Lonnie Donegan’s Plaque unveiling on 13th July 2019

A plaque for Lonnie Donegan was unveiled by his son Peter outside the
ENO ( English National Opera) building in Broadhurst Gardens today.

Lonnie recorded ‘Rock Island Line’ at the Decca Studios 65 years ago
today. This record accelerated the growth of Skiffle which led on to
rock and the Beatles.

Jim Carter who made a documentary called ‘Lonnie and Me’ is at the back.

picture by Dick Weindling

Some music by Lonnie Donnegan here

The worst play in the world?

Courtesy of Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms

On Monday 15 May 1911, the play ‘When Kilburn Sleeps’ was put on at the Kilburn Empire. This was on the triangular site at the beginning of Kilburn High Road, where the London Marriott Hotel is today.

Kilburn Empire, then Essoldo Cinema 1953

It was produced by the wonderfully named Wentworth Croke.

He advertised it as ‘the worst play ever written, presented by absolutely the worst actors in the world’. ‘Wigs stolen from Clarkson’ (the famous theatrical wig maker). ‘Wardrobe from Petticoat Lane’ (the street market). ‘Mechanical effects by accident’.

It was written by Frank Dix (the advert said ‘pinched’), as a skit on melodrama.

One reviewer who saw it, said it was very funny travesty on sanctimonious melodrama performed with an excellent company of players. The actors clearly enjoyed their work as did the reviewer. But the Kilburn audience took it seriously, believing they were watching a real drama being badly played. Some stared vacantly and kept quiet. Others began hissing and booing. As they left the theatre they said, ‘The management ought to be ashamed to engage such a company to play that drama in that way’. ‘I saw it played properly in the West End a few years ago’ (the person was mixing up the Kilburn production with a successful drama called “When London Sleeps”, which was later made into a film in 1932).

As the play clearly failed to convey the intended humour to its audience, Croke took it off after only one day.

His full name was Wentworth Augustus John Croke, and after working for a railway company and the Stock Exchange, he became a successful producer, theatre manager and theatrical company owner. Croke’s wife Grace Chalmers who he married in 1899, was an actress. In the late 1920s he retired to run a hotel at Fowey in Cornwall.

Grace Chalmers- 1904

Croke was in the habit of taking aspirins to help him sleep, and on the day he died, had taken 150 tablets. The 1930 inquest verdict was heart failure induced by an overdose, but the coroner ruled there was no evidence Croke had intended to harm himself.

Addition by “Life in Kilburn”: here is a link that presents the history of the Kilburn Empire.

Are Brent Council selling off restricted pavement space in town centres?

By complete chance we found out about 3 applications by JC Decaux to install 3 additional massive advertising signs on the pavements in Kilburn High Road. We alerted you to the applications in our last newsletter.

The application numbers are 19/1997, 19/2001 and 19/2006.

At the time, we tought that Brent Council would reject outright such proposals on the basis that our pavements are already too narrow for the footfall on the high road and that they do not bring any public benefit. We were re-assured that that would be the case with the recent publication of the Borough Plan 2019/2023.

Page 13 states “ Brent has busy streets and town centres – we need to ensure we are able to keep our borough moving with well-maintained roads and pavements, effective parking controls, and improved public transport and cycling facilities”

Page 14 states ” Invest in Brent’s town centres to reverse decline and support diversification, employment and enterprise. “ and “ Ensure well-designed public spaces and buildings – such as the multi-storey Generator building at the Northfields site,-through master planning ,environmental improvements,active community engagement and place management standards.”

Page 16 states ” Encourage people to use alternatives to cars for those journeys where it makes sense, by prioritising more walking and cycling routes, promoting sustainable means of transport and the health benefits ofbeing more active “

We found that on the 12th September 2018 Brent’s Cabinet agreed to the attached document “Authority to tender Concession Contract for six-sheetadvertising accroos the Borough”. This is a must read! We have highlighted the parts of the document that you should read.

