Tuesday 30 November 2010

The pride of the local trader

It's nought special but sign of a time long gone.

This one is from Hampstead High Street and is the entrance to a shop long changed - but I've noticed these down West End Lane, Finchley Road, Kilburn Lane and along the Kilburn High Road .

This one refers to Stamp the Chemist - frequent advertiser in old newspapers - but now gone...

I wondered when these ceased to be installed and when fashion for the mosaic style kicked in...

Any views, leads or tips out there?

Sunday 17 October 2010

Enlightenment: Hampstead Theatre

I hesitated before I wrote my review of Enlightenment.

It's consumable, not over intellectual but actually pretty provocative and thoughful - combining shocking with watchable.

The staging is very sharp and clever - minimal, clean, simple and yet feel innovative and modern.

Crucially the play is set in a landscape that feels believable and I found myself reflecting on people I knew who could be in similar situations, as parents, as travellers, as troubled young people drifting in a wider world.

Should you go and see it: the answer has to be yes, as Edward Hall's first outing it works, but also the acting from Tom Weston-Jones and Julie Graham is incredibly compelling. Emotional. Intimate. The way in which you are drawn into the story is very compelling and the cold clarity of the set provides a great back-drop.

For my own part I found the extent to which the end was unknown pretty strong - the imagery was very clever (a simple bed sheet for goodness sakes), but it took a series of difficult family realities and brought them home... I suspect some real recognitions are laced throughout for most individuals, couples and families who go and see it.

Monday 11 October 2010

There's no good excuse really... Enlightenment

The West End is dead expensive in relative terms
There's no parking in the west end
The Northern Line is pretty grim

In contrast fans and officianado's of Hampstead Theatre will tell you about the great value, the ease of access and the Met and Jubilee Lines... and that's before you have seen any performance.

Enlightenment has had great reviews and being directed by Edward Hall that's not really a huge surprise.

I for one will be there tonight, a good and trusted friend was there last week and raved on the phone about it over the weekend - it's the place to be it would seem.

Now I may be a bit slow but I cannna deny I'm a touch impressed with having Youtube previews and clips of the show - I'd not noticed it before but it works for me...

Friday 8 October 2010

Born in KILBURN, NW6

Yeay, after months and years of working for Kilburn here is a tangible expression of how special the local area is...

It's happening on Monday in Kilburn Priory and Mortimer Place.

I'm delighted and proud to confirm that we have Clare Milne, Alan Alexander Milne's grand-daughter coming back to help unveil the plaque.

The plaque is the best expression I can think of that is accessible and achievable about what a special place it is. For too long we were in the Borough of Hampstead and currently in the Borough of Camden and yet in fact we are our own place and identify. I'm not advocating the Borough of Kilburn (yet!) but I am championing some pride in NW6 and Kilburn...

Facebook link

Sunday 3 October 2010

King Midas NW3?

Without a doubt it's one of the nicest and most hidden treasures of Hampstead and all the better for not being the focus of historic pilgrimage...

It's Golden Yard - sadly not named after some Midas element but after the Goulding family who lives here from about 1580 until Sarah Brown (nee Goulding) sold the last property in 1779.

In some document's the yard features as Goulding's Yard and clearly just changed over time and useage. As I have blogged previously The Mount Square was previously known as Golden Square and probably had the same family name origin.

For those that haven't found this little gem before it's nestled between the Heath Street and the Holly Bush Pub and the street name sign had been charmingly adorned to reflect the name in what is one of the nicest little touches in street architecture.

The houses are classic Georgian style Hampstead cottages - brick built, almost plain, but with a cool charm that is immeasurable.

Friday 1 October 2010

13 Mallord Street, SW3 - surely it was NW6?

Few people can be as famous as AA Milne and yet no-one actually knows his names... Alan Alexander...

Alan was the son of John Vine Milne and Sarah Maria (née Heginbotham) and grew up at Henley House School, 6/7 Mortimer Road (now Crescent), Kilburn, NW6.

Henley House was a small private school run by his father. One of the school teachers was Herbert George Wells who taught there from 1889-1890.

So the time has come for Kilburn to assert it's historical pedigree and reclaim the fame that should be it's own.

The critical bit was that Kilburn (on the Camden side) was in the London Borough of Hampstead and all too often the history books therefore record 'born in Kilburn'...

13 Mallord Street is the address where there is currently an English Heritage plaque.

Monday 23 August 2010

Pawn to King 4

The picture to the right is my favourite picture of this trip. The concentration, the wisdom and the sheer humaity.

There is something curiously attractive, fascinating and civilised about street games between adults - in this instance street chess. This one appeals for me as a chess player of course, but nonetheless I do find it interesting how quickly a crowd gathers around street games like this.

