Tuesday 27 September 2011

Dust down and get going again

At the risk of an analogy of a relaunch of a relaunch, I am yet again coming round the to revitalising of this blog of mine. Work and interests and family and life generally have taken over and it's time to draw this all together and get writing again...

As a context I am reading a lot again which is great fun and will be putting up some of this in the blog.

The Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme needs gingering up and galvanising into action, the African Liberal Network is going great guns and the Forum for Africa is picking up steam after two great launch meetings at Liberal Democrat Conference (Birmingham) and Libretto Marketing is taking off nicely.

So - deep breath- time to get writing and posting proper I think.


Thursday 30 June 2011

KIlburn History Festival - times and dates

Just to confirm that all is now on track for the history talks that will take place on Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th and Saturday 9th July in St Mary's Church


There is no charge but there will be a collection with all donations going towards the Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme...

There is a facebook group you can join: Kilburn History Festival 2011

Saturday 14 May 2011

Kilburn History Festival 2011

The Kilburn History Festival will take place from Wednesday 6th – Sunday 10th July 2011 – a series of talks, walks and guided tours round interesting and significant local buildings.

More and more Kilburn residents have been making enquiries about the local history of the area – often triggered by the knowledge that the Kilburn High Road is the route of the ancient Roman Road, Watling Street.

The history festival comprises a series of 3 history talks, a guided history tour of the Kilburn High Road (repeated 3 times) and a series of local interesting old buildings that will be open for guided tours.

Programme of events July 2011

The talks on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday are all being held in St Mary’s Church, Abbey Road, NW6

  • Wednesday 6th July
    Ancient and Medieval Kilburn by Ed Fordham

  • Thursday 7th July
    The Development of Kilburn by Michael Alpert and Dick Weindling

  • Saturday 9th July
    Lived here and Loved it. (famous people of Kilburn) by Dick Weindling
(we would like to ask for a donation towards raising money for the Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme)

Sunday 10th July
History tours of Britain’s oldest road – Kilburn High Road

  • 11am meet Kilburn Park Tube Station (Bakerloo Line) to Kilburn (Jubilee)

  • 1.30pm meet Kilburn (Jubilee) to Kilburn Park Station (Bakerloo Line)

  • 3.30pm meet Kilburn Park Tube Station (Bakerloo Line) to Kilburn (Jubilee)
(The tours are free of charge, but if you enjoy it any donation will be given towards the Plaque Scheme)

As most people know Kilburn is divided between Camden and Brent local authorities and in part in Westminster Council as well. This has had the effect of splitting the historical records – whilst Willesden and Hampstead, for example, have been well documented and researched Kilburn has been neglected.

This festival, working in conjunction with the Historic Kilburn Plaque Scheme, seeks to raise the profile of the ancient, diverse, and rich historical tapestry that exists in the local area.

Working with Camden Local Studies & Archives Centre and Brent Archives and Museum

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Save the streetscape - surely???

One of the main features of this blog is to capture the local area today, draw out the local area of yesterday through surviving history - I soon found however that the pace of change was such that quite often I captured it today and within a matter of weeks and months it had already changed...

Some of the features of the blog in the early days have already gone.

So it seemed only right that I caughts the demolition in my own street of Quex Road of the back of the Older people's hostel.

I can't deny I'm a tad worried that glancing at the website of the architect it looks like they are planning to demolish the whole frontage - which would be a real shame - there are too few nice victorian features in Kilburn and demolishing them wholesale seems overly unecessary.

You can see the plan here: http://www.alancamp.com/news/current/quex_road_receives_planning_approval

But at the moment the demolition is just the back of the building so it's poss the front will survive and with it the pleasant streetscape. We will see - a good test for how good/sensitive are Alan Camp as architects I guess.

Friday 6 May 2011

The Kilburn Watchmaker whom time forgot

On eBay I found a Victorian pocket watch which was made by Dorey Lester and Co, of Kilburn. This was not a name I recognised, so I asked Dick Weindling, a local historian, to see if he could find anything.