In summary, Brent had a 20 years concession contract with JC Decaux (expiring in December 2019), thus the horrible free standing sign impeding pedestrians flow in front of 391 Kiburn High Road. The price that JC Decaux had to pay was 7 Public toilets against 72 signs, and for Brent to use the reverse of the signs to post “Public Service messages”. To the own admission of the officers the public toilets had not been operational. We know that, as the only one in Kilburn, in Victoria Road, has been out of service for years. As to the value of public service messages, advertising currently “Wembley Park” in Kilburn, we doubt that this brings any benefit to Kilburn.

Brent wanted to raise a 6 digit sum in their new contract, and employed Fortuna Associates to “monetise their assets”. The main criteria for tenders evaluation is Price (65% of evaluation) whilst Social Value is only 5%. There is no mention of siting the display boards in areas where they would not impede pedestrian flow and in fact there is a suggestion that their should be an increase of the advertising display portfolio to maximise income.

So in short, we think it is a sell off of public space by Brent. Good intentions to generate money, but should that be in breach of the Borough Plan visions and at the expense of pedestrians?

The decision re the final contract was made in March 2019, but the decision document has restricted access so as members of the public we cannot know how many signs will be erected nor how much revenue will be generated.

The only way we can stop our High Road to be blighted with these signs is to object to the planning applications. We need a minimum of 50 objections per application for them to be referred to the Planning Committee. So please do take 5 minutes to object and share with neighbours!

WE COUNT ON YOU! PLEASE OBJECT TO THESE MONSTERS that will bring no benefit to Kilburn. Planning application numbers are 19/1997, 19/2001 and 19/2006. Here is a link to the planning site. THANK YOU.

What’s happened this fortnight 23rd June 2019

Oh shock, horror! Our tweet suggesting that Spicy Basil might be relocating to Cricklewood received many responses of disbelief and shock. They are definitely applying to open in the McGoverns pub in Cricklewood. However we hope it’s a second branch!

Now it’s official! Kilburn High Road will be closed to all traffic on 11th July 2020 for a Brent Borough of Culture Parade now rebranded as “street party”. We met with the consultant back in February but were asked to keep the date quiet. We attended the Brent Connects Kilburn meeting on 18th June to find out more. Apparently Kilburn High Road was chosen as it is the A5, the road used by many immigrants to Brent. The street party’s main theme will be immigration. We are still very unclear about the content and how local residents, community groups and businesses can get involved though. We received reassurances that Camden Kilburn groups will be included and can apply for the Culture Fund. Apply here!

No injuries in the fire that destroyed a 4th floor flat in Watling Gardens. The local community was on stand-by to help, which is nice to see.

Next weekend, the Queen’s Park Book Festival is on. The festival is run by a charity and in its second year of revival needs your support. You can get day tickets at £18 per person. Queen’s Park is after all part of the Kilburn family as many old postcards and records state “Queen’s Park, Kilburn”.

Bistro 267, at 267 Kilburn High Road is under new management, while Meaty Buns at 262 Kilburn High Road is up for sale.

Offside Books at 92 Willesden Lane are having a sale, 50% off all books till the end of June.

Gormley, or at least his sculpture, rumored to represent himself, approved of the Maygrove Peace Park Clean-up!

Kilburn got a space in an article about new landmarks of literary London in the FT. Zadie Smith provides an insight on what to do in Kilburn to get writing material!

On the 12th June, Kilburn made it into the Daily Mail with the smash and grab at our Sainsbury’s Local. Speaking of Sainbury’s, did you know that Kilburn had 3 branches, all with lovely facades? The branch at 292/294 Kilburn High Road ( known as the Brondesbury Branch) opened in 1892 and closed in 1969. Another shop opened at 128 Kilburn High road in 1892 and expanded into 130 Kilburn High Road in 1897. Closed in 1969 when Sainsbury’s moved to its current location. We could not find pictures of the other shop at 96 Kilburn High Road.

Sainsbury in 1969, Brondesbury Branch, 292/294 Kilburn High Road
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What’s happened this fortnight 9th June 2019

The planning application for the redevelopment of 2 to 12 Priory Park Road (19/1279) received 8 comments, 4 Objections, 2 Supports and 2 Neutral comments. This means that it probably will not go to Planning Committee and the future of the application will be decided by Officers. Watch this space for updates!

