West Hampstead set to lose two loos?

Camden Council is looking to save £260,000 on public toilets. To do this it proposed closing toilet facilities at West End Green in West Hampstead, as well as those at Pond Square, Highgate and South End Green. As people protested that they might be caught short, the council asked local businesses if they would be prepared to allow the public to use their toilets.

Across Camden, 12 businesses have stepped forward, including Nando’s in West Hampstead, the Tricycle Theatre on Kilburn High Road, Streets Coffee (a new café on the Finchley Road) and the Abbey Community Centre.

Alan Hindson, manager of West Hampstead’s Nando’s confirmed the branch’s participation. He was aware of the scheme from his time managing the Kilburn restaurant, so was prepared when Camden asked about West Hampstead.  He knows how inconvenient it can be when you are caught short when out shopping and said that people are already coming in with no problems, although the restaurant will monitor uptake over the next few months.

Camden is paying businesses £750 a year, which Alan felt will cover the costs. To indicate which businesses are taking part, Camden will also be supplying stickers, but there is nothing up at the moment.

West End Green's pay as you go and underground toilets - set to close?

West End Green’s pay as you go and underground toilets – set to close?

The closure of the loos at West End Lane would be a particular problem for the 139 bus drivers who wait there. Although Nando’s does offer an alternative, it is not open 24 hours, so what bus drivers are supposed to do outside those hours is not clear.

Camden’s press office said that the council is “working on keeping all currently attended toilets open” but given that it is also trying to save £260,000 it looks like closure of the West End Lane toilets is one step closer.

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!

Festive fun and freebies at West Hampstead Christmas Market

The West Hampstead Christmas Market takes place tomorrow, December 6th, between 10am and 4pm on West End Green.

Images from

Images from

There will be a range of stalls selling Christmas gifts and decorations, including local businesses such as Monsters of Art, The Village Haberdashery and Achillea Flowers. Edible treats will also be available – The Kitchen Table and Bake-a-boo are among the cake stalls.

It’s not all about shopping however – there are fun, free activities for kids in the neighbouring Emmanuel Church. There are music, dance and storytelling activities as well as plenty of Christmas crafts including balloon modelling and snowglobe-making.

Look out for these festive freebies around West End Lane and Mill Lane, too:

  • Hot mulled wine from Alexander’s estate agents
  • Free mince pie at The Black Lion – Say ‘Christmas Market’ at the bar
  • Tastings of two festive wines and cheeses at The Hampstead Butcher & Providore
  • Father Christmas courtesy of Chelsea Square Partnership, at their office (11am – 1pm)
  • Hot chicken soup tasters on West End Green, courtesy of David’s Deli, plus a discount on soup and bread when you eat at David’s Deli (12pm – 3pm)
  • Falafel tasters on West End Green courtesy of Chicken Schnitzel & More (12pm-3pm)
  • Mince pies and hot mulled wine at Passionate About Vintage, plus a 10% discount on everything in the shop (1pm-6pm)

Local promotions on West End Lane and Mill Lane

  • The Alliance, Mill Lane: Free glass of wine with Christmas menu 1st-24th December
  • Bengal Spice: 20% discount on 6th and 7th December
  • Crystalise Salon: 20% discount all services 6th-13th December
  • La Brocca: 50% off mulled wine on the day
  • The Eye Cube: 20% discount on everything
  • Headmasters: 10% discount on all treatments
  • Insight Optician: 10% off glasses 1st-31st December
  • Mill Lane Bistro: Free glass of house wine with a meal 6th and 7th December
  • Peppercorns: 10% discount on all food

Check out the full list of happenings at the West Hampstead Christmas Market website.

Camden relents on BBQs in local parks


Ever thought it’d be nice to have a summer barbecue on Fortune Green? Up to now, it’s been strictly prohibited – not just on Fortune Green but in all of Camden’s parks.

Not any more! From July 21st, you can now get your grill on in Fortune Green, West End Green, Kilburn Grange Park and any other parks run by Camden (this means Hampstead Heath, Regents Park and Primrose Hill are still sausage-free zones).

Cllr Sally Gimson, Camden’s cabinet member for sustainability and environment, has ruled that portable barbecues can be used for a trial period of one year. Disposable barbecues are still banned as are gas barbecues, but there are plenty of eligible barbecues on the market (there’s a mini Bodum one currently for sale at habitat in the O2 centre).

Obviously, Camden expects people to be responsible and no doubt the Friends of Fortune Green – and local residents generally – will be hoping that impromptu hot food picnics don’t lead to more litter in parks. In the meantime, the next Film on Fortune Green is August 30th. I like my steaks rare please.

