Palace of Palms – the story of the Palm House at Kew

Image above: the Palm House at Kew; photograph Kate Teltscher

The story of the Palm House at Kew Gardens is a story of intrigue and high politics. We’re so used to the magnificent, iconic symbol of the Royal Botanic Gardens that it’s hard to imagine now that it might never have been, but in the early nineteenth century it was touch and go whether the botanic garden would be saved as a national asset, never mind developed with such ambitious plans.

Kew was a royal palace, a summer getaway for the royal family. The Prince of Wales and his wife Augusta enjoyed the estate in the eighteenth century. Augusta had a passion for gardening; it was she who founded a small physic garden and commissioned the architect William Chambers to build fashionable follies throughout the Pleasure Grounds.

For George III, ‘Kew was a domestic haven away from court; a pastoral idyll where he could spend time with his family, adopt the life of a gentleman farmer and build his collection of exotic plants’.

But by the opening of Queen Victoria’s reign it was looking a bit neglected. As a young queen she wasn’t terribly interested in it; her interest came later as a side product of her husband’s passion for science.

In Palace of Palms, cultural historian Kate Teltscher examines the human history of how the palm house and Kew Gardens came to be, and it’s a story of intrigue and politicking.

Kate opens her book with an account of an inspection in the winter of 1838, a particularly cold year in which the Thames had frozen over. The purpose of the inspection was to decide the future of the gardens – should they break up the rather sorry looking collection of plants brought to Kew by adventurers in the colonies, or should they develop the gardens and hand them over to public ownership? They were deciding Kew’s fate and at that point it didn’t look promising.

Images above: Kate Teltscher; Palace of Palms

Palace of Palms, now out in paperback, was a Times and New Statesman Book of the Year and has been described by Claire Tomalin as:

“The most enthralling historical book I’ve read this year – a superbly researched account of how architects working in glass and iron brought the tropics to England in the great Palm House in 1848, and the horticulturalists who travelled the world to collect the plants that filled it’.

Palms were – an still are – a symbol of the most exotic luxury. Paris had spectacular botanic gardens, Berlin did and so, the argument went, should we. Lobbying for the job of running the place, the foremost botanists and horticulturalists of the age argued that Britain needed to showcase its imperial conquests. The development of such exotic plants for commercial uses also interested the young Prince Albert. Petitioning his support proved a good move.

The book brings to life the personalities involved in the makings of Kew Gardens and tensions between them. Sir William Hooker, Professor of Botany at Glasgow University, was granted the position, much to the disgruntlement of John Smith, a self-taught botanist of humble origins who was the horticulturalist in situ, actually looking after the plants in the royal collection.

In the words of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography,

‘he had long resented being overruled on gardening matters by his directors and following retirement gave vent to his frustration in a history of the Royal Botanic Gardens so candid that it has never been published (but remains in the archives at Kew)’.

Kate makes full use of it. She pored over his ‘grumpy, critical journals’ among the ‘Kewensia’ section of the research library at Kew, sifting through boxes of papers – journals and the directors’ correspondence over several years.

Her favourite character, she tells The Chiswick Calendar, is Richard Turner, the engineer and designer who worked with architect Decimus Burton to create the palm house.

“I loved his multiple underlinings and exclamation marks. It showed he was passionate about building a masterpiece”.

Images above: Kew Palm House; Kate Teltscher

It took over six years for the palm house to be built, a feat of Victorian engineering, which Kate says still looks surprisingly modern. She grew up with the palm house, visiting it as a child and finding it awe-inspiring and later taking her own children there. Her passion has been rewarded.

‘Never since Anna Pavord’s The Tulip has a book so brilliantly captured the spirit of its subject” writes Amanda Foreman.

‘Kate Teltscher’s Palace of Palms is a glorious headrush into Victorian history via one of the most iconic and beautiful glasshouses in the world. This is a bright, shining jewel of a book, a hedonist’s delight and an escapist’s antidote to the humdrum’.

Kate Teltscher will be talking to David Shreeve about her book at 12.00pm on Saturday 4 September in the Boston Room of George IV as part of the Chiswick Flower Market’s special weekend of talks and plant workshops to celebrate the market’s first birthday. The event is a collaboration with the Chiswick Book Festival, which takes place the following weekend.

Book tickets for this session here – ticketsource.co.uk/chiswickbookfestival

Book tickets for plant workshops here – eventbrite.co.uk/o/chiswick-flower-market

READ ALSO: Specialist workshops to celebrate Chiswick Flower Market’s one year anniversary

Kate Teltscher is an Emeritus Fellow of the School of Humanities at the University of Roehampton, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and Honorary Research Associate at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

David Shreeve is the Director of The Conservation Foundation which he co-founded in 1982.  He is also the Environmental Advisor to the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England and has recently been appointed to an advisory board which is encouraging the development of therapeutic gardening to help with mental health issues.

Image above: The Palm House at Kew when it first opened

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Pub in the Park – new names added to line-up

See also: Meanwhile in Brentford

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We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

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Pub in the Park – new names added to line-up

Image above: Björn Again

Pub in the Park is taking place this weekend – Friday 3 – Sunday 5 September in the grounds of Chsiwick House, and they’ve just added some new names to the line-up.

Björn Again and Craig Charles have been added to the Sunday music line-up, joining Marc Almond, Reef and Steve Harley. Five music acts appearing on Sunday afternoon. Michel Roux Jnr will also be joining Pub in the Park on the Sunday and will be cooking live on the main stage. There are just a few tickets left for this glorious mixture of good food and live music.

Björn Again was created in Melbourne in 1989 and has grown into a franchise, with several bands taking the parody Abba show to the road, performing at big rock festivals worldwide.

Craig Charles is an actor, presenter, comedian, author, poet and DJ, best known from Red Dwarf. As a DJ he appears on BBC Radio 6 Music and BBC Radio 2.

Image above: Craig Charles; Michel Roux Jr

The Kaiser Chiefs lead the live music line up for the weekend, which also includes Basement Jaxx DJ and the Kingdom Choir, who sang at Harry and Meghan’s wedding.

Friday night’s line up is Basement Jaxx DJ, Brand New Heavies and the Kingdom Choir.

Saturday will be The Feeling and Nerina Pallet, followed by Kaiser Chiefs and Cuban Brothers.

Sunday’s line up is Marc Almond, REEF and Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel – and now Björn Again and Craig Charles.

Michel Roux Jr is a graduate of Le Gavroche. Set up in 1967 by brothers Michel and Albert Roux, his uncle and father respectively, this was the first restaurant in Britain to receive a Michelin star. Under the stewardship of Michel Jr, Le Gavroche has been consistently placed in Restaurant magaine’s Top 50.  Other famous chefs who’ve worked there include Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay and Marcus Wareing. The name Roux is synonymous in Britain with the qualities of French haute cuisine and Michel has a deep respect for the classical foundations of French cooking.

For more about the chefs and the musicians go here: Pub in the Park tickets now on sale

For more about the tasting menus go here: Pub in the Park menus

Book tickets

To book tickets, go to the Pub in the Park website.

pubintheparkuk.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick has one of the top pizza restaurants in Europe

See also: Meanwhile in Brentford

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

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Phyllis Logan – The Last Bus

Image above: Timothy Spall in The Last Bus

Chiswick Cinema is currently showing The Last Bus, a film about an elderly couple played by Timothy Spall and Phyllis Logan, who live in Scotland, in John O’Groats, having moved there when they were first married to get as far away as possible from their home in Cornwall, at Land’s End.

They left behind a great sadness and when she dies, many years later, he undertakes a pilgrimage, retracing their steps using local buses, back to Cornwall to do one last thing before he joins her.

Torin Douglas will be talking to Phyllis Logan about the film in front of an audience at The Chiswick Cinema on Tuesday 31 August, with a screening of the film at 6.00 pm.

Image above: Phyllis Logan

“It’s a sweet film” Phyllis tells The Chiswick Calendar “but it’s not going to set the world on fire”.

Critics have been a little underwhelmed, it’s true. Kevin Mayer in The Times says:

‘There are hints of a deeper, more authentic movie within this specious misfire … Spall … overdoes it, straying into Catherine Tate’s Nan territory’.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian calls it ‘A cliche-packed vehicle for Timothy Spall’ (bus … vehicle … geddit?) though concedes: ‘it is certainly acted with commitment and integrity by Timoth Spall’.

Phyllis appears in flashbacks. “I’m hardly in it” she says, sounding slightly reproachful that they cut a couple of her scenes, including a party for her retirement. The film might have been better if they’d kept them in, as she gives a stoical performance, facing death with acceptance and the scenes which hit the cutting room floor might have lifted the mood a bit. It could have done with a few laughs I thought.

Image above: Timothy Spall and Phyllis Logan in The Last Bus

“It’s a nice piece” she says, “with a lot of heart and love”, which is true. She looks dreadful in it, as she is supposed to, as she is dying of cancer.

“They didn’t have an awful lot of work to do” she laughs, with typical modesty. In fact Bafta winning make up artist Christine Cant transforms her, but I suppose the fact that it was difficult to find a single picture of her in the film online does rather support her fleeting presence, though she is ever present in her husband Tom’s thoughts from beginning to end.

Image above: Timothy Spall in The Last Bus

“It was lovely to work with Tim again” she tells me. “He’s so lovely”.

The two last worked together playing husband and wife roles in Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies in 1996, which was nominated for five Oscars. They were a sad couple then, as in that film they couldn’t have children.

In the way of these things, Phyllis is hard pressed to remember details the filming, on the outskirts of Glasgow, as it was two years ago now. She is currently working on a film with Michael Sheen and Cary Elwes which doesn’t yet have a name, but will be out for Christmas (this Christmas!).

“There’s an element of Sliding Doors to it” she says. “It dots back and forward in time”.

If it weren’t for the pandemic she might now be touring the United States promoting the second Downton Abbey film. As it is, the release has been put back to March 2022 and there isn’t much appetite for tours of America.

Which is how she comes to be at home in Chiswick, chatting to Torin Douglas. She’s such good fun, even though the film is a bit sad, go and see it and her interview with Torin afterwards.

Book tickets here – Chiswick Cinema

Torin is the Director of the Chiswick Book Festival and was for many years the Media correspondent for the BBC.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Meanwhile in Brentford

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Episode 65: Painful testimonies of racism shake the culture of denial of apartheid in South African cricket

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

In recent months, South Africa has been rocked by the testimonies from black players of the isolation, hostility and outright racial abuse they have encountered playing in first-class and international cricket. Two expert South African cricket broadcasters and authors, Mo Allie and Aslam Khota, relay these stories and their impact as the guests of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller on their latest cricket-themed podcast.


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Mo sets out their context:  last year’s passionate statement on BlackLivesMatter by Michael Holding, the suggestion from the pace bowler Lungi Ngidi that the South African team should discuss taking the knee, the subsequent backlash from several white former players, and the dramatic revelation by Makhaya Ntini of his alienation from the South African team as his real reason for running alone from the hotel to international grounds rather than sitting with them in the bus. The South African Cricket Board set up hearings through the Social Justice Nation-Building project, under a respected advocate and ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza. Many players have given testimony, nearly all black, although a few white players had submitted defences of their words or conduct, including Mark Boucher, accused by Paul Adams of insulting him viciously in a team song.

Among others, Ashwell Prince had revealed how black players were regularly blamed for any South African defeat and disparaged as “quota players”, selected for racial balance rather than ability. Khaya Zonda had suggested that he was a victim of bias by A B de Villiers.  Taken together the testimonies showed the depth of feeling among black players that they were not considered part of the national team.

Aslam conveys the special shock caused by Makhaya Ntini’s revelation, as a sporting icon renowned for his public persona as a fun-loving extrovert. He suggests that this released the spate of testimony from other black players. He explains the process and powers of the SJN inquiry: the Board will ultimately decide what to do about its recommendations. He doubts that these will lead to sanctions against offenders but believes that they will guide the next generation of South African cricket administrators to create a better team culture. The issues raised by the black players were already being discussed, itself a major change from the past. Mo reveals that the SJN inquiry has already gathered 3000 pages of evidence.

Aslam suggests that the issues raised were missed in the 1990s amid the euphoria of South Africa’s emergence from apartheid as a rainbow nation and its early international sporting successes. In spite of the “transformation charter” of the late 1990s (in which former podcast guest André Odendaal had played a major role), South African cricket managers had not done enough to prepare for the major cultural changes needed to create genuine integration in South African cricket. Mo suggests that white South Africans generally had not taken account of the pervasive psychological impact of apartheid, in which every single aspect of life was determined by the racial group to which a person had been assigned.

Mo assesses the current state of opinion within South Africa on the SJN inquiry. Whites are divided between those who seek to atone for apartheid and those who think enough has been done, the issue is past: if whites are marginalized by further hearings South African cricket would collapse into the state of Zimbabwe’s. The vast majority of black opinion wants more testimony from the inquiry and sanctions against those found to be racist, especially the dismissal of Mark Boucher as national coach.

Aslam explains why élite white-dominated schools are still the pipeline for provincial and international recognition in sport for all races because of the facilities and coaching they offer and their scouting and recruiting systems for promising players in lesser-endowed schools. He blames the government for its long neglect of sport in state schools in townships, where physical education was actually dropped as a subject in the late 1990s. One product of this neglect was South Africa’s modest medal total at the recent Olympics – three (all by white athletes), equalled by tiny San Marino with a population of 33,000.

Aslam enlarges the background to the white backlash against Ngidi’s seemingly innocuous comments on taking the knee, particularly the three former players concerned, Brian McMillan, Pat Symcox and Botha Dipenaar, who appears to have been especially influenced by the violence against white farmers. The issue of taking the knees became a strong marker of division. Mo reveals that when Graeme Smith and Faf du Plessis later took the knee at an international event they received fierce abuse and even death threats from other white South Africans. There is now no consistent team policy on taking the knee or on any other gesture in support of black people in the world. Aslam expresses hope that the newly appointed South African Cricket Board will show leadership on this under its respected chair Lawson Naidoo.

Mo shares more of the stories from Paul Adams, Mark Boucher’s main accuser, and Boucher’s admission and acknowledgement of his lack of cultural awareness. He sets out Ashwell Prince’s upbringing in a cricket environment of strong opposition to apartheid. Despite his achievements he was never made to feel welcome in the supposedly unified South African team, and was constantly treated as a “quota player” and a regular victim of selectors’ caprice.

Mo picks out two white former players who have made a special effort to support and inspire young black cricketers in the townships: Vince van der Bijl and Gary Kirsten. They have set an example to other white players on how to address the long poisoned legacy of apartheid.

Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 64: Who needs the Hundred when Two Hundred Parents Start Playing Cricket?

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne, Richard Heller

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast is produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

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Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Episode 17: Afghanistan – A rehash of imperialism

Writer and broadcaster Mihir Bose, Economics editor of the Sunday Times David Smith and political commentator Nigel Dudley, aka The Three Old Hacks, discuss Afghanistan in their podcast this week.

“The great opinion makers and intellectuals have once again failed us” says Mihir.

“When the West intervened in Afghanistan two decades ago they were all for it and made no critical examination whatsoever.

“Now, apart from blaming Joe Biden… they have not really examined why the West has failed…”

“The West has squandered billions propping up corrupt Afghan politicians who can then build villas in the Middle East… The US diplomatic cables which have emerged from Afghanistan show how corrupt the regime was”.

“The fact is we have not done a regime change, we have not built anything there”.

The whole sorry adventure was, he says, just “a rehash of imperialism”.


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Listen to more episodes here.

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing threeoldhacks@outlook.com, we’d love to hear from you!

Collections in Chiswick for Afghan refugees

Image above: Collection for Afghan refugees at Chiswick Village

There have been several collections in Chiswick this week for Afghan refugees arriving from the chaos of Kabul. This one, pictured above, was organised by Scott Christy Jones and his wife Natasha at Chiswick Village. They got in touch with the charity ACAA after reading James Thellusson’s piece on The Chiswick Calendar last week about how we as individuals can make a difference in the face of an international crisis of the scale of the fall of Afghanistan.

READ ALSO: Afghan refugees – Can I make a difference?

Both the ACAA and West London Welcome have now launched appeals (see below).

Ruth Cadbury MP told The Chiswick Calendar that her office, like that of many other MPs, had been “swamped” with pleas for help from Afghans either still in the country or here, trying to get family members out.

She and her staff have been collecting information to pass on to the Foreign Office, but she fears their requests have just added to huge number of emails which have remained unopened. She has UK nationals from her constituency stranded now in Afghanistan, with no way of being able to help them.

Image above: Collection for Afghan refugees at Chiswick Village

People of Chiswick “beyond generous”

Scott Christy Jones and his wife Natasha organised a collection at Chiswick Village on Saturday for ACAA, the Afghan and Central Asian Association, based in Feltham. The charity has  experience of helping Afghans settle and integrate in this country.

“The residents of Chiswick Village and Chiswick on the whole were beyond generous” Scott told The Chiswick Calendar. “Natasha and I were very much “finger in the air” in regards to how well supported it would be and were more than happily overwhelmed at the response”.

They collected about 200 bags and boxes. The pictures here show only about half of what they ended up ramming into the van. They sorted it into labelled categories once they got to Feltham.

“Was the largest donation, by quite some distance, that the ACAA have received. As the wife and I unloaded the van that we hired they were taking female hygiene products, toiletries, nappies etc straight off us to rush to the hotels.

“Our delivery, in combination with dozens of individuals dropping items off that we saw as we emptied the van, has helped them out no-end in regards to immediate help”.

Image above: ACAA awarded Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2018

The charity has told The Chiswick Calendar that the refugees are now in hotels around Heathrow, where they are in quarantine. The hotels aren’t accepting clothes, only toiletries and they have now set up a crowdfunding site so they can raise money to match the specific needs of families.

crowdfunder.co.uk/afghancrisisfund

So far they have reached £11,816 out of a target of £20,000. They are also looking for volunteers who can help with sorting through the donations of clothing and toiletries they’ve received and giving support and guidance to refugees already here, who come to their drop in centre. They provide training for volunteers and are looking for people with particular skills, including admin support. Call Sheekeba on 07445 038974.

Image above: West London Welcome

Housing “the big problem”

The Home Office has been using west London hotels during the pandemic to house refugees and asylum seekers. West London Welcome, based in Hammersmith, also offers support.

“Some people come to us with absolutely nothing” volunteer Lesley Thompson told us. “What the Home Office provides is very patchy and piecemeal”.

There have been reports about the poor quality of food and tiny portions given to refugees by hotels. West London Welcome supplies them with food, clothes, toiletries and other necessities as well as providing advice on housing, legal and immigration matters.

Their appeal is here: HelpUsHelpNewArrivals

Volunteer Lesley Thompson told us the big issue will be housing:

“The shortage of housing is a massive problem. There’a a shortage of housing for local people, as well as people we should help, like Syrian and Afghan refugees”.

LB Hammersmith & Fulham has offered to house newly arrived refugees from Afghanistan, but leader Steve Cowan has said it cannot be at the expense of those already waiting to be housed.

A spokesman for Hammersmith and Fulham Council said:

“Hammersmith and Fulham has agreed to take in families in need from Afghanistan and we’re currently discussing how we can help with the Home Office.”

Image: Cllr Steve Curran

Leader of LB Hounslow Cllr Steve Curran told The Chiswick Calendar they had no council housing to give newly arrived refugees.

“Because of the size of the families they will need three, four or five bedroomed houses. They come to use through a clearing system.

“First they will go to hotels but ultimately we’ll be reliant on the private rented sector”.

They are on the look out for anyone willing to rent their house to provide a home for refugees.

“As a borough which celebrates and welcomes diversity, we have a proud history providing sanctuary to those fleeing violence and terror, supporting their settlement in the UK and helping integrate them into our communities.

“The Government also needs to play its part by adequately resourcing the new settlement scheme and financially support councils who want to do everything possible to welcome refugees” he said.

MPs “unable to help”

Image: Ruth Cadbury MP

Ruth Cadbury MP told The Chiswick Calendar her staff had been working flat out trying to deal with the number of cases both from Afghanistan and from her constituents in Brentford & Isleworth who have family members there.

One of the cases she has been dealing with is a family of 16 – that of a man whose brother was killed by the Taliban, so his family has become part of his own. His brother was working for the Afghan government forces. The Taliban are now searching for him.

“We have about 300 cases and each one represents a family. There are four UK nationals from my constituency that I know of who didn’t get out – a middle aged couple with health problems who were there visiting family. They were due to come home when Kabul fell. Their flight was cancelled and they weren’t physically able to get to the hotel collection point.

“Another case is a father and young child. He has children here and was trying to get his other child out, who has been living with grandparents. He too has health problems and wasn’t able to get to the airport carrying his child.

“I have four British nationals that I know of just from my constituency who haven’t got out, so Boris Johnson’s claim that they’ve managed to get nearly all Btritish nationals out cannot be true”.

Ruth and her staff have been collecting information – names, ages, passport numbers – and emailing the information to the Foreign Office. The Guardian revealed last week that thousands of urgent messages from MPs and charities had not been read by the end of the UK evacuation from Afghanistan. They were just sitting in the inbox, unopened.

“The most depressing thing now is the complete silence from the Home Office” she told us. There have been several briefings for MPs, but fewer available to Labour MPs than to Conservatives, she said.

Former head of the British Army General Lord Richard Dannatt has accused the Government of being “asleep on watch” over the Afghan crisis.

“We should have done better, we could have done better, and it absolutely behoves us to find out why the Government didn’t spark up faster.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick optician starts specialist testing to catch early signs of eye disease

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Workers return to Chiswick Business Park

One of the major changes in Chiswick as a result of the pandemic has been the peace and relative quiet of Chiswick Business Park. Normally there are crowds of workers streaming across the road to and from Gunnersbury tube station at the beginning and end of the working day.

The workers are set to return over the next few weeks. Pam O’Toole has been talking to Matt Coulson, CEO of Enjoy-Work, which manages the Park, who told her he is expecting the workers to return in force.

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Chiswick Business Park expecting  double the number of workers on site in the next two weeks

Since Covid hit, the majority of its workers have been based at home, but Chiswick Business Park has not entirely been a ghost town:

“It’s been 18 months of frustrations for everyone,” says Matt Coulson, CEO of Enjoy-Work, “but the Park has remained open throughout the whole pandemic.”

The multi award-winning Park is home to a number of big household names. Their “guest” companies include Paramount, Starbucks, Pernod Ricard, Pepsico, Danone, Pokemon and Singapore Airlines.

He points out that some are 24/7 operations, and therefore have needed access to their buildings throughout. These include Discovery, which bought the European TV rights to the Tokyo Olympics, the shopping channel QVC and medical/ security company International SOS.

He admits that only a fraction of the ten thousand or so office workers are currently on site, but he senses things are gearing up for a wider return.

“Compared to how busy the Park was pre-Covid, about a third of people are back” says Matt. “We’re expecting that to double in the next two weeks. From September, talking to the guest companies, the vast majority of them are coming back in much bigger numbers. So we’re looking forward to another big uplift and a busy September, October.“

Image: Matt Coulson, CEO Enjoy Work

Vaccination “personal choice”

So what can returning workers expect in terms of safety measures? As the infection rates mounted in the spring of 2020 and the government made available a breakdown of the figures in local areas, Chiswick Park often had a higher number of infections than other wards in Chiswick, but given the size of the workforce they could have been a lot higher.

At the beginning of the outbreak, Matt points out, the Park was ahead of the curve.

“It was through the relationship we have with our guest companies we heard about Covid, ahead of it really hitting the UK”, he says. In late 2019 he received a tip off from a director of a guest company which had offices in China – a potential problem was looming. As a result, the Park started preparing early. It introduced sanitisation and social distancing measures at the end of January 2020, well ahead of any Government Covid measures being introduced, and individual guest companies began changing their working practices.

Since then, his team has followed government guidelines. They’ve also held a series of presentations showing guest companies what’s being done to keep the environment safe, including using very high-grade filters to clean the air. As for on-site vaccination policies, that’s pretty much up to individual companies. Asked about his estate management company’s own policy, Matt says:

“We don’t enforce double-vaccination, we recommend it. It’s down to personal choice.

“We’ll continue to work with each of the guest companies and we monitor very closely how many people are occupying each of the buildings, and how things are working around the estate. We have a range of measures in place within the buildings, as do guest companies. If anything changes, guidance-wise, then we’ll make sure we adapt and change as well. But for now the buildings are safe – everyone’s happy using them.“

Images above: Chiswick Business Park – photograph Jennifer Griffishs; Crane on a pod – photograph Silvia Boncompagni

New companies moving in

I wonder whether the Park ever be quite the same again, given the massive shift towards working from home during the pandemic?

Again, it’s all down to individual company policy. But, according to Matt:

“With regards to flexible working, to be honest I’d say that most companies on this Park have been doing that for years and years anyway. So it’s no different to what it was pre-Covid. That will continue – people will work some days in the office, some from home. It may have a very small impact, but it is only a small impact. ”

It’s perhaps a tribute to the Park, which has featured regularly in the Financial Times’ Top Great 50 Places to Work, that Matt says only one company has left during the Covid period, and that company’s planning to return within the next two years. Meanwhile, new companies are still moving in – Pladis, whose brands include McVitie’s and Jacob’s, now has its global head office in the Park.

An announcement is expected in the next week or so about another new tenant. Meanwhile Building 12 is currently being refurbished. Matt Coulson confirms that Richmond, The American International University in London, is one of a number of organisations potentially interested in moving in there.

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Workers returning to the Park will find a number of small changes. The owners of the popular café next to the Virgin Gym have decided to call it a day and will not reopen their doors. But returning cyclists will find a lot more services on offer. Bicycle parking spaces have been massively increased, and there are now cycle repair stations in every building, plus a cycle shop.

Measures like this are likely to further burnish the Park’s reputation as one of the most user-friendly places to work in Britain. Twenty one years after opening, it’s still continuing to attract awards.

Occasionally the Park hits the headlines for other reasons. During the summer of 2019 a couple were filmed having sex in one of the Park’s outdoor meeting pods. The story created headlines as far away as Australia. I can’t resist asking Matt Coulson about it – were the culprits ever identified?

“It was just two local residents who were walking through the Park and unfortunately broke into a pod and moved on very quickly afterwards,” he says. “Unfortunately it was out of hours on a weekend and it wasn’t anyone who actually worked on the park. But the police were able to deal with it.”

Image above: Chiswick Business park zipwire

Zip lines and fireworks

They’ve also not made themselves popular with local residents in recent months. Members of the West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Residents Association, whose houses back on to the Park, raised objections when Enjoy Work applied to LB Hounslow for a licence to hold bigger functions more regularly. They got their licence, but were told they had to set up regular meetings with residents to liase.

READ ALSO: Council approves large scale events at Chiswick Business Park

They will recognise some of the faces. West Chiswick and Gunnersbury Residents Association were behind a long fight to get the bridge built at the northern end of the business park, to relieve the pressure on Gunnersbury station. It took several years to achieve, but with typical panache, the bridge that was built is stylish and attractive.

Chiswick Business Park occasionally opens its doors to the public. Over recent years, more adventurous locals visiting Chiswick Business Park have watched with envy as crash-helmeted office workers whizzed over their heads on a 300 metre zip line. In pre-Covid times, the zip line, which runs over the Park’s central lake, was one of the many perks available only to employees of the 75 companies based there.

This September, with the Park gearing up for a return to work, the zip line is back. And, for the first time, daredevil Chiswick residents are being given the opportunity to try it out. You can book your slot, for one day only – Friday 10 September, here. Tickets are £10. Times: 10.00 am – 5.30 pm.

Matt Coulson says the move to make the zip line available to the public is in response to requests from the local community. A “nominal fee” of £10 per person will go towards running costs.

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

He also told The Chiswick Calendar that the Park’s very popular free fireworks display, suspended last year because of Covid, is due to make a comeback. Scheduled for Thursday 4 November, he says:

“It will be a ticketed event, which we haven’t done before, and there will be a large number of tickets available for the community.”

Tickets will be free, but the number of people allowed to attend will be smaller. Enjoy-Work says the event will run at around two thirds of the 2019 capacity. The tickets are not on sale yet.

Meanwhile Matt says the Park’s Christmas lights are expected to go up a few weeks earlier than usual, and there will be a few activities open to the community during the Christmas period.

All this seems to indicate a gradual return to normality, or at least semi-normality, eighteen months on from the first lockdown.

Image above: Chiswick Business Park; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man charged, alleged to have contaminated food with syringes

See also: Work about to starton Barnes Bridge walkway

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Anger as LB Hounslow increases traffic restrictions in south Chiswick

Image above: Google Streetview image of the A316 alongside Chiswick School.

The decision by LB Hounslow to add more restrictions to the Grove Park Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme has caused uproar amongst residents.