Hurray! Some progress has been made in the removal of the illegal terrace of the Cock Tavern. But still more to do….

Duck Duck Goose, at 228 Kilburn High Road opened on 28th May, with all the trimmings of an official Chinese opening, involving a dragon, music, incense, suckling pig and more. They’re offering a 20% discount until 28th June.

We went inside the Tin Tabernacle on Cambridge Avenue. One of Kilburn’s gems. There is an event on 27th July. An excuse to peer inside?

Ex Mix store, at 224 Kilburn High Road opened. A mix of second hand clothing and new clothing.

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A luxury hotel In Priory Park Road?

A surprising planning application for 2 to 12 Priory Park Road.

Brent Planning Application number 19/1279.

2 to 12 Priory Park road conssit of 3 building groups.

2 to 4, an architecturally interesting building that consisted of ground floor shop units and 3 upper floors of residential accommodation. This group of buildings was sold on 9th September 2002 for £550000 and left to go into dereliction. Its ownership was transferred on 26/02/2018 as part of a bulk transfer for 2 to 12 Priory Park Road.

6 to 12 Priory Park Road are 2 Mansion Blocks that originally consisted of 16 flats each. The ownership of these buildings is not clear as the applicant company on the planning application, Priory Park Property Limited, does not exist. However a company, Top Class Investment Limited, have a valid charge registered at Company House, against these 2 Buildings. There again ownership of these buildings seems to have been transferred on 26/02/2018 together with 2 to 4 for the grand sum of £14.199.995.

6 to 12 Priory Park Road have been subject to numerous planning applications all with various caveats.

87/2087. (19/10/1988) permission granted to erect play room on condition that building is returned to full time accommodation within 3 years.

88/0094 (19/10/1988) refused permission to continue use as B&B and increase of capacity- Substandard provisions

88/0934 (17/04/1989) change of use to hotel with redevelopment granted.

91/1561 (26th February1992) permission granted to refurbish 6 to 12 priory Park Road, linking the 2 buildings and use as hotel. The link between the 2 buildings was never built and the buildings were never used as hotel but as HMO’s

91/2030 (3/03/1992) retention of playroom granted on condition that buildings are used as hostel

02/2547 (6th January 2003) change of use to HMO with linking of 2 buildings refused

11/3354 (26th March 2102) permission to demolish 2 to 12 Priory road and develop into a hostel refused.

11/4478 (14th december 2017) erection of a mansard roof on 6 to 12 priory park road to accommodate caretaker flat- refused as having a flat on top of HMO is not welcome.

18/3953 (18th December 2018) Certificate of lawfulness to use as HMO refused as HMO use had not been established for enough years.

In summary 6 to 12 Priory park road were granted a change of use to hotel in 1989. However the promised developments never materialised and there is no documentation to establish that these 2 buildings were ever used as hotels. It is evident that the buildings, when not empty were used as hostels and/or HMO. In fact these 2 buildings were operated in a scandalous way by Clearsprings to house Asylum seekers under a Government Contract. In December 2018 a fire broke out in the buildings, used as hostels.

No change of use was ever granted for 2 to 4 Priory Park Road.

All 3 buildings have been poorly maintained, if at all in the last 30 years. There is evidence of broken windows, gutters, balconies and fire damage. It is quite clear that they have been used to house the less fortunate. So is this application motivated by the fact that the Government Contract has ended and that it seems Brent are not using these buildings as short-term accommodation anymore?

So what is this new planning application about? Linking 2 to 14 Priory Park Road, adding Mansard roofs and creating a luxury hotel while retaining some of the frontages features.

While the renovation of these historic buildings is very much welcome, the hotel concept presented is less than clear. The website referred to in the application does not exist. It looks like the developers want to create a mix of short let appartments, with coffee shop provision at the back in conservatories, a gym and restaurant in 2 to 4 Priory Park Road. Slightly confusing are the floor plans showing 54 “studios”, 16 “1 bedroom” flats, 15 “2 bedrooms” flats so a total of 85 units and a total of 100 bedrooms, not the stated number of bedrooms on the application form.

