MP: Government must be honest about Heathrow cost

Ruth Cadbury questioned Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in the Commons last Thursday over what financial support the Government would be providing for regional flight routes from Heathrow, and whether these costs would be pushed onto local authorities. Chris Grayling said he didn’t expect most of the routes to need support. “It’s a question of making sure there’s capacity available for routes that will be commercial.”

Speaking after her question, Ruth said ‘‘When the Government sold Heathrow expansion it was under the condition that routes to regional airports, like Glasgow and Newcastle, would be financially supported by the Government if necessary. Now there appears to be a real danger that the government are backtracking, and will seek to pass on the bill to local authorities, who’ve already faced huge funding cuts.

“This is just another example of how the Government haven’t been honest about the true impact of Heathrow’s expansion; we already know it will increase noise, and air pollution, whilst doing nothing to tackle the UK’s commitment to cutting C02 emissions. The Government need to be honest about the true cost of Heathrow expansion.’’

Public meeting on Chiswick policing

Image above: Metropolitan Police library image

Policing in the face of bugetary cuts

West London was in the national headlines this weekend for the fatal stabbing of 17-year-old Abdirashid Mohamoud in Isleworth on Friday night. This follows a number of stabbing incidents in west London in recent months, part of an upsurge in knife crime across the capital. In January a 34 year old Polish man, Kamil Malysz, was found stabbed to death in a house in in Alfred Road, Acton and a young man in his ’20s was left seriously injured after being stabbed in the street, also in Acton.

Superintendent Gary Taylor, Deputy Borough Commander for the tri-borough Basic Command Unit of Hillingdon, Ealing and Hounslow, will be addressing a meeting on policing this Thursday (28 March) starting at 7.30pm in Chiswick Town Hall. Doors open 7.00pm. He will be answering questions along with police based locally. To reserve a (free) ticket, book here. Chiswick’s councillors, who have organised the meeting, would like written questions emailed in advance to:

Superintendent Gary Taylor is returning to Chiswick after addressing a meeting in December, when he promised to come up with a plan of action to tackle the problem, but he said then that the Metropolitan police is also facing huge budgetary cuts. The reorganisation of the Met from 32 individual Borough Commands to 12 Basic Command Units was done to save £325 million.

You can see what Superintendent Taylor had to say in the December meeting on The Chiswick Calendar website.

A ‘Sleeping Beauty’ hedge planted beside Chiswick School

A new community hedge has been planted, with more than 500 trees covering a length of 140 metres along Burlington Lane, alongside Chiswick School, opposite Chiswick House and Gardens.

The ‘Sleeping Beauty’ hedge is 50% Hawthorn, with Dog Rose, Field Maple, Guelder Rose, Hornbeam and Wild Privet. Rory Harding led the planting, with support from Karen Liebreich of Abundance London and Steve from London National Park City. The community volunteers were also aided by a couple of guys from Hounslow Highways.

“Abundance London was delighted to collaborate on planting the Sleeping Beauty hedge” says Karen, “filling the substantial gaps in the old hedge along Burlington Lane. Creating what should be a lovely wildlife friendly feature instead of a litter strewn verge”.

That’s if the pupils of Chiswick School can be persuaded to walk round the new plants rather than over them. Whether the hedge is to keep princesses in or princes out, she didn’t say.

Read more about Karen and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here

A Cat called ‘Brexit’

Did you see that the French Minister for European Affairs, Natalie Loiseau, has renamed her cat ‘Brexit’?

“He wakes me up every morning miaowing to death because he wants to go out, and then when I open the door he stays in the middle, undecided, and then gives me evil looks when I put him out” she wrote on her Facebook page. 

….and a dog called ‘Farage’

A wit on Twitter has now named his dog ‘Farage’ because it refuses to go out for a walk in the rain. We may or may not see him in Chiswick on Friday then, depending on the weather. 

His pro-Brexit march is due to assemble in Chiswick for the final push on Westminster at 11.30. Exactly where marchers will meet will be announced 24 hours before, but ‘The closest train station is Chiswick Park station’ according to the March to Leave website. 

Brexit means – what exactly?

MPs have now voted to take control of the Brexit process, with a series of ‘indicative votes’ coming up later in the week on a variety of options, so I guess anything could happen.

Chiswick was well represented in the People’s Vote march on Saturday. Lots of chatter about it on Twitter and the High Rd was empty. There was a large Green Party contingent on the March, with  activists from the Liberal Democrats and Labour parties, as well as many marching independently of any political party.

Respect to the Led By Donkeys group, who have taken it upon themselves to take some of the Brexit pronouncements of our politicians, render them as tweets and put them on massive billboards.

They include:
David Cameron: “Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband.” 

Dominic Raab, who served as  Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union for a few months last year: “I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this but … we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing”

Jacon Rees-Mogg, leader of the ERG group of Brexiteers: “We could have two referendums. As it happens, it might make more sense to have the second referendum after the negotiation is completed.” And this one which they rolled out on Saturday, from David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, who oversaw the negotiations for two years.

Petition to Revoke Article 50

As I write, the petition to revoke Article 50 has reached nearly five and a half million signatures (5,469,327) and that includes quite a few of us.