Christmas Market day extends to local shops and restaurants

On Saturday November 30th, West End Green once again hosts the local Christmas market from 10am to 4pm. This is the fourth year of the popular craft/gift market and business is expected to be brisk. Stallholders range from local favourites such as Bake-a-boo, Achillea Flowers and La Secret Boutique, to craft stores such as Nudi Design, Made in Achilles, and Artangles.

Also, for the first time, more businesses in West Hampstead are joining in the day with in-store offers and promotions, which should help make this the best Christmas shopping (and eating) day yet. There’s a dedicated Christmas Market website, so I’ll just give you a few highlights (check the website for timings).

As well as the market stalls on the green, there are kid-friendly activities in Emmanuel Church – again, here’s a selection

Why not go to the Christmas market in the morning, take advantage of one of the lunch deals, and then go to the Beckford School Winter Fair in the afternoon?

I’m one of those grouchy people who thinks Christmas markets should be in December, but I shall definitely be there – with my glass of mulled wine and turkey tikka biryani in hand to do some early Christmas shopping. See you all there.

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, married 24 year old Edith Turnor at St Peter’s church in West Hackney. They lived at Church Road Hackney where their first daughter Mary Eleanor was born in 1886.
Frederick Percy ran a tobacconist’s shop at 143 Kilburn High Road, between Glengall Road and Priory Park Road, and let out rooms above the business. In December 1888 Charles rented the third floor and the Farnell family moved in. A second daughter Beatrice Isabel was born the following year.
At 6.00 on Wednesday evening the 28 October 1889, Mrs Percy heard moans coming from the Farnell’s rooms at the top of the house. Very concerned, she ran out into Kilburn High Road and found a policeman who had just passed the shop on patrol. She said it sounded like a murder was taking place. Police Constable James 78X and two other PCs, went up the stairs and burst through the locked door. He was horrified to find three year old Mary Farnell and seven months old Beatrice lying on the bed with cords tied tightly round their necks. He cut the cords and summoned medical help. Their mother Edith called out,
‘Don’t cut the cord. For God’s sake, please let them die and then they will be happy’.
She repeated this over and over again and wept bitterly. The policeman applied artificial respiration to the two babies. Ten minutes later Dr James Smith arrived from nearby Gascony Avenue. Using artificial respiration and stimulants, they managed to revive the children who were taken to hospital.
Inspector Cooper arrived and arrested Edith for attempted murder. He said she was in a very agitated state saying over and over again, Don’t let Jack the Ripper get my girls.’
In court a letter which Edith had written that afternoon was read out. She said that for the last seven or eight months she was not herself and she believed that people were going to kill her. Then she feared that she was becoming consumptive, and was frightened of what would happen to her children after she had gone. Her husband Charles was away for some time because of his job as a commercial traveller, and Edith thought she was going to die. She ended by saying she’d seen a ghost a few nights ago, she was out of her mind and that her mother had died insane. At the Old Bailey Edith was judged to be guilty but insane, and sent to Broadmoor to be held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
What happened later?
Thankfully, Mary and Beatrice recovered completely and went to live with their grandfather, Joseph Kirby Farnell in Acton. Before going bankrupt in 1851, Joseph had traded as a linen draper and silk mercer in London and Shrewsbury, where Charles Farnell was born. After his agency for hiring servants was declared bankrupt in 1863, Joseph set up as a fancy goods and toy manufacturer. Charles worked as commercial traveller for the family business. After Joseph’s death in 1891, Mary and Eleanor moved in with their uncle and aunt, Henry Kirby Farnell and his sister Agnes. Henry and Agnes took over the family toy making business and bought a large 18th century mansion in Acton called ‘The Elms’.
The Elms, Acton
They built a factory in the grounds to produce soft toys, including Teddy Bears, under the trade name ‘Alpha’. Their first teddy bear was made in 1908 and the early Farnell bears closely resembled those produced by the German firm of Steiff. In 1926 the ‘Alpha’ bears became very popular and one was bought from Harrods for Christopher Robin Milne and of course this became ‘Winnie the Pooh’. There is a local connection as his father A.A. Milne, grew up in Kilburn. See our book, ‘The Greville Estate’, Camden History Society.
Farnell’s ‘Alpha’ Teddy Bear