In the traffic management document, the estimated increase of traffic (dead-end street) would be negligeable as apparently these buildings already operate as hotels. We doubt that would be the case as we all know these buildings were used for years to house homeless families and asylum seekers with no traffic whatsoever. The proposed turn around space for delivery vehicles in Glengall Passage is not adequate.

The planning application states that the sites are vacant. This is not true. The 2 mansions still house homeless and asylum seeking families. We witnessed numerous people going in and out.

Also does Kilburn need more short-term lets or simply long term accommodation? There are numerous short-term accommodation options in Kilburn, The Marriott Hotel, The Maitrise Hotel, The Quarters above Kilburn Library, Sanctum in Belsize Road, Black Lion B&B. However Kilburn is short on long term accommodation.

Thus we ask you to object to the change of use of 2 to 4 Priory Park Road, and ask for a return to 2 retail units and 6 flats on the 3 upper floors. We ask you to object to redevelopment of 6 to 12 Priory Park Road into short-let units. We think the proposed self contained flats should be long term accommodation, much needed in Kilburn.

Please comment on this application by 29th May.

Thank you.


History of Kilburn High Road Improvement Promises

28th February 2013 “Brent and Camden launch project to improve Kilburn High Road”

“Both councils are committed to improving road safety and accessibility through the Local Implementation Programme, especially on the corner with Quex Road and Willesden Lane which are accident hotspots, and have claimed lives.

Plans also include opening a local credit union in order to tackle illegal loan sharks operating on the road and encourage responsible lending, as well as addressing issues such as littering and anti-social behaviour”

https://www.kilburntimes.co.uk/news/environment/brent-and-camden-launch-project-to-improve-kilburn-high-road-1-1960508

19th March 2013Area action Group meeting with Camden officers “Camden was working with Brent to deliver area improvements and discussed how funding for improvements came from the Local Implementation Plan. She also said that Kilburn had been highlighted as a key area for investment. Camden would like to reduce the number of collisions and road danger and improve accessibility; Jacqueline also stressed that it was important to improve the character of the area and establish a sense of place.”

10th October 2013. Brent Highways Committee re improvements to Kilburn High Road, 20mph speed limit, removal of street clutter.

http://democracy.brent.gov.uk/documents/s19532/Kilburn High Road Proposed improvement scheme and 20mph limit.pdf

24th November and 14th December 2013 “public meetings to discuss proposed improvements to Kilburn High Road”

https://healthwatchcamden.co.uk/sites/default/files/2814.2_kilburn_rd_brent_poster_v3.pdf

https://healthwatchcamden.co.uk/resources/kilburn-high-road-development-scheme-presentation-camdenbrent-14th-dec

2nd May 2014 “Action needed now for a safer Kilburn High Road”

https://www.carolinepidgeon.org/node/1092

18th December 2015. TFL grants Brent £250000 for 2016/2107 “to re-visit the design proposals presented in the bid and to work with TfL to resolve concerns about impacts on network resilience, bus service journey times and capacity. The key requirements associated with the Major Schemes funding are set out in Appendix 1. “

http://content.tfl.gov.uk/lip-funding-confirmation-letters-16-17-brent.pdf

What’s happened this fortnight 28th April 2019

We always praise the window displays of Traid in Kilburn. We have had 2 wonderful displays in less than 2 weeks! One of them brought a bit of “Extinction Rebellion” to Kilburn, while the other featured proudly in “Vogue”.

Istanbul Mangal at 363 Kilburn High Road, has new owners and is being refurbished. Will reopen as “Somar Restaurant”

Sam’s Chicken is also refurbishing as have Ariana II.

Both “Bokor” and “Usta” got very good Hygiene Ratings. Well done! Unfortunately “Meaty Buns” only achieved a rating of 1.

A new nail place “The Nail Box” and a new restaurant, “LoLo Kitchen” have opened on Willesden Lane.

Tex-Ann have opened with some delays, and have installed the ugliest extractor chimney despite the Planning Application not being approved yet.

At last a new commercial tenant is moving to 271 Kilburn High Road.

Brondesbury station will loose its tickets office but will gain lifts by 2020. Let’s hope the lifts happen as they were meant to be installed by 2017!

Have you ever wondered what this building opposite Paddington Cemetery was?