21,540 signatures in Ealing and Central Acton constituency (17.8% constituents)
17,896 signatures in Brentford & Isleworth constituency (13.44% constituents)
20,413 signatures in Hammersmith constituency (17.68% constituents)

Featured image by Aubrey Crawley – MyChiswick

Winners of the Camellia competition at  Chiswick House

On Saturday 23rd March we held the International Camellia Society Chiswick House Camellia Show. Local people, and London gardeners entered their blooms in eight categories. There were over a hundred blooms on display and the prize winners were:

1. Semi-Double Flowered cultivar one bloom – Kate Jennick Head Gardener at Middle Temple
2. Anemone or Peony flowered cultivar one bloom – Cllr John Todd – Trustee Chiswick House and Gardens Trust
3. Any 3, Anemone or Peony flowered cultivars 1 bloom – Kate Jennick Head Gardener at Middle Temple
4. Any Rose Form or formal double 1 bloom – Jonathan Green – Lives locally and is also a Goosefoot Volunteer
5. Any Rose Form or formal double 3 blooms – Ruth Todd – Who lives locally and is a Garden Guide at Chiswick House and Gardens
6. Three of a kind – 3 blooms of any one Camellia Cultivar – Sarah Syborn Head Gardner at Warwick Square
7. Any Camellia bloom less than 2 inches – Mary Walker – local resident and volunteer at the Camellia Show and Kitchen Garden
8. Any 3 Camellia blooms less than 2 inches – Sarah Syborn Head Gardener at Warwick Square

The best bloom across the competition and Winner of the ICS Chiswick House Plate was Sarah Syborn, Head Gardener Warwick Square. Everyone who enters received a certificate. The judges were Herb Short ICS UK Committee Member and Fiona Crumley ICS Member. The prizes were presented by Pat Short Secretary of the ICS UK Committee.

The competition is a fantastic way to encourage local residents and gardeners to share their blooms and promote Camellias. Well done to all who entered and a massive thank you to Pat and Herb Short and Fiona Crumley for the support that the International Camellia Society provided for the competition.

Photographs below L to R: Mary Walker with her award, Cllr John Todd & Pat Short, Jonathan Green and Marion Morris with the Estate Gardens Manager Geraldine King (in the middle) and Sarah Syborn being presented the ICS Chiswick Plate from Pat Short.

Scholarships available for part time courses at ArtsEd

Time to get planting say the Wheeler brothers

The Wheeler brothers, Jason and Spencer, are gearing up for one of the busiest weekends of the year at their flower stall outside Turnham Green tube station and the adjacent garden centre, tucked away alongside the railway tracks. The combination of Mother’s Day next Sunday (31 March) and glorious weather is making many of us start thinking about buying flowers and bedding plants for the garden.

Spencer is the (younger) brother who you always see striding about on a mission to pick up, unload, deliver and keep Wheelers garden centre looking immaculate, while Jason is usually up in the office sorting out the paperwork. Both self taught as businessmen and plant experts, they got into the flower trade almost accidentally. “We wanted a business” says Spencer. “A stall came up; a friend of a friend was selling a flower stall. We went into it with no knowledge. It was pure luck.”

Their first stall, which they bought 18 years ago, was at Stamford Brook. They added one at Wembley, then one outside Hammersmith station and bought the stall outside Turnham Green tube station 15 years ago. As Spencer ran the flower stalls, Jason built up the garden centre, leasing the land from London Transport 12 years ago and reclaiming a little bit of industrial wasteland, turning it into an urban oasis which people visit from all over London. Do they ever have a cross word? “We did once” says Spencer “in the early days. We had a row over £4 worth of flowers which he threw away. But since then not a cross word. We communicate well”.


“One of the best spots in London”

One man who is a regular visitor comes into Chiswick by tube. “He always spends a bit of time just wandering around and he says it’s one of the nicest spots in London”.  The business now covers everything from selling cut flowers and plants to providing garden maintenance and hard landscaping. Whether they do well or not is entirely dependent on the weather and Spencer is constantly checking his phone for the latest weather report. He gets up at 3.30am most days of the week to drive from where they live in Northwood to Covent Garden market. “English flowers are the main reason to go to Covent Garden” says Spencer. “They’re grown in areas like Suffolk and Gloucestershire”.

They also buy a lot of imported plants from Holland. “Everything goes in to Holland and is exported out from there.” So Brexit is a concern: “Our Dutch suppliers are telling us to expect £100 more per delivery once Brexit happens.” Until now prices have remained stable for years. “We’ve been selling tulips for £5-£6 for ten years now. Our costs have gone up. Petrol has gone up but people aren’t prepared to pay more for flowers”.

Family businesses and entrepreneurs

“When we first started Turnham Green Terrace was lovely” says Jason. “It was full of family businesses and entrepreneurs”. Spencer has three children – two sons Sonny (18) and Teddy (16) and a daughter Ceci (7). Jason has a girl and a boy – Eve (21) and Oscar (17). Their wives don’t work in the business and none of the children are currently showing any interest in joining it, but the brothers are relaxed about it. “I want them to go out and learn about business somewhere else” says Jason. “It would be nice if they wanted to join the business” he says but at 51 and 47 respectively Jason and Spencer aren’t worried about handing over the business any time soon.

