Entries by Marianne Colloms and Dick Weindling

The Navvies are Coming!

Our recent story of a Girls Laundry that was based for a few years in Old West End House, also mentioned the building of the Midland Railway (today’s Thameslink). The engineering work caused immense disruption to the neighbourhood. It changed the face of West Hampstead forever and blighted many people’s lives – we’ve taken a […]

The struggles of West Hampstead’s 19th Century laundry school

West End House was built in the mid-17th Century and was originally the home of the Beckford family. It stood approximately where Rowntree Close is today, opposite the Thameslink station, and has an interesting history, including a four year spell as a philanthropic laundry school. Don’t confuse this West End House with another building of the same name, […]

West Hampstead’s tennis world champion (and food fanatic)

As we wait and hope that Andy Murray can repeat his Wimbledon success of last year, few people know that West Hampstead had its very own tennis world champion in the 1890s and 1900s. New West End House (later called West End Hall) faced West End Lane, near the Green. The house has a long […]

John Lewis is 150… but what’s the Kilburn connection?

This year sees the 150th anniversary of the opening of the first John Lewis shop on Oxford Street. Named after its founder, there’s a local connection as John Lewis built a mansion in Hampstead and his son John Spedan Lewis was living in Mortimer Crescent, Kilburn, during the 1920s. John Lewis worked as a draper’s […]

Poison in the Blood: Three cautionary tales

The three stories here show how rural the area was in the 19th Century and how early medicine attempted to deal with rabies. Be careful where you sit! The following report appeared in the newspapers in late June 1858. Mrs Hoxwell who lived in Park Street near Regent’s Park, was “Walking in the fields in […]

The sculptor Fred Kormis

Fritz, or later as he called himself Fred Kormis, was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1897. Shortly before the outbreak of WW2, he came to London where he lived and worked for almost fifty years in West Hampstead and Kilburn. Fritz was fourteen when he began an apprenticeship in a workshop specializing in decorative sculpture […]

Tragic events in Kilburn and West Hampstead

In 1888 Jack the Ripper had terrified the East End of London. His story haunted people for years later and letters signed by the Ripper were still being received by the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee in October 1889. People across London were fearful. On 15 December 1884 Charles Burcham Farnell a 36 year old commercial traveller, […]

Two tales of the demon drink

Here are two stories with newspaper illustrations about young men in Kilburn who acted badly while under the influence of drink. The Amorous Carpenter In October 1897, ‘amorous young carpenter’ Frank Pelham was in court for assaulting an unnamed, ‘well-dressed, good-looking young woman’on the Kilburn High Road, outside Brondesbury Railway station. It was around midnight […]

Sir Thomas Sean Connery: James Bond in Kilburn and West Hampstead

Before London On his dad’s side, Sean, or as his birth certificate records ‘Thomas’ Connery, had Irish roots. His dad was Joe, a jobbing labourer in Edinburgh who married Effie Maclean in 1928. Thomas (Tommy) was born two years later in Fountainbridge, Edinburgh’s industrial district, where the grime and smoke had gained it the nickname, […]

Haunted Kilburn and West Hampstead

Ghost stories associated with Kilburn and West Hampstead are rare and the phenomenon short-lived: we’ve found a couple of hoaxes, a poltergeist and an innocuous clergyman. One man thought otherwise: ‘Kilburn is the most haunted district in London’ declared Irish writer Elliott O’Donnell. He specialised in the paranormal, but today his books are generally regarded […]

Child stealing in Kilburn

Exactly a hundred and five years ago today, on the 29 October 1907, five week old Violet Mabel Gibbons was abducted. Mrs Maud Gibbons and her husband lived in Larch Road, Cricklewood. On the 25th, Maud got on an omnibus with baby Violet who she was taking to be christened. When the bus reached Kilburn, […]

Harry Weldon, music hall comedian

The comedian Harry Weldon is buried in Hampstead Cemetery, Fortune Green Road, in a grave close to other music hall performers: the famous Marie Lloyd, and the husband and wife act called ‘This and That’: James and Clarice Tate. Co-incidentally, it was said that that as a young man, Harry got the idea of going […]