Somehow the slightly lame layout of a small hopscotch in my own local Kilburn doesn't quite match up and yet it feels like the best we can attempt...

The other factor, when I passed by today, was the excitement amongst the older male regulars as a young woman took up the challenge to play. I used to play a lot (but haven't of late) and playing on a large street-board like this is very different to a table-top game, but I and these hardened regulars were impressed with the speed and the effectiveness of her game. She was playing to a formula, but with flair and style and a confidence that took them all by surprise.

At the end of her third win she retired leaving the older men a story to talk through over their bosnia coffee for days to come. Sigh - we could learn so much from such mediterranean mellow.

Don't just top-up your water bottle...

On virtually every street corner here there is a mosque - many of them open and live...

And so the tourists mill around in the courtyard - most tourists are either from the former Yugoslavian states or as far as I can tell from Italy. But my observational rule of thumb is that the Europeans/Italians (presumably mainly Catholic) don't go in... (they like the courtyard 'cause they can top up their water bottle in the cleansing fountain. :-)

So I'm going into these mosques - where it is much cooler :-) but also totally empty. I'm left with a desire to go out and usher the tourists in as the beauty, the art, the architecture is just superb quality, colour and design.

Many of the mosques date from the peak of the Ottoman culture (mid to late 16th century) and are small (communal). But this roundel dome (from Mostar) is not unusual, though at the better end of the beauty scale - but I can't help but think that in terms of the western tourist there is something interesting going on. The Orthodox and Catholic churches and cathedrals are busy with tourists and yet the mosques have only busy courtyards...

A small issue and not the whole picture I'm sure, but in terms of east-meets-west it feels a bit like west meets christianity but only looks on at the muslim traditions... That said, the synagogues were even quieter!

Sunday 22 August 2010

Europe's Jerusalem

It didn't take me too long to track down the local synagogue - but in a country where religion is such an issue historically at least, it's something of a surprise to find this has at least one tourist map called "Sarajevo - the european Jerusalem" (meaning all the faiths are here).

Sure enough on every street corner there is a mosque and then varying shades of catholic or orthodox christianity - few sign of methodist missionaries here!

But regular readers will not be surprised to learn that I tracked down the Jewish Museum and the Ashkenazi synagogue _ I've been past the historic (oldest?) jewish cemetery but haven't been back yet with the camera...

The Jewish community here is down to just 600 but before WWII was at over 12,000... and the museum reflects the cultural panoply of that community. But in practising terms, I understand the old synagogue is just a museum used annually and this Askenazi synagogue is the only operational place of worship for Sarajevo's jewish community.

Too young, just too young...

I'm not sure there is much to say other than these pictures but suffice to say it is the dominant feature of the places I have been here in Bosnia Herzegovina - graveyard upon graveyard. These are not old and well maintained - these are recent, specific and relate to the 1992-1995 war. This series were taken in Mostar.

Friday 20 August 2010

When the war is over...

I'm not sure what I was expecting here in Sarejevo, Bosnia, but this is not it.

The weather is just stunning - but beyond that the city is also amazingly cosmopolitan and welcoming.

The bridges - and it feels like there are loads - are charming, quaint, not over busy.

And if you like architecture then churches, mosques, synagogues, austro hungarian, moslem inspired - it's all here.

The streets are patently not paved with gold but they have a marble sheen that is well - intoxicating in this weather.

But then there is the grim real bit with the range of mountain around the bowl in which Sarajevo sits - wooded and dominant they and the many shimmiering graveyards around show the horror to everyone of what happened when this city was put under seige...

For me, it's more political tourism and I'm loving it... and as a place to be in it is way beyond my expectations.

More to follow... for now, more Bosnian coffee.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Eeeek, the weeks just shoot by...

Okay, okay it's been far too long since I sat down to do a set and run of updates.

It's not for the lack of content and local stuff, but rather the lack of discipline in writing the blog.

But today was aexciting in that I went to an appointment to the Museum of London to view the medieval seals of the Priory of St John the Baptist, Kilburn. There are four what appear to be late victorian copies - in varying forms of repair - and between them I reckon we can form a complete view of the seal as was.

What I nw have to do it track down the original seals and preferably the documents they are or are not attached to... tips and leads appreciated but I'm assuming that the British Library and Kew Records Office are my next stop - possibly Metropolitan Archives too...

Friday 25 June 2010

NW3 to Scotland

Sometimes the history of an area emerges unexpectedly in front of you and so it was one day the other week when a billboard came down revealing this old painted advert for the trains from Kings Cross to Scotland.

