This is a really nice half-hour documentary done by a group of volunteers about Tufnell Park. It's charming, clever, and absolutely worth thirty minutes of your time. And yes, I appear in it somewhere along the way - and in spite of that, it's worth a watch.
Prize exhibits! These were a prize, sort of, for getting the right answer to a tweeted question about identifying a corner of our part of London. So being an anorak about NW5 and around for once paid a dividend.
The prize - four wonderful postcard sized prints of the handiwork of 'The Secret Artist', who has taken to painting some of the stand-out buildings in and around NW5. These are all obvious landmarks - but she also paints the terraced houses, the street furniture, all that makes our area our area.
There's lot's more by her on display at 'Two Doors Down', the new gourmet coffee shop which is - yes, you've got it - two doors down from Quinn's at the bottom of Kentish Town Road. They have met the artist but tell me that, just like the rest of us, they don't know who she is. (And even if I did, I wouldn't tell you, because ... it's a secret!)
Here's a nice Kentishtowner write-up on our Secret Artist with more of her work ...
http://www.kentishtowner.co.uk/2014/05/23/heard-secretartistnw5-yet/ ... and she's on Twitter at @secretartistnw5
Malden Road has seen better days. At least, I hope it has. When Karl Marx and family lived here, on Grafton Terrace, the locality would have been new and, not posh but smart at least. Sharp's Fishing Tackle Shop - I'm not sure whether it's still going, and the window display is about as flyblown as can be - is at the down-at-heel extremity of the street. Victor Eggleton, by the way, appears to be the name of the barber who had a business here decades back.
Next door, the undertakers has a wonderful blue lamp, surmounted with a crown - it's really fantastic to find such a very special architectural flourish amid this slightly forsaken corner of Kentish Town.
Two minutes' walk away as the road crosses the railway lines, slowly fading, is a wonderful Guinness ghost sign - replete with performing seal (I guess this predates the toucan). I'm no expert, but I'd say it's from the 1950s or earlier. The first use of a seal balancing a pint of Guinness appears to date as far back as 1930 - the fridge magnet featured below is still on sale.
I've found a hole in the wall - you can see, it really is a hole in the wall. And it offers escape from the prison of the Regis Road estate.
For those who don't know Kentish Town, the Regis Road development is built on what was once Kentish Town's vast rail depot. It now houses such wonders as the car pound, the recycling depot, and the postal collection office. You've got the size of the place.
And it's laid out like a maze - except there's no solution. It's just a meander of streets, with a single entrance and exit. If only you could break through to Holmes Road or Grafton Road ... but you can't.
The slight problem with the 'hole' is that it's only a hundred yards or so from the spot where Regis Road breaks free and meets Kentish Town's high street. So it hardly revolutionises the geography of the place. But it least it adds a frisson of the unexpected -
Now, this hole in the wall leads to the top end of York Mews, a street which really has nothing to commend it apart from its obscurity. So it's hardly an enchanted garden. But in NW5, you take what you get. So go and explore the hole in the wall before someone seals it up.
It's amazing what you can find in the back streets of NW5.
I came across this sign on the door in one of the quietest, most unobtrusive corners of Kentish Town (I know, there aren't many).
I did wonder if this was perhaps a school instructing in the language, religion and culture of Poland. But the image made that seem unlikely.
A cursory search of the web suggested this was perhaps a ballet school. Well, true in part.
This is indeed a pole dancing school - and here's their website.
I couldn't help noticing that among the classes offered at this Ecole is one described in these smouldering terms:
This class is all about being SEXY!! Feel good and confident about yourself, while learning new slinky sensual floorwork, transitions and combos on the pole. The entire class is taught in heels (including warm up!) and will be extremely HOT!
OPEN TO ALL LEVELS - dance and choreography is the focus in this class so all levels welcome (just make sure you know how to climb the pole at least….) – Alex will insert Basic tricks and spins for those of a lower level and suggest more advanced tricks for the higher levels inbetween the dance parts…
It makes Rio's and Bluston's seem a little tame.
The Burston Strike School in Norfolk is one of the most remarkable episodes in English radicalism. The school - a small single-storey building on the village green - celebrates its centenary this year, and there are centenary events starting in April. And as you can see, there's a Kentish Town connection.
The Strike School is sometimes described as the longest strike in British history. It was set up when squire and parson sacked the radical couple, Tom and Annie Higdon, who taught at the village's church school. The Higdons set up an alternative school, initially in a marquee on the green, attended by 66 of their 72 former pupils. It kept on going for quarter-of-a-century.
The school building was constructed through support and donations from across the labour and radical movement - and that's reflected in the inscriptions on its bricks. From the Kentish Town rail workers (back in the day when hundreds worked on the Kentish Town rail depots) to Leo Tolstoy. The old school is now a well kept small museum - and deserves support, so spread the word.
I remember seeing the Kentish Town inscription when I visited Burston some years back - Megan Dobney, of the Southern & Eastern Region TUC, has very kindly sent me the photos that grace this page. Of the other inscriptions, ILP = Independent Labour Party, NCF = No Conscription Fellowship, ASE = Amalgamated Society of Engineers, SWMF = South Wales Miners' Federation, LRC = (I think) Labour Representation Committee ... oh, and JP = Justice of the Peace.
UPDATED January 2014 with the discovery of another 'HOPE' - details and photo at the foot of this post
Across my part of north London, which is awash with rail lines from the mainline stations heading north as well as the more homely North London Line, someone, some time, for some reason, has taken to painting 'HOPE' on bridges and track-side buildings. In white paint ... in large capital letters ... without any obvious purpose. It's a bit of a mystery.
What follows is not the full story - but we're getting there. And if you have anything to share about these HOPE inscriptions please do get in touch. Whatever the story is behind them, I am keen to find out.
I've mapped and snapped the various renditions of 'HOPE' which have appeared on and adjacent to railway bridges or overlooking railway lines across Kentish Town, Gospel Oak and around. And below are pictures of them all - the three (the orange dots on the map) most imposing renditions complete with serifs, those little embellishments which make capital letters stand out; six plainer versions (red dots), one of which is almost entirely scrubbed out but still just visible; and two (yellow above) other 'HOPES' - one in a very different style, and the other what you might call the only legitimate 'Hope' in Kentish Town.
I'm still trying to work out why this fly painting, by whom, and when - asking around, the consensus is that these are intended to inspire and uplift rather than simply a tag. And all being close to railways lines? Well as I say, there's a lot of them around this manor - so perhaps that's not too significant.
If you know more, do tell me: <email@example.com>
HOPE - the big three ...
HOPE - the other six ...
... and while we're on about HOPE ...
And if you wondered what the now barely legible HOPE overlooking 'Kentish Town Square' (no. 9 above) looked like in its heyday, here's an old photo courtesy of the excellent KentishTowner:
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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