He found that Dorey Lester was born in Snaresbrook (then in Essex), on 1 August 1853 with the wonderful name of Lancelot Dorey Lester. His father, a gardener, was also called Lancelot and was living in Camden Town. Initially, Dorey worked as a company clerk but then he decided to be a clock maker.

On 9 September 1874 at St Mary Willesden, Lancelot Dorey Lester, a clock merchant of Canterbury Road, married Emily Beazant, whose father was a publican. Between 1876 and 1882 they had five children.

In 1871 Dorey was living with his father at 6 Rudolph Road, Paddington. The censuses show that he moved several times; 20 Cambridge Terrace, Kilburn (1881), 31 Kenliworth Road (1891), 25 Winchester Avenue (1901 ) and 33 Oakington Road, Paddington (1911), when he was still married but living alone. So far this does not show anything out of the ordinary: just a local clock maker trying to make a living.

But then in 1886 it proved too much and he went into bankruptcy. The London Gazette lists Dorey Lester, a jeweller of Glenlyon House, Cambridge Road, Kilburn as a bankrupt. This was not unusual for many Victorian traders, but another Google hit was from a 1907 New Zealand newspaper. This contained a letter which said that friends of the writer had received a circular advertising 20 guinea gold watches for just a few shillings. They had sent their money to Dorey Lester and Co. but they never received the gold watches. When they heard their friend was going to London they asked him to call at the address on the circular. He found this was a private house in Kilburn with a brass name plate on the door. Lester was very polite and apologised. He said the offer made it clear that these were only imitation watches and that the demand had been so great that his stock had run out, but my friends were next on the list. When the New Zealand gentleman pointed out the money had been sent over two years earlier, Lester promised to send the watches to his London hotel. He did receive the watches which were only worth the money they had sent, and he returned these to his friends.

But things were not so straightforward. The Times for 28 June 1907 had a report from the Old Bailey when Dorey Lester, aged 53, pleaded guilty to charges of obtaining money and watches by false pretences.

The prosecutor said that practically all Lester’s business was done through the post by sending out circulars mainly to the Colonies and the police had large numbers of complaints from Australia, New Zealand and India. Lester had been in business for 30 years and the complaints went back for 27 years.

When the police visited Lester’s house they found very little stock and 2,000 letters of complaint. In addition to the circulars, Lester had obtained large numbers of watches for repair with a payment in advance. These were pawned by Lester and the police found 233 pawn tickets for the last year in the house. Inspector Pollard said Lester had been repeatedly warned, but he always gave a plausible explanation and as the complainants mainly lived aboard it was difficult to obtain a prosecution.

The case had only come to court because it was brought by Rev. Hedley Vicars, the rector of St Ann’s Huntingdon. The judge praised Rev. Vicars for perusing the case, and said Lester was a very dangerous man who had defrauded people for a great many years and he sentenced him to three years imprisonment with 12 months hard labour.

Lancelot Dorey Lester died in St Pancras in 1931.

With thanks to Dick Weindling for this blog post

Wednesday 4 May 2011

The curl out of place...

Without a doubt this photograph is one of my favourites of Kilburn of yesteryear.

Full of character and style - all brought about by a number of features - the wide dress, the still left arm - the kinked elbow resting on the cushion holding a white lace hankerchief, the bold buckle, the bodice under the blouse, the formal black collar (matching the belt) and the tight stylised hair with one small hanging curl...

And an apparently emotionaless gaze - slightly pensive and whilstful and yet charming.

Taken in a small smudio room in what was Bennett James the photographers. I'm guessing it was a front room of a house on Quex Road near the junction with the Kilburn High Road... probbaly taken about 1890-1905.

Totally charming.

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Capturing the unremitingly normal

I suspect that these pictures say quite a lot and reveal a huge amount about the hum drum of tube travel in London.