The Council has restricted entry to Staveley Rd and Burlington Lane from the A316. The entry to Burlington Lane from the A316 will be a ‘hard closure’ – ie. the road will be blocked, allowing no access from the A316. The entry to Staveley Rd from the A316 will be restricted between 08.00 am and 5.00 pm to permit holders and local buses only, meaning that Chiswick residents living east of the A316 will now need to drive up to the A4 and round to Sutton Court Rd to get into Grove Park by car (Hartington Rd beside Chiswick Bridge is already restricted to permit holders only).

Residents within the Grove Park and Fauconberg CPZ areas will be entitled to register on an exemption scheme which will allow them to use Staveley Road to access or exit the A316 at all times.

Image: Map showing the detour residents east of the A316 will have to make to get to Chiswick rail station by car

Image: Cllr John Todd

“I’ve been receiving calls all day” Cllr John Todd told The Chiswick Calendar, after the news was announced on Friday 27 August.

“People feel isolated and disenfranchised. If you live in Edensor Rd or Staveley Gardens and you want to take your old mum to the train station or the doctors opposite, you now have to drive all the way round”.

Residents and businesses in the Grove Park and Fauconberg Controlled Parking Zone areas, and Staveley Road allotment holders will be eligible for permits. Permit holders will be able to access Staveley Road at all times. Burlington Lane will allow exit-only traffic onto the Great Chertsey Road (A316).

People’s feelings about LTNs are very much coloured by the schemes’ impact on their own particular street. In one road people are up in arms. Cross the road and they’re quite happy. Condemnation of Hounslow’s latest changes was by no means universal. Boris Pomroy Tweeted:

‘Delighted to see #SchoolStreets made permanent, has made such a positive difference in my bit of Grove Park. And great to hear @LBofHounslow listening to residents and enhancing Chiswick School restrictions. Fewer cars = Safer, healthier kids’.

Paul Campbell, who campaigns for safe cycling, Tweeted:

‘Massive victory for active travel and healthy streets. Bold and innovative set of schemes’.

Clover Summers Tweeted:

‘Thank you to @LBofHounslow transport team and councillors for a bold decision. Policies that tackle the climate crisis and public health don’t have to be popular to be right’.

New restrictions aimed at correcting huge increase in traffic on Sutton Court Rd and Burlington Lane

The decision was made by the Council to try and deal with the extra traffic on those roads, caused by the introduction of LTNs in Grove Park.

The south Chiswick Liveable Neighbourhood project was introduced in 2020, to try and reduce rat running through the area. Traffic measurement studies have shown that overall there is less traffic coming into Grove Park from the A316, most streets are quieter and residents on those streets are largely happy about the changes.

Image above: Google Streetview image of Burlington Lane

The studies also show that there’s been a huge displacement of traffic from Staveley Rd, where a barrier was introduced, onto Burlington Lane and Sutton Court Rd. Michael Robinson analysed the figures for The Chiswick Calendar a couple of weeks ago:

‘The greatest effect has been on Burlington Lane west of Staveley Road. In the September 2019 and September 2020 surveys this had about 2,500 vehicles a day. In the June 2021 survey, this had increased by about 4,100 vehicles to 6,600 vehicles a day…

‘Displaced traffic now travelling via Burlington Lane to Sutton Court Road has produced an increase of about 2,600 daily vehicles on Sutton Court Road south of Staveley Road from about 7,900 to 10,600 vehicles per day. However traffic on Sutton Court Road north of Staveley Road shows a decrease of about 1,100 vehicles from about 11,700 to 10,600 vehicles per day.

‘This indicates an overall reduction of traffic from the A316 to the A4 through Grove Park, but a main route has changed from Staveley Road to Burlington Lane. The barrier at Staveley therefore hasn’t been sufficient to deter drivers (or SatNavs) from using the route via Burlington Lane instead. There is a difference of only 0.2 miles between the length of the two routes’.

READ ALSO: Traffic data shows effects of traffic restrictions on south Chiswick 

Image above: Staveley Rd in spring

A new residents group has been set up for people who live in these two roads to try and persuade the Council that their ‘Low Traffic Neighbourhood’ has made matters much worse for them and to introduce an alternative system using ANPR cameras instead.

Tim Munden, of the Burlington Lane and Sutton Court Rd residents group told The Chiswick Calendar “150 homes have been blighted by what the Council has done. Shutting Staveley Rd is an inadequate response. It’s closed between 08.00 am and 5.00 pm but the rush hour starts at 07.00 am and goes on well after 5.00 pm. This is just like playing traffic Whack a Mole”.

He and fellow residents were outraged when LB Hounslow’s traffic officer Jefferson Nwokeoma said at a public meeting that increased traffic on Burlingon Lane was “a price worth paying” if it meant less traffic on Staveley Rd. He finds it much more dangerous now for cyclists using Burlington Lane and points out that Transport for London’s own admission E3 buses are taking longer to get down the road, adding more pollution.

Image above: Chiswick School from Staveley Rd

School Streets made permanent

Key to this decision is the position of Chiswick School, which is bordered by the A316 to the east, Burlington Lane to the west and Staveley Rd to the south. It was never the intention that there should be increased traffic around the school. In the first iteration of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood scheme, introduced in 2020, Staveley Rd was closed to non permit holders around drop off and pick up times.

Chiswick School will benefit from an enhanced scheme, the Council says.

‘New School Street trials were introduced at 23 schools across the borough during lockdown last year. These schemes will now remain in place.’

Cabinet Member for Transport, Hanif Khan, said:

“School Streets help to improve road safety for pupils, parents, and teachers on their way to and from school, promoting walking, cycling, and reduce pollution in the area around schools”.

Streetspace schemes made permanent

The Council has announced that several of the Streetspace schemes introduced in Chiswick are being made permanent. These are the schemes at Duke Rd, Dan Mason Drive, Wellesley Rd, Stile Hall Gardens, Strand on the Green / Thames Rd, Hartington Rd, Harvard Hill and Staveley Rd / Park Rd.

Other schemes in Brentford and Isleworth are also being made permanent.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Man charged, alleged to have contaminated food with syringes

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

 

Chiswick optician starts specialist testing to catch early signs of eye disease

Image above: Optomap image of a retina

Failing sight is one of the curses of old age, but if caught early, in many cases deterioration can be slowed. A Chiswick optician has invested in specialised testing equipment that can pick up the early signs of eye disease and is working in partnership with one of the country’s top eye surgeons to provide treatment locally.

The most common causes of loss of vision in the elderly are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. It’s basically wear and tear that in different ways reduces our ability to see clearly, but the word ‘elderly’ is perhaps misleading here, because people begin to show the early signs of these conditions in their sixties.

Independent optician The Eye Studio in Chiswick High Rd has used the pandemic period to invest in some very sophisticated equipment which allows them to diagnose all three.

Image above: Andrew Harman with The Eye Studio’s specialised testing equipment

An Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scan enables them to see a cross section or 3D image of the retina and scrutinise the macula, which processes sharp, clear, straight ahead vision. This is helpful for diagnosing macular degeneration and glaucoma.

An Optomap Retinal Exam is an ultra-widefield retinal examination, a revolutionary diagnostic tools which uses a ‘glorified camera’ says Eye Studio founder Andrew Harman, to give them a documented photograph of the back of the eye. “The images help them to diagnose eye conditions, treat and monitor them”.

I’m tempted to call it ‘cutting edge’ technology, but given this is testing which may lead to laser surgery, that seems a little glib.

Image above: Eye testing; OCL Vision

The Eye Studio is working in partnership with eye surgeon Ali Mearza, who carries out laser surgery at his Harley St practice and meets patients for follow-up appointments in his Chiswick office.

Andrew and his partner Nick hope that they will be able to diagnose many more cases of eye disease early on, because patients come to them for routine check-ups and new glasses; they aren’t having to go out of their way to get a test and aren’t waiting till the symptoms make it apparent that they need one.

They also think that by passing patients on to a consultant with whom they work with regularly, who gives consultations in Chiswick every few weeks, the partnership will take a lot of the stress out of the process.

Images above: Consultant eye surgeon Ali Mearza, OCL Vision

Ali Mearza is a consultant opthalmic surgeon who specialises in laser eye surgery – cataract surgery, corneal surgery and vision correction. While his main clinic, OCL Vision, is in New Cavendish St, in the Harley St enclave of medical specialists, he keeps an office in Chiswick because it’s much more convenient for patients from west London to come there for follow up appointments

Recognised as one of the best eye surgeons in the country, he has 18 years’ experience and divides his time between his private clinic and working for the NHS at London’s Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

He told me people start getting cataracts in their sixties and seventies. “Everyone gets one eventually if you live long enough” and 70% people in their sixties have them to some degree. Treatment for cataracts is a relatively straightforward surgery.

Glaucoma is a condition that affects the optic nerve.

“Glaucoma affects the field of your vision. You lose peripheral vision gradually. With testing, we can pick it up before you even realise you have it”.

“The real benefit of opticians screening is that it can be picked up early and treated to prevent further damage. Otherwise patients can go blind from it.

Images above: Andrew Harman; Glasses on display at The Eye Studio

An early adopter of The Eye Studio’s new testing facility is Liam Robinson, 53, who has been coming to Andrew and Nick for years.

Image: Liam Robinson

“I went for an eye test because I wanted some new glasses. Andrew explained he had this marvellous machine which can reveal anomalies, so I decided to do it and consider it money well spent.

“I like the idea of catching things early. I used to use computers a lot so I got into the habit of having regular eye tests every two years. Now I work as a voice coach, peering at an ipad in dark studios and on film sets and my eyes are tired at the end of a day.

“This is a service that’s right on your doorstep. You pay a bit more for it, just over £100, because these machines are jolly expensive, but you feel secure; it’s a collaborative experience. They show you everything and explain everything. It’s almost like you were visiting a specialist eye hospital.

“They saw something which they said is probably nothing to worry about, but I will be going back in a few months to check it out. I’m telling all my neighbours they should go and do it.

“I popped in the other day to get my glasses adjusted. The girl I spoke to knew my name, which says a lot about the kind of people they employ and the kind of place it is. Rather than going into Boots and giving a big corporation your money, why not support your local independent optician?”

Contact The Eye Studio

229E Chiswick High Rd, Chiswick, W4 2DW
Tel: 0208 742 8536
eyestudio.co.uk

Contact OCL Vision

Mr Ali Mearza MB BS FRCOphth
55 New Cavendish St, W1G 9TF
Tel: 0203 369 2020
oclvision.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Caring for people in their own home now much more popular

See also: Chiswick lifeboat crew returns in second season of BBC documentary

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Chiswick Lifeboat crew returns in second season of BBC documentary

Image above: Saving Lives at Sea

The lifeboat crew of Chiswick RNLI will be featured on BBC Two on Tuesday 31 August in a new series of Saving Lives at Sea.

Rescue footage captured on helmet cameras gives a frontline view of how the charity’s volunteers risk their own lives as they go to the aid of those in danger.

Now in its sixth series, the 10-part documentary showcases the lifesaving work of the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crews and lifeguards from around the UK and Ireland. The series will air on BBC Two on Tuesdays at 8.00pm, and on BBC iPlayer after.

The documentary includes emotional interviews with lifeboat crews and lifeguards, the people they rescue and their families.

Tuesday’s episode (31 August) sees Chiswick and Teddington RNLI crews assisting in the attempted rescue of a young whale stranded at Richmond lock, alongside rescue stories from their colleagues at other stations around the coastline of the UK.

During 2020 RNLI lifeboat crews around the UK and Ireland aided 8,374 people, saving 239 lives, while the charity’s lifeguards helped 25,172 people and saved 110 lives on some of the UK’s busiest beaches.

Image above: rescue footage captured on volunteer’s cameras gives a frontline view of how the charity’s lifesavers risk their own lives

RNLI chief glad to showcase their ‘lifesaving work’

Thames Commander Andy Mayo, helm of the Chiswick lifeboat crew featured in the upcoming episode, said:

‘It’s great that we can showcase the lifesaving work of RNLI volunteers in a TV programme like this. We provided safety cover to the marine mammal specialists from British Divers Marine Rescue and some of our crew were able to assist under their direction.

‘The RNLI depends on the generous support and donations from the public, and it’s great to be able to share what we do with our supporters from the comfort of their own home’

Saving Lives at Sea begins on 24 August at 8.00 pm on BBC Two, and will continue throughout September and October.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Whale stuck at Teddington Weir put down

See also: Tideway Tales: Coastal Connections

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Work about to start on Barnes Bridge Walkway

Work is about to begin on building the new Barnes Bridge Walkway, which will create a continuation of the tow path on the north bank of the River Thames by going underneath Barnes Railway Bridge.

Currently the Thames Path in Dukes Meadows is curtailed by the bridge and pedestrians and cyclists using it face a long detour which takes them away from the river, taking a route through a narrow tunnel under a railway bridge before looping back to the river.

According to Chiswick Cllr John Todd, who has overseen the project on behalf of LB Hounslow, the new walkway is expected to be finished by April or May 2022.

Dukes Meadows is one of the largest open spaces in London, offering open access to the Thames via the Thames Path. The new walkway promises views of the river and the Dukes Hollow nature reserve, a natural tidal foreshore that contains diverse waterside flora and is home to two nationally rare snails.

Images above: Barnes Bridge 16 February 2021, CGI rendering of the Barnes Bridge Walkway by Moxon Architects 

‘Excited would be an understatement’ – Cllr John Todd

The project has received cross-party support from Hounslow Council. Cllr Todd told The Chiswick Calendar that they’d had to overcome various hurdles:

“The start of the building is a culmination of months and months of research, submitting reports, getting permission from the railway, the Port of London Authority, various nature related matters and the Environment Agency as well as searching for Second World War bombs.”

Initially the Port of London Authority objected to the number of upright pillars proposed, which they said would have been a hazard to rowers and other river traffic.

Asked whether he was excited for the bridge to be completed, Cllr Todd that would be an understatement:
“We have a tremendous contractor and team of officers and I’m really thrilled we’re starting work.”
He said the walkway would be made with high-quality materials and finishes, fitting its prominent position along the Thames. It was designed by Moxon Architects, who are “at the cutting edge of brickwork design and creativity”.

Image above: Cllr Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Leisure Services, with Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council (centre), and Cllr John Todd (second from left) joined by Council officers and contractors as construction work begins. Photo: Hounslow Council

Councillor Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council, said:

“The bridge has been designed to maximise views across the river and provide easy access for wheelchair, mobility scooter and pushchair users.

“By improving access, we believe it will make a big difference to the many people who visit this beautiful area.

“It’s a dazzling design and will allow people to experience this part of the Thames in a completely new way.”

