West Hampstead running group leaves noone behind


Tired of pounding the pavements alone? Inspired to put on your trainers by the heroics of the GB athletes in Rio? Or just curious as to why you always see a gaggle of neon-clad souls on West End Green every Saturday morning? Well wonder no more!

Started on a cold wet February morning in 2015, @ruNW6 has evolved into a sociable community of runners who gather every Saturday morning at 9am, come rain or shine! No membership fees, no chip timing, no planned route, no restrictions – anyone can turn up and run. We don’t leave anyone behind and we run at a pace where you can maintain a conversation – it’s meant to be a social group and fun after all. The runs typically last for 30-45 minutes but it really all depends on who turns up and where everyone fancies going.

One of the most regular routes sees us heading up to Golders Hill Park and then negotiating the hill garden and pergola before the home stretch downhill back into West Hampstead. But variety is the spice of life and we can also be spotted taking in Queens Park, heading down to Paddington Recreation Ground to get in a couple of track laps, heading up to Hampstead Heath and summiting Parliament Hill or even running a section of the Regents Canal. Certainly beats lonely laps around West Hampstead and it’s a great way to expand your knowledge of the local area as well.

This was one of the longer runs...

This was one of the longer runs…

So whether you’re training for an event, you fancy getting fit, you want to learn some new running routes or you would just like some friendly people to run with – why not come along and join us? 9am, West End Green in West Hampstead, every Saturday. We hope to run with you soon!

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 Downton Abbey!

Hampstead residents have been playing cricket – or forms of the game – for hundreds of years. They used cleared land on the Heath or any other open space for informal games before clubs were established. In August 1802, 11 gentlemen of Highgate challenged 11 gentlemen of Hampstead to a match, for a purse of 500 guineas. This was a huge amount of money, equivalent to about £40,000 today. Highgate won by 54 runs, noting ‘even betting at the start.’ A few weeks earlier, many of the players had been part of a combined Hampstead and Highgate team that played for the same prize money and beat the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club – the governing body of cricket as well as a team) by 112 runs.

The Hampstead Cricket Club that we know today wasn’t the first to use the name. By 1851, there was a club of that name renting a field north of England’s Lane and membership was limited to 60 players. When the land was built on, around 1870, the club closed or amalgamated.

The nearby Eton and Middlesex Cricket Ground was open by 1857. It started close to the northwest slopes of Primrose Hill, but migrated westwards as building crept ever closer. Eventually it covered 16 acres, roughly the western end of the present Elsworthy Road and Wadham Gardens, over towards Avenue Road. As far as we can tell, the St John’s Wood Club that played here became Hampstead Cricket Club. In 1871, the club moved to St Mary’s Fields, open land north of the church of the same name on Abbey Road, and was renamed as the St John’s Wood (Hampstead) Club.

The Club’s new landlords were the Maryon Wilson family, lords of the manor of Hampstead. But when the line of Priory Road was agreed and building plans were made for the land between there and Finchley Road, the club was again forced to leave. They relocated to the present site on Lymington Road in 1877, then described as a cultivated arable field with growing crops of turnips, mangold wurzel, potatoes.

The move to West Hampstead – or West End as it was called then – coincided with the adoption of a new name and colours: the St John’s Wood (Hampstead) Club became the Hampstead Cricket Club. The setting was still rural: no Alvanley Gardens, Lymington Road or Crediton Hill, and sweeping views towards the wooded Hampstead slopes. The approach to the new field was improved into a track of sorts, leading from Finchley Road to the cricket pavilion. The £1,000 moving costs included transporting the original pavilion from the pitch on St Mary’s Fields. It was rebuilt in 1879 and enlarged in 1896.

View from the ground, 1879, looking towards Hampstead

View from the ground, 1879, looking towards Hampstead

In May 1878 it was agreed that,

A cask of beer should be kept on the ground for the benefit of Members only and it was decided to sell temperance drinks at 4d a bottle and to put up a notice in the booth (at the side of the clubhouse) that no beer or spirits were sold on the ground.

