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:

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.