Like everyone else they are concerned about the high turnover of businesses in recent years due to the steep increases in rent and rates, but for them Turnham Green Terrace is still a good place to run a business. “We’ve had a lot of support and goodwill from the community over the years” says Jason. Their latest development is to build a bit more cover over the walkway, to showcase indoor plants. “50% our trade is now indoor plants” says Spencer. “People are buying them more and more to clean the air”.

This weekend the focus will be on spring flowers for Mother’s Day – hyacinths, daffodils, tulips, narcissi. Daffodils are selling at £1 a bunch for ten stems, cut hyacinths at £6 for five stems and mixed bouquets for £25.

Wheelers garden centre is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme with discounts on plants (but not cut flowers) here.

Heathrow ‘smoking gun’ memo revealed

The Judicial Review of the expansion of Heathrow has unearthed a memo from civil servants to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling advising him that residents likely to be affected by noise from the third runway should not be alerted to it. According to a report in the Times newspaper the six page document sent in November 2017 advised that it was not ‘necessary’ or ‘sensible’ for Heathrow airport to distribute leaflets to 5 million people who might be affected by aircraft noise, or to launch a publicity campaign which would reach 13 million or so people.

The memo said: “Most of the people receiving this communication will not have previously engaged with the expansion of the airport. “The possibility that people might be overflown is likely to create significant public disquiet and could cause previously supportive or neutral stakeholders to reconsider their position.”

There are five separate cases which have been brought against the expansion of Heathrow. Legal action started in the High Court two weeks ago. One of the cases involves a coalition of local authorities, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and environmental campaign group Greenpeace. The five councils are Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead. (Hounslow and Ealing being notable by their absence).

Chris Grayling’s civil servants were concerned that the publicity planned by Heathrow could lead to ‘further scrutiny’ of the scheme and ‘unnecessary controversy’ before the key parliamentary vote in which MPs backed the expansion. Heathrow went ahead with the leafleting and advertising campaign despite ministerial advice. One of the complaints being considered by the High Court is that the Department of Transport failed to alert people who might be affected by increased noise. The memo was produced as evidence and reported by

A spokeswoman for the protest group Chiswick Against the Third Runway protest, Sara told me: “It doesn’t come as any surprise. A lot of people who are going to be affected weren’t told and even MPs were hoodwinked. A lot of them rolled over and said yes to the expansion without having the full facts in front of them.”

The building of a third runway would enable the airport to accommodate up to 740,000 flights a year. It currently takes 475,000.

Rare Blue Picardy Spaniel puppies available

Meet Libelle, a beautiful ‘Blue Picardy Spaniel’ who has recently given birth to 15 pups. A Blue Picardy Spaniel is a French breed, introduced to the UK by Chiswick resident Aila Cinar. Her own dog Lamur is one of the first litter to be born and registered here. You may have seen him bounding around Southfield playing fields. Descended from English setters and a Picardy spaniels, he looks like an extra large, rangy spaniel. Libelle is his sister.

Photographs below: Libelle, pups and father Normand

The breed developed in France after the English took their hunting dogs across the Channel in Mediaeval times. It was only recognised as a separate breed in France in 1938. Blue Picardies aren’t recognised by the Kennel Club in Britain but Libelle and Lamur have had their pedigrees confirmed by French authorities.

“There are so few of the breed here that if you want to mate them, you have to go to France or the Netherlands” says Aila. She brought Libelle and Lamur’s mother Fidji over from France a few years ago. Fidji had a litter of seven, who are now distributed round the UK. Libelle’s pups are the second litter to be born in the UK. Both Fidji  and Libelle were visited by French dogs to mate.

Photographs below: Lamur, Libelle (running) and mother Fidji in Aila’s garden

If you’re looking for a family dog which needs a lot of exercise, the pups will be available from mid May. They are very child friendly. Contact Aila on 07990 574476 / Email:

Photographs below: Aila with pups from Fidji’s first litter, Fidji’s pups and Aila’s daughter Minna with Fidji and Lamur

Fundraising for memorial stones for Hogarth’s pets

The Hogarth Trust has just published a crowdfunding page to raise £2,205 to pay for memorial stones for some of William Hogarth’s family pets in the garden of the artist’s home beside  the A4. Hogarth was fond of animals and his pet pugs often appear in his pictures.

Well known for his series of paintings such as ‘The Harlot’s Progress’ and ‘The Rake’s Progress’, Hogarth is known as a political satirist as much as he is as a painter. The house in Chiswick was his second home, where he lived with his family from 1749-1764 (his main home and studio being in Leicester Fields, which is now Leicester Square). After his death, members of the Hogarth family lived on in the house until 1808 and it has been very well preserved for our generation to enjoy.

The Hogarth Trust is in the process of refurbishing the garden, creating a completely modern garden which will also double as an exhibition relating to both the history of the house and its occupants and to the history of Chiswick as a market gardening area. The house has been closed throughout March and is due to reopen to the public, but work will continue on the garden until late summer / early autumn.