The bridge is part of the Dukes Meadows Masterplan, a series of proposals to improve the park’s facilities for sport, transport and access.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: More tower blocks planned for Bollo Lane

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Man charged, alleged to have contaminated food with syringes

Police have charged a man in west London after he allegedly injected an unknown substance into food products in three supermarkets in Fulham. Leoaai Elghareeb, 37, is alleged to have contaminated the items using syringes.

The three supermarkets, Little Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express, all on Fulham Palace Road, remain closed as officers from the Metropolitan Police continue to investigate. Shoppers are being advised to bin anything bought after 6.00pm on the evening of Wednesday 25 August from these branches. Customers who suspect they have purchased contaminated items should contact the police via the non-emergency 101 referencing CAD 6341/25AUG.

Leoaai Elghareeb was arrested on the evening of Wednesday 25 August on suspicion of contamination of goods with intention of causing public harm or anxiety. Earlier he had been witnessed shaking and verbally abusing people in the street.

The Met originally believed that only foodstuffs, specifically cooked meats and microwaved meals, had been contaminated, but now believe non-food items have been affected too.

LB Hammersmith & Fulham are working with the Metropolitan Police and Public Health England to examine any risks to the public or staff at the supermarkets. Currently, the council said, these risks are thought to be low.

Images above: Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express on Fulham Palace Road cordoned off by police

Police looking to identify the contaminant

Detective Chief Superintendent, Owain Richards, in charge of policing in Hammersmith & Fulham said:

“I acknowledge the public concern around this incident. Investigations are underway to understand what items have been contaminated, but we now know this includes food and non-food items.

“Enquiries are also ongoing to identify what the items have been contaminated with and this is subject to further forensic examination. We would ask people not to speculate until we have these results.

“We have not had further reports of the type of incidents brought to our attention and we are continuing to work on establishing the timeline of this man’s movements and the wider circumstances of these events.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Former Hammersmith music teacher convicted of 32 sexual offences

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Inside the Griffin Brewery

Summer 2021 has so far proved to be full of firsts for me- first COVID vaccinations, first time seeing England in a EUROs final and now, after having lived in Chiswick for over 20 years, a first visit to the home of my local beer, the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery.  Perhaps best known for their signature London Pride, Fuller’s distribute to pubs across the country and export to over 80 countries worldwide. Their beers have consistently earned praise from ale drinkers and awards from groups such as the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), with brewery tours themselves earning excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and through word of mouth. I figured it was high time I paid it a visit.

For this venture I sought the company of one Keith Richards, a friend of mine and former column writer for The Chiswick Calendar. Keith happens to be very knowledgeable about the brewing industry, having worked in the Guinness breweries in Nigeria for many years. It was perhaps surprising, then, that Keith had never done the tour himself, despite also living in Chiswick for over a decade. We booked ourselves in for the Friday 4.00 -6.00 pm slot, an often popular time as its a fitting way to kick off the weekend. (Saturdays are even more popular, so its worth booking well in advance).

The brewery occupies an impressive spot in the heart of Chiswick, just off the Mall. With its gargantuan chimneys and wrought iron gates, it is easy to draw parallels with Roald Dahl’s fictional giant chocolate factory. For my brother and I growing up, it was a source of fascination, with its lorries going in and out and its exotic smells being exhumed, so I felt a gleeful sense of anticipation knowing I’d finally see inside the walls.

The tour experience itself begins in the shop, just off Chiswick Lane South. Our guide, John, greets us and our fellow tour group before issuing us with our accreditation and high vis vests. We’re shown to the Hock cellar where we’re able to leave our bags and jackets (highly recommended, especially if its a hot day, as there’s a bit of climbing involved). From here we’re shown the vast timeline of the Fuller’s story which gives an early sense of the extensive history of the business.

Image above: The formative Fuller, Smith and Turner partnership

Centuries of fine-tuning

Brewing in Chiswick has a life which far predates the arrival of the Griffin Brewery. Prior to the 17th century it was not uncommon for large households to produce their own beer. The gardens of Bedford House in Chiswick Mall was one such brewhouse, which was acquired by Thomas Mawson in the late 1600s (after whom the adjacent pub, now sadly closed, is named).

The business then expanded until the 19th century, when the owners, Douglas and Henry Thompson and Phillip Wood, were forced to seek a new partner. John Fuller, of Wiltshire, was approached to inject capital into the venture. Eventually in 1845 Fuller’s son, John Bird Fuller was joined by Henry Smith from the Romford Brewery and his brother in-law, lead brewery John Turner which formed the union of Fuller, Smith and Turner. This date is celebrated by the eponymous ale which remains ever popular to this day.

Image above: A former pump used for groundwater extraction (note the London Pride flower behind)

By contemporary standards it’s amazing just how beer much Londoners drank in previous centuries. In fact, the brewing industry used so much water that groundwater is actually several times higher today than it was during its heyday. That’s surprising considering that some nine million people now live in London, almost 13 times the number living here in 1750. Water was much more heavily taken from groundwaters using pumps which can still be seen on site today, although they are no longer in use.

The 20th century is when things really ramped up at the Griffin. The brewery’s ales started to win acclaim. Chiswick Bitter first appeared in 1930, followed by London Pride in the 1950s and ESB in the early 1970s. Fuller’s attracted a steady stream of praise from CAMRA and other high profile admirers. Prince Charles added a handful of hops to a copper of 1845 in his 1995 visit. It is unsurprising then that when Asahi bought the Griffin brewery in April 2019, there was a collective intake of breath – a big Japanese multinational taking over a traditional English brewery with 200 years of family history attached to it? What next?

Well not much, it would appear. The big boss, CEO Akiyoshi Koji came over from Japan to assure the assembled workforce that he’d bought the company because he liked it exactly the way it was. Far from changing the name or dropping beers off the sales list, Asahi said they wanted to take the well-loved Fuller’s brands and market them better, across their extensive worldwide network. From what I discovered, the only major change has been a downsizing of staff at the premises, as most marketing executives now work from Asahi’s main offices offsite, so the factory is now mainly staffed by brewers and tour staff. Clearly then, the heritage of the business remains in good hands.

Image above: The simple(ish) guide to brewing

Into the Brewhouse

After a brief introduction to this rich history, the tour guide brought into the main brewhouse which is where the bulk of the tour takes place. A very informative, and much appreciated diagram (to the uneducated beer drinker, like myself) gives an outline of the entire process from start to finish. It resembles those great systems you’d encounter in your biology or geography GCSEs – the many inputs and outputs of a glacier system, or of photosynthesis in plant cells. It is as much a biological process as it is a mechanical one, as subtle temperature differences can cause fundamental changes in flavour and even the type of beer produced. Helpfully then, the tour largely follows the process in chronological order, winding its way upwards through the vast facility.

Image above: the Old Copper

At a very simple level, beer is formed from malted barley, a lot of water, hops and yeast. The process starts with grains (in this case barley), which are processed through heating and drying. This milled malt, called grist, is added to huge vats called Mash Tuns which are mixed with hot water, resulting in a sweet liquid known as wort (pronounced wert). The wort is moved to a Copper where hops are added first for flavour, then for aroma. We’re shown a variety of hop varieties used for the different products, which come in the form of pellets. Notably some are described as having ‘chocolate’ characteristics, again encouraging the Roald Dahl imagery (maybe that’s just me).

As we reach this area it’s easy to see how the historic buildings can have their drawbacks as well as blessings. The temperature rise is striking, and we’re told these rooms can be quite unpleasant on hot days, so it’s definitely a good idea to bring a bottle of water if you go on a tour. The oldest copper, installed in 1823 and last used in 1984, had a boiling capacity of 160 barrels which is small by today’s standards. John informs us that these vessels used to be cleaned by the youngest, often adolescent members of the teams.

This would be no easy task, as peering inside you get a sense not just of the confined space, but also the temperature, which would have been quite unbearable. Thankfully, we’re told that the young lads would be rewarded with extra tokens for pint of wheat beer. Questionable by today’s standards perhaps, but the alcohol would be low and the alternative was probably a rather putrid version of ‘water’. The coppers in use today are made from steel and are almost entirely automatic, though hops – and honey for Honey Dew – are still added manually.

Our tour then takes us onto one of the most crucial parts of the process. After the mixture is cooled, it is then moved to a fermentation vessel where yeast is added, which ferments the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. It’s at this stage where most of the final product is decided, depending on the length of the process. For example Frontier lager is stored for longer at cooler temperatures and vice versa for ales. There are great eerie hisses from the machinery, and so its comforting that all guides carry CO2 monitors to make absolutely sure the group is safe when navigating the facility. After several days in these fermentation vessels, spent yeast is then collected and used for products such as Marmite.

Images above: part of the Fuller’s collection, John providing samples in the cellar

Tasting success

The final stage of the process is packaging, either in casks, kegs, or bottles, which are then sent to a fleet of lorries for distribution. Each method of storage has a particular process of its own – although we don’t witness this first hand as from here we’re offered a choice: either to get a glimpse of the kegging process, or to make an early descent to the tasting rooms. Naturally, being the last slot on a Friday, our group votes for the latter and we head back to the Hock Cellar. 

John switches from tour guide to barman so naturally its hard to believe he’s the newest member of the team (although still with a solid five years at the Brewery). Offering us samples of all the many varieties, its hard to know where to start. I decide to go for the lighter options of Honey Dew and Oliver’s Island, which are very refreshing after the heat of the main rooms. Keith, being partial to darker lineup, goes for the HSB and London Porter.

For the remainder of our slot, we’re free to explore the caverns and memorabilia of the museum, or sample as many different varieties as we so wished. We have a lovely chat with fellow local Chiswick residents who’ve also never done the tour before, and share stories of our experiences in the area. After a generous 40 minutes of unlimited tasting, we’re returned to the shop where we return our accreditation and are free to browse the wide range of beer, t-shirts and more.

So, with our minds considerably more knowledgeable about brewing and stomachs pleasantly lined with our chosen brews, we left with a new sense of respect for Fuller’s and West London’s heritage. It’s a scientific marvel, perfected over centuries and undoubtedly one of great success stories of modern production.  Even as an old hand, Keith found the historical aspects fascinating, so we both agreed it was time well spent. Of course, having got the taste there was only one thing left to do. We went straight to The Raven for a pint of Pride.

Club Card offer

The tour is an absolute must for anyone who’s serious about beer, or brewing as a whole. Better still, a Chiswick Calendar Club Card will get you 15% off the £20 ticket price of a tour, as long as you go into the shop to book it and show your Club Card (ie. you can’t access the discount when booking online).

The brewery shop also offers Club Card holders 15% off anything on sale in the shop except spirits.

The shop’s opening hours at time of writing are Tuesday to Saturday, 10.00 to 6.00 pm and Sunday 12.30 to 6.00 pm. The tours operate Tuesday – Thursday and Saturday at 11.00 am, 12.00 pm, 1.00 pm, 2.00 pm and 3.00 pm. On Fridays, they offer tours at 10.00 am, 11.00 am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm, 2.00pm, 3.00pm, and 4.00pm.

Image above: The Brewery Shop

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Jazz at George IV, dates for autumn 2021

See also: Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

More tower blocks planned for Bollo Lane

Image above: CGI of the entrance at 93 Bollo Lane (Picture credit: Alistair Downie)

A planning application for part residential, part commercial tower blocks on Bollo Lane has been submitted to LB Ealing.

The buildings will contain 96 flats ranging from 1 to 3 bedroom with commercial space on a mezzanine and lower ground floor level. 33% of these units will be classed as affordable with a mix of shared ownership and affordable rent.

The applicant says that the commercial space on the site will be increased by 50% and will be suitable for smaller businesses and include communal facilities such as conference rooms. There will be roof terraces and a private gym on the 10th storey of one of the blocks for use by residents.

The applicant, Bollo Property Developments Limited, has designed the scheme so that it would be able to incorporate a further development of the adjacent site at 95 Bollo Lane. The documents submitted with the applications state that negotiations are under way to acquire this site.

A public consultation was held in May 2021 about the project, which resulted in no material changes to the original design. At present, the application is listed as ‘Pending Consideration’.

If approved, work on the developments is due to commence in September 2022 – with the completion date due in September 2024. The project is set to cost between ‘between £2m and £100m’ to complete.

Image above: artists impression of developments at Bollo Lane (Picture credit: Alistair Downie)

Residents concerned

Iceni Projects are managing the public consultation on behalf of Bollo Property Developments Limited. As part of the consultation, Mill Hill Park Residents Association, Ealing Civic Society and Acton Green Residents Association were contacted regarding the proposals.

Each group were invited to fill out a public consultation set up by Iceni and were asked and to contact the consultation team if they had any requests for more information or would like to discuss the plans further. Residents responded with their concerns about the proposals, with the main five reasons being daylight & sunlight impact, impact on views/overlooking, the height of the building, traffic pressures and over-development.

Residents said the proposed development was ‘yet another high-rise crammed into an over-developed part of Ealing’ and would ‘significantly [impact] on the privacy of houses in the area’. Others said there was ‘bound to be more traffic along Bollo Lane’ the development were to be built, which would threaten to create a ‘vastly over-crowded road.’

Iceni reviewed all feedback provided and ‘responded to the main issues’ brought up during the consultation. They did not address concerns about over-development in the area.

Developer seeks to ease residents’ fears

In response to sustainability and traffic concerns, Inceni’s consultation team said:

‘The sustainable location of the proposed scheme, with close links to public transport, will discourage the use of cars. Residential parking is blue badge only, this equates to 4%. A limited number of commercial parking spaces will be provided to help facilitate deliveries, and servicing. Bike storage will also be provided to promote sustainable methods of transport.’

On impact and views and overlooking, they said:

‘The proposed design has been carefully considered in order to minimise any impact on immediate neighbours regarding privacy. The building massing has been set back from the southeast boundary to create separation between the existing and proposed residences that is typically 30+m (wider than many streets).

Iceni added the rear of the building would be made from obscured glass ‘for additional privacy’ as well as many of the windows along the southeast elevation looking out along the length of the railway tracks, rather than toward the neighbouring properties.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Bollo Lane ‘monster tower’ approved

See also: Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Roman artefacts found at site of new Brentford development

Artefacts, including a coin dating back to Roman times, have been found in Brentford, following a three-month archaeological project.

Archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), commissioned by LB Hounslow, carried out an excavation on the site of the Brentford Project, the housing development planned for Brentford High Street.

They were looking to see whether the site was of any archeological interest before the builders broke ground. Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd has been appointed to construct the Brentford Block D development, which will include 96 council rent homes and 12 retail units, with work due to start in the autumn.

Among the finds were two 17th century cellars with fragments of ceramic vases and whole vessels, as well as hearths that are all believed to date back to the Roman era.