The Farnell company continued to produce teddy bears, including Rupert Bear, until 1968. A plaque was unveiled in March 2012. Today The Elms is Twford Secondary School.
Mary Farnell never married and died at The Elms in 1923, aged 36. She left £7,778 in her will (worth today about £350,000). Beatrice Farnell married Lt. Allatt Hollins in 1920 and they had five children. She died in Sevenoaks in 1965 and left £9,598 (today worth about £150,000).
Their father Charles Farnell, left Kilburn and continued working in the family business, as he’s shown as a toy maker in 1891, living in Stoke Newington. By 1911 he had retired and moved to Hunstanton in Norfolk. Charles died in 1918 in Docking, which is near Hunstanton, and didn’t leave a will.
Postpartum Psychosis
This is a very sad story. Today, Edith would probably have been diagnosed as suffering from postpartum psychosis (PP), an extreme form of postnatal depression. PP affects about 1 in 1000 mothers and may occur soon after the birth of the child or up to several years later. The symptoms which Edith described are typical of PP: the inability to sleep, non-stop talking, delusions, hallucinations and mania. These days, with medication the vast majority of women recover fully. Sadly Edith Farnell was never released from Broadmoor. She died there in 1933, aged 74, after spending 44 years at the Asylum.
Broadmoor Asylum
A Tragic Event in West Hampstead
In October 1896, a tragic event that also involved post-natal depression happened in West Hampstead. William Goddard Hughes was renting three rooms on West End Lane, at Number 1 The Green. William was a 32 year old farmer’s son turned butcher from Wiltshire. In December 1895, he married Elizabeth Emily Wise, the daughter of an accountant, then living in Bristol. The couple moved to London where their son William Joseph was born in Hampstead the following February.

On the morning of October 7 William found Elizabeth and his eight month old son lying dead, with their throats cut. At the inquest he told the Coroner that he’d known Elizabeth for about two and a half years, and she was a strong, active woman. But it slowly emerged that looking after the baby was taxing her ability to cope. William said he didn’t think Elizabeth had delusions but admitted she appeared depressed at times. They’d had many disturbed nights recently because the baby was teething.
That morning William had got up as usual and made breakfast. Elizabeth had come into the kitchen to light the fire but when William asked if he should carry the heavy cradle downstairs before he went to work, his wife said no, she could manage. He promised to look in during the morning, to see if the baby needed more medicine. He returned at 8.30am and was surprised to find the kitchen empty so went upstairs to the bedroom, where he discovered the bodies lying on the bed.
Elizabeth had left William a short note on the living room table: ‘all my money that they leave me you must have, my dear husband.’ There was also an unfinished letter to her sister, which was rather more revealing:
I’m a bit off again. Worry it must be and nervousness makes me like it. I can’t get to do anything when I’m like this.’
At the inquest Elizabeth’s father George Wise said his daughter had frequently suffered from depression and that his eldest son was currently in an asylum. The coroner’s jury returned a verdict of murder and suicide while of unsound mind, and passed on their condolences to William and Elizabeth’s family.
What happened later?
Elizabeth and William were buried at Hampstead Cemetery on Monday, 11 October. Mother and son were in one coffin, the child lying in his mother’s arms. It was raining hard, but many neighbours came to watch the hearse depart from West End Green and even more gathered at the Cemetery.
William stayed on at West Hampstead for a few years, moving into a new house in Sumatra Road which he shared with his widowed mother. But he’d returned to his roots in Wiltshire by 1909 when he married school teacher Mary Wilkins. The 1911 census shows the couple in Cricklade, with a young family and William working as a farmer.
Numbers 1-3 The Green were redeveloped as a garage, and then converted to provide premises for today’s Pizza Express, opposite West End Green.

Christmas market returns to West End Green

On December 8th, West End Green will host the third successive West Hampstead Christmas market.

It starts at 10am and there’ll be stalls on the green. In previous years these have been a mixture of local crafts, some food (hot and cold), and a couple of community groups. It’s not a German-style market, which I know has disappointed a few people in the past.

The market in 2010

This year there is also a full programme of indoor events in Emmanuel Church, with a focus on events for kids, but with enough to keep adults occupied too. Many of these aren’t necessarily traditional Christmas activities although there’s the opportunity to make wreaths, and there’ll be a choir singing in the afternoon. But there’s also zumba, karate and yoga. These have been arranged by the Community Association for West Hampstead and the Friends of Fortune Green.

The market is still looking for volunteers to help on the day. If you’d like to be part of it, please call Jody Graham on 07765 214867.

Alexanders Estate Agents is the main sponsor this year, and it’s interesting to note that the other sponsors are a diverse bunch of services, only one of which appears to be located in West Hampstead. It would be good to see more local businesses getting behind the Christmas market, which might help elevate it from the village fête feel it has had the past couple of years to more of a destination market that might attract people from further afield.