The ICMP is offering evening singing classes.

2 local musicians will be hosting a fundraising night on 16th of May to fund a new “IT and creativity centre” in Watlings Garden, named “Kilburn State of Mind”. Do support them if you can. Entry is only £5.

Kilburn is in the top 10 rental locations searched on Zoopla.

The Big Clean Up of the Brent side of Kilburn High road was meant to happen on 13th/14th April, with a government fund of £57000. It obvioulsy did not happen! The Brent team came back during the Easter weekend and attempted to remove stickers, without a very satisfactory result.We ran a poll that clearly shows that the promised big clean did not bring the expected results.

Are you looking for a dance class? This might be for you.

Loads of new courses at the SHELL centre and Sidings Community Centre.

Looking to play football? Go to Maygrove Peace Park on Tuesday nights at 7.30pm

Here are the dates of future Community Festivals on the Camden side of Kilburn.

Street Kitchen” will start in Kilburn and are looking for volunteers.

The Cock Tavern have until the 23rd July to remove the ugly structure they have built at the front of the pub. Gucci Tallava at 260 Kilburn High Road have been served a planning enforcement notice. It shows that if people report breaches of Planning Regulations, the authorities action.

We’re pleased that the new Camden Transport Strategy document announces signifant funding in the Kilburn area. We’ve had a lot of promises since 2013, but no significant improvement. Maybe we are onto a winner this time! TFL were less than impressed by the latest “Kilburn Liveable Neighbourhood” bid, though.

Unfortunately window smashers are targeting Kilburn businesses; Holland and Barrett, Cancer Research, Subway and  Maison de laVie.

Brent’s Cabinet decided to go ahead with the redevelopment of the Granville and Carlton Centres despite local opposition.

Camden Alive, a cultural project will come to both the Sidings Community Centre and Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate. Do get involved. More details to follow.

A year after the Tricycle was relaunched as the Kiln, Indhu Rubasingham reflects on the last year.

The Tuesday’s Comedy Nights at the North London Tavern will end on 18th June, so enjoy while you can.

Horace Brodzky, a famous artist, spent most of his life in Kilburn. Dick Weindling will be giving a talk about Kaisers Spies” on 24th May.

Want to enjoy live music, have a look at the brilliant line-up at “The Fiddler”.

And finally,it looks like Brent Council are flytipping their signs in Camden!

What is happening this fortnight

1st May BRAT meeting

4th May “Bright Nights” at the Priory Tavern.

5th May-Upfront Comedy at the Kiln

5th to 6th May – Canal Carnival in Little Venice

What is happening a bit later

15th May – Mapesbury Dell AGM

16th May: Music fundraising night at “The Fiddler”

17th May. Opening of new exhibition at Kingsgate Project Space

18th May- Piano Concert at St Cuthbert’s Church. Free with donations for Foodcycle.

24th May. 1-3.30pm “Kaisers Spies” talk by Dick Weindling at the Sidings Community Centre

1st June- Fordwych Summer Fair.

5th June Family day in Grange Park

15th June – Midsummer opera evening at Mapesbury Dell

2nd June Upfront Comedy at the Kiln.

29th-30th June – Queen’s Park Book Festival

7th July – Family wild day at Mapesbury Dell

19th September “Abbey Autumn Festival£ at Abbey Community Centre.

12th October Heritage Fair at Sidings Community Centre.

Regular Events

Monday Nights: comedy/show nights at the North London Tavern, Open Mic at Sir Colin Campbell

7pm-8:30pm Kingsgate readers group at the Kingsgate Community Centre (not on the 15th or 22nd April or bank holidays). Email for more info

Tuesday Nights  quiz at the Black Lion Kilburn and at the Priory Tavern. Comedy at the North London Tavern.

Wednesday nights:  open mic  at the Earl of Derby, Swing dance at the North London Tavern

Thursday Day:  Watling Gardens gardening club 10am -11:30am
Thursday nights: Karaoke at the Earl of Derby

Friday nights:  Live Irish Music at Sir Colin Campbelllive music at the North London Tavern, Karaoke nights at the Cock Tavern, band night at Earl of Derby and Live Music at Maison Vie.