The museum will use the excavation of the site as a ‘springboard’ for young people in local secondary schools to learn about archaeological processes and techniques, including how archaeology can be used to understand the changing patterns of settlement, trade and development in the local area over the centuries.

MOLA are hoping to host an open event for local residents and families to raise awareness about local archaeology and help people learn more about Brentford’s heritage uncovered through the excavations.

Image above: Site where was believed to be a crossing’ along the Brentford stretch of the River Thames; photograph courtesy of Vocal Eyes 

Brentford’s rich archaeological history

The latest discoveries in Brentford are part of a rich history of archeological findings in the area, which all act as proof that people have been living here since prehistoric times. Remains of hyena, hippo, ox, red and giant deer, bison and straight tusked elephants from the Palaeolithic period have been recovered in the past, together with flint tools.

Thomas Layton, an artefacts and antiques collector, lived in Brentford between 1826 and 1911 and served on various local bodies for about 50 years. A tankard from 150 BCE, as well as brooches and a yoke terminal from a chariot are part of the Layton Collection, which is described as ‘probably the largest collection of London antiquities ever amassed by a single individual’.

During 54 BCE Julius Caesar invaded southern England. Sir Montague Sharpe, amateur archaeologist and a member of what was then Middlesex County Council, put forward the theory that Brentford was the site where Caesar and his army crossed the river, during his second expedition to Britain. 

Caesar wrote about the banks of the Thames being fortified with rows of sharpened stakes during his invasion, and rows of sharpened stakes were discovered on the northern bank of the River Thames when it was being dredged to make Brentford Dock in the 19th Century. 

London was established as the Roman capital in 50 CE. From that point on, the main route out of London to the west ran through Brentford.

Images above: artefact found at the dig

Historic items “Fascinating to see”

Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Steve Curran has visited the site. He said:

“It was fascinating to see the historic items found on the site and great that MOLA will use them to work with local schools so they can learn more about Brentford’s rich history. As well as helping conserve the past, we are looking to the future with a new development that will bring much needed homes and businesses to the area.”

Image above: Councillors Theo Dennison and Steve Curran at the dig site

Sophie Jackson, Museum of London Archaeology Director of Developer Services, said:

‘Brentford High Street is rich in archaeology and MOLA is delighted to be able to uncover and share the stories from many different periods in the history of occupation on this site over the last two thousand years.’

Matt Kemp, Senior Operations Manager at Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd said:

“There is always added interest to a project when artefacts are found prior to construction. With these now unearthed and preserved, we are excited to get started on the main construction and look forward to bringing the latest phase of the Brentford Waterside development, known as Brentford Block D, to fruition.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Meanwhile in Brentford

See also: Artists At Home 17 – 19 September

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Meanwhile in Brentford

Image above: The old soap factory in Catherine Wheel Rd, now home to the Duke of London vintage car showroom and Santa Maria pizza restaurant, amongst others; out front, the silver caravan of hair stylist Timothy David

Brentford has looked dreadful for years. Locals have become inured to the boarded up buildings and huge hoardings everywhere but unless you knew Brentford well, you’d think that’s all there was.

The Brentford Project is now under way, with phase one of the new town centre being built, as witnessed by the towering cranes overshadowing the hoardings. Phase two, the old soap factory in Catherine Wheel Rd (aka the Blue Road, since it has been painted blue) is full of ‘meanwhile’ businesses – a cluster of cool, arty places which have sprung up in the old industrial landscape, happy to take a short term lease in scruffy accommodation until the time comes to demolish the lot.

Image above: Creative Mile venues, The Museum of Water and Steam at Kew Bridge; the Musical Museum; The Loft

This will be the focal point of an art trail, ‘Creative Mile‘, celebrating the work of Brentford’s artists over the weekend of 3-5 September, with work being shown in the Duke of London Vintage car showrooms, the Loft studio space, the Ballymore event space and the nearby community of artists on Johnson’s Island. It’s a great venue for art because there’s plenty of space with an ever changing landscape of interesting things to look at, good food and live music.

The Creative Mile starts at the Museum of Water and Steam by Kew Bridge, continues with work on show at the Musical Museum, Watermans and Studio Flox beside it, and finishes in Catherine Wheel Rd.

Gwen Shabka, who is promoting the event and showing her own photography, told The Chiswick Calendar that Brentford has a thriving artistic community which normally operates under the radar. The opportunity of a bit of funding came along and this is a chance to show off what a vibrant place Brentford actually is.

Images above: The Duke of London; James Bannister at Naturally Aspirated Wines; downstairs cafe

The McCormacks

The McCormack family are at the centre of operations in Catherine Wheel Rd. Merlin McCormack, 27, started his Vintage car business in 2014 with car show rooms in Lionel Rd before the Brentford Community Stadium was built. As the diggers moved in they shifted the vintage cars to the old soap factory in Brentford and the business has expanded quickly. He works with his brother Algy, a talented metal worker, and his father Lance, a Classic car restorer, who each have their own businesses on the site.

There’s a huge appetite for Vintage cars, Merlin told us, which is currently under served in west London. He’s created a classic car hub, a destination for owners to come and socialise, eat pizza, hang out and talk about cars. The Porsche owners club meets once a month, buying a £10 ticket to raise money for charity.

Merlin bought his first car at the age of 11, a Peugot 205 that had failed its MOT, which he bought for £31. His mother Annie had to go and pick it up for him. He got it done up and sold it on for £500 and acquired a taste for the car trade.

Image above: Annie McCormack outside the Brewery Tap 

Annie used to run an estate agents in Ealing, but now runs The Brewery Tap, a Fuller’s pub a couple of hundred yards away from the car showrooms, which she took over in November 2019, bringing it to life with an eclectic mix of live music and good food – Santa Maria pizzas.

The Santa Maria pizza restaurant is above the car showroom and serves authentic Neapolitan pizza. Twice voted best in London by Time Out, with restaurants also in Fitzrovia, Fulham and Ealing, you can sit in the restaurant or order from the pub. They also do takeaway.

“Their first pizza shop was in South Ealing Rd. I took the boys there when they were little. They opened here last summer” Annie told us.

Images above: The Duke of London

There are some 40 businesses in the old soap factory building now. It’s a huge space, with the Duke of London showrooms at the front, a coffee shop, a wine bar selling naturally aspirated wines and the Santa Maria pizza restaurant above. Tucked away in the back there are also fashion brands, a Burlesque costumier, a seamstress and a tailor about to open. There’s also a cobbler, a bicycle repair shop and an e-bike shop.

The shiny silver caravan out front belongs to Timothy David, the hair stylist who has actress Gillian Anderson amongst his clients. That was supposed to be hush hush, says Merlin, but then she very generously tweeted about it.

Images above: Gwen Shabka series Light Graffiti

The Creative Mile

More than 60 artists will be taking part in the Creative Mile.

The Duke of London will feature exhibitions by two local photographers, Gwen Shabka and Jam Patel, with the upper level featuring an exhibition of highly-textured abstract paintings by local artist Sam Carroll. Upstairs also Lance McCormack, founder of Romance of Rust, will be showing his ‘Voodoo Art Car’.

The outside space will have work by Tom Morley, formerly of Scritti Politti, whose Chalked Car is his canvas. Near the water’s edge Sue Cooper’s life-sized caricature figures will be cooling off in a paddling pool.

Images above: Sue Cooper’s Summer Party; artworks by Mr Mr Pearce in the Loft; Tom Morley’s Chalked Car

Developer Ballymore’s vast industrial events space will be featuring work by artists from Redlees Studio, and The Loft art studio, opposite the pub will have the work of local artist and Creative Mile co-chair ‘Mr Mr’ Pearce and fellow artists.

Take the trouble to cross the footbridge to Johnson’s Island, where you will discover the work of collage artist Sam Dodson, amongst others. Sam is a former band member of  ‘Loop Guru’ and the ‘Transmitters’;  his work has appeared on album sleeves and has been featured in books and magazines on Dada and Surrealism.

Images above: Boatyard at Dock Rd with the Ballymore car park in the background; The Brentford Project event space; overhanging shed near Dock Rd – photographs, Gwen Shabka

You can see all the artists taking part in Creative Mile and where to find them on the trail on the Creative Mile website.

creativemile.org

Image above: Map showing the route of the Creative Mile

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists At Home, 17 – 19 September – Artist Allegra Mostyn-Owen

See also: Artists At Home, 17 – 19 September – Artist Helga Stentzel

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Fundraiser launched for Chiswick House’s outdoor play area

Chiswick House has launched a fundraiser to pay for their new outdoor play area.

‘We know you love our playground and so do we’, they say.

‘We want to create a safe and inviting place for families to relax and kids to enjoy nature. As well as new equipment that encourages explorative play, we want to plant more trees, shrubs and plants to provide more scent, colour and shade and develop an outdoor learning programme for families.

‘With contributions from Chiswick House Friends and several generous donations from individuals we’ve already raised £35,000 to carry out essential repair work to reopen the playground and install a new sandpit and swing.

‘We need to raise an additional £100,000 to fund:

 

Ambitious plans for the playground

‘We know how important our outdoor spaces have been over the recent months, providing a sanctuary and lifeline for exercise, fresh air and mental wellbeing. We want to do more but with the cancellation of weddings and events due to Covid, our funds are severely depleted. We’ve had to prioritise our spending on essential maintenance, taking away from us being able to fund other important projects such as this one. We need your help more than ever to make this a reality.’

How can you help?

  1. Donate today: Chiswick House needs your support, now more than ever. Simply click on the ‘Donate today’ button to contribute.
  2. Spread the word: Share your support via social media using #welovechiswickhouse
  3. Feedback Help guide Chiswick House with the next stage of their plans for families and complete the survey here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists At Home 17 – 19 September

See also: Jazz at George IV, dates for autumn 2021

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Episode 64: Who needs the Hundred when Two Hundred Parents Start Playing Cricket?

Cricket authors (and obsessives) Peter Oborne and Richard Heller launched a podcast early in 2020 to help deprived listeners endure a world without cricket. They’re no longer deprived of cricket, but still chat regularly about cricket topics with different guests each week – cricket writers, players, administrators and fans – hoping to keep a good line and length but with occasional wides into other subjects.

Annie Chave is the founder and editor of County Cricket Matters magazine and a regular contributor to Guerilla Cricket. Rob Eastaway is a writer, lecturer and cricket-lover who produced a clear and witty book explaining cricket’s mysteries called What Is A Googly? as well as several explaining the mathematics behind such everyday mysteries as why buses arrive in threes. They are joint trustees of a new charity called the Googly Fund which supports adult recreational cricket. They describe its origins, purpose and successes as the latest guests of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their cricket-themed podcast. In Peter’s unavoidable absence, Roger Alton replaces him as co-host.


More Platforms

They begin by reviewing the English season to date, especially the recent introduction of the Hundred competition. Annie attacks the scheduling which has sated this part of the season with white-ball cricket at the expense of red-ball and made it much harder for England to repair its Test match performance after the debacle at Lord’s. She also deplores the devaluation of the Royal London Cup (successor to the historic Gillette Cup.) However, she hails the exposure the Hundred has given to women’s cricket and the income it has belated given to its players. Rob expresses his concern that the Hundred could become the popular template of cricket as the form exposed on free-to-air television. He notes that live T20s matches, domestic and international, have never been shown on free-to-air television and may therefore be as unfamiliar to people under-30 as Test cricket. He wonders what the season will look like in five years’ time, and whether and how spectators will go on from the Hundred to discover other forms of cricket without free-to-air coverage of them and given the expense of being a live spectator. They both express concern about the loss of county identities in the new Hundred teams, especially for the counties not serving as hosts.

They hail the superb catch by a spectator at Hundred match at Headlingly – and suggest that as in baseball he and others like him should be allowed to keep the ball.

They praise the Hundred for explaining the proceedings to non-aficionados better than other forms of the game.

Rob describes his love of adult recreational cricket and his motivation for supporting it through the Googly Fund, especially his fear that recreational sides were getting older and squeezed out of fixtures by competitive league cricket. He and Annie highlight some of the clubs which have benefited and the various forms of help given, especially in the provision of kit for new, younger players who do not have any, and including support for umpires, scorers, ground staff and tea-makers.

One especially successful initiative targeted parents and carers of primary school children in South London and enlisted no fewer than 200 into returning to cricket or even taking it up. It has overcome the fear by some players of embarrassment over their performances, and has some special rules to guarantee a role in the game for everyone. Rob believes that this model could be rolled out across the country and the charity has launched the Primary Parent Challenge for similar groups based around primary schools with a minimum grant of £150 for start-up expenses. Annie hails the sheer enjoyment of the game being encouraged by the Fund, a quality which has led her recreational club (the Erratics of Exeter) to record numbers of members and as many as sixty matches a season.

Full details of the Fund, including how to apply for a donation or make one, can be found on googlyfund.co.uk It especially welcomes applications from under-represented and disadvantaged cricket communities, such as the refugee team it recently supported in Kent.

Rob has donated the royalties from his book What Is A Googly? to the Fund: the newest edition reflects the growth of T20 and women’s cricket. He describes his research into the origins of the term “googly” and some other arcane terms, and both he and Annie suggest the inevitability of replacing “batsman” with gender-neutral “batter”, despite its American baseball resonance. They both cite their least favourite modern cricket expressions.

There was not nearly enough time for Rob to explain the Duckworth-Lewis system for giving results to foreshortened matches. But he outlines the mathematical reasoning behind it and sets out his own idea for involving the umpires and captains to restore some of the human factor in resolving the match.

Get in touch with us by emailing obornehellercricket@outlook.com, we would love to hear from you!

Listen to more episodes of Oborne & Heller

Previous Episode – Episode 63: South African cricket – still haunted by its unacknowledged legacy of white supremacy

Listen to all episodes – Oborne & Heller on Cricket

Peter Oborne, Richard Heller

Peter Oborne has been the chief political commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, a maker of several documentaries and written and broadcast for many different media. He is the author of a biography of Basil D’Oliveira and of Wounded Tiger, a history of Pakistan cricket, both of which won major awards.

Richard Heller was a long-serving humorous columnist on The Mail on Sunday and more briefly, on The Times. He worked in the movie business in the United States and the UK, including a brief engagement on a motion picture called Cycle Sluts Versus The Zombie Ghouls. He is the author of two cricket-themed novels A Tale of Ten Wickets and The Network. He appeared in two Mastermind finals: in the first his special subject was the life of Sir Gary Sobers.

Oborne & Heller cricketing partnership

Jointly, he and Peter produced White On Green, celebrating the drama of Pakistan cricket, including the true story of the team which lost a first-class match by an innings and 851 runs.