With free beer, it’s no wonder HCC was very popular!

Over the years, the managing committee considered many schemes for buying the ground, but while the rent was nominal, the asking price for the freehold was always too high. Crunch time came in 1924 with rising land values. That July, the club was given until December to either purchase the freehold or leave. The landlord wanted £18,000 and the club decided to raise £25,000, to allow for necessary improvements to buildings and grounds. With help from generous donations, the money was eventually found and the freehold purchased.

Many great cricketers played at the HCC, which established itself as an important London club. Hockey was played until 1894 and tennis courts were built alongside the pavilion. Members held regular social events, including an annual black tie dinner and family sports day.

The pavilion about 1902. This was replaced by the current club house in 1927

The pavilion about 1902. This was replaced by the current club house in 1927

The Highest score on record!
On 3 August 1886, a match was played between HCC and the Stoics. At the time, declarations were not allowed and Andrew Ernest Stoddart batted for just over 6 hours, making 485 runs. This was the highest individual score ever recorded at the time – not just at Hampstead, but anywhere ever. His feat was all the more amazing because he’d been playing cards the night before and hadn’t been to bed.

Born in South Shields, the son of a wine merchant and colliery owner who moved to London in the 1870s, Stoddart was a very talented sportsman. He played rugby for England and, after joining the HCC in 1885, played 16 Test matches, captaining England in eight games. He played regularly for HCC until 1902. From the time of his marriage in 1906 to 1911 he lived at 24 Crediton Hill, which backed onto the club ground. After dropping out of the limelight, Stoddart suffered from declining health and financial worries. He committed suicide at his Clifton Hill St John’s Wood home in 1915, a few weeks after his 52nd birthday. His wife Ethel told the inquest her husband had lost a great deal of money (he’d been dealing in stocks and shares before war broke out), and was very depressed. Employed as secretary to Neasden Golf Club and then Queen’s Tennis Club, ill health forced him to resign in 1914 and he had not worked since.

On 3 May 2015, HCC will hold a match against The Stoics and former England captain Andrew Strauss will unveil a new bronze statue of AE Stoddart.

World War One
In 1915 the ‘Hampstead Heavies’ trained with their horses on the HCC grounds. Officially they were called the 138th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, which had been formed in the autumn of 1915, with the Mayor of Hampstead spearheading the campaign to recruit 200 men. On 13 April 1916, the Battery embarked for France, reaching Le Havre after a rough crossing. They travelled by train to Bethune. Equipped with 60-pounder field guns each weighing over 5 tons, conditions in the mud were often appalling for both men and horses. The Heavies served in many of the key battles of World War One and suffered considerable losses. Of the men who landed in France with the original Battery, only one officer and about 30 other ranks had survived when the last round was fired in November 1918.

Charity Matches
For many years matches were played at HCC to raise money for charity. The teams were made up of well known musicians, actors and writers. Many famous stage and film actors took part, such as Owen Nares, who made 39 films between 1914 and 1941. He was a heart throb of his generation. He married the actress Marie Polini and they lived at 29 St John’s Wood Park in the 1930s.

Sir Charles Aubrey Smith, known to film-goers as C. Aubrey Smith, was also an England Test cricketer. He was regarded by his contemporaries as one of the best bowlers to play the game. His oddly curved bowling run-up, earned him the nickname ‘Round the Corner Smith’. When he bowled round the wicket his approach was concealed from the batsman by the umpire until he emerged, leading W.G. Grace to comment ‘it is rather startling when he suddenly appears at the bowling crease.’

As an actor he played officer-and-gentleman roles, and appeared in the first ‘talkies’ version of ‘The Prisoner of Zenda’ (1937). In Hollywood, in the 1930s Smith organised English actors into a cricket team, playing matches on a pitch turfed with imported English grass. He attracted fellow expatriates such as David Niven, Laurence Olivier, Nigel Bruce, Leslie Howard and Boris Karloff to the club as well as local American players.

