Entries by Dick Weindling and Marianne Colloms

George Rose: Death in the Caribbean

Actor George Rose travelled an unusual path from Bicester to Broadway. He lived in West Hampstead for the best part of a decade while he learned his craft from great actors and directors such as Tyrone Guthrie, Laurence Olivier, Peter Brook and John Gielgud. And after a very successful career on the stage, he died […]

The artist and the punks of West Hampstead

In April 1977, Tony Drayton moved to London from Cumbernauld, a new town in Scotland between Glasgow and Edinburgh. From 1976 to 1979, Tony was the editor of the early punk zine, Ripped and Torn. He lived in London, Paris, and Amsterdam and had a very varied career, including fire eating. In the summer of […]

The beauty queen and a mysterious maritime death

Frank Vosper was born in December 1899, just two weeks before the turn of the century. He was born at 24 Gondar Gardens in West Hampstead – the house where Nobel prize-winning novelist Doris Lessing lived for more than 30 years before her death in 2013. Vosper’s father Percy was a surgeon at Kings College […]

Who buried the body? The sad tale of “The Kilburn Mystery”

Pembroke Place was a cul-de-sac of four-roomed houses off Granville Road in South Kilburn. It has long been demolished – today the St Augustine’s sports centre occupies roughly the same site. In the early 20th century, it was described as a mean and congested neighbourhood, where domestic violence often erupted. The properties were so small […]

Tracking down Kilburn’s misplaced cinema

Many buildings in Kilburn have interesting stories, but few can match 248 Kilburn High Road. The site, now demolished, has recently been given permission for two new-build blocks of flats. Residents will be living on top of a slice of media history. In October 1908, American-born George Washington Grant and two partners formed the Biograph […]

Miss Compton Collier – West Hampstead’s pioneering society photographer

“For fifty or even sixty years, Miss Compton Collier, based at West End Lane, Hampstead, has toured the English countryside. With her haversack of heavy photographic equipment, wooden camera and tripod she has stalked the great English families in their lairs.” – Cecil Beaton. In The Tatler magazine from 1916 to 1948, photographs regularly appeared by […]

Indiana Jones and the West Hampstead conman

In 2008’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, there is a brief mention of a real person. Our eponymous hero says that while he was studying at the University of Chicago, he was fascinated by the work of a man called Mitchell Hedges, a real-life adventurer and explorer who found a crystal […]

The Cambridge Spies’ West Hampstead connection

During the 1930s, Soviet intelligence recruited a group of young, idealistic Cambridge students who saw themselves supporting Communism against the spread of Fascism. After university, they held important posts in the Foreign Office and the Intelligence Service and passed secret information to the Soviets. They were not discovered until 1951 when two of them – […]

The downfall of a Kilburn doctor

This is the story of a doctor with a good practice in Kentish Town who ended up living in poverty in Kilburn and who died in prison. Arthur Raynor was born in 1848 in Hull where his father was a linen draper. He qualified as a doctor in 1870 and by April had set up […]

The improbable history of 1 Woodchurch Road

No. 1 Woodchurch Road – the rather grandiose building towards the Priory Road end of the street – was for many years called ‘New Place’ and has been the home of several famous residents. Today of course it is divided into flats, but there can be few extant buildings in the area with such a […]

Looking back at West End Lane in 1916

One hundred years ago, West End Lane was a very different place – though there were some similarities with today’s busy commercial street too. At the end of this article is the street directory from 1916. There were far fewer eating places and bars in 1916 than there are today – though some still exist. […]

They shot the wrong man!

In November 1982, 25-year-old model Sue Stephens moved from 29 Victoria Road Kilburn to share a room with a girlfriend above Lately, the bar at 175 West End Lane. Sue had left her Devon home at 17 and come to London to work and she had, for some time, been the girlfriend of David Martin. […]

The Mouseman of Kilburn – No, not that one!