Peter and Richard have played cricket with and against each other for a variety of social sides, including Parliament’s team, the Lords and Commons, and in over twenty countries including India, Pakistan, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France, Greece, Australia, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Morocco.

The Podcast is produced by Bridget Osborne and James Willcocks at The Chiswick Calendar.

Read more on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

The Hothouse Cafe Chiswick loses business over a mistake on a form

Images above: The Hothouse Cafe, 448 Chiswick High Road; Mezze plate

The Hothouse Café on Chiswick High Road offers a selection of fusion Levantine cuisine originating from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Morocco whilst also serving everything you would expect in a British brunch spot (The Hothouse English Breakfast, Chiswick themed pancakes, omelettes, Gourmet Burgers).

Owner Samy Amer has taken a traditional greasy spoon cafe and revamped it – both the decor and the menu. He is happy for you to while away the day in his cafe, working on your laptop. There are plenty of plug points and free, ultrafast broadband.

Whether you fancy hummus and falafel or a mixed grill, an easy start to the morning over coffee, or a bit of live music and a cocktail in the evening, Samy welcomes you. Open 8.00 am until 11.30 pm Sunday to Thursday and until 12.30 am Friday and Saturday.

Images above: Full English breakfast; falafel and hummus; Halloumi kebab

A mistake on a form

The cafe lost business recently due to adverse publicity which was based largely on a mistake. Samy filled out a licence application form wrongly, suggesting that he wanted to sell alcohol from 07.00 am, whereas all he actually wanted to do was to open as normal for breakfast and serve alcohol for a little longer than he had been, from 11.00 am onwards.

Several residents and councillor for Turnham Green ward Joanna Biddolph objected to the application on the grounds of prevention of public nuisance from the loud music, and the prevention of crime and disorder resulting from the extended hours alcohol would be available for sale.

An officer from Hounslow Council went to visit him. The matter was cleared up. At the licensing panel it became clear that he’d made a mistake in the application and that the complaints of noise were actually about other hospitality places nearby. Cllr Biddolph apologised to him, Samy told The Chiswick Calendar.

His neighbours, including those who live directly above, sent in their testimonies that the little noise which emanated from the cafe was quite bearable and his new licence was duly granted.

READ ALSO: Extended opening hours for The Hothouse Cafe approved

Images above: Eggs and salmon; pancakes; fruit

But the whole palaver has affected his business, so we are delighted that Hothouse Cafe is joining the Club Card scheme, offering Club Card holders 20% off food and drink all week long and we hope that will bring him some new customers.

We have it on good authority they do a cracking full Egyptian (vegetarian) breakfast including falafel and hummus as well as mixed grills, burgers and steaks in the evening.

One Tripadviser review says:

‘Lovely food, great service, not expensive and the pancakes really are brilliant. The owner is a lovely man and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming … I love this place’.

Club Card offer

The Hothouse Cafe offers Chiswick Calendar Club Card holders 20% off food and drink all week, including on takeaways if you come and collect (not if you have it delivered).

Image above: The Hothouse Cafe, 448 Chiswick High Road

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick has one of the top pizza restaurants in Europe

See also: Chiswick Cheese Market recognised as one of the best food markets in Britain

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

 

Chiswick’s only fully vegan cafe – Parlé Pantry

Image above: Parlé Pantry sisters Dee and Ruken

The only thing I can’t do is soya/oat/coconut milk in my tea. There I draw the line. I have tried and it’s just not the same. Otherwise this fully carnivorous meat-and-two-veg raised troglodyte could thrive quite happily on the delicious home made vegan fare of the Parlé Pantry sisters.

My particular favourite is their Borek – Filo pastry filled with potato – a Turkish dish from Ruken and Dee’s native land.

They set up Parlé Pantry in 2018 at 97 Chiswick High Road, on the corner of Cranbrook Rd, (where previously there was a Turkish lighting shop). Vegetarian from the outset, it has evolved into a completely vegan cafe, serving 100% plant based hot and cold food. As far as we’re aware, it is the only fully vegan cafe in Chiswick, at time of writing.

Images above: Parlé Pantry Lentil Wellington; avocado salad; falafel wrap

“A few people come in and look horrified when you mention the word ‘vegan’ and leave the shop quickly but a lot of our customers now come here because they know our whole menu is vegan. Others just like the food and aren’t bothered what it is, they just come back” says co-owner/ manager Dee.

She and Ruken prepare fresh food every day, using what’s seasonally available in the main. At the moment they’re offering a choice of six salads from a recipe book of 100, changing the menu every two days.

Images above: Parlé Pantry salads

“Every day we prepare fresh salads – two protein (quinoa, green or red lentil or beans) two carbs (potato, rice or bulgar wheat / buck wheat millet based) and two green salads (French beans, broad beans, cabbage salad, cauliflower, broccoli – whatever vegetables are in season)”.

Dee and Ruken offer standard breakfast fare – croissants and pastries, warm banana bread, porridge and granola with fresh fruit and plant based yoghurt. They have a large range of teas from all over the world, and bottled juices.

Images above: Parlé Pantry breakfast options

They serve savoury dishes such as Cornish pasties and Mexican ‘sausage’ rolls made from red beans, tomato, onion and carrot, falafel wraps and a Lentil Wellington instead of a Beef Wellington.

Throughout the autumn and winter they made different soups – Watercress, roasted tomatoes and carrot and butternut squash for example.

Images above: Parlé Pantry daily soups: roasted tomato; watercress; carrot & butternut squash

They have some lovely cakes as well. You can sample them with your coffee in the cafe or order a special occasion cake.

“People want to eat more healthily”

Dee told The Chiswick Calendar the move to go completely vegan was a response to the feedback they were getting from customers during lockdown, many of whom had decided they wanted to eat more healthily.

Lockdown also prompted Dee and Ruken to progress the business in other directions. They now sell provisions – lentils, organic oats, rice and walnuts for example – and they deliver. The cafe is open every day of the week – Monday to Saturday from 08.30 – 5.00 pm; Sundays from 09.30 – 3.00pm.

They also sell art work – prints of acrylic paintings of stars from the world of entertainment: music and movies, and photographs of scenes of London.

Rather nosily I asked Dee why she’d moved to Britain and was rewarded with an answer I didn’t expect. “The weather” she said, with a burst of laughter. She’s allergic to strong sunlight, which is something of a hazard in Turkey. Here, not so much.

Images above: Parlé Pantry cakes

Club Card offer

Parlé Pantry offers customers 10% off anything at the cafe. The Chiswick Calendar Club Card can also be used in conjunction with their own loyalty card.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick has one of the top pizza restaurants in Europe

See also: Chiswick cheese market recognised as one of the top food markets in Britain

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Afghan refugees: can I make a difference?

Guest blog by James Thellusson

My daughter suggested Unicef. My son was for donating to Care4Calais, a refugee charity he has volunteered for.

‘At least, we know they make a difference,’ he said.

It was Thursday morning, the day after the BBC Question Time Special on Afghanistan. The programme had made us feel ashamed and angry at what was happening there. Like thousands across the country, we were asking ourselves: what we can we do to help?

There was no shortage of options to do something. There were several appeals already up and running from charities and international agencies to help Afghans trying to evacuate from this dangerous and chaotic situation. Charities were fast to launch campaigns. A cynic might say they were more fleet of foot than the government.

But I was hesitant to jump in and respond to the first charity appeal I saw. Sure, it would be a perfectly reasonable way of quickly translating empathy into action. But would it be the best thing to do?

‘Hasn’t an Instagrammer in the US just raised $4m but been exposed as having no experience in helping evacuees?’ said my daughter.

‘That’s exactly what I’m worried about,’ I said. ‘There are lists on Twitter a mile long of organisations to support. But how do we know they’re any good?’

I called an old friend Richard Williams, who worked in Brussels for the European Council for Refugees & Exiles and is now a consultant in the asylum field. I wanted to get his view on what to do.

‘There are lots of organisations doing great work but in different areas. So, there’s no right or wrong decision,’ he said. ‘You just have to decide what is important to you. For example, do you want to help people who are heading here or those who remain in Afghanistan?’

It hadn’t occurred to me there was anything I could do to help those who remain in the country. But there is. The International Red Cross have 1800 staff there who are staying in Afghanistan to support the Afghan Red Crescent running local aid, hospital and other humanitarian projects. The UNHCR in Iran and Pakistan is helping Afghans to flee into these countries. Maybe supporting them would help mitigate the mess we are leaving behind?

Images above: Afghan refugees in Pakistan

Helping refugees within the UK

‘What about helping those in the UK?’

A lack of decent housing is one of the biggest problems which Afghans coming here will face. The Refugee Council has reported on several cases of poor housing and the mistreatment of asylum seekers by landlords and hoteliers.

‘Many asylum seekers will find themselves put up in disgraceful conditions. Cramped, damp and unhealthy accommodation where most people wouldn’t keep their dogs.’

Which is why charities like Refugees At Home who find people homes or rooms in decent homes, are worth supporting, and West London Welcome, which supplements the pitiful help newly arrrived refugees receive from the state.

READ MORE: About Refugees At Home

But according to Richard there’s an underlying problem, which this new crisis will expose. If we want to look.

‘There’s a lack of quality housing, especially in London and the South East. On top of that the Housing Allowance is not enough to allow people to live in decent accommodation, though this isn’t a problem just for migrants. It’s a problem for thousands of ordinary British folk: single parents, the homeless, the poor.’

I asked Richard who else he would recommend locally. He knows the Afghan and Central Asian Association (ACAA), which is based in Feltham.

‘Organisations like them will be critical in helping Afghans settle and integrate,’ he said.

I spoke to Dr Nasimi, founder of the Afghan and Central Asian Association. Although they are based in Feltham, their work reaches beyond the boundaries of Hounslow. His organisation is keen for help. Lots of it.

‘The situation in Afghanistan is shocking. But people shouldn’t feel paralysed by the scale of the situation. We need your help now to help the Afghan people. There are lots of ways you can help – donating money, time or other resources like clothes. You can make a big difference to helping Afghans settle and integrate in this wonderful country.’

His biggest worry is resource.

‘Our biggest challenge right now is staff. We are inundated with calls from the Afghan community and from people wishing to help. But I need ten people right now to manage the demand we are facing. Volunteers with experience in administration, fund raising, immigration issues and advocacy are especially welcome.’

Image above: Afghan refugees

I wondered what the local authority were doing about the crisis. Hounslow Council lists a set of charities with experience of helping refugees and asylum seekers on its website. There are useful contacts there if you want to follow Hounslow’s guide.

Ealing Council has a central contact point. Several charities said to me it is really helpful if you don’t just send them stuff willy-nilly. Contact them first to make sure they need what you have. They don’t want to put people off donating but neither do they want to be swamped with material which they don’t need.

The Conservative Group on Hounslow Council have welcomed the government’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme which was announced on August 18th. It has urged Hounslow Council to do their bit in supporting the government with this programme. Their housing spokesperson rightly highlighted housing as a key need to be addressed. However, at the time of writing, the Government had not yet published any details about the resettlement scheme, its size and how it would work.

The Refugee Council recognises this as an important first step, but emphasizes that that is all it is:

‘It’s important to recognise, however, that a new scheme alone is not sufficient because there will be many Afghans who are already having to take dangerous journeys to reach safety in the UK so this government must also immediately expand eligibility for family reunion enabling family members who have relatives in the UK to travel safely to join their loved ones.

‘The Home Office must suspend any returns of people to Afghanistan, and also quickly decide all asylum claims from Afghans who have arrived in the UK independently, including reviews of those who have previously been refused, as the country is clearly not safe for them right now’.

The scale of the challenge

So, did any of this research help? Yes and no.

Yes, because it clarified where I wanted to make my small contribution. I would support a charity dealing with the fall out on the ground in Afghanistan, who might help the people there over the longer term. And I would support another helping the challenges of integrating newcomers coming here.

No, because the more I’ve learnt (which is not much, I admit) the more I’ve realised we are conning ourselves if we think taking in 5,000 Afghans this year is warm hearted and generous. It isn’t. Ruth Cadbury, MP for Brentford & Iselworth, says:

‘The refugee resettlement programme does not go nearly far enough and the 20,000 over five years … does not meet the scale of the challenge.’

This position is supported by other opposition parties. The closer you look at the ‘hostile environment’ we’ve created over the years and the way we currently treat asylum seekers the more cruel and heartless it looks. Last week Caroline Lucas, the Green MP, said we have ‘a failed asylum’ system. From what I’ve learnt in the last few days, I’d agree.

The way to change that is ultimately political, though I am also tempted to support a charity like Detention Action which helps some of the 20,000 people held in indefinite detention fight back against a larger and more powerful state.

So much for ‘big picture’. There’s a pressing need now. One of the greatest fears for the charities and agencies dealing with the new Afghan arrivals is maintaining the interest and support of the British people. Tragedies come and go. Interest wanes. So, I leave the last word to Dr Nasimi.

‘The British people have been very generous so far. But please don’t stop. We will need your help and generosity over a much longer period: to help integrate and settle people here.  This takes time and needs on-going support.’

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also:  Emery Walker’s House opens its first exhibition

See also: A new way to shop online but buy locally

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Artists At Home 17 – 19 September – Artist Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Image above: By Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Artists At Home is back. The Open Studios which has been a feature of life in west London for decades was online only last year and postponed from its usual date of June this year because of the pandemic.

Now they are back ‘stronger than ever’, with 93 artists showing their work in their homes and studios in Chiswick, Acton, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush over the weekend of 17 – 19 September. Among them are painters, graphic artists, potters, jewellers, photographers and artists who work with textiles and mixed media.

Image above: By Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Allegra’s work is made from altered wheel-thrown vessels with sculptural additions as well as utilitarian bowls and plates. Natural forms and elements, archaic patterns and glyphs all fascinate her, and she experiments widely.

Allegra has attended various adult education centres across west London. She said she has been inspired by Inspired by a residential stint at Wenford Bridge under Seth Cardew and greatly improved her observational skills over years of attending Jan Buckley’s life drawing classes. This helped her to develop her sense of form and colour, Jan’s life sculpture classes made Allegra explore shapes and honed her modelling skills.

Allegra said: ‘My work was on display as part of a show celebrating adult education inspired by the collections at the Victoria & Albert museum. I have taught ceramics to children of all ages in a challenging environment.’

Nicholas Vester, collector, said: ‘Allegra Mostyn-Owen’s ceramics do many things: they cast new light on old forms, sinuously re-creating and re-blending the ancient and the modern; sexy and original combinations of colours and glazes make one see familiar things anew. In all of it there is a feeling of vitality; actually of growth in some, and the dynamism of form is creatively combined with a true and delightful feeling for colour.