Images of the house and garden and sketch for the pet memorials courtesy of the Hogarth Trust
Self-portrait of Hogarth ‘Painter and his Pug’, Tate Gallery collection 

Dick the Drake and Pompey the Dog

There were memorials in the garden to Dick the drake and Pompey the dog until at least 1850 but they have long since disappeared. Dick may have lived with a small flock of ducks laying eggs for the Hogarths. Pompey was probably named after the canine hero of a best-selling 18th century satirical novel “The History of Pompey the Little, or the Life and Adventure of a Lap-Dog”. Historians aren’t sure if he really was a lapdog or whether this was an ironic reference for a pug dog, the pugnacious breed so beloved by the artist.

If you would like to contribute to the creation of new memorial stones, you can do so on the crowdfunding page here.

According to the Trust: ‘The new garden will provide a high quality setting for the House, telling the whole story of the site from its origins as a 1680s orchard through life as a domestic garden and a nursery, and incorporating Hogarth’s theories of art, such as his scrolling Line of Beauty, in planting and design features. Lost elements are being re-created including a skittle alley, a nut-walk and the pet memorials’.

Val Bott MBE MA FMA, museum consultant & historian, says when the garden is finished the information panels and trails will enable people to understand it as a living exhibition as well as a beautiful and peaceful place to sit. Once two new members of staff have been appointed to run the garden, they will be looking for volunteers to keep it looking good.

See also The Chiswick Calendar’s videos of The Hogarth House Election exhibition, 2015 and Hogarth House Mulberry Soda.




‘Neither side had a plan’ Gina Miller tells audience

Gina Miller, who took the Government to court to insist the decision to leave the EU should be Parliament’s, not the Government’s, spoke to a packed house at our event last week. She told the audience in the Boston Room at George IV that when she was on the referendum trail in October 2015, speaking for the Remain campaign, it was clear to her that neither side had a plan. She said what has shocked her since is the level of ignorance among our politicians. “I thought they were better informed about our relationship with Europe and our own parliamentary process… David Davis didn’t understand how the EU works.”

Asked by BBC politics presenter Jo Coburn whether she regretted doing what she’d done, (in reference to the impasse last week in parliament)  she said “No, because it’s bigger than Brexit.” Getting involved in politics has caused her immense grief in the form of a torrent of abuse and death threats. She writes in her book ‘Rise’ that she opens the mail herself as her staff find it so distressing to read that she’s a whore and an ape and should bye raped and lynched.

She also explained what had made her so resilient; an upbringing with parents who instilled in her the imperative to ‘do the right thing’, her father a criminal barrister who rose to become Guyana’s Attorney General. She and her brother were sent to school in England. When she was 14, Guyana introduced currency restrictions which left them without enough money to live on, so she worked two hours in hotel as a chambermaid each morning before starting her day at school. She has married three times and spent years as a single mother bringing up her very disabled daughter alone before meeting her current husband Alan. So although she is well off now, she takes exception to the ‘rich bitch’ label she’s given a lot.

Her view on a second referendum is that “it would be an absolute nightmare … It’ll be about fear and poison and that’s not where we should be going”. Her preference would be for parliament to decide, and for there to be a second referendum “only if every other avenue is exhausted, because we are a representative democracy.” But she doesn’t have much confidence in Theresa May’s leadership or the integrity of MPs: “There are many people who have been putting solutions to the Government” she said, but those solutions have fallen on deaf ears. “What we need is vision” she said. “MPs are not just their to reflect their communities. They’re there to shape our communities.” It was their job, she said, to explain the reality of what leaving the EU means. “The people who told you it’s as easy as falling off a log were wrong and they should have told people that was not the case’. She put the ‘incompetence’ of our MPs down to the failings inherent in our political system which “is quite a closed club. It’s quite nepotistic. There needs to be more mentoring in public life.”

“I think we’ve had two main parties who’ve been careless for far too long. They haven’t really looked after the country. They’ve looked after themselves… They’re not progressive enough for the problems we face.” She said Theresa May had been promoted beyond her ability but that she had also been given an impossible task. “Leadership qualities are about being flexible, not rigid and you have to be a strategist. She’s not a strategist.” In the general election “the electorate thought the Conservatives were going for a soft Brexit.” Jeremy Corbyn she said had allowed his party to fall victim to ‘entryism’ and failed to deal with the problem of antisemitism within the party. Nor had he represented the will of those who voted for him. “The 2.5 million young people who voted for Labour thought they were voting for a Remain party.”

Asked whether she would go in to politics herself, she said she could be more effective outside the party system.

Photographs by Jon Perry 

Chiswick Through the Camera Lens 2019

Following the success of our art and photography exhibitions last year, we are doing the same this year, putting on an art exhibition in September and a photography exhibition in April.

Chiswick Through the Camera Lens, 1 April – 11 May at the Clayton Hotel Chiswick, will showcase photographs shot in Chiswick by both professional and amateur photographers.

Georgia Bell by Richard Bradbury

Among those showing their work will be internationally known, award winning photographer Richard Bradbury.

Richard has just won  won the Best Of Nations Award in the WPC World Photographic Cup with his picture of Georgia Bell, an athlete from Chiswick.

He’s also just received a note from the Queen, thanking him for her copy of this year’s glossy coffee table book Children of London, which Richard produces each year to raise money for Great Ormond St hospital. 

If you’d be interested in your child being photographed for next year’s book, contact him at 

Richard is currently looking for a PA, so if you have excellent admin skills and a passing interest in photography, contact him about that too.