Sir Cedric Hardwicke played in several HCC matches. He made 110 films from 1913 to 1964. One of the great character actors, he was knighted in 1934. He was reputedly George Bernard Shaw’s favourite actor but later Shaw said he was his fifth favourite actor – after the four Marx Brothers!

The comedian Stanley Holloway also played for the actors’ team. He appeared as Alfred P. Doolittle in the musical ‘My Fair Lady’ in the West End and Broadway. As a character actor he was in many films such as, ‘Brief Encounter’, ‘Passport to Pimlico’ and ‘The Lavender Hill Mob’. He is particularly remembered for his monologues such as ‘The Lion and Albert’, based on a news item about a boy who was eaten by a lion in the zoo.

The annual charity matches were suspended during the two world wars. But the tradition continues today with an annual match of star guests against the first XI to end the season.

Jim has commissioned an illustrated full-colour 48 page book about HCC, to which we contributed material on its early history, but as the book says, the club is “celebrating the past and building for the future”.

Hampstead Ladies back on track

Vicky Griffiths-Fisher defending on her way to a top score of 32

Vicky Griffiths-Fisher defending on her way to a top score of 32

Hampstead Ladies secured the full 18 points this weekend in a confident win against Chesham which places them in second position on the league table.

Playing away on a spongy wicket in Buckinghamshire, the sun shone through and losing the toss, Hampstead were put in to bat.

Ange Bonora (20) replaced opening batsman Vicky Griffiths-Fisher (32), scoring a six off her first ball followed by a four. Bonora’s 20 came off just 9 balls to give Hampstead a strong start.

Positive batting continued down the order with Elle Mitchell (8) replacing Sian Culley (16), followed by Harriet Millard (12) and Thea Graham (14). Hampstead batted out the 30 overs to reach a defendable 130.

Chesham were under pressure from the start of their innings, with Hampstead’s accurate bowling and tight fielding preventing runs flowing freely.

With all bowlers performing well and plenty of maiden overs between them, Hampstead ground out the victory by stifling Chesham’s run rate.

The win was achieved through a team effort including safe hands from Chloe Hole and skipper Lucy Horitz taking catches.

“I’m so pleased by the way we bounced back from last week, with our second win against Chesham,” said Horitz. “Everyone’s energy and enthusiasm was great! I feel that the squad is really gelling and things are looking good for Hampstead in the league.”

The Hampstead Ladies section isn’t only about winning league matches – the team also played a friendly against North London the same day, with three Hampstead debutantes playing cricket for the first time ever.

League table

West Hampstead cyclist rides Tour for charity

The Tour de France peloton hurtles through London on Monday afternoon, after its foray into Yorkshire this weekend. Yet, one intrepid West Hampstead resident already passed through last Monday on the third stage of his attempt to ride the entire 3,664 kilometres from Leeds to Paris via some of the toughest mountain roads in Europe.

Monty Wates

Monty Wates is a trustee of the William Wates Memorial Trust. In 1996, William Wates, Monty’s younger brother, was killed while travelling abroad aged just 19. The Trust raises money, which it gives to hand-picked charities that work offer young people opportunities, otherwise unavailable to them, to fulfill their potential and stay away from a life of crime. The Winch in Swiss Cottage is one of the charities the trust supports, and it recently received a grant for £60,000 over three years for its Promise Worker project which supports children who need it through the complex and often overwhelming labyrinth of social services that they encounter.

Since 2004, the charity has held the Tour de Force – a fully supported ride of that year’s Tour route a week ahead of the actual race. Most participants ride a “taster”, a few stages of the event. But some – around 30 this year – are what the charity terms “lifers”; the foolhardy few who dare to take on the entire course.