‘Allegra’s ceramics seem each to tell me fragments of different mysterious stories – elemental, primal, joyful, witty and at times threatening, dense, unsettling and eerie. Her pieces are underpinned by a satisfying classicism of form. Each one conveys an almost mythological, archetypal tale drawn from the infinite beauties and terrors of life on earth.’ Sarah Sarhandi, musician and collector.

Images above: By Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Artists at Home was the first event of its kind in London – founded by artists Julian Trevelyan and Mary Fedden in 1973.

‘Last year we were forced to show our work online only for the first time in our history. This year we are excited to welcome you into our homes and studios in person once more’.

You can browse the artwork available on the Artists At Home website.

www.artistsathome.co.uk

Image above: By Allegra Mostyn-Owen

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Artists At Home 17 – 19 September

See also: Jazz at George IV, dates for autumn 2021

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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‘Protected Characteristics’ Cycleway 9 survey is “for everyone to take part in”

A survey launched by LB Hounslow on the impact of Cycleway 9 is for “everyone to take part in” despite being aimed primarily at people with ‘Protected Characteristics’.

Supporters of the cycle lane have accused members of the One Chiswick group, who oppose the cycle lane, of ‘gaming’ the survey by encouraging their members to submit responses, regardless of whether or not they fit the ‘Protected Characteristics’ criteria.

But Hounslow’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Hanif Khan, has told The Chiswick Calendar this doesn’t matter. He told us:

“If everybody from One Chiswick completed it and they put in lots of information, then they’re entitled to do so. But what I want to clarify, is that we would be in a position to be able to look at the survey to see if there are any new issues that have arisen that we haven’t already considered.

“Ultimately it is for those groups who that certainly need to be protected… those with disabilities, those who suffer from autism … Those are the people we really want to complete the survey and if they’ve got those characteristics, we should be able to identify their needs.”

Images above: ‘Elderly People Crossing’ symbol, Cycleway 9 July 2021

Survey launched to find “hazards council may have missed”

The whole point of the survey, Cllr Khan said, was to identify potential risks or hazards posed by the project which the council might have missed – risks which specifically affect people who have ‘Protected Characteristics’, as stated in the 2010 Equality Act. The most relevant here are age, disability and pregnancy, which might affect vision and speed of movement.

The Cycleway 9 project, led by Transport for London, aims to provide a safe cycling route between Kensington Olympia and Hounslow. Part of the route was introduced on Chiswick High Road in December 2020 between the junctions with Goldhawk Road and Heathfield Terrace.

Hounslow Council is now introducing changes to it, which will be considered temporary, experimental and the subject of consultation for the next eighteen months.

Criticisms of the two way segregated cycleway include the risks it poses, especially to elderly and disabled pedestrians in Chiswick crossing the road and the risk to bus passengers who now have to cross the cycle lane to get to a bus island to board their bus.

An Equalities Assessment Report presented to the Hounslow Council Cabinet in July stated that the design of the Cycleway is within statutory guidance, including for bus islands and that the council has attempted to engage with groups representing the elderly, the partially sighted and people with other disabilities.

The council says the design of bus islands follows a blueprint adopted following extensive studies and trials, such as the Transport Research Laboratory trials between 2015 and 2018. The trials involved in-depth on street monitoring (including video surveys) as well as interviews with people with mobility and visual impairments.

Cllr Khan responds to survey criticism

The council believes the cycle lane’s new design deals with many of the concerns raised in a legal challenge by One Chiswick, including the introduction of bus shelters on bus islands and more drop off points for taxis on Chiswick High Road.

The Council has recognised that when it’s raining people will stay under the shelter and dash across to the bus island when they see the bus coming. Much better, they think, if the shelter is on the island.

Critics quickly voiced their concerns about the latest changes, citing risks for elderly and disabled people and claiming that plans for bus shelters on the bus islands will constitute as an even higher risk to the elderly and visually impaired. .

Others decried the survey for lacking detail and images to highlight potential hazards.

In response to comments made about missing pictures on the survey, Cllr Hanif Khan said:

“Generally surveys that we do don’t include pictures, they come in a question and answers format. If I was someone who was disabled and I lived in the area, I would know the area very well.

“We already know where the potential hazardous areas are. Having pictures, what we would be saying is: ‘here is a potential hazardous area’ when actually the survey is there to ask people to find out what they think.

“If we put out a survey and provide the information, then what’s the survey for?”.

If you would like to take part in the survey, or would like more information, you can follow the link below:

haveyoursay.hounslow.gov.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: South Chiswick residents’ groups join forces to call for traffic scheme changes

See also: Lies, damned lies and statistics … and the cycle lane

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

Mind Matters – Mental health: nature or nurture?

This is a question which is probably as old as humanity itself but first credited to psychologist Sir Francis Galton in 1869. Ever since, many studies have been conducted, trying to discover the reasons behind the most common mental health problems. The appliance of scientific study to human behaviours generally serves only to raise more possibilities and lines of enquiry. And whilst much greater understanding exists around the physiology that accompanies psychological distress it is not that there is categorical certainty about whether and which might come first.

As psychotherapists our role is to facilitate someone getting to the most helpful understanding of their concerns so that they can make skilful decisions about how to live life. Therapy exists at the point current medical knowledge ends with a view to helping someone live better with “what is”. Sometimes that might mean learning to live with a medical diagnosis and at other times a difficulty for which there is currently no known medical understanding.

Many people and scientists question whether our mental health is affected by nature, meaning the genetics and hormonal factors which impact certain behaviours, or nurture, which are the environmental and cultural factors, as well as experiences during the childhood and teenage years. In the context of nature vs. nurture, “nature” refers to biological and genetic predispositions which impact human traits, and ‘’nurture’’ focuses on the influence of learning and other influences from the person’s environment.

The studies have shown that nature, or genetics and disposition factors are present with some mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder or major depression. According to these studies, bipolar disorder is four to six times more likely to exist when there is a family history of the condition. However, other studies also discover countless cases of people who present with mental health disorders, yet they do not have a clear link to mental health disorders in their family tree. This has led to more scientists and psychologists exploring the ‘’nurture’’ influence of mental health illnesses.

Although the significance of genetic predispositions has enabled the question of causality from nature to remain unanswered for mental health issues such as Bipolar Disorder, research on other mental health illnesses have highlighted more contextual rather than biological factors. For example, according to studies on identical twins who share the same genes, if one twin develops schizophrenia, research shows the other twin only has a 50% chance of also developing the condition. Schizophrenia is known to run in some families, indicating the possibility of a genetic component to the disease, however 90% of cases of schizophrenia are classed as non-genetic.

Studies conducted at the University of Liverpool claim that while a family history of mental health conditions is the second strongest factor of mental illness, the strongest factor is in fact life events and experiences, such as childhood trauma, abuse or bullying. This supports the theory that nurture plays a significant role in the development of mental health related issues.

There are many other statistics which support this theory. When we look at the nurture factors, the statistics claim that mental disorders are 38% more common in urbanised and industrial neighbourhoods when compared to rural towns and villages. Mood disorders such as depression were found to be 39% more common in urban cities, anxiety disorders increased by 21% and schizophrenia rates doubled. Although it’s unclear whether or not this increase is directly due to stressful city living, the findings indicate that people who live in rural areas are less anxious and stressed and that living in recreational areas positively affects mental well-being.

Multiple studies also suggest that having a window view from an apartment or work office which overlooks a natural setting can enhance memory, attention, impulse control and mental health well-being. Research reports from Stanford University suggest that a lack of interaction with nature could cause a decrease in psychological health for those who live in the city. The same research also suggests that interactive activities, such as going for a walk in the nature setting or being with friends, can stop the depressive thoughts and long-term depressive episodes. In one of the studies, Stanford researchers asked some participants to engage in a 90-minute walk through the city, while others were asked to take a 90-minute walk through a nature path. They measured the participants’ blood flow and those who participated in the 90-minute nature walk had lower levels of rumination and sgPFC activity compared to those that walked through the city. The research concluded that natural environments bring positive effects on mental health through enjoyable sights and sounds.

Although nurture factors in the cause of mental health illnesses have been explored more in recent years, nature factors and genetic predispositions also cannot be ignored.

A British team has found that pregnant women who have a major emotional loss in the early months of pregnancy give birth to babies with a higher risk of schizophrenia. Abel’s schizophrenia study looked at 1.38 million babies born between 1973 and 1995 and confirmed the similar connotation. The study found the risk of schizophrenia was 66% higher among offspring whose mothers experienced the death of a relative during the first trimester. The link disappeared after the first trimester, however, after the first months, barriers between mother and foetus are formed, that protect the unborn baby from stress hormones released by the mother. Abel said it was possible the mother’s hormones may either have a direct impact on development of the foetus brain or affect it indirectly by altering the activity of certain genes.

The studies, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, add to the growing possibilities of how both genetics and environmental distress sometimes act together to produce mental illness. “It is not a question of genes versus environment. It is a question of how genes interact with whatever the environmental factors might be. And that is probably true of all of the disorders that we call mental illness,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Ultimately whether mental health is the outcome of nature or nature or the complex interweaving of the two, probably the most important take out is that when there is a struggle there will rarely be any quick fixes. A struggle is a call to action and it is an act of kindness and compassion to give time and energy to ensuring greatest understanding and awareness – as this is the basis of skilful living.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.

nicholas-rose.co.uk

Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – Knowing when to give up

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

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See also: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

See also: Chiswick Calendar Blogs & Podcasts

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A Weatherspoons in Chiswick?

Image above: Steve Novak and the offending sign

In the middle of July a sign appeared on the wall of a premises in Chiswick being fitted out by builders. It read ‘Weatherspoons Chiswick opening soon’ Smiley face.

Owner of the new establishment Steve Novak told The Chiswick Calendar: “within an hour I had an email from a local councillor’.

Cllr Joanna Biddolph had written to him wanting to know the meaning of it. Local residents had ‘noticed’ the sign. The builder, who was just having a laugh, duly took it down.

‘I think the builders may be having a joke at my expense’ Steve wrote back.

Steve is not opening a Weatherspoons, but the latest in the family of his highly successful bar-restaurants, on the site which Foxlow’s occupied and before it, Sam’s Brasserie, in Barley Mow Passage. It almost doesn’t matter what the food’s like – an establishment with a sense of humour! Welcome to Chiswick! It’s great to see the site occupied again too, after standing empty for so long.

As it happens, the food looks good. We haven’t eaten there yet but will report back in due course. The menu offers sharing plates and pub standards.

Image above: Food and drink at Betty bar-restaurant 

Brunch

The Brunch menu has a range of full breakfasts (English, veggie and vegan), pancakes with bacon or bananas; rostis (English, Italian or Spanish), croissants, pastries, warm banana bread, avocado on toast, smoothie bowls and eggs virtually any way you might want them. They also offer breakfast coaktails – Bloody Mary, Bloody Maria, Expresso Martini, Mimosa and Aperol Spritz. It definitely sounds like a place to go for a hair of the dog.

See the full Brunch menu here: Brunch menu

Mains

The Main menu has kebabs, steaks, ribs and burgers (including veggie) and some interesting small plates. Their take on mac & cheese is ‘braised oxtail, Gruyère & parmesan crumble’. They also offer Tuna Tatare ‘Cornish crab, avocado, pistachio’, Baked Camembert, Grilled Octopus and Pork belly ‘Harissa caramel sesame seeds & citrus aioli’ amongst others.

See the full Main menu here: Main menu

Sundays

On Sundays they offer the traditional range of roasts with duck fat roast potatoes, creamed leeks, Savoy cabbage, honey roast parsnips, Yorkshire pudding (ex vegan) & bone marrow gravy. Two options of Veggie pies – butternut squash, pine nuts & goats cheese and butternut squash, spinach, pine nuts and sauteed onions.

See the full Sunday menu here: Sunday menu

Images above: Betty, Steve’s grandmother, after whom the restaurant is called

Betty – joining the family

To say Steve owns a ‘family’ of restaurants is literally true. ‘Betty’ is called after his late grandmother, an ‘old school northerner’, a hairdresser from Stockport. Heidi’s wine bar in Balham is called after his daughter and Hannah in Lavender Hill after his wife. He also has the Cattle Grid in Windsor, The Earlsfield in Earslfield and the Charlotte in Southwark.

A quick look at the reviews tells me what he offers is appreciated.

The Cattle Grid – ‘Just had a wonderful lunch here at the Cattle Grid. The side orders are all freshly made on site. It all tastes amazing. Top quality meat which you would pay double for in most other restaurants’. Tripadviser.

Heidi – ‘This place is fab. Really great wines have been chosen’. Tripadvisor

Hannah – ‘Fantastic food, great service, lovely venue’. Tripadvisor

Steve learned the trade as a beer rep for Courage and ran his first pub, the Kings Arms by Tower Bridge, as an independent. The financial crash of 2008 put paid to that, but he didn’t give up on owning his own bar-restaurants.

Image above: Betty oysters, wine dispenser and bar

The reviews bode well. Someone else mentioned they appreciated the self service drinks, which will also be a feature at Betty. You can self select 60 wines by the glass, in different size glasses. You get the equivalent of an Oyster card to use and top it up to top up your glass.

Club Card offer – 20% off wine

Steve would like to offer Chiswick Calendar Club Card holders 20% off wine from this marvellous machine. It may not be served with a smile by a waiter with his thumb in the base of the bottle and a napkin over his arm, but it tastes the same. You get to have a proper look at the options too. This offer is good till the end of September.

Other Betty offers

Other Betty offers include:

Oyster Tuesday – £1 Oysters available from 12.00 pm-10.00 pm

Champagne Happy Hour – £6.66 for a glass of champagne or any of the champagne cocktails. All day, every day.

As I chatted to Steve, while builders were still putting the finishing touches, he showed me the wallpapers by Timorous Beasties, a nod to the building’s heritage as a Sandersons wallpaper factory. He showed me the French art house art work by ibride and the lighting by Timothy Oulton.

Not very Weatherspoons at all.

Betty is now open and awaiting your custom.

bettychiswick.com

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See also: Artists At Home, 17-19 September

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar CIC is a community resource. Please support us by buying us the equivalent of a monthly cup of coffee (or more, if you insist). Click here to support us.

We publish a weekly newsletter and update the website with local news and information daily. We are editorially independent.

To subscribe to the weekly newsletter, go here.

LB Ealing to scrap majority of LTNs after consulting residents

Almost all of LB Ealing’s Low-Traffic Neighbourhoods are set to be scrapped after a residents living within active schemes have overwhelmingly rejected them.

