What have you missed since… August 2015!?

The rumours are true. West Hampstead Life is back with a new editor but the same mission (and a familiar face is still involved). So, on with the news.

West Hampstead resident Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was recently seized by Iranian security services on her way back to the UK after visiting relatives. She has been separated from her nearly two-year-old daughter, who is being looked after by her grandparents in Iran. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, is campaigning for her return and to send their daughter a birthday card.

Saracens players celebrated their Premiership win with a quiet reflective pint at The Alice House this Sunday.

Actor and long time local resident Burt Kwuok died. Younger readers (i.e., anyone under 30) might not know the name, but he played the role of Cato Fong in the very popular Pink Panther movies of the 1960s and ’70s.

Talking of films, the Friends of Fortune Green have their first outdoor screening of the year next Saturday 4th June. It will be Brooklyn – one of the best movies of last year. Screening starts 9pm (sundown) but get there early with picnic and friends to bag a good spot.

In the past nine months West End Lane has continued to change:

Blink and you missed it – recent renovations at David’s Deli revealed some glorious old signage of days gone by. It’s been boarded up again but fear not it’s still there and sometime in in the next few weeks there’s an expert coming to take another look.

Glorious old signage revealed at David's Deli via Keith Moffitt

Glorious old signage revealed at David’s Deli via Keith Moffitt

Pizza Express should be opening soon. But it seems to have ‘spoiled the ship for a ha’penny’s worth of tar‘. Talking of pizza, Franco Manca, the rapidly expanding pizza chain, is opening up on the Kilburn High Road. It is aiming to open on June 28th. Will Pizza Express beat them to it?

Posh baker Gail’s is taking over the old Marie Curie charity shop site. Work started this week with a planned opening in early July. Majority pleased… that it’s not another estate agent.

Lower Ground bar is currently closed, apparently “for refurbishment“, though the massiveclub brawl may have something to do with it. The bar’s licence has been temporarily suspended.

And what is happening next door at much-missed La Brocca, which closed it’s doors exactly a year ago. Sources close to “Bobby F” say that its poor structural state has hampered renovations and other projects have taken priority but “pizza, cocktails and fun” are still on the menu.

More pub news – the Alliance on Mill Lane has been saved thanks, in part to the NDF getting it listed as an asset of community value and some tough negotiating by the leaseholder with the new owner. Sketchy details on its website but we’ll investigate for the next newsletter.

Mill Lane has lost a stalwart though. Bake-a-boo closed its doors for the last time today as owner Zoë explores a whole new career. She’ll be much missed.

Finally in this retail roundup, the estate agents’ boards on West End Lane, which are already much improved are due to disappear completely (scroll down a bit).

One thing that hasn’t changed since last May: West Hampstead Square still isn’t open! In the last newsletter, we reported that the opening had been pushed back from September 2015 to February 2016. That’s been and gone. Brickwork problems are believed to be partly to blame.

After A2 Dominon presented its “third and final” (its words) proposal for 156 West End Lane (a.k.a Travis Perkins), the plans were due to be submitted to Camden in November 2015. These were summarily rejected by Camden’s planners so it’s gone back to the drawing board. Revised plans are awaited.

In other large local development news, the opening of the new school on Liddell Road has been put back a year as construction has been delayed. There’s nothing on Kingsgate School’s website to confirm this. Indeed, there’s nothing obvious about the expansion of the school at all.

It’s unclear what’s going on at Monte Cristo – the breaking-all-the planning-regulations shisha bar on Fortune Green Road Seems closed, but is it?

Camden has been consulting on major changes to Kilburn Grange Park but after only one presentation. Plans include moving the only recently installed and very expensive adventure playground. Lots to discuss in a future article, would love to hear readers’ views.

Thameslink unveiled high-tech 12-carriage trains this week that can carry 1,750 passengers. Even more commuters changing at West Hampstead then?

The Sherriff Centre has opened its debt advice service, funded by its own profits. It will offer advice on a wide range of debt issues and help people facing emergency situations such as eviction or utility disconnection.

Have you registered to vote (by June 7th) for the upcoming EU referendum? According to YouGov, Camden is the fifth most pro-Europe region in the country. But, if you’re not yet sure how to vote, the Sherriff Centre is hosting an EU hustings on June 9th.

Fancy some footie? Cllr Phil Rosenberg, who in an effort to help shift a kilo or two bring the community together, has started up an informal football kickabout on Sunday afternoons at the Fortune Green play centre. They even use a fair-trade football (obvs). Free for now, but £4.50 down the line, 5-7pm, open to all.

In more serious Cllr Rosenberg news, he penned a thoughtful post about this week’s Hampstead & Kilburn Labour party meeting, which failed to address an antisemitism resolution.

There are more getting-to-know-your-neighbours event coming up with at least three Big Lunches on the 12th June. Gondar Gardens, Achilles Road and Ravenshaw Street are all hosting so if you live in and around those streets why not pop along? But please bring a dish to share.

Read a comprehensive account of all the V1 and V2 rockets to strike West Hampstead & Kilburn in WW2.

Culturally, coming up; the Friends of West Hampstead Library are hosting a book talk by Simon Garfield, up-and-coming American violinist Elena Uriosta is appearing in the St. Cuthbert’s master concert, and it’s the final week of two exhibitions at the Camden Arts Centre.

And finally, something out of this world. During British Science week in March, FoFG set up a scale model of the solar system and organised some excellent walks. If you missed them, this is a one minute version of the journey from the Sun to Neptune.

2nd June, Thurs – FoWHL; author Simon Garfield interviewed by local legend Simon Inglis.
4th June, Sat – FoFG screening of Brooklyn on Fortune Green
4th June, Sat – St. Cuthbert’s Master concert – violinist Elena Urioste
9th June, Thurs – EU hustings at the Sherriff Centre
11th June, Sat Fork to Fork Food Festival NW6 (the Kensal Rise bit)
12th June, Sun – Big Lunch day – several taking place in West Hampstead (see above)

2nd/3rd July – The 44th Jester Festival, Fortune Green

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