But I quite like the slightly surreptitious nature of taking the picture - that is unwitting subjects, but not intrusive pictures (I hope).

It also reveals to the sharp observer which tube lines I frequent the most...

But crucially I notice now just how quickly observational photographs of the world today date - many of the pictures I have taken over the last 6 years of shops and people in Hampstead, West Hampstead and Kilburn have already changed and dated incredibly quickly.

Sure, shops and businesses change, but the speed with which images, fashion and styles change and the extent to which colour shifts too is fascinating. In this respect is the tube system in London with it's iconic colour and style one of the few timeless feature of life today.

I'm not sure but I guess time will tell...

Until then, I'll leave you with the unremitting notmality of life on the tube in the mid-morning of a weekday.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Is this art?

All I really know is that I saw this on the back wall of Boradhurst Gardens, from West Hampstead Tube station and thought wow!

It stands out and is impressive and colourful - I was also interested to be joined by three other travellers who were admiring it...

The reality is railway graffiti is the norm now but with some basic imagination it could be developed... some of the graffiti is abusive and incredibly tatty and undermines a building and the area.

So perhaps as part of the London elections next year there could be an intelligent engagement on the issue and the tat cleared away and the space yielded up for better, more artistic features - such as this one?

Friday 15 April 2011

Triggered by my birthday

I've just had my birthday and one of the kind presents I received was wrapped up in paper that is an early map of the London rail network - or London Electric Railways as it is described.

The interesting bit - beyond the fact that it's pre-Harry Beck (so it's prob about 1908 or so...) are in the station names.

Looking at the station names in Blue to the right - nothing very different there.

But the Metropolitan Railway (the dominant line in red) has a number of interesting features:
  • Marlboro Road - no longer a station, although Marlborough Place and Marlborough Hill survive
  • Finchley Road and South Hampstead is now just Finchley Road station
  • Kilburn Brondesbury is now Kilburn Jubilee station
  • Willesden Green and Cricklewood is now just Willesden Green - indeed I'm not sure Cricklewood would today see it as their local station...

But more faint and a bit more revealing is some of the other rail lines:
  • Loudoun Road station is South Hampstead today onn the Euston Watford line
  • Kilburn and Maida Vale is Kilburn High Road
  • Queen's Park & West Hampstead is just Queen's Park

Moving up the map:
  • Brondesbury (Edgware Road) is just Brondesbury on the Overground line
  • West End Lane is just West Hampstead

What a great piece of wrapping paper!!

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Calling all drinkers of Kilburn out there

I'm just involved in a small project on Kilburn and commerce and wanted to check if I had the correct list of current functioning pubs. So the short question is are there any others or just the 18 I have listed here

Queen’s Arms, 1 Kilburn High Road, NW6 5SE

The Westbury, 34 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 5UA

The Old Bell, 38 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 5UA

Betsy Smith, 77 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 6HY

The Cock, 125 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 6JH

The Golden Egg, 155 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7HU

The Coopers Arms, 164 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 4JD

The Kingdom, 229 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JG

The Colin Campbell, 266 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 2BY

The Good Ship, 289 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 7JR

The Black Lion, 274 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 2BY

The Kings Head, 307-311 Kilburn High Road, London, NW6 7JR

North London Tavern, 375, Kilburn High Rd, London, NW6 7QB

Brondes Age, 328, Kilburn High Rd, London, NW6 2QN

Powers Bar, 332, Kilburn High Rd, London, NW6 2QN

The Priory Tavern, Belsize Road, London, NW6 4BT

The Prince of Wales, 11a Cambridge Gardens, London, NW6 5AE

The Prince of Wales, 101 Willesden Lane, London, NW6 7SD

Monday 11 April 2011

So farewell The Cock Tavern Theatre

Fans of theatre, live performance and Kilburn will be disappointed to hear that the Cock Tavern Theatre has closed - it would seem indefinately due to failing the tests required by health and safety fire escape legislation.