Thank you note from the Queen’s Private Secretary

Fine Art photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten will be showing two pictures from her Old Father Thames collection of stories interwoven with the history of the River Thames. 

Flooding is a recurrent problem and has been for millennia.  This image shows two elegently dressed women in the 1920s, perched precariously on their makeshift raft with their pet rabbit and a little girl in a galvanised bathtub.

The full collection is currently being shown in New York and will be on display in Poland later this year.

Old Father Thames – Julia Fullerton-Batten

Also taking part in the exhibition are Jon Perry and Anna Kunst, whose work is often to be seen on The Chiswick Calendar website, Kelvin Murray, Frank Noon, Keith Porritt, Jacob Porritt and Natalia Bobrova.

Feature image by Frank Noon
Images below by Jon Perry, Natalia Bobrova, Kelvin Murray, Jacob Porritt and Anna Kunst



What will replace B&Q?

The Reef Group and architects Benoy are putting on display this week the latest plans for the B&Q site behind Chiswick roundabout.

The project team will be available to discuss the plans today (Tuesday 19 March) and Thursday 21 March between 3.30 and 7.30pm at the Musical Museum, 399 High Street, Brentford TW8 0DU.

‘Our proposal will deliver the world’s first fully integrated customer-centric car showcase, exhibition, gaming and technology experience’ they say.

‘At the heart of the scheme will be a new public square surrounded by restaurants, retail, a hotel and residential units.

‘It is envisaged that the scheme will become London’s hub for automotive technology, generating high-value employment that will revitalise this strategically important location’.

The exhibition is designed as a community consultation prior to putting in planning application. Pity then that most people who might want to have a look will be at work at that time, or if they work at home because they have kids they’ll be picking up their children from school and giving them their tea. 

Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery reopens after restoration

Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing has reopened to the public after a lengthy period of restoration. The Regency Manor, built between 1800 and 1804, is a rare and spectacular example of a building designed, built and lived in by the Neo Classical architect Sir John Soane.

Soane was a friend of Prime Minister William Pitt, who he met on his Grand Tour. He redesigned the Bank of England and designed several public buildings in London and Dublin, including Dulwich Picture Gallery, the first purpose built public art gallery in Britain, as well as creating country homes for the landed gentry. Pitzhanger Manor was his country retreat, built to showcase his skills as an architect, and designed around his collection of art and antiquities, which included Hogarth’s series of paintings A Rake’s Progress. It was where he entertained his clients and influential friends.

In 1939 Ealing’s public lending library was built on the site of Soane’s kitchen block. This has now been upgraded to create Pitzhanger Gallery, ‘a beautiful display space flooded with natural light’.

Image above: Pitzhanger Manor, Joseph Gandy, 1800 © Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

Image above: Anish Kapoor, Sphere with Oval Hole, Stainless Steel

The Gallery, which opened at the weekend, will present three exhibitions a year of work by artists, designers and architects, each offering a new perspective on Soane’s ideas and architecture. In the first of these exhibitions, Anish Kapoor presents a series of sculptures that echo Soane’s complex use of mirrors and light to double and dissolve space.

The Anish Kapoor exhibition runs 16 March -18 August at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Mattock lane, Ealing, W5 5EQ.

Camellia Show at Chiswick House

The Camellias are looking gorgeous in the conservatory of Chiswick House. This free exhibition of the heritage collection runs until the end of the month.

This weekend there will be a pop up shop selling both heritage and modern varieties of Camellia from 10.00am – 4.00pm on Saturday and Sunday. If you were looking for an original and beautiful present for Mother’s Day, look no further. There’s also a Camellia competition. Bring a snippet from your garden plant, with a Camellia bloom and some leaves on Friday before 6.00pm or Saturday before 4.00pm and you’re in with a chance of a special gardening prize.

Chiswick House will be open over the weekend, with free tours at 12.00 and 2.30pm and the Kitchen Garden will also be open, with fruit & veg available to buy.

Boat Race 2019

The Boat race crews were announced last week, with the surprise revelation that Olympic rower James Cracknell will be taking part. James, who at 46 will be the oldest person every to have competed in the Boat Race, will be rowing for Cambridge. The Chiswick resident retired from elite rowing in 2006 but is eligible to take part in the race as he is studying for a Master of Philosophy degree in Human Evolution at the university.

This year the RNLI is the official Boat race charity partner. Their volunteer lifeboat crews provide a 24-hour rescue service around the UK and Irish coastline, and on the River Thames, and their lifeguards also look after people on busy beaches throughout the summer. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution provides a crucial emergency service, and has saved more than 142,200 lives since it was established in 1824, but many people don’t realise it isn’t government funded; it relies on charity donations. On the River Thames they operate four lifeboat stations. Tower Bridge is the busiest in the whole of the UK and Ireland and Chiswick, which has supported the Boat Race since 2002, is the second busiest.

Image above: James Cracknell OBE;

Images below: Top photograph – 2016 winners by Anna Kunst; Middle three photographs of previous years’ races – Getty Images; Bottom two photographs: Camera crews broadcasting the race live – The Chiswick Calendar


Where to watch

The 2019 Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race takes place on Sunday 7 April from 12.00 noon – 5.00 pm, with the Women’s Boat Race at 2.13pm and the Men’s Boat Race at 3.10pm.