Many people know about Robert Thompson, the furniture maker known as the Mouseman of Kilburn. But he lived in Kilburn, North Yorkshire. But it’s a fair bet hardly anyone knows that Kilburn in North West London had its own Mouseman. Thompson, born in 1876, dedicated his life to the craft of carving and joinery in […]

Hampstead Cricket Club is 150 not out

Hampstead Cricket Club (HCC) is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2015. There was a charity dinner at Lords on Thursday night, and other events are planned throughout the year both on and off the Lymington Road ground. All have been organised by West Hampstead resident and club chairman, Jim Carter, inbetween filming series six of […]

Teachers are now pupils at former West End Lane school

The London Diocesan Board for Schools has taken over the old St Mary’s School in West End Lane to use as its training centre. Over the years St Mary’s School has occupied four different buildings, all within a short walk of each other. Until the mid 1870s all new churches provided their own day school. […]

Did Jack the Ripper live in West Hampstead?

In the summer of 1888 a series of horrific murders was committed in the East End of London. They were attributed to an unknown man who was given the name of Jack The Ripper. Further murders occurred in the area up to 1891. Last week a new book came out. In Naming Jack The Ripper, […]

Charles Dickens’ brother lived in West Hampstead

Alfred Lamert Dickens, Charles Dickens’ younger brother, was born in Chatham in April 1822, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. From February to May 1824 John Dickens was in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison, where he was joined by Elizabeth and the three youngest Dickens children including Alfred. At the time a debtor’s family could […]

Wife murdered with a chopper in Kilburn… in 1897

In September 1897 the newspapers reported ‘a shocking tragedy’ at Kilburn. In the early hours of Saturday the 11th, and after an evening spent drinking, James Harris killed his wife Annie and tried to kill his seven-year-old daughter May. He also assaulted his son, 10-year-old William and then attempted suicide. Annie died, but the children […]

“I only meant to stun him” – A 1930s Kilburn murder

On 12 May 1937, the whole country was excited when George VI was crowned King after the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. Two days later at 4.30 am, a taxi driver went to buy petrol at the Lion Service Station at the corner of Greville Road and Kilburn High Road – Today, the site […]

The eventful life of singer and composer Turner Layton

Turner Layton was a great black singer, pianist and composer, who lived in Aberdare Gardens from the 1930s to 1978. He was born John Turner Layton Jr. on 2 July 1894 in Washington D.C., the son of a singer, hymn composer and director of music at a local school. In 1915 John married Emma Lee […]

“British Schindler” was born in West Hampstead

Nicholas Winton, who was instrumental in getting more than 650 children out of Czechoslovakia right before the outbreak of WW2 was born in West Hampstead. He’s still alive today and many would like to see him be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Nicholas Winton was born Nicholas George Wertheim. His family came from Prussia, (part […]

West Hampstead’s magic shop vanished long ago

I was recently looking in a street directory of 1911 and was surprised to see a conjuring trick manufacturer called Stanyon and Co. at 182 West End Lane. An internet search revealed several books about magic tricks written by Ellis Stanyon. His first book was Conjuring for Amateurs, written in 1897; his later book is […]

Battling Barbara Buttrick and the Kilburn Empire

In the 2012 London Olympics, Nicola Adams won Britain’s first gold medal in women’s boxing. Until recently, however, boxing was not seen as a sport for women. More than 60 years ago, The Kilburn Empire, which was at the southern end of the High Road – where the Marriott Hotel is today, played an important […]

Hippopotamus Murray

Oaklands Hall was a large house on West End Lane, near the corner with today’s Hemstal Road, with extensive grounds that ran down the hill to what is now Kingsgate Road. The last occupant of Oaklands was Sir Charles Augustus Murray who retired there in 1872. He was born on the 22nd November 1806, the […]