Saturday day from 11am to 1pm Gardening in the St Cuthberts garden

Saturday 1.15pm Free Foodcycle Lunch at St Cuthbert’s Church- All welcome.

Saturday nights: Live Irish Music at Sir Colin Campbell, retro evenings at the North London Tavern, DJ night at Earl of Derby.

Sunday nights:  quiz at the North London Tavern, Live Irish Music at Sir Colin Campbell. Live Irish music at the Black Lion pub 6pm – 8pm

If you have news, an event, some local history or just a favourite corner of Kilburn you’d like to share please email us news@lifeinkilburn.com or tweet to @lifeinkilburn.

What’s happened this fortnight 14th April 2019

Live music made a big comeback to Kilburn this fortnight with the opening of “The Fiddler” at 229 Kilburn High Road, and the first “Bright Nights” event at the Priory Tavern.

We, of course, went to the first night (5th April) of live music at “The Fiddler”. Run by legendary Vince Power, the old Kingdom Bar has been transformed to accommodate a stage, lighting and sound equipment. The decor has also been upgraded. “Mojo Hand” was playing that night. A delightful evening with great music! We invite you to look at the upcoming gigs. Some great names!

Is Kilburn about to get a make-over? The Kilburn Neighbourhood Planning Forum meeting on 2nd April was well attended, and these possible improvements were discussed. Please do contact them if you would like to be part of the group shaping the future of Kilburn. One of the recommendations is to unify the street furniture. Does not seem to be on the Brent agenda for bins! Continue reading

What’s happened this fortnight 31st march 2019

We started Life in Kilburn a year ago this week! Why? We wanted to highlight what is good about Kilburn. We wanted to inform you about what is happening in the area and provide a voice for Kilburn. Kilburn is a “bit rough around the edges”,  but where else in London would you find such a varied mix of people, a great Theatre, great parks, great shops and food from around the world?

We also wanted to remind the authorities that we are a vibrant place at the frontier of 2 boroughs (not counting Westminster in the South!), 6 electoral wards and that we deserve a bit of investment and love. Because we’re at the edge of so many boundaries, it can sometimes feel like we’re a bit forgotten about.

Hopefully we have helped you discover our rich history, numerous businesses, our green spaces and our lovely Community Centres. There is plenty to do and enjoy in Kilburn!

So “who is behind Life in Kilburn?” we hear you say. We are 2 individuals who live locally with a passion to help make Kilburn even better. We have no political agenda and do not have any commercial motive. If you have a great tip, news or community information you’d like to share, please tweet or email us.

Enough rambling and back to the newsletter….

The new exhibitions at Kingsgate Project Space opened on the 29th March and the new Billboard was revealed. Please do go and pay a visit until the 27th April.

Foodcycle Kilburn launched on 30th March with a superb 3 course meal. We were delighted to be amongst the 40 persons in attendance and of course loved the food and atmosphere. Foodcycle is all about serving free meals to foster a community spirit, from ingredients destined to the bin!. So please do attend, as it is great way to meet people and share news about the community while being fed. Thank you St Cuthbert’s Church for having opened your doors to such a wonderful initiative. Joanne from NW2 Garden friends will possibly also be organising garden tours on Saturdays before the lunch and is welcoming any new volunteer gardener.

We attended the Camden Kilburn Safer Neighbourhood meeting on 20th March and were glad to hear that this side of the High Road has very few reported crimes. It would be nice for some of the local Councillors to attend in the future.

There was a huge Police presence on Tuesday from 5pm to 1.30am. One helicopter then 3 helicopters. In case you have missed out this was due to 2 individuals who escaped police arrest by climbing onto roofs via a scaffolding. They were feared to carry weapons thus the massive police intervention. All ended well with the individuals arrested, a few possessions misplaced and material damage that the police “corded unit” recorded. Once again the community came together, with Quex Road Methodist Church and the Mazenod Centre opening their doors to stranded residents. The Kilburn spirit was not defeated and it was an occasion to get to know neighbours.

The best new shop signage award goes to Piccolo at 340 Kilburn High Road. They are hosting an open mic session on 2nd April.

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