopping area - in a way that Platt's Lane isn't, but it led me to consider the name origin of 'Platt's'.

Perhaps it was predictable: Thomas Platt owned the area and in about 1810 he bought a farmhouse (with the attendant out-buildings) and enlarged it - then on the border of the heath - it was in an area much more woooded than now, and built what was regarded as a very fashionable and pleasant house.

Before this the landowners were thought to be part of the old Templar estate of North West London (sic. Templar House, West Hampstead)

There is then (post 1830's) pretty fast local development:

"One of the oldest parts of Calcutta, Kidderpore has a legend as far as its name is concerned. It is said that the British couldn't pronounce bengali. So when they asked for the directions to the port where ships were harboured, their broken hindi sounded somewhat like 'kidder-port' and hence the name Kidderpore came into existence."

  • Two lodges were added, one in 1849 on Finchley road, another in 1867 on Platt's Lane.
  • Four houses facing Finchley Road were built in the 1840s in the district called New West End (West End of Hampstead).
  • By 1870 the farm buildings at Platt's Lane had been replaced by a house.
  • Two cottages were built in Platt's Lane by P. Bell of West End in 1875.
  • 13 houses, build/designed by George Pritchard, between 1884 and 1886.

Thursday 20 March 2008

How's this for an entrance gate...

As an entry gate this is one of the more impressive around...

This is on Harrow Road and is the General Cemetery of All Souls, Kensal Green.

It was first used for burials in January 1833 and is still widely in use. There has been some local controversy over the collapsed cemetery wall on Harrow Road, but is widely accepted to be one of the more interesting and historic - it is also one of the more attractive having been established as a garden cemtery.

Interestingly the cemetery is established for dissentors as well as religious and this was a key feature of it's foundation.

Buried there:
WH Smith
Anthony Trollope
William Makepeace Thackerary
Isambard Kindom Brunel
Charles Babbage
George Grossmith
Wilkie Collins
and a few others of note (including several Victorian royals)

For more information try:

Wednesday 19 March 2008

The before and after - so soon...

Well, this blog didn't set out to capture features that have become history in it's own lifetime but it has.

I have posted previously about how I liked the old posterboard on the corner of Kingsgate Place and Kilburn High Road and then just a couple of months later I walk past to see it being taken down. So here are the before and after shots...

Does it matter? - well, on the face of it of course it doesn't - times change, life goes on, no-one was hurt or injured - but it seems to me that a small part of the shape of Kilburn, what we see around us is lost each time something like this fairly old posterboard is taken down.

I have suggested before that there should be a fairly comprehensive photographic audit for recording and capturing oldish features like this - otherwise at the whim of a worker, building owner or tenant another feature will be lost with no foresight or insight into their respective significance...

When I identified one of the old features and suggested capturing it and maybe even placing it in a musuem or other place I was chided on - I'm feeling less chided and a tad disappointed that we have a small loss, so soon in the life of this blog.

Ho hum...

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Yes, you can visit Kilburn Priory today...

I have wanted to write a post on Kilburn Priory for some time and it's only in the last few days that I have had the time to wander round getting the pictures I needed in order to illustrate the story. It's quite good and there is much more to see than people realise, so here goes...

Early in the 12th century there was a small hermitage - not that unsual - near the Kilburn river (Kilbourne and various other spellings) and prob also on the edge of the wooded area that led from Kilburn up to Shoot-up-Hill.

Amazingly Hermit Place still survives by Kilburn Vale (pictured right) and hints at the probable location of the hermitage - of course the strategic location is very good and is perhaps confirmed by the Kilburn High Road railway station - i.e. this a good place to stop and alight. The hermit was apparently called Godwyn - his existence is placed at the start of the 12th century in the reign of Henry I (1100-1135). Around this arose a community of religious - probably nuns - and in time a priory. The geography is important because this was a major crossing point for the river and for accessing Watling Street (later Edgware Road, the High Road Kilburn, now Kilburn High Road) which was the main road from London to St Albans - a major place of pilgrimage.

Today, three elements survive - Kilburn Grange Park, the Red Lion (now sadly The Westbury - pictured right - you can see the dating claim above the Red Lion itself) founded in 1444 and part of the series of inns that lined the travellers road north and also The Cock Tavern (first licensed in 1486 and boldly emblazoned on the front of the building - pic right).

It is likely that the Priory was founded under Henry's reign - there was something of a growth of religious patronage at this time - the nuns who settled there founded an Augustine community and this is dated to 1134. The Priory grew in size, but rarely in wealth and was dogged by financial problems. However, it was still a significant estate and had a number of elements - church, guesthouse (possibly on the site of the Bell Tavern today - this may even have been the original Red Lion), farmhouse as well as the associated outhouse for animals, grazing, harvest etc - some of these were thought to be on the edge of what is now Grange Park.