The Railwayman: Life and times of George Tombs

George Tombs was the station master at the Midland Railway station on Iverson Road. When it opened in 1871 the halt was called ‘West End’, the original name for the neighbourhood before ‘West Hampstead’ was adopted. The station stood roughly where the garden centre and tyre workshops once traded, adapted from one of three large […]

The Kilburn Thunderbolt

On Thursday night 5 July 1877, a huge storm burst over London. Just after eight o’clock, people in Kilburn saw a vivid flash of lightning and heard a loud burst of thunder, this was followed by a second and then a third. After the third peal of thunder, a ball of fire struck Bridge Street […]

Musicians in West Hampstead and Kilburn – part two

This is the second part of our trilogy. Here’s the link to part one. Thanks are due to Ade Wyatt, Simon Inglis, Dean Austin, Wally Smith, Pat Wilkinson, Adam Sieff, Phil Shaw, Steve York, Val Simmonds, Brian Wilcock, James Moyes, Dave Kemp and Peter Murray for their help in identifying some of the musicians. Cleo […]

Musicians in West Hampstead and Kilburn – part one

To coincide with this we will be doing an illustrated talk at West End Lane Books on Monday 18 November at 7.30. Come along to hear the true story about the Beatles failed audition at Decca, the evening that Jimi Hendrix played at Klooks, as well as the other great people who played at the […]

Making Music in West Hampstead and Kilburn

Our next book, ‘Decca Studios and Klooks Kleek’ will be published by The History Press in November 2013. This is the first history of Decca Studios, which were in Broadhurst Gardens from 1937 to 1980 and where thousands of well-known recordings were made. From 1961 until it closed in 1970, Klooks Kleek was the famous […]

The Detmold twins: Artistic genius and depression

Charles Maurice (known as Maurice) and Edward Julius Detmold were twin brothers with outstanding artistic ability who worked at the Sherriff Road Studios between 1902 and 1905. They were born at 97 Upper Richmond Road on 21 November 1883. Their parents Edward Detmold and Mary Agnes Luck had married in 1881. Mary was brought up […]

Did Foyles start in Kilburn?

If you have received this automatically and the pictures do not appear, please go to the online Blog. Celine Castelino, a friend of ours, told us she’d found information on the Internet which said that Foyles Bookshop started in Kilburn. We were intrigued and decided to find out if this was true. Many of us […]

Bizarre stories from Kilburn

In this posting we have collected several rather odd stories from Kilburn which we think will intrigue and amuse you. Stealing a baby’s clothes  In July 1867 Jane Cox, who lived at 15 Bridge Street in Kilburn (now demolished), left her two year old child sitting on the step of nearby Number 7. But when […]

A Kilburn shooting: The interfering mother-in-law

This dramatic picture from the Illustrated Police News show the scene outside 42 Iverson Road on the morning of Sunday 28 July 1889. But there’s a fair degree of artistic license. The four people shown were related by marriage: Leonard Handford who is holding a revolver to his head, was married to Sarah Elizabeth (shown […]

‘Bloody Camden’

Next month, we’re doing an illustrated talk about our latest book ‘Bloody Camden’, in the Bloody British History series published by The History Press. The talks will be at the Owl Bookshop in Kentish Town and at West End Lane Books. The book covers the whole of Camden, an area that stretches from Highgate and […]

The centenary of Grange Park, Kilburn

On the 1st of May 1913, the gates to Kilburn Grange Park were thrown open to the public for the first time, but without any fanfare or celebration. The fact that Kilburn still has this fantastic open space owes more to good luck than careful planning. The park takes its name from a large mansion, […]

Making money in Kilburn

In 1935 Scotland Yard was warned by the German police that forged English £5 notes were being sold there at half their face value. Detective Inspector George Hatterill, who spoke several languages, was sent to Berlin to track down the source of the notes. He found they were a very high quality forgery of a […]

The artist and his stepfather

In 1912 an artist moved into ‘Glencairn’, 46 West End Lane, a large detached house between Acol and Woodchurch Roads. His name was Albert de Belleroche. Born in Swansea in 1864, Albert was the son of Edward Charles, the Marquis de Belleroche, whose family, one of the oldest Houses of Europe, was connected to the […]