The space only lasted for a few days and indeed came to the attention of the South End Green Association who spotted it and featured it in their newsletter... but I managed to get a few pics and then mislaid them.

So i'm now catching up and popping them on here. Because I don't think we'll see it again I'm uploading all the pictures I got.

If you squint and stare you will see it says

Wednesday 23 June 2010

My Mum's called Sally!

Hampstead has it's fair share of historical and famous people and few greater in reputation than Gracie Fields.

More usually connected with Rochdale, Hampstead was the London bolt hole/base for Dame Gracie.

I wandered past this the other day and realised I hadn't featured the house and so reminded myself to do so.

It also drew into my mind the nature of past singers and actresses who I sense might (and this may be a heresy for some) fade from public perception. I mentioned the Gracie Fields house to a pretty clued up friend and it clearly meant nothing to her... is Gracie Fields becoming a faded memory?

More on Gracie and her significance to Rochdale can be found here:

The house is Number 20 Frognal Way and it's reported that the house was "Her husband Archie Pit built a £15,000 28 room mansion at Hampstead called The Towers. It had marble bathrooms, crystal chandeliers, a lift, and the housekeeper was a Russian princess. Gracie was terrified of the butler, hated the house and kept to her own little bed sitting room."

But I can't help but think that this relates to 136 Bishops Avenue which was also owned/lived in by Gracie - certainly from the outside this house in Frognal Way does not feel big enough...

Monday 10 May 2010

election slow down

The delay on the blog site has been visible and palpable but now this election is over I'm going to be picking this back up...


Thursday 8 April 2010

The Pond like you have never seen it...

Whitestone Pond is something of a local legend so it's great to see the level of care and attention being lavished upon it by a joint repair venture by the City of London and Camden Council.

These snaps taken this weekend just gone are of the pond being worked upon as you will soon never see it again.

The pond and it's environs have an incredibly special place in the heart of Hampstead - once known as the cockney seaside we have at last restored the donkey rides and begun to re-create the victorian funfair atmosphere...


Originally it was called the horse pond and was the place where people coming over the heath and about to go down into Hampstead would run their horse and cart through the pond to clean the mud off the hooves and wheels to stop slipping when going down the steep Heath Street.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

The Hampstead left-wingers

Don't know how many people have noticed this lovely house tucked away on Arkwright Road - in the middle of NW3 but it's a building called West Brow and is in fact the HQ of Tribune.

In the context of the passing of the great Michael Foot - it seemed only right that I report the existence of this building/office:


Happy to be corrected but I have a memory that it was/is also the location of the office of Glenda Jackson MP - but haven't sensed that for a while so it's poss that she has changed her arrangements or I have misunderstood the past arrangements.

The Tribune website records this
"Tribune was founded in 1937 by Labour politician Aneurin Bevan, who, as Health and Housing Secretary in Clement Attlee’s post-war government, went on to found the National Health Service.

Originally intended as a unifying platform for the left in the fight against fascism in Franco’s Spain, Tribune remains an independent weekly labour movement voice carrying news, views, features, books and arts reviews and cartoons.

Its editors have included Michael Foot and George Orwell, a former literary editor.

A thorn in the side of all governments, constructively to Labour, unforgiving to Conservatives.

Monday 5 April 2010

Gold medal for the best street name

I think despite my love of the sign in Tanza Road (http://474towin.blogspot.com/2008/03/types-of-street-name-plates.html and http://474towin.blogspot.com/2009/10/its-all-in-name.html)
, the affection I hold for the streets I have lived in locally (Quex Road, Sumatra Road and Christchurch Hill)...

This is definately the front-runner in the competition for the best street sign in the constituency...

It's all in the name.

But sadly the close reading of the explainatory plaque says the name is infact from the Goulding family rather than a level of wealth acquisition.

But not bad for a period dates from the 17th century...

(Anyone wanting the full story should clcik on the picture on the left and it should open in a large high quality format to make the reading easier...)

Regular (obsessive) readers will know that Mount Square was previously known as the Golden Square.

Friday 26 March 2010

Just 474 more votes - writ large...

For too many weeks we have had to endure billboards of David Cameron and the Tory Party - funded from abroad...

I'm proud and delighted that local residents, friends of mine, supporters, people who live here in NW6, NW3 agreed to fund a specific number of billboards in support of our campaign for a new type of local MP.

The first of these has gone up in Hilltop Road, near Swiss Cottage and received quite a lot of comment judging by my e-mail in-box!

Enjoy! :-)


Thursday 25 March 2010

Souces 1

I often get asked where I get the content for the blog and especially the reference text books. The simple answer is that virtually all of the blog is driven by my own photographs but I have a shelf of local history text books that I constantly refer to to try and check things out.

