Friday 31 July 2009

The donkey's are a-staying...

It's taken a while but we are now in the second year of having the donkeys back at Whitestone Pond - and to considerable acclaim from local children.

I'm pictured here with Cllr Flick Rea (Culture and Tourism at Camden) and it's the repeat of last year.

The festival on Whitestone Pond is a nice little collaboration between Camden and the City of London and part of a programme that will see the area round the pond get a whole refurbishment later this yeat (and not before time!).

Until then - it's me, Josh, Chalie and Flick

Thursday 30 July 2009

Ode to the refurbishment...

Well, it's open for visitors and splendid it looks in it's full restoration - so come on down to Keat's House (Wentworth Place).

But I thought that these picture of the house under scaffolding were more unusual and less likely to survive the gaze of history and memory.

The House is of course in Keat's Grove off Downshire Hill and South End Road and is immediately next to Heath Library and has stunning garden and grounds.

There is a really good website set up by the City of London which you should take time to look at

The refurbishment has been done meticulously and in huge amounts of detail and there are a great range of new exhibits - I'm especially struck by Fanny Brawne's engagement ring from John Keats!

Opening times
Mondays (except bank holidays) - closedTuesday - Sunday open 1.00 pm - 5.00 pm
Adults £5.00
Concessions (Pensioners, students and the unwaged) £3.00
Children 16 and under

Keats House, Keats Grove, Hampstead, London, NW3 2RR
Tel: 020 7332 3868

Monday 27 July 2009

Sunset over Fortune Green

I can't remember when I took these - a day or two before this year's Jester Festival - but the light was just enchanting...

And such a great piece of open space - increasingly tended and enhanced by the Friends of Fortune Green.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Keep up at the back, it's changed already!

Ha! No sooner had I put up the previous post on the shop front in Flask Walk than I was up in Hampstead...

Blow me down if the shop hasn't been re-opened as this ice cream parlour (pic right).

So I thought it only polite to update the blog with the after as well as the before!

Saturday 25 July 2009

Capturing yesterday, today

One of my first blog posts was on the loss of Joe Steele's the butchers in Hampstead village and so I was it passing the other week and thought I would capture the 'now'.

The building has great charm and simple decor and there is something quite special about the early Edwardian shop front and internal decor of butchers, fishmongers and the like.

Flask Walk remains one of the nicest features of the local area - if you haven't been then get yourself over to Hampstead for that early saturday morning walk and stroll...

The preservation of the shop front in South End Green is one of the best examples I have seen for the charm of a old shop

and the development of the Wet Fish Cafe remains the best conversion and development upon a theme I have yet seen...

Friday 24 July 2009

And the good election news keeps rolling in...

Thursday was polling day for Wembley Central.

Called in difficult circumstances this was a great personal triumph for a truly impressive candidate - well done Cllr Afifa Pervez - well deserved and best of luck.

Lib Dem 1195
Labour 934
Conservative 423
Independent 240
Green 100

Lib Dem Hold.

Well done to Group and Council Leader Paul Lorber and the Brent team - a great result following Colville...

Thursday 23 July 2009

Voting - even in Kensington and Chelsea

It's a huge well done to Carol Caruana and the local team in Colville, Kensington and Chelsea.

Last night Carol won the Liberal Democrats first ever seat on this Council with a massive gain from Labour.

The result was Carol 634, Con 330, Labour 300, Green 77, Ind 10. Lib Dem gain from Labour.

It's a huge win and one that is well deserved by Carol and her team led by the charming, efficient and cheery Robin Meltzer - well done all and one...

David Cameron's backyard? a Lib Dem gain in this ward at least. Yippee!

I love the picture of Cllr Caruana signing in :-)

Saturday 18 July 2009

One of the more unlikely promotions for a preference...

It's the annual assessment by blog readers of the poltical blogs that are out on the market.

Last year I came in at 24th on the Lib Dem register... I can't deny being a tad touched :-)

So here's the link for the details on how to particpate.

I try and keep this blog party politics free and instead have opted for a pretty pure form of local and community politics (I hope).

So over to you readers - here's the link:

The rules are simple.

1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and rank them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).
2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.
3. You MUST include ten blogs. If you include fewer than ten your vote will not count.
2. Email your vote to
3. Only vote once.
4. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents, or based on UK politics, are eligible.
5. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name.
6. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2009. Any votes received after that date will not count.

Monday 13 July 2009

As war memorials go... this is a gem!

I found this by pure accident when in Kilburn (Brent) Police Station in Salusbury Road.

It records the direct hit on the police station on 6th November 1940 during WWII.

The plaque is up in the reception area and because it's inside (and free from the ravages of weather) it is in immaculate condition.

The plaque records the death of 13 staff - 12 officers and one civillian - including a re-engaged pensioner police constable and is a great insight into the nature of the 'all-hands to the pump element of the war'.