This year Hounslow Council is providing giant viewing screen showing BBC coverage of the races, with food and drink stalls and children’s fairground rides near the bandstand in Duke’s Meadows.

You can also watch the race from Chiswick Pier (which has perhaps the best view of the whole course, accessible by the E3 bus). When the boats flash past, run inside Pier House to watch the finish on the big screen. Chiswick Pier Trust also lays on a Fuller’s bar and live music, as well as hot drinks, barbeque, cakes and ice creams.

The Old Meadownians Football Club, on the Chiswick side of Barnes railway bridge, also opens their club house to the public with a bar, food and TV screens. Or if you prefer the view from the south side of the river, the Bull’s Head at Barnes is a good spot.


Jeremy Vine hosts quiz at the Lyric, Hammersmith

TV and radio presenter Jeremy Vine hosts a quiz at the Lyric theatre, Hammersmith tomorrow night (Wednesday 20 March).

Mr Egghead himself will be chairing the quiz. If you’d like to take part the teams are groups of eight people. You can either go as a group of eight mates or go as an individual and take pot luck as to who your team mates will be.

Find out more here

Cafe Conversations initiative grows in fame

The conversation sessions established by Louise Kaye at Avanti in South Parade and Grove Park Cafe are becoming more well known. Various media have shown interest, including BBC London TV, Radio London and an American TV network.

The sessions were set up (3.00pm Mondays at Avanti and 2.50pm Wednesdays at Cafe Grove) in response to a BBC Radio 4 programme All In The Mind on loneliness. Now the producers have got to hear about the project and will be reporting on its progress. 

If you fancy becoming a volunteer conversation starter, get in touch with us at and we’ll pass your contact details on to Louise. If you’d like to get out and meet people, just go along. The conversations are about anything and everything except politics and you personally, and everyone is welcome.

MP: The “Chaotic Mess” that is Brexit

Guest blog by Ruth Cadbury MP

To say that Brexit has been a chaotic mess is an understatement. It is the inevitable consequence of an ill thought out, unnecessary and ultimately corrupted referendum called by David Cameron to appease the extremists in his own party.

From the word go I have said that there is no deal that is better for the UK than the one we currently have as a member of the EU, with a seat at the table, sharing the benefits and splitting the costs, and remaining a full member of the largest trading bloc in the world. I therefore campaigned in the 2016 Referendum to Remain. I voted, sadly contrary to my own party whip, against triggering Article 50 as I felt then that there was insufficient clarity on the nature of Brexit. Subsequent events have proved those of us that took that view to be right. Most recently I have voted against Theresa May’s worst-of-both-worlds “deal” on both occasions that it has come to Parliament.

Judging by the Referendum result locally, the election result here in 2017, and the correspondence I’ve had all along; the majority of my constituents support my stance. But even if they didn’t I would address such an important issue in the context of what I believe is best for the whole of the country, as have many of my colleagues who represent seats that voted Leave in 2016 yet also continue to say the remaining in the EU is the best outcome for all. Furthermore all credible economic analysis shows that it will be people who have most to gain from a Labour Government who will lose most through the inevitable uncertainty and downturn that Brexit will mean; those working in manufacturing sectors, or in low-paid and casualised workplaces, those in regions away from London and large cities, and those who depend most on robust and well-funded health, social care and public services.

Moving to the increasingly relevant issue of a second referendum, I came round to supporting the principle when it became clear that it would be the only way of getting round the deadlock in Parliament, and I have consistently supported the campaign since. However, that view does not YET have the majority of Parliament. The timing for a full vote on it is important. That is why I did not support the Independent Group’s amendment on People’s Vote last week.

As I write this, the Speaker appears to have put a brake on the Prime Minister’s strategy of continuously bringing back her deal. She has been calculating that as we near the cliff edge she can persuade enough hard line-Brexiteers, including the DUP, that any other option risks no Brexit, and that enough Remain supporters will come to the view that any other option risks no deal. There are a number of models of Brexit that are less economically damaging than a hard, or a no-deal, Brexit but all come with down-sides and I will be consistent in voting against the Prime Minister’s deal even if slightly amended when it comes back to Parliament.

There is, however, one alternative compromise option that would enable me to consider going into the aye lobby. This is if Parliament passes what has come to be known as the Wilson Kyle amendment, to which I have added my name, and which has the full support of the Labour leadership in the House. It enshrines the principle that the people have the right to compare the Brexit facts with the promises made in 2016, and says that any final deal agreed by Parliament must be subject to confirmation in a further referendum. If in this referendum the deal is not ratified, then the UK would remain in the EU.

I would welcome the views of constituents on the issues around Brexit – and indeed any other issue. Please email me on:

Ruth Cadbury Member of Parliament for Brentford & Isleworth; also representing Chiswick, Osterley and Hounslow. You can sign up for my occasional updates here.

A busy couple of weeks in Westminster

It’s pretty hard to keep up with all the twists and turns of the Brexit process. Many people were surprised that Labour decided to abstain last week from an amendment to a motion which would have backed a People’s Vote.

The move was pragmatic rather than principled, as it wouldn’t have passed and was tacked on to a vote about extension; typical of the politicking going on as parliament fights to assert itself against the Government.