Precisely where the Priory itself lay is a little unclear and I have not had the time to sit down and examine archaeological reports for the area, but I have always been under the impression that much/most was on the now Camden side.

However the gem I recently discovered were the actual remains of the priory.

Just down Coventry Close opposite the Bell Inn, are the actual physical remains of the well (below left) and massive lumps of the priory - the story has always been that the priory was poor (financially) and yet looking at the surviving chunks of masonry you realise the massive scale of the building. Sure, it may have had low disposable income (to use modern jargon) but the resources to build it were not spared! I reckon these pics are pretty incredible and don't seem very widely known or recognised.

The Priory, of course, came to an end with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII - an audit in 1535, full closure in 1536 and demolition soon after. many of the buildings will have survived and been used for other alternatives - apparently part survived until 1790 when it was finally taken down and the stone re-used.

I suspect that the remains we can see today are from the church/prioriy itself rather than the residential parts - i.e. demolished at the time of the dissolution which is why they lay unoticed until the construction of the current estate in the 1950's.

So enjoy one of the little seen and unknown treasures of Kilburn Priory - still visible, still massive and impressive - what else it there out there - I suspect much much more...

Monday 17 March 2008

The need to moderate

But the volume of spam is increasing and I didn't want readers clicking on virus's
I'm not editing any comments from anyone and just clicking publish if it's from a real person
That's it

The changing of street names

A few years back I was tracing the death of my great-grandfather - it was all a bit unclear, no member of the living family with whom I was in contact had been present, no-one was very clear on the date and all that was known was that it might have taken place in Stoke-on-Trent. A couple of years later I found myself working in Stoke-on-Trent and took up the scent again - I duly obtained a death certificate and headed off to find Lord Street (as identified on the certificate) - it was then that I found out that in fact the street no-longer existed, that it had first been re-named, then the terraces cleared (at least in part) and then the traffic remodelled with a fly-over to such an extent that the area was unrecognisable...

It was the first time that I realised that names have changed in relatively recent memory.

So it has been for this part of North West London and some of the changes are still visible (picture right - if you double click then the picture will open larger if you want to see closer detail) - you can still read GOLDSMITHS PLACE on the painted sign above and the street name of SPRINGFIELD LANE now installed on the side of the Old Bell Inn., Kilburn High Road.

(This is NW 6)
Abbot's Road - Abbots Place
Albert Mews - Abbey Mews
Albion Road - Harben Road
Chislett Road - Compayne Gardens
Edward Terrace - Kilburn Place
Goldsmiths Place - Springfield Lane
High Road Kilburn - Kilburn High Road
Manchester Mews - Greville Mews
Munden Cottages - Kilburn Place
Providence Place - Kilburn Place
Saint Georges Road - Priory Terrace
Victoria Mews - Boundary Road
Victoria Yard - Boundary Road
William Terrace - Kilburn Place

(This is NW 3)
Brewer's Yard - Carlisle Yard
Christchurch Road - Christchurch Hill
Church Lane - Perrins Lane
Church Road - Tasker Road
Church Walk - Perrins Walk
College Road - Eton College Road
Golden Square - The Mount Square
The Grange - Parkhill Place
The Grove - Hampstead Grove
High Street Hampstead - Hampstead High Street
Lancaster Place - Lancaster Drive
Lancaster Road - Lancaster Grove
Mall, The - Mall Studios
Merton Road - Merton Rise
Silver Street - The Mount
Stamford Place - Stamford Close
The Grange - Parkhill Place
The Grove - Hampstead Grove
The Mall - Mall Studios

Sunday 16 March 2008

Kilburn music mystery solved...

So the music mystery is finally solved - thank you Janet Grauberg.

The building at the bottom of West End Lane, where it meets Kilburn High Road, has four musical 'medallions' - details on the links above. I have reproduced the picture of the building here.
I suggested that it might of been a music school, but in fact (and of course lessons might have taken place there) it was Philip's Music Shop - opposite what was Parr's Bank.

Philip's moved here in 1891 and the shop closed in the 1930's. Amongst other services they hired out piano's, but are now captured by the medallions on the wall...
Mystery solved... :-)
There is a picture of the Kilburn High Road when the music shop was there in Kilburn and Cricklewood, by Marinanne Colloms and Dick Weindling.

Friday 14 March 2008

Winning is very very good...

The morning after a by-election that you have won is always quite special: it feels like you are floating and have an uncontrollable grin...

I try and keep party politics out of this blog, but thought that these two pics were unusual aspects that you often don't see in or after the melee of an election and I thought they both reflected my grin today.
The first is Queen's Park last night and the second is the Fortune Green by-election. Both stunning wins for Simon Green and Nancy Jirira respectively.