Note to self: need to ensure it gets a memorial wreath on armistice day...

The station although a new build of 1980 has a long history in fact. Kilburn was served by successive stations at Kempshall Terrace, Edgware Road from 1873 to1885).

It then moved to Kilburn High Road number 11-13 from 1885 to 1892) and was finally re-located to Salusbury Road from 1892 until it closed in 1938.

However, the building was brought back into use during the war but was then badly bombed (hence the plaque - and largely due to being close to the railway line - a popular target for enemy bombing raids) and from 1965 there was a temporary station on the site.

Sunday 12 July 2009

If you're waiting for the C11...

One of the most charming buildings in Hampstead is slightly hidden - partly because of the shocking overshadow that is the Royal Free Hospital and partly due to the scale of works that have been going on at the neighbouring building.

I mean of course Hampstead Hill School on Pond Street.

This is on the Lyndhurst/Rosslyn Hill junction next to St Stephen's Church and is the old church and community halls.

I've posted on St Stephen's before and now it nears completion and back into use I'll give more information, but for the mean time will dwell on the school.

The school founded in 1949 sits in the old halls (themselves build in 1908) and has an amazingly cheery atmosphere.

For those of us who use the local bus routes of the C11 and the 46 you can often admire the childrens artwork afixed to the gates and fences - it makes for one of the more pleasant notices to read when waiting.

The building has distinct church hall atmosphere to it and still has the foundation stone that reads:

+ AMDC +

JULY 14 1908



I think the vicar, Herbet Bate was the co-author of a book Thoughts On The Shape Of The Liturgy (published in 1946), and THE HEALTHFUL SPIRIT. By the Rev. Herbert N. Bate, M.A., Vicar of St. Stephen's, Hampstead. With Introduction by the Bishop of London. Crown 8vo. 2s. 6d. net.

The only other I have found is this fascinating glimpse
Herbert Newell Bate 1871-1941
A Reticent Genius
Published by the Dean & Chapter of York
Memoir of the Dean of York Minster, previously Vicar of St Stephen's Hampstead, Christ Church Lancaster Gate, Canon of Carlisle, Rector of Hadleigh and Dean of Bocking.

More to follow I think...

Saturday 11 July 2009

Beheaded of Hampstead...

There can't be too many people from the local area who have been beheaded and then recognised, but Sir Harry (Henry) Vane is one of them...

We're up on Hampstead High Street - just before modern day Greenhill opposite the end of Willoughby Road and there is a small close called Vane Close.

Vane Close is just by the entrance to the Royal School and on the wall to the left is one of the old London County Council plaques.

Harry Vane is definately a glamorous story and could even be quite a film with his american story and role on the national stage at a time of major political and constitutional change.

Few people so involved in the early days of America, the tribulations of the reign of Charles I, the Civil War and all that brought with it followed by the Restoration of Charles II.

Friday 10 July 2009

Drinking water on the heath...

I've covered the feeding and watering troughs before but not mentioned this one nustled on the side of East Heath Road on the Heath.

The viewpoint is stunning as you emerge from Gainsborough Gardens and Heathside and look across the Heath.

I used to live on Christchurch Hill and it was without a doubt one of my personal favourite walks and views...

I currently serve on the Hampstead Heath Management Committee and as a result particpate in a series of walks and site visits on the heath.

But even so there are just so many features and facets that you could explore and explore and still not know everything there is to see and understand about it - and these troughs just point at one aspect of the forgotten history.

Lots of people look at me really oddly when I tell them that sheep used to graze openly on the heath within living memory and so the use of horses was a norm of day-to-day travel - well here's some of the insight into that time gone by.

Thursday 9 July 2009

St Cuthbert and the hidden plaques

This time we are in West Hampstead and Kilburn and it's St Cuhtbert's Church on Fordwych Road.

One of the nicest little churches it's a modern design (more of that later) but it's also quite hidden from the roadside.

The plaque on the wall is a tribute to Walter Watkins the first vicar who took over in 1882 and served for 48 (forty eight!!) years.

As well as the plaque there is the stone below which was clearly the foundation stone/topping off stone which reads
AUGUST 23RD 1883

Further, just in front of the church, there is one of the bells from the church which is inscribed
JULY 1906

One of things that always interests me with ecclesiatsical history is the origin of the saint and dedication - I should confess I wrote a history of St Norbert's Catholic Church in Spalding when much younger!

So for those that don;t know St Cuthbert is one of the great English saints from the era of evangelical christian golden age of the 7th century.

His feast day is 20th March - perhaps that should be the occasion for a street party in Fordwych Road?

The reason why I mentioned the design is that the architecture for the current church was by a friend of mine Jeremy Allen of West Hampstead.

resuming active service...

We've been a tad busy with work and european elections and stuff - including a brief break away - so the blog resumes normal service - apologies dear readers...