Monty himself has been on a taster or two but despite being intimately involved in the charity he hasn’t before committed to becoming a “lifer” before. He confesses that he’s not really a cyclist although of course he has been doing some training! His personal target is to raise £50,000 for the charity.

Follow Monty’s progress on Twitter @fullmontytour and track the whole Tour de Force. And if you feel moved to donate to the cause you can do so here, or text “WILL19 £10 (or whatever number you want to!) to 70070.

Good luck Monty!

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 history but we’re concentrating on the Miles family who owned the property for more than 70 years. (The mansion and its grounds were built over from the late 1890s, to create Fawley Road, Honeybourne Road and Crediton Hill).

Publisher John Miles married Ann Chater in 1810; and the couple moved to West End three years later, where they stayed and brought up their eleven children. Eustace Hamilton Miles was their grandson, and was born at West End in 1868.

Eustace Miles

Eustace Miles

He went to Heath Mount school (near Whitestone Pond) and Marlborough College, where he played tennis and squash and was a member of both cricket and football teams. Eustace went to Kings College Cambridge in 1887, gaining a B.A. and M.A.. At Cambridge he began his distinguished career in racquets (an early form of squash), and real tennis, playing against Oxford.

Eustace won an amazing number of English and world titles, including a silver medal at the 1908 Olympics in real tennis.

Real tennis or ‘jeu de paume,’ was a precursor of lawn tennis, and was played in an indoor court. This was the only time the game was included in the Olympics. (For more on real tennis, read Historical Dictionary of Tennis, by J. Grasso (2011)).

Grasso acknowledged Miles to have been one of the best players ever. Eustace was still playing competitively in his 40s and winning tennis matches against far younger players. In 1910 Miles wrote to the Times,

People seem to imagine that after 30 a man is no good. I am in my 42nd year, and am thoroughly fit, I hope. Men ought to be in their prime – at least for strength and endurance and nerve – at 35.

A few years later he said,

Some sports are best given up at an early age. Football would be the first to go, and that when a man is about 25 years of age, racquets should follow. To cricket and tennis, however, I would by no means place any limit.

Eustace’s other great interests were diet, health and, not surprisingly, regular and targeted exercise for adults and children. He became a prolific writer on aids to learning, sport, religion and history as well as dietary regimes with nearly 80 books under his name (or joint authorship); his wife has an additional 20 titles to her credit, largely dealing with the subject of vegetarian food.

Eustace told a reporter that he, ‘loathed and detested’ the word ‘vegetarianism.’

I dismiss that word. It stands for cranks and bewhiskered gentlemen and other undesirable people. My slogan is a “balanced, meatless diet.” I eat vegetables, eggs and cheese like yourself and others, in their right proportion.

He embraced this diet early in his sporting life, ascribing his many successes to his food regime:

He had lost tennis matches from cramp believed to be due to the eating of flesh, and that he has won a racquets match on a glass of hot milk fortified by two teaspoons of mild powder. His habit is to take no breakfast and only a light lunch. At his evening meal he takes salad, Hovis bread, and fruit, with sometimes a cup of tea.

Eustace married Dorothy Beatrice Harriet Killick (known as Hallie) in March 1906 at St Clement Danes church in the Strand, where her father Rev. Richard Henry Killick had been Vicar during the 1860s. When Hallie was struggling with depression after her father’s death in 1903 she was helped by reading Eustace’s book Expression and Depression, and was inspired to write a book about her own experiences. She found Eustace’s address and contacted him: “The friendship grew, and Miss Killick, having been finally converted to Mr Eustace Miles’ methods of diet, decided to adopt vegetarianism and marriage“.

Eustace took his interest in food to the next level, starting The Eustace Miles Restaurant Co Ltd with Miles as managing director. Included among its shareholders were Eustace’s old school and college friend, novelist E. F. Benson, playwright George Bernard Shaw and the headmaster of Eton. The Eustace Miles Restaurant opened its doors at 40 Chandos Street in May 1906.

