Lest we forget!
A century on, here's the very telling and wonderful memorial plaque on College Lane in Kentish Town, photographed this evening. It's now only party legible, but bears the names of ten local (very local, largely College Lane residents) men who died in the First World War. There's more details here. It's a rare type of memorial - not municipal, not church, just the local community, and placed on the outside wall of a house.
It is one of the most colloquial and so powerful testaments to the grief and suffering occasioned by what contemporaries came to call the Great War - not great as wonderful, but great as profound and terrible.
It's a brave developer that alights on a web address which might arouse adverse comment in the locality in which they are building. So is it wise of Four Quarters - as you can see, busily developing the former British Rail Staff Social Club site adjoining the marvellous, much treasured College Lane in NW5 - to set up a website: http://fqkentishtown.com/? If you don't see the problem, say the address out aloud ... But at least it's better than '4Qkentishtown'.
If you go to the site at the moment, you get nothing beyond a 'coming soon' message. Yes, we can see that! So, what exactly is coming soon to College Lane? Well, here's what's on the board just by the site:
Family homes are much needed - but the development will certainly change the tone of College Lane, a pleasing straggle of more than twenty houses and cottages, developed piecemeal through the nineteenth century, which front not on to a road but simply a path. And as we mark the centenary of the First World War, College Lane is home to one of the most modest and telling local memorials to the war dead - if you haven't, do go and see it (look out for the pink painted buiding almost in the middle of the run of houses, and look up a little above head height).
The shorter and prettier Georgian Little Green Street, the only vehicle access to the construction site (unless I've missed something), is also clearly anxious about what the future holds - the 'Save Little Green Street' banner is back on display.
How will things develop? Watch this space ...
Four Quarters in College Lane
Something's afoot on Kentish Town's College Lane. After decades of neglect, and much controversy, the former site of the rail workers' social club is being developed. I do hope they don't ruin this very special place - and that they don't destroy the truly wondrous Little Green Street, a rare survival of Georgian shop fronts and often billed as the oldest street in NW5.
The photo above was taken this morning through the gates of the site. The land was bought a few weeks ago for £7 million, it's reported in the Camden New Journal, by developers Four Quarters. The previous attempt at development - buildings thirty houses on the plot and using cobbled Little Green Street as the main access route - came to nothing, but only after years of argument and ill feeling.
College Lane consists of a medley of more than twenty properties, most mid-to-late Victorian, which front not on to a road but a footpath. And it also has one of the most local and telling memorials to the men of College Lane and around, ten of them, who died a century ago in the carnage of the First World War. The memorial is among the local curiosities and landmarks which will feature in a forthcoming book, Curious Kentish Town.
All credit to the residents of College Lane in Kentish Town ... one of London's most intimate war memorials has been decorated with poppies in tribute to the ten local men listed on the plaque.
They all fought in the First World War. They all died in northern France and Flanders - or from injuries sustained there. There's more here.
All appear to have lived within a hundred yards of the memorial.
Lest we forget!
College Lane revisited
It is among the most evocative of war memorials. A plaque on the outside wall of a north London terrace listing the names of ten local men who died in the First World War - the inscription now barely legible.
The plaque is on College Lane, which runs parallel to Highgate Road - and which is the longest street I know of in this part of London which doesn't front a road. I've written about the memorial before but new information is to hand - thanks to one of the residents of College Lane - which I am keen to share.
The memorial is unique in London - reputed to be the only wall mounted commemoration of the dead of the Great War. And back in 2000 the Camden New Journal published the findings of an amateur historian, Carl Crane, who had done some delving into the stories of those listed on the plaque. All the information here come from Carl Crane's research - and I've posted the article below.
The ten men all served in the Borough of St Pancras-based 19th London regiment - and all were killed on the battlefields of France and Belgium or died of wounds suffered there. Several have no war grave. And their names - well, there were nine privates or similar grade:
+ John Albert Powell Sayers
+ Fred Britcher
+ Charles James Manning
+ William James Cecil Stratton
+ Douglas Walter Barrett
+ Henry James
+ Percy Robert Leahey
+ Charles Henry Biggs
+ William Henry Turner
And one sergeant - (I think I've located a photograph of him - watch this space!):
+ Alfred Herbert Stanton
Every remembrance day a resident of College Lane places a poppy on the memorial. What a nice touch!
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