Full programme
10-12 Make Wreaths & Bird Feeders
11–12 Intros to Knitting
11.30–12.00 Street Dance by children
11–1 Art Project for families
12-12.30 Zumba
12.30-1 Karate for kids,
12-3 Slap-London Face Painting
1.00-1.15 Children’s Indian Dancing
1.15–2.00 Storytelling for families
2–3 West Hampstead Choir
2-4 Art Project for Families
3-3.30 Performing Arts by kids
3:30–4:00 Yoga for Adults

A new tree in West End Green

Last Monday a small but select group of locals stood around in the bright sunshine to watch a tree being planted. This is the first tree in West End Green for more than 100 years – the previous one, in the middle of the park, commemorates the coronation of Edward VII in 1902.

Cllr Flick Rea and Chelsea Square’s Ray Jacobs

Councillor Flick Rea had the idea that it would be nice to mark the Diamond Jubilee with a tree, while Chelsea Square – the estate agents on the west side of West End Lane just by the Green – had expressed an interest in doing something for the community. Camden has no tree budget at the moment, but will provide the staff to carry out the planting if someone else stumps [sorry] up the money for the tree itself.

The tree is a Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’. If you don’t know what that is, then here’s a picture of what it will look like when it’s in full leaf. It’s rather attractive I think.


West Hampstead’s Olympicks

No, no spelling mistake here. On Wednesday evening I joined about 40 other locals at West End Lane Books to hear local author and historian Simon Inglis and University of Southampton academic Martin Polley talk about the history of the Olympics in the UK. Polley’s book “The British Olympics: Britain’s Olympic Heritage 1612-2012“.

Local actor Paul Brightwell added a dramatic touch and theatrical timbre as he read out extracts from some of the early marketing literature for local variants of the Olympics. This included West Hampstead’s very own contribution to the story around the end of the 18th century when a fair was held on West End Green, sponsored by the Cock & Hoop pub, which stood where Alexandra Mansions is now.

Simon and Martin explained the political and social context in which local communities held what would today be termed “Village Games” using the Olympick banner largely tongue in cheek.

You really should buy Martin’s excellent book (from West End Lane Books of course) for the full story. I really recommend it – I went to this talk expecting to find it mildly interesting, but in fact it was very engaging indeed.

Sadly, West Hampstead’s part in the story came to light too late to make the book. But fear not, there will be more on the West End Green Games coming out later this year, and I’m hoping that Simon will be writing something about this for West Hampstead Life in the very near future.

Get involved in the 2011 Christmas market

You may remember that last year there was a very successful Christmas market on West End Green. Well, good news whampers – plans are afoot for a second one. However, to make it happen the organisers need a little bit of help from some of you.

Cllr Gillian Risso-Gill who is coordinating the event, is looking for some specific expertise and support.

  • People with experience in marketing/PR/promotion, including social networks (ok – there’s got to be SOMEONE reading this who fufills that criteria).
  • Stall holders, particularly local craftspeople or traders
  • Additional business sponsors.

If you’re interestedin helping, having a stall, or sponsoring the event, then please register your interest at or call Gillian on 07798 845919.

Christmas market success

There was a pleasingly busy flow of browsers and shoppers around West End Green on Saturday for the first ever West Hampstead Christmas market. In mercifully mild and dry weather, local businesses and craftspeople had a good selection of stalls. Feedback from both stallholders and residents was generally positive and fingers crossed that this will become an annual event. It would be nice if next year we could have a bigger tree and maybe more seasonal entertainment in the space in the middle.

West Hampstead’s X(mas) Factor

I know it’s only October, but there’s a reason why I’m bringing up the “C” word so early. And that reason is: volunteers!

New West Hampstead councillor Gillian Risso-Gill is looking to get a Christmas Fair off the ground. The idea is to support the local shops (which we’re all generally in favour of, right?) and it has been well received by traders, the council and a few community-minded folk already. It is likely to take place on the weekend of 11/12 December on West End Green.

But it won’t take place at all without your help.

Putting such a thing together does require support from within the community, so Gillian has asked me to put the word out to see whether anyone who would like to get some experience of event organising (or of course who already has it) would like to get involved.

Naturally, the traders themselves will be involved and there are talks with possible sponsors as well. But between now and the end of the month there’s plenty to do in terms of consultations, paperwork and other duties. If there are enough volunteers then the time commitment shouldn’t be more than a few hours a week.

If you’re interested, and would like to see West End Green host a Christmas fair to give a seasonal boost to the community please contact Gillian at .