The aim is not simply to avoid meat and other flesh foods, but it is primarily to select a variety of nourishing and sustaining foods which may take the place of flesh foods as builders of the body.

Miles supported the suffragette movement and the restaurant became a meeting place for and a favourite of Sylvia Pankhurst. Talks were held there and suffragettes released from Holloway Prison were taken to Chandos Street for breakfast. Edith Craig campaigned for Votes for Women from a pitch outside the restaurant.

The restaurant’s windows were dressed with tins and packets of food produced by another of Eustace’s companies or copies of Healthward Ho!, his monthly magazine. The menu included references to ‘N’ ‘N.N’ and ‘F.U’, meaning the dish in question was ‘nourishing’, ‘very nourishing’, or ‘free from uric acid’. A 1914 review was favorable but said some dishes lacked flavour. They may well have tasted bland compared to the rich and highly seasoned food of the period. However, the restaurant prospered during WWI when meatless cookery became common, offering “balanced meals, nourishing and sustaining”.

People poked fun at Eustace and what they viewed as his dietary fads. In 1906, a poem appeared in praise of the mutton chop:

I love it! I love it! Let those who please
Enjoy a diet of nuts and peas;
Let Shaw compose his dramatic scenes
On cabbage, tomatoes and kidney beans
Let Eustace Miles find muscular force
In carrot cutlets with Plasmon sauce,
Or other equally messy slop –
But give me my old fashioned mutton chop.

Plasmon was another Miles’ food product, advertised as 30 times more nutritious than its only ingredient, milk.

The restaurant, ‘where people who look like garden pests eat like garden pests’, merited a wry mention by E.M. Forster in Howards End when Margaret Schlegel says to Mr Wilcox,

Next time you shall come to lunch with me at Mr Eustace Miles’s.
With pleasure.
No, you’d hate it,’ she said, pushing her glass towards him for some more cider. It’s all proteids and body-buildings, and people coming up to you and beg pardon, but you have such a beautiful aura.

Despite expanding into healthfood shops, opening a second restaurant in the Kings Road and a guest house in Carshalton, Eustace’s business empire eventually crumbled. He talked a lot of sense on many subjects but there wasn’t enough support for his food, ideas and books; he’d been “unduly optimistic” said a judge at one of the bankruptcy hearings. Chandos Street closed in December 1933, the victim as Eustace saw it, of “an age of luxury”.

People today would rather spend 5sh on having their hair waved, or on cigarettes, or on entertainment than on good meals. When it comes to spending a mere shilling on healthy food, they prefer a sticky bun and a cup of coffee for five pence and the rest for amusement.

Eustace was declared bankrupt the following January and the restaurant furniture and equipment was auctioned off. Among all the items of cutlery, table linen and kitchen utensils were six pianos!

Eustace and Hallie lived for many years in Ridgmount Gardens, off Tottenham Court Road. After the bankruptcy they moved to Fulham and then south of the river to Battersea. Hallie died in 1947 and Eustace just a few days before Christmas 1948.

An obituary of Eustace Miles said:

He was original, independent and ingenious in all he undertook, and his own entry in Who’s Who, with its reference, among his recreations to “punning, riddle-making and patience” was characteristic.’

When he died he left only £175, which today is worth about £5,250.

Eustace Miles’ sporting achievements
1898-1903: amateur real tennis champion of England
1898-1903: amateur real tennis champion of the world
1900: the first non-American winner of the real tennis US Championship
1900: amateur racquets champion of America
1900: amateur racquets champion of England
1902: amateur racquets champion of England
1902, 1904, 1905 and 1906: amateur racquets champion of the World (doubles)
1905: amateur real tennis champion of the World
1905-1906: amateur real tennis champion of England
1906: amateur racquets champion of the World (singles)
1908: Olympic Silver Medal. He had coached the winner, Jay Gould II, during his stay in America in 1900-2.
1909, 1910: amateur real tennis champion of England