It's a real shame and a loss to the local area. Let's hope the Council is pro-active and give the team the help they need to get the show back on the road again...

This is the news as it broke in the Evening Standard:

"Two productions have been suspended at the Cock Tavern Theatre, in Kilburn, because the height of the steps on its staircases do not comply with council rules.

An inspection of the 56-seat theatre, which is above a pub, also found that it had no entertainment licence."


Sunday 27 February 2011

Boom in cinema's locally...

So just how many cinema's have there been in the local area?

I'm counting at least 7 down the Kilburn High Road (only 1 now)
1 on Belsize Road in Kilburn
The current 1 at Swiss Cottage
1 on the Finchley Road
2 on Heath Street, NW3 (1 still there)
and 2 on Haverstock Hill (1 still there)

I make that 13 in the past (3 today)
Any other's I've missed?

Friday 25 February 2011

Kensal Rise out for a bicycle ride...

Here are 37 of north west London's finest cyclist.

Based on the costumes and the pictures I reckon is is taken in the very early part of the 20th century - c. 1910 - and is a photograph postcard of Kensal Rose Cycling Club.

I think the cycling club didn't last much longer as in 1926 there was the formation of Willesden Cycling Club (WCC) which still operates today.


But as a pictorial and indeed sartorial insight into Edwardian Britain this is pretty good...

There used to be a cycling track at Kensal Green and indeed this saw the first race (for the Finchley Harriers) of 1908 Olympic medal winner Leon Meredith (1882-1930).


Wednesday 23 February 2011

Roll up, roll up - for 6 nights only...

A special treat here which is the programme from 14th April 1896 (the programme is dated by hand on the back - this is the second night of a 6 night run) of the Theatre Royal in Kilburn.

The Theatre Royal was in Belsize Road (opposite the Kilburn and Maida Vale station - the original railway house is still there in great external condition) and is essentially just opposite the Priory Pub.

More information on this music hall can be found here

This programme refers to the 'New' Theatre Royal as the theatre was rebuilt in 1895 and therefore this is just a year old at this point.

The prize top billed act is William Bryer (by his stage name Willie Edouin) at this point quite late in his career - he's now about go freelance and passes away in 1908.

Mark Melford worked with Willie Edouin before not least on a very successful run on this performance "Turned Up" but also on "The Jerry Builder".

Much more on Edouin can be found here

Tuesday 22 February 2011

NW6 Back in 1790

I thought this little map from my local history collection would be of interest to local officianado's. (To get a large image just click on it and it should open as a new window.)

It's essentially a travel map, a sort of gazeteer, of the route from London to Tring in the form of a hand drawn AA or RAC site - this is the section from London to Bushey Heath - the rest would have been on the next page as columns 21 and 22.

For local drinkers and supporters of ye olde public house you will see on the Kilbourn (sic) part the following hostelries:
The Red Lion
The Bell
The Black Lion
The Crown (now in Cricklewood)

All still there today (although the Red Lion is somewhat dreadfully renamed as The Westbury).

The map also throws into contention the claim of the Cock to be a medieval tavern, but I'll leave that claim to a later date of discussion.

The other bit on the name is the confirmation of the Kilburn Gate toll (from Kilburn Gate estate - top of Maida Vale and bottom of the High Road) through to Edware Gate - a length of some 7 miles.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Some things don't change in West End...

It's incredibly easy to miss Emmanuel Church if you walk down Fortune Green Road today...

Everyone knows it is there, lots of people as a result of the school have heard of it, but the mansions lfats next and around mean that the attractive Victorian build just melds into the local scenescape...

But this postcard, posted in 1906 (when the church is just 9 years old), shows the building off as being much more imposing as there are no surrounding buildings in the way there are today.

But, bar that overshadow of the buildings, little has changed outwardly today. The architect in 1897 was JA Thomas of Charing Cross and the foundations were laid on 19th June 1897 - I wonder if the poster of this postcard realised that they were at the anniversary of the foundation when they sent this card. In fact given it is posted in Highbury it is quite possible that this person attends this 'new' church as they are a donor/supporter and went to the foundation service in 1906.