Our local MPs Ruth Cadbury, (MP for Brentford & Isleworth), Rupa Huq, (MP for Ealing Central and Acton) and Andy Slaughter, (MP for Hammersmith), voted the same way. Here’s how they voted:

  • Against Theresa May’s Brexit Deal
  • In favour of a motion definitively against a No Deal exit
  • Against Kit Malthouse’s alternative package
  • To accept the amended, stronger, rejection of No Deal
  • To extend article 50 and seek a new Brexit approach
  • Abstained in the vote to call a new referendum
  • In favour of indicative votes in the Commons
  • In favour of a request a delay to Brexit

See also Ruth’s guest blog on this extraordinary week in British politics

Think I got away with it…

Huge thanks to Lucinda MacPherson for looking after the newsletter for the past seven weeks while I’ve been swanning around New Zealand and Australia. If you would like to re-read any of her absorbing features on everything from the hunt for a 1960’s Chiswick serial killer to two west London women fighting to stop the practice of FGM in this country, you can see them here.

I realised renting a car in Australia that there are cultural differences to driving in the UK. Perhaps a little complacent because they drive on the left, I thought Sydney would be a cinch after London but no, my first day there I got beeped and flashed more times than Jeremy Vine in Chiswick High Rd on his penny farthing. 

Each time I pulled forward confidently into the middle of a junction, waiting for the oncoming traffic to pass before turning right, I got hostile stares. Apparently you’re supposed to sit meekly at the line until the last battered ute (utility vehicle) has dawdled past you. Thinking I’d got the hang of it, waiting for the green filter arrow to turn left I infuriated the woman behind me who intimated that I was a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic for not turning left on the regular green light (What’s the point of having a filter arrow?!) In a road with two way traffic and no parking on the left I reversed smartly into a parking space on the opposite side of the road, facing the oncoming traffic. You’d think at very least I’d murdered a child, 

The laws are as stringent for cyclists as they are for drivers. The fine for riding a bike without a helmet in New South Wales is $337 (£183). Not only is Aussie rules driving as different as Aussie rules football, but I was surprised to find that Australians appear to be on the whole law abiding. 

As I began to learn the error of my ways I discovered that you’re not allowed to drive with your elbow out the car window and while I was there it was on the local television news that a teenager had been fined $100 (£54) for not putting up the window and locking his vehicle when he nipped into a garage to buy a pie. Who’d have thought that Australia would be such a nanny state? Not very Crocodile Dundee is it?!

I think I got away with it but am keeping an anxious eye on the post for a brown envelope from the NSW Government. 

Image at the top of the page: Painting of the outlaw Ned Kelly by Australian artist Sidney Nolan

Where is this building?

Do you recognise this building with the name ‘Chiswick’ written on it? Can’t quite think where it might be?

That’s probably because it’s a restaurant in Woolahra, in Sydney, Australia.

Owned by Australian TV chef, writer of cook books and restaurateur Matt Moran,  the famous venue for fine dining is supplied by the vegetable garden just outside and Matt’s family farm up country. It’s called ‘Chiswick’ after the estate which previously occupied the land, though disappointingly, why that bore the Chiswick name is not known.

Should you find yourself with a spare evening in Sydney, the food was superb!

Déjà vu all over again

So I come back and guess what, today there’s another ‘crunch’ vote on Brexit and parliament is still deadlocked. When you go to a normal country you realise quite how stressful it is living in ongoing political crisis, how unsettling the uncertainty and how hostile our political debate has become. 

Rupa Huq MP

‘This toxic environment must end’

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, called for a return to civility in her article for the Guardian on Friday: ‘No matter what happens with Brexit, this toxic environment must end’.

‘Brexit has meant that families, political parties, even the cabinet, are split. Three-quarters of Britons surveyed say the UK is divided, rising to 81% among 25- to 34-year-olds’ she writes. She has been told to go “back” to Bangladesh or risk being killed in a Brexit-induced civil war in a tweet by supporter of Teresa May’s deal. ‘Sajid Javid hasn’t helped by fostering the idea that anyone with Bangladeshi parentage could have their citizenship stripped if they step out of line’ she writes.

You shouldn’t have to be brave to be an MP, but apparently now you do, especially if you are a woman and even more so if you are a brown, black or Jewish woman. 

Jo Coburn and Gina Miller

Gina Miller, who took the Government to court to ensure that Parliament had a vote on the introduction of Article 50, has been subject to more abuse than most. Ayesha Hazarika, writing in iNews about how abuse has invaded our daily politics, recounts how a Glasgow taxi driver told her conversationally: “I want to see Gina Miller hung and swinging from a lamppost, stupid bitch.”

Her crime? Trying to make sure our Government sticks to the law. She has now engaged lawyers to interpret European law and see whether the European Union has a “legal duty” to offer an extension to Article 50 in the event of a no deal.

Writing for Harper’s Bazzar Gina says: ‘a level of misogyny, verbal violence and brutalising that goes far beyond anything male peers ever receive appears now to be on the increase’.