So over the next few weeks I'll try and gve a few pointers of recommended books and pamphlets:

- Hampstead Past, by Christopher Wade, published in 1989 and reprinted in 2002 by Historical Publications Ltd. ISBN 0 948667 05 2

- Wartime Camden (booklet), compiled by Valerie Hart and Lesley Marshall, 1983, London Borough of Camden Libraries and Arts Department

- The Good Grave Guide to Hampstead Cemetery, Fortune Green, by Marianne Colloms and Dick Weindling, 2000 by Camden History Society, ISBN 0 904491 47 1

- Queen's Park, Kensal, Brondesbury and Harlesden, A Pictorial History by Len Snow, 2006, Phillimore, ISBN 1 86077 416 4

- Buildings of England, London 4: North, by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 2002, Yale University Press, ISBN 0 300 09653 4

Back in service - busy and typing

My apologies for the gap in service on the blog - it's been a shade busy as I'm sure you all understand.
The election is now looming big and proper - but that's just the excuse - I have loads of bits and pieces worth sharing on here so am now playing catch up.
Most recently I was at the east London reception for President Sharrif Ahmed, President of the Transitional Government of Somalia.
It was an incredibly moving and emotional evening for the 9,000 Somalis present - and as one of the few non-Somalis present it was a huge honour for me to be there. The President was preceeded by a host of speeches, singers, dancers and a rage of colour and cheering and then made an incredibly measured and sincere speech to the assembled throng.
Now my Somalia is not very good (non-existent) but I was able to appreciate firstly the significance of the occasion but also the art-deco surroundings of the theatre we were in - curious similar and resplendant to the Kilburn Gaumont State Cinema (but of course smaller!). :-)

Sunday 21 February 2010

The gate of Kings?

If you walk down or up the Kilburn High Road you can't help but notice the massive development taking place at number 156-162 (?) on the camden side.

It's a huge retail development that includes going down into the basements as well as an extension on the roof to add a residential floor.

In short it is a big major development. For too long it lay empty and looked like nothing was happening and now it's all a go-go.

So the other day I was wandering along the back along Kingsgate Place - a charming small cobbled street that has the Brazillian Cafe and the Youth Club Station in and happened to pause and look up.

I'm not sure what I expected but I did not expect to see the quality of brickwork and windows that are there. It's got ana amazing perspective and sense of space and I can only assume are stunning inside.

It has a slightly church/chapel air about it but suspect it was just the finest of department stores from the late 19th century...

Any tips or leads from local residents out there who remember?

Friday 19 February 2010

The local landmark between Kilburn and Willesden

Chrich Church is a stunning landmark over Brondesbury looking down to Kilburn.

Work on the Church started in 1865 and it is a classic of it's time - a daughter church of St Mary's, Willesden, the church was opened by the Bishop of London on 21st November 1866.

It was widely acknowledged as a local landmakr and in the centenary of Michael Faraday's discovery of electricity was lit up in 1931.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Just in the entrance lobbies of north west London

Has there ever been a study of the tiles in the entrance doors of north west London or more generally.

It's certainly something that I have copied on here before and it's amazing the range of tiles that exist out there - this is a small set that I have icked up recently in the Brondesbury Park area that I thought you might enjoy

To my mind they all have an amazing sense of colour and vibrancy and are a sort of post metrolandstyle and design - it's tricky to see how old they are precisely - I suspect some are late 19th century, but the colours stand forth as clear as day still.

But I have to say that I think despite all the ones I have seen this slightly damaged one of the parrot is my favourite (or is it a cockatiel?).

But the simple charm, the colours, the almost cocky style to the head pluamge is just great fun and worth taking the picture...

Friday 5 February 2010

The oldest paper in town?

There is something about a newspaper whereby the credibility and esteem in which it is held is built on when it was founded - almost as though the sense that it has survived all those years means it is well read, respected, attached to it's community.

So here we are at Premier Corner, on Kilburn Lane near Queen's Park Tube station (West Kilburn by my geography) and have the foundation stone in the new offices (built, according to the plaque in 1964).

The masthead of the Kilburn Times still proudly proclaims
Established 1868

So the plaque reads:
The north-western printing and publishing association limited.
This stone was laid by Mrs Kate Hewlett
Daughter of Thomas Smith - Proprietor
of the Kilburn Times in 1874 and Managing
Director of the Present Company from
1894 to 1910 - in the presence of his
Great Grandson Mr J H M Page - grandson
of Sidney Page who was chairman
From 1904 to 1930

Architect Sidney & Bettesworth LRIBA FRICS
Surveyors McCann & Bracken
Builders Y J Lovell & Son Ltd
23rd July 1964