In fact, the church authorities ran out of money during the work and in fact the work was not completed until 29th June 1903 so this card is almost certainly produced as a new card just after the building work was completed and sold for the next three or four or more years...

You might even notice that the noticeboard is even in the same place 104 years later...! In fact anyone standing at Chomley Garden on Fortune Green Road would see little different today.

Of course, the Rev'd Jonathan Kester will be delighted to read that the sender of this postcard liked the service (18th June 1906) - not much has changed in that respect I suspect!

The only other side issues from this card is that there was a post in Highbury at 9.15pm and you can be pretty confident that that was not the only post dispatch of the day.

But then again postcards are not much used for short day-today communications like this - I guess this is the 1906 equivalent of an email or facebook message.

Friday 11 February 2011

So what did the Kilburn High Road look like from the inside...

It's relatively easy to track down early postcards and images of high streets or in this instance, High Roads, - more on this to follow.

But I have often wondered who the shop keepers were, the customers and the products.

So this little gem gives us one small insight - dated on the back 1897 it looks like an engagement or aniversary picture... but crucially for this blog is taken on the Kilburn High Road.

It's a studio piece on a card mount, nothing on the back - the sort of thing you would go in have the picture taken and call back a hour or so later and collect it for a shilling or so... It's nice to note the wooden fence prop - relatively common at this period to give it a setting.

The shop of photographer, Edward J Davison, was at 310 High Road, Kilburn.

Now it's Furnishing First - just before Brondesbury Station - opposite the Luminaire (as was) - but a small insight into ye olde Kilburn...

Tuesday 18 January 2011

101 years ago just gone...

The idea os a fire on this scale here in Kilburn is pretty hard to imagine - but that's exactly what happened on January 13th 1910.

This Postcard made and published by the Watford Engraving Company captures the scale of the fire of Evans's Department store.

What is more fascinating is the back has a lovely edwardian handwriting and it reads:
"This is the photo of B.B.Evans fire, it was like this half an hour after it started. Caught the shop on the corner opposite and cracked all the plate glass down the row. This is the same shop we bought out needlework.
Glad Willie's eyes are better. I expect he caught a cold eating outside buses."

Posted in Cricklewood in the 12.15am Post on January 19th 2010 - just six days after the fire!

Monday 17 January 2011

Kilburn - take another look...

I thought this was really good:

Peel Precinct
by Aoife Mannix
The woman in the bright pink scarf says the square
is empty now but back in the fifties this market
was buzzing with barrow boy bargains. Live eels
wriggling with soon to be jelly bravado. Stallions
shivering outside the horse butchers though she
never knew any but the French to eat such meat.
A string of pearl shops where people echoed
your name, your family, the county you came
from back in the old country. Cork, Kerry,
Kilkenny, Killarney, Kildare, Kilburn.
Their music transferred to an alien city,
proud to play more Irish than the Irish themselves.
They were poorer than those up on the high road
but they were never short of a helping hand.
The Paddies and the Blacks united in their reversal
of no dog signs as they mixed Donegal and Trinidad
into coffee children calling out for a chance to show
they are no mere statistics in a drawer, jokers
in a pack that keeps being reshuffled, but voices
of vision that leap across concrete divisions.
Street corner pioneers conquering vertigo
with a single bound. The richness of lyrical
answers sewn into the wings of their trainers.
Hip-hop sky diving acrobats who tumble and spin
across their own urban palaces that have
yet to be built. Angel rebels whose cloud souls
are not for sale, they rewrite the signs so they point
up into the sky. Dance their own invisible maps
through the rain forest of broken stones.

Monday 10 January 2011

Slipped behind badly

But now with the new year it's time to crack back on with the blog and with so much going on with the history and the culture and pride of the local area there's no shortage of things to talk about on here...

Sorry for the delay in service