Gina, a highly respected wealth fund manager before she became known as a political campaigner (‘stupid’ I think not) will be our guest at our next Media Club on 19 March, when she will be interviewed by BBC politics presenter Jo Coburn in the Boston Room of George IV. We have a handful of tickets still available here

Writer and broadcaster Konnie Huq

Rupa’s sister Konnie has also raised her head above the parapet, with an article in the Independent setting out why she thinks all feminists should back a second referendum. ‘A post-Brexit economic crisis could also roll back workplace rights, including parental leave, equal treatment and rights for part-time workers, into which group so many women fall’ she argues. 

You can read Rupa’s Guardian article here and Konnie’s Independent article here

Legal action begins on Heathrow third runway

A number of legal challenges to the expansion of Heathrow begin this week in the High Court. There are five separate court cases being brought, one of them involving a coalition of local authorities, London mayor Sadiq Khan and environmental campaign group Greenpeace. Grounds for the legal challenge include the argument that the expansion at Heathrow has been approved without properly considering its impact on Climate Change, and also that the extra emissions from the 700 extra flights are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement, which the Government has ratified.

The coalition will argue that the third runway can only be built by demolishing thousands of homes and making life noisier and unhealthier for millions of people, while large increases in road traffic will worsen pollution. The five councils behind the action include Hammersmith and Fulham, Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth, and Windsor and Maidenhead. Hounslow and Ealing are notable by their absence. 


Activists from Hounslow Green Party joined other “Stop 700 More” protestors outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Monday. Victoria George, Green Party representative for Brentford (pictured above) said: 

“If you strip away the legal jargon the case is very simple.  Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Transport, is charged with hypocrisy.  The government signed the Paris Agreement and now he is ignoring it.  And because we live by the Rule of Law there are rightfully consequences for his reckless action. The Third Runway is not a certainty, and this court case, and this brilliant turnout today are testament to that. I am, of course, disappointed that Hounslow Council is notable by its absence. It should be here, standing up for the health, well-being and future of its citizens.”

Should you wish to join the protest, you can contact Daniel Goldsmith at

Trees brought down in Sunday’s gale

Gale force winds on Sunday night brought down a number of trees across the south east. Neither Kew nor Chiswick House Gardens suffered significant losses. Geraldine King, head gardener at Chiswick House told me they’d done a lot of work in recent years to try and safeguard their large trees against high winds. 

This was the scene in Grove Park though, with a large tree fallen right across Elmwood Rd. Thanks to Andy Murray for the photograph.

Fancy a walk on part in Doc Martin?

Actor Martin Clunes is patron of the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre. To raise money for it he is offering a walk on part in ITV drama Doc Martin to the highest bidder. 

The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre is a specialist centre where volunteers and coaches help disabled children to ride. Find out about their work and about Mary Joy Langdon, the amazing woman who runs it – operational manager, nun, holder of the British Empire Medal and Britain’s first female firefighter.

See – A Little Piece of West London Where Miracles Happen

If you are interested in bidding for a walk on part in Doc Martin to raise money for the centre, please email your bid to Mary Joy at by 31 March.


New play at the Tabard – Carl’s Story

Why is Annie, a busy journalist always on her mobile phone, encouraging her friend Beth to have an affair with her husband? How does her daughter know and why is she not bothered?  

This new play at the Tabard, a comedy by Gavin Miller, rattles along with high energy exchanges between Annie (Jenny Whiffen) and Beth (Emma Bernbach), Annie and daughter Darcy (Lucia Dean), Darcy and Beth and Darcy and a friend of her mother’s who turns out to be Beth’s ex-husband (Tommy Carter). The one person absent in all this is Carl, and Carl has a lot to answer for. 

Carl’s story, set in a trendy art cafe, is a fun play which keeps you engaged and guessing till the end. 

On at the Tabard theatre till 30 March

This week at Richmond theatre: The Lady Vanishes

One of Alfred Hitchcock’s early films, The Lady Vanishes is a comedy thriller set on a train in Austria in 1938, just before the outbreak of war. Like the 39 steps, the plot revolves around a spy who has to get information to HQ.

The story translates very well to the stage, with just two sets: the train station and the train itself. When I say that the set is the best part about it I mean absolutely no disrespect to the actors. They do an excellent job, but the 1930s design of the railway station and train is amazingly atmospheric and works beautifully with the chilling music and sound effects.

The story begins when a group of people meet on a station platform, having been turfed off a train because of an avalanche. You get a sense of who the various characters are before the snow is cleared and they get back on the train. A young woman travelling home to England to get married hooks up with an elderly lady, Miss Froy, also returning home after working in Austria  as a governess.

When Miss Froy disappears on the train the young woman and the irritating young man she also met on the station platform make it their mission to find her, and uncover a dastardly plot. It is very much of its time, with plucky Brits giving Johnny Foreigner a run for his money, but it is very funny and extremely well executed. Lorna Fitzgerald (of Eastenders fame) plays the young woman; Juliet Mills is Miss Froy and her real life husband Max Caulfield plays the slippery Viennese doctor who is not what he seems. 

The Lady Vanishes is just on at Richmond theatre for one week, until Saturday.

Chiswick Through the Camera Lens – April

The Chiswick Calendar is pleased to announce that we are holding another photography exhibition at the Clayton Hotel, Chiswick.

Chiswick Through the Camera Lens will run from 1 April – 11 May in the hotel atrium.