Wednesday 12 March 2008

When being Chairman of the Electricity Committee was important

In the string of posts about plaques and carvings here's the one I have spotted a lot recently but only just get a snap. The pic is taken from a stark angle because of the large potted tree which you can see pic left.


JULY 10TH 1902

It's on Salusbury Road and is part of the key arterary nature of Salusbury Road at the turn of the century for Willesden District Council: a library, police station, major council offices, schools - a real centre of activity in the untimate sense of municipal pride.

This specific plaque is also a reminder of the days when Councils had power, authority and a wide remit. Now Council's increasing 'run' very little, but have influence over much. In these late 19th century and early 20th century days councils were taking on powers and trailing a blaze in social imporvement - water, drainage and electricity to name but three...

Other plaques in my blog:

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Following the train theme...

Following on the railway theme here is the North London Line looking east:

The picture was taken the other day from the top of Weston House on Winchester Avenue, Queen's Park.

I think there has been a significant clearance of trees making this view possible, but it also made me realise just how wide a piece of land was necessary for the rail line to exist at all...

The bridge here is the bridge under Willesden Lane between the junctions with Winchester Avenue and The Avenue.

My grandfather was a major train advocate and indeed train buff... he used to make model steam trains for Walt Disney when at Bassett Lowke workshops and my love of trains and transport modes has, I'm sure, come from him.

Monday 10 March 2008

Haberdasher Aske's foundation plaque...

In the educational and plaque theme here is one of the most impressive and elaborate that I have come across in the local area...

It's on Hampstead School on Westbere Road and is the original foundation stone from the school at Hoxton, east London:

SERVE AND OBEY is the motto



So founded 1692 and the plaque (and the school) moved in 1902

I think it's slightly curious it wasn't moved when the school moved out in the 1960's.

Winkworth Hall anyone?

In the genre of plaques and inscriptions I snapped this pic. on Chevening Road (in fact visible from Salusbury Road).

Winkworth Hall is the building on the corner of the junction current occupied by Hopscotch and The Avenue School in Queen's Park.

I hadn't appreciated the name, nor the history or the set of previous occupants.

Perhaps most of all the extent to which this was effectively the sixth form block for Brondesbury and Kilburn School had escaped me:

Are there any memories of the Hall out there? E-mail

Saturday 8 March 2008

Back to the fountains and public water...

My post a while back about fountains and getting them reconnected has prompted a flurry of emails and I'm now getting one resident sending me occasional notes of where they have found fountains round and about (often outside the remit of this little blog!).
This one at Fortune Green (the Green rather than just the ward) - just off Fortune Green Road and the Greek streets - is small and pretty and lies slightly off-set to the main of the green - it has just had new paving around it and in fact is incredibly well-placed on the geographic perspective of the green itself.

I'm gradually cacthing up with where there are others and whether they are working or not...

A brief pause on West End Green confirmed what Cllr. Flick Rea had told me - that the West End fountain was indeed working - and great too the water tasted!

I realised after taking this picture (right) of this small fountain that I failed to make a note of the inscription - more to follow when I go pass next...

Thursday 6 March 2008

Perspectives on a railway line

Just out and about and I spotted these two shots - pretty plain of themselves but I was really struck by the stark and attractive nature of the perspective.

Railways actually cut across our geography in a way that we take for granted but in fact are deep lines cut into the now natural architecture

Each time you look at a map you tend to follow the line of a river or a railway - it's one of our more enduring makes on nature's landscape.

The other aspect of this is the way we look down tracks waiting for trains as though it's the kettle wanting it to boil. The consequence is you often don't see the view, you just have your own train waiting frustrations...

One is taken at Brondesbury Station looking east down the track

One is taken at the western end of Kensal Rise station looking to Chamberlayne Road

The other from West Hampstead looking down to Granny Drippen Steps and the O2 centre.

Monday 3 March 2008

When the wife of the Prime Minister came to Kilburn

This plaque on Kingsgate Community Centre is a really nice piece of inscription and very much 'of it's time'.


With really intricate carving around it.

The community centre itslef as a whole is really large and utterly misleading at first glance and at the point at which it was opened must have been a major community facility. Now it is slightly lost and in fact seen as slightly off the beaten track.

But it is important to remember the development of this part of Kilburn ws significant at this time - the Library in Cotleigh Road and Kingsgate School a couple of hundred yards away.

I assume from the architecture that the building once hosted a police presence as well, but I'm uncertain as to it's other uses - but there must be some memories out there - perhaps amonst the West Hampstead and Kilburn Pensioners club...

Lucy Baldwin was very much her own person with a busy schedule of charitable and educational projects that she supported: