Wednesday 19 November 2008

Carrot cake anyone?

Not the most obvious of blog posts but this was the blog's first birthday so some carrot cake seemed in order.

I have no idea what I thought the reception might be when i started the blog and looking back it seems like such a long time ago.

It has been variously described as interesting, quirky, compelling and managed to come in at 24th Lib Dem Blog in the annual charts.

All in all I have enjoyed it - I hope you my reading friends have too...

More to come, but for now, a virtual slice of my homemade carrot cake all round.

To remind you of that first brief post:

I'm grateful to the regular readers, the occasionals, those who comment but especially to those who email little ideas and suggestions and observations - keep them coming

Please do have a look at my main website and in particular the YouTube video's on channel 474towin

Thanks again and enjoy the virtual cake. Ed

Tuesday 18 November 2008

Young people to be proud of...

Remembrance Day is always special and it is something I have always been passionate about.

Both my grandfathers were in the Second World War, (my maternal grandfather was very affected by being the only survivor from his boat to Normandy and my paternal grandfather was one of the liberation team at Bergen Belsen).

Going back a bit further, my parent's house is named 'Ashton' after my great aunt's brother who was killed at Mons (IIRC), we had a cousin imprisoned in the first world war who died in Cologne and my Mum has just given me the medals of my Great Uncle Nathan to look after.

Indeed my father was born in Braintree during WW2 as the family had been evacuated out of London.

So, for all these reasons and more recognising the signiicance of this small act of remembrance each year matters. So the Hampstead Cemetary service - co-ordinated by St Lukes - is a great, personal and relevant service for the local community.

Last year we arranged for puils from UCS to lay a wreath and this year we had four pupils from UCS and Hampstead Schools to lay wreaths. It was a very special and quite emotional service - a tribute to those pupils, those schools and very special for many of the older folks who were present to see the next generations playing their part.

Hampstead Cemetary is special because not only does it has the war memorial, but it also has the civillian memorial - (pictured right).

To see any of these pictures closer just double click and they should open up on your screen.

It all confirms my hopes for society and gives confidence in our young people.

Monday 17 November 2008

Today really was the day...

It's felt like ages in coming, but the Kensal Rise to Hampstead Heath section of the Overground North London Line was re-opened this morning.

I made this little video clip to show that the line is running again - hurrah!

Of course one of the issues is lots of people this morning (well the 8-10 people I spoke to were expecting new trains and new service - they hadn't appreciated that this was work on the track not on the service or the rolling stock - that, along with station refurbishments is coming down the track (as it were!) - but of that more to follow...

It was really interesting how many people were using the line and if you had forgotten just how effective a service it was, then boy was the journey for me a zip along - just 7 mins!

Here are a couple of pics that reflect the volume of passengers - the first at West Hampstead and the second on Hampstead Heath station.

If you're interested and use the Overground North London Line and would be interested in helping with a User Group please do drop me an email on

Overground North London Line - welcome back!

Thursday 6 November 2008

The Pryors of Hampstead

Today this - the Pryors - is one of the premium residential areas in Hampstead.

In the 1740's this was a single house on the heath just east of the Wells estate.

The name, 'The Pryors' is thought to come from Thomas Pryor (d. 1821), son-in-law of Samuel Hoare (d. 1825, of Heath House, Jack Straw's Castle) .

These impressive Edwardian mansion blocks on Hampstead Heath date back to 1904, 1906 and 1910 and retain many of their original features internally and externally.

Landscape painter Walter Field lived here. Taught by John Rogers Herbert and John Pye, he exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours, of which he became an associate in 1880, between 1856-1899. He died in Hampstead, London, on December 23rd 1901.

John Mortimer, author, barrister, was born at No 7 The Pryors, East Heath Road, Hampstead, and subsequently lived at 35 Downshire Hill.

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Cock and Hoop here in West Hampstead

The BAM Estate is one of the more interesting features of West Hampstead - indeed the whole mansion blocks of London are themselves pretty fascinating.

But here in West Hampstead we have the Buckingham, Alexandra and Marlborough Mansion blocks.

They were built on the Cock and Hoop field (named after the pub that stood on the site of the current Alexandra Mansions - demolished around 1900/01).

The story of the development is not unsurprisingly more complex and whilst they might now look like the scheme that made someone very rich in fact it is predictably less straightforward. the Centenary official Guide to the BAM Estate reads:

"The plan was to build four blocks of Avenue Mansions, Marlborough Mansions East and the first three blocks of Buckingham Mansions (1-25)...

"The conveyance was completed on 25th March 1897 and building began. (If you look up at the brickwork on the side of 25-34 Avenue Mansions you will see the date 1897.) By 1898 Cave [Edward Jarvis Cave] had successfully acquired enough land to build on the western side of Marlborough mansions. In 1899 Cave bought the Cock and Hoop and planned to extend Marlborough mansions round the corner of Cannon Hill down to the Green, but he appears to have finally overextended himself and was declared bankrupt in May 1900. The Cock and Hoop site was sold to another developer who build Alexandra Mansions in 1902."

READER CORRECTION: a helpful email from a resident points out that the "A" of BAM is in fact Avenue - in my enthusiasm I just assumed that Alexandra was the A and as I knew it was Buckingham and Marlborough etc etc - you see the error. Happy to stand corrected! :-)
So BAM is Buckingham, Avenue and Marlborough - Alexandra is just close by but separate.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Let's try this Eid video

Here are the musicians who played at the Eid Party I went to at Kingsgate Community Centre, organised by the Bengali Education and Cultural Association (BECA).

Great event, very young, superb atmosphere and wow on the rice!


Saturday 1 November 2008

Up with the politics, down with the social clubs

It wasn't going going to take long but no sooner had I mentioned College Crescent when I'm emailed by a resident about the traffic flow. :-)

But of course the other connection is that one of the most dominant buildings on the surviving College Crescent is number 36, The Phoenix School.

The Phoenix is a described on it's own website
but in short it is nursery, pre-prep school for girls and boys that is part of the UCS (University College School) Foundation.

From the early 1880's this building was in fact the Hampstead Conservative Association and only ceased in this role following the winning of the Hampstead and Highgate seat by Glenda Jackson for Labour in 1992 (beating Oliver Letwin interestingly). In the aftermath of losing the constituency seat the Conservative Association moved out of College Crescent into their current offices in Heath Hurst Road, Hampstead.

The downsizing of offices is not a new thing and is illuminted more graphically by the collapse of the Liberal Clubs across the UK:

The irony now for me is that I find myself as member of the Governing Council of UCS and thereby of the Junior Boys (Holly Hill) and the Phoenix School.