Safe blowers in West Hampstead

What are the chances of finding two safe blowers in West Hampstead? Even more unlikely is the fact that they were both living there in 1955. But surprisingly, there is no obvious link between the men.  At the end of the story you will find out all you need to know about blowing up a […]

Gerry Anderson in West Hampstead

You may have heard that Gerry Anderson, the creator of Thunderbirds, died on the 26 December 2012. What is less well-known is that he grew up in West Hampstead, in a ‘squalid house’ off West End Lane, according to his biography. When Dick spoke to him a few years ago, Gerry said he couldn’t remember […]

The Magnificent Marquis!

Most people reading this blog will have heard of Kilburn Grange Park, but not everyone will know there once was a large house called ‘The Grange’, facing Kilburn High Road. The present Park covers what remains of its grounds. Dick and Marianne have been researching the history of Kilburn and West Hampstead for over thirty […]

‘Dick Barton’ in West Hampstead

On 7 October 1946 ‘Dick Barton: special agent’ began broadcasting on the BBC Light Programme. The first review which appeared in The Daily Worker said: ‘It is so bad as to be almost beyond belief.’But despite this, the audience for the show with its famous signature tune ‘The Devil’s Galop’, grew to an astonishing 15 […]

When a Zeppelin flew over Kilburn

The Germans began Zeppelin airship attacks in 1915. At first people came out to stare in wonder at these huge flying machines, but became more cautious as the bombs started to fall. On the 19 October 1917 a group of 13 airships left Germany to attack the Northern industrial cities of Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. […]

Music and record Shops in Kilburn and West Hampstead

A recent conversation with Mel Wright, a ‘Kilburn Older Voices Exchange’ worker and blues drummer with bands such as Shakey Vic, brought back memories that we had both gone to Foxley’s Record shop near Kilburn Station. This is the history of all the record and music shops in Kilburn and West Hampstead that we’ve been […]

‘Rescuing friendless girls’

For many years 141 West End Lane was a mother and babies home run by the Paddington and Marylebone Ladies Association. This charitable foundation was established about 1882 by Joanna Frances (Joan) Bonham Carter to ‘rescue friendless girls’ who were unmarried mothers. They originally had a refuge in Lisson Grove, open all night, with their […]

An artist and astronomer

While searching the catalogue of the British Museum for material about Kilburn, I found this delightful sketch of a farm. It was probably painted in the 1860s when there were several farms on both the Hampstead and Willesden sides of the Kilburn High Road and gives some idea of the rural nature of the village […]

Engels and the bridge builder

In November 2011 Kate Jarman, an archivist at Brent Archives, was going through some old mortgage documents when the name on one of them caught her eye. The property was a new house in Willesden Lane built by Samuel Blasby and Henry Hodges, who also built other houses in the Brondesbury area. The date on […]

South Pacific tribal pieces in Kilburn

In 1895 a Kilburn man gave his collection of New Hebrides (now called Vanuatu) artefacts to Sir A.W. Franks, the keeper of Antiquities at the British Museum, and asked him to put them on display. This struck us as rather strange, what were the pieces doing in Kilburn and who was this man? The British […]

Camden Town and Kentish Town: Then and Now

Our new book shows a series of old photos of Camden Town and Kentish Town, see together with what is there now. We will be doing an illustrated talk at the Owl Bookshop on 12 July. Camden Town in north-west London has become one of the capital’s most popular tourist destinations, attracting millions of people […]

Wartime murder at Kilburn station

Kilburn Station, 2012 At 12.30 am on 12 December 1942in Kilburn and Brondesbury Metropolitan Station, Josephine Chapman was cashing up after the last train had gone. She heard a knock on the door and a voice saying, ‘Can I have a word with you? When she opened the door two men ordered her to hand […]