The council has said it will rip out seven of the LTNs it set up during the pandemic, following the results of a ‘referendum’ published on 20 August.

A consultation of residents living in roads covered by the schemes found between 58 and 82% opposed them.

The Acton Central, Junction Road, Loveday Road, Mattock Lane, Olive Road, West Ealing North and Bowes Road LTNs will be removed.

More than 20,000 people responded to the consultation, around 5.8% of Ealing’s 345,000 residents. Supporters of the schemes have argued this figure is too small to be representative of majority opinion.

Ealing Council said Government guidance released in July prevents the immediate removal of restrictions, saying a final decision on the schemes is “likely to be taken at the council’s Cabinet meeting in September”.

Image above: anti-LTN protestors outside of Ealing Council in April 2020

Results confirm LTNs are not the answer, say Ealing’s opposition leaders

Following the publication of the consultation’s results, Ealing Liberal Democrat leader Gary Malcolm said:

“Ealing council needs to roll out more cycling provision, such as cycle hangers, cycle hoops and cycle training as well as making the Uxbridge Road and other main roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“LTNs are not the answer as they only push traffic to other roads. Any future transport schemes need to actively consult neighbouring boroughs as well as our residents.”

Conservative councillor Gregory Stafford added:

“The results of this survey confirm what we have been telling the council for over a year – residents want these LTNs scrapped.”

Just two of the Ealing traffic blocks will remain in place – Adrienne Avenue and Deans Road – after 60 to 70 per cent of people living the streets said they were in favour of the measures.

Council Leader Peter Mason thanked residents took part in the consultation via the council’s Twitter account.

To see the consultation’s results in full, you can click here.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Thousands march on Ealing Council demanding end to LTNs

See also: Julian Bell ousted as leader of Ealing Labour Party

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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A Night in November – Chiswick Playhouse review

There’s a fantastic production on at Chiswick Playhouse at the moment, which would stand out even in the West End.

A Night in November is about a Belfast Protestant brought up during the Troubles who goes to a football match and is sickened by the behaviour of the crowd: the visceral hatred of the sectarian chanting, provoking fear in the Irish Republic supporters, who dared not cheer their team even though they beat Northern Ireland to take their place in the World Cup.

The match was a real event, a watershed moment in 1993 when it was realised that, in the words of Gary McAllister of the Amalgamation of Northern Ireland Supporters Clubs, ‘such behaviour was not only entirely wrong but it was also self-defeating’.

For the play’s character Kenneth it was a turning point, the moment when he decides enough is enough, he need not continue in the mute acceptance of his culture which expects, demands that he see Catholics as other: as untrustworthy, feckless, undeserving scum, something less than human.

He realises that he likes his boss, who he has resented as a Catholic for being promoted above him. It dawns on him that even though he’s worked with him for 15 years he hardly knows him, and when he offers him a lift home from work one night he’s surprised that he has a house bigger than his, with a garage, and is not living in squalor.

What’s more, he realises that he doesn’t much like his prissy wife or their closed-minded friends.

Image above: A Night in November actor Matthew Forsythe; photograph Matthew Harvey

A Night in November is so good because it’s written from the heart by a playwright from the culture she’s writing about. Marie Jones is a Belfast-based actor and playwright born into a working-class Protestant family and she was at the now infamous match.

The director is her son Matthew McElhinney, who told me he’d grown up with the play, which has been highly controversial in Northern Ireland and shaped his own outlook on life. It has received tremendous applause, standing ovations, as it did on the press night at the Chiswick Playhouse, but has also been performed in Protestant East Belfast, where he said you could have heard a pin drop throughout the whole performance.

Even in Chiswick he told me, a woman left at the interval after expressing her anger that the play made no attempt to balance the behaviour of the Protestants with a reminder of the outrages of the IRA. His stock reply is that the play is about one man’s personal experience and there are other plays which examine the IRA.

What is truly remarkable about this production is the performance of actor Matthew Forsythe. It’s a one-hander and he slips between the various characters utterly convincingly: the timid, conventional bureaucrat Kenneth, the disgusting father-in-law chain smoking and coughing up in the back of the car, the prissy wife, the characters in the dole office where he works.

Image above: A Night in November actor Matthew Forsythe; photograph Matthew Harvey

The passion and energy of his performance is infectious as he takes you on this rollercoaster of emotions from embarrassment and self-doubt through anger and humiliation to self-confidence, gratitude and joy as he decides to go with the Irish supporters to watch the Republic of Ireland play in the World Cup in New York.

Matthew also brings personal experience to the play. Coming from Bangor (County Down, not North Wales) he has grown up among these characters and he was actually at the football match as a 12 year-old boy and remembers the atmosphere.

Matthew doesn’t have a huge track record as an actor, training relatively late after a career as a joiner. In fact he has worked on the set of a previous production at the Tabard, as it was then.

Director Matthew McElhinney says they knew immediately in the auditions that he was the one to play the role and Marie Jones has said Matthew Forsythe has given the best performance of any of the actors who’ve played the part in the 25 years since it was first performed.

The theatre company Soda Bread Theatre is a young company which aims to showcase Irish talent. I now want to see Stones in His Pockets, the play for which Marie Jones is best known, about a Hollywood film company filming a movie in a small Irish village and the resulting impact on that community.

So if you’d like to come back with a production of that, of this calibre, within walking distance of my house, that would be lovely, thank you.

A Night in November is on at Chiswick Playhouse until Friday 3 September.

Book tickets through the theatre’s website.

chiswickplayhouse.co.uk

Image above: A Night in November actor Matthew Forsythe (left); director Matthew McElhinney

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Chiswick Book Festival 2021

See also: Artists At Home, 17-19 September

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

Support The Chiswick Calendar

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Chiswick’s Nando’s closed amidst nationwide chicken shortages

Chiswick’s branch of Nando’s has been forced to close temporarily due to supply-chain issues, which have caused nationwide chicken shortages.

The peri-peri chicken restaurant chain has shuttered a tenth of its outlets around the UK, including several restaurants in west London. Kensington High Street, Notting Hill, Chiswick, Earl’s Court and Gloucester Road are just some restaurants which have also been forced to close.

Nando’s said 45 of its 450 restaurants were currently closed, but added they were hopeful all restaurants would reopened by Saturday.

Signs on the Chiswick branch’s door say:

‘Sorry, we’re currently closed. For now head to nandos.co.uk to find your nearest restaurant to order for Collect or Delivery.’

The chain blamed the need to shutter outlets on covid-related staffing issues at its suppliers’ factories as well as a shortage of HGV lorry drivers. The company also told customers online that shortages have been caused by staff “isolation periods” and suppliers “struggling to keep up with demand”.

Brexit a significant factor in shortages, says chicken supply boss

Ranjit Singh Boparan, CEO of 2 Sisters Food Group, which is the country’s largest supplier of chicken, said the country’s supply of chicken and turkey was “under threat” due to labour shortages linked to Brexit and soaring ingredient costs. He has previously warned the so-called “pingdemic” was masking other issues.

Speaking in July, Boparan said that in the second half of 2021:

“the operating environment has deteriorated so profoundly I can see no other outcome than major food shortages in the UK”.

Warning that chicken supplies were at “crisis point”, he said Brexit had reduced staff available to the sector significantly, with his 16,000-strong workforce facing a 15% shortage, adding:

“The critical labour issue alone means we walk a tightrope every week at the moment.

“We’re just about coping, but I can see if no support is forthcoming – and urgently – from government, then shelves will be empty, food waste will rocket simply because it cannot be processed, or delivered, and the shortages we saw last year will be peanuts in comparison to what could come.”

A Nando’s spokesperson said:

“The UK food industry has been experiencing disruption across its supply chain in recent weeks due to staff shortages and Covid isolations, and a number of our restaurants have been impacted.”

Nando’s also Tweeted this on 17 August:

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Extended opening hours for The Hothouse Café approved

See also: Chiswick has one of the top pizza restaurants in Europe

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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LB Hammersmith & Fulham sign off Hammersmith Bridge stabilisation works which are cheaper and will be completed sooner

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has accepted plans to repair Hammersmith Bridge to a level which stabilises it for pedestrians and cyclists, which are £24m cheaper than the former scheme.

The Council announced their decision to save 80% of the cost of stabilising Hammersmith Bridge on Monday 16 August, by replacing a £30m scheme by engineering consultants Pell Frischmann scheme with a cheaper one by Mott MacDonald.

They’re hoping that Hammersmith Bridge could be stabilised for pedestrians and cyclists within a year.

The council’s specialist engineers Mott MacDonald devised the alternative stabilisation plan, which will cost £6m instead of Pell Frischmann’s £30m scheme and promises also to reduce the works programme to 46 weeks.

LBH&F commissioned Dr Steve Denton, Head of Civil, Bridge and Ground Engineering at consultants WSP, to compare the two options to stabilise the bridge’s cast iron pedestals. He concluded that the one proposed by Mott MacDonald would be technically superior, implemented more rapidly and more cost efficient than the £30m scheme presented by Pell Frischmann.

The Pell Frischmann proposals would have seen an external frame constructed which would remove the load on the pedestals until they were strengthened. But Denton said this approach, which would also require driving piles through parts of the bridge, had been developed before in-depth studies of the pedestals had been carried out.

The Mott MacDonald plan will see the bridge’s bearings replaced by jacking using the pedestals themselves, which will be strengthened beforehand. The plan involves the use of ‘elastomeric bearings’ which allow any pressure to be applied equally to all four corners whilst protecting the vulnerable 134 year-old cast iron structure.

Above: Hammersmith Bridge – Photograph by Matt Smith

Bridge to remain open for “vast majority” of works

The 19th-century crossing was closed to road traffic in April 2019 when a structural integrity review revealed seven decades of unchecked corrosion. The bridge was then closed to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on public safety grounds in August 2020 after it was found to be at risk of a catastrophic collapse.

The bridge was reopened to pedestrians, cyclists and river traffic on 17 July 2021 but safety say the use of the temperature control system, which enabled the reopening, can only be temporary.

The Council expects the bridge to remain open for pedestrians and cyclists for the “vast majority” of the works, which it said will be completed in under a year.

Image above: Leader of Richmond Council Gareth Roberts (left) and Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council Stephen Cowan (right) visiting Hammersmith Bridge in 2019

Council leader pushes through proposals

Council leader Stephen Cowan has given authorisation for the job to progress immediately, saying the local authority does not want to “lose a single day” in fixing the bridge.

Cllr Cowan said:

“We don’t want to lose a single day in delivering the full stabilisation of the bridge to ensure residents on both sides of the river no longer have to deal with closures or the threat of closures.

“Whilst putting the safety of the public first, we believe that the importance of maintaining pace and progress, the real savings achieved by the deployment of the preferred stabilisation works option and the current vulnerability of Hammersmith Bridge demands rapid action.”

Cllr Cowan said, in order to expedite the works at speed, the council will go-ahead and fund the £6m package in anticipation that the Department for Transport and Transport for London will subsequently reimburse the council with their one-third shares as outlined in the Government’s TfL funding announcement of 1 June 2021.

Image above: Foster & Partners Hammersmith Bridge proposal

Funding proposal and next steps

LB Hammersmith & Fulham is developing a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ with the DfT and TfL incorporating financial proposals to share costs of the work between the three bodies.

The pedestrian stabilisation plan is the first phase of works on the bridge. The second phase will involve extensive strengthening and full restoration and will allow the bridge to reopen eventually to vehicles.

Dr Denton is now considering the two current options for the strengthening and restoration work – the existing TfL plan and the pioneering Fosters + Partners/COWI proposal for a temporary double decker truss.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Radical new plans for temporary crossing over Hammersmith Bridge

See also: Hammersmith Bridge to re-open to pedestrians and cyclists

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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Emery Walker’s House opens its first exhibition

Image above: Emery Walker’s house, in Hammersmith; photograph Peter Dazeley

Guest blog by Lucinda MacPherson

Emery Walker’s house has opened its first exhibition, displaying examples of some of the most beautiful private press books ever published and illustrating Walker’s revolutionary book printing techniques & legacy in his former home in Hammersmith.

The new exhibition space in the small drawing room of ‘the most authentic arts & crafts home in Britain’ charts Walker’s career as a typographer and printer at a time when huge advances were being introduced in the production of books to keep up with demand from an increasingly literate Victorian society.

Walker was one of the first printers to create plates from photographs, rather than using the laborious hand carved processes which dated back to the 15th century. He founded his own company in Fleet Street in 1886, specialising in cutting-edge techniques for reproducing works of art and photographs as book illustrations. He also gave a ground-breaking lecture on typography, and advice on book production to key members of the arts & crafts movement, both in Britain and abroad, putting him at the heart of 20th century’s developments in typography and printing.

Images above: Emery Walker’s House – 7 Hammersmith Terrace, Emery Walker’s bedroom

Highlights of the tour include double page spreads from the Kelmscott Chaucer and Doves Bible – the two masterpieces of those presses. Another high point is The Odyssey, translated by T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’), a close friend of the Walker family, now regarded as one of the most beautiful private press books of the 20th century. This was Walker’s final achievement, printed just a year before his death.

Other exhibits, some of which have never before been on public display, give a fascinating insight on the various stages of book production and its development.

Visitors will be able to see proof pages, and an uncut Kelmscott Press printing block, demonstrating the fruitful collaboration between Walker and his great friend William Morris.  A recent donation from a local mudlark of the missing Doves Press type, now resurrected from its watery grave in the Thames, will be displayed for the first time.

Images above: The Defence of Guenevere and other Poems by William Morris, double page spread from ‘The Odyssee’ translated by T. E. Lawrence; photographs Peter Dazeley

‘Wonderful and varied collection’ says House Curator

The new exhibition space at 7 Hammersmith Terrace has been years in the planning as the House’s Curator, Helen Elletson, explains:

“Since the Emery Walker Trust was set up over 20 years ago, we’ve always aspired to create an exhibitions programme. This long-held ambition has now been realised.”

“This intimate, historic room now has three beautifully-lit museum showcases to enable the planning of an exciting range of exhibitions to display our wonderful and varied reserve collection, which ranges from arts and crafts ceramics and glassware to Eastern jewellery and textiles and means we can introduce external loans to visitors for the first time.”

Emery Walker and the Private Press Movement is included in the 1 hour guided tours of the entire house and riverside garden from 12 August 2021 until the end of May 2022. Visitor numbers are extremely limited, due to the fragile, historic interiors, so pre-booking is essential via Emerywalker.org.uk.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Top Ten things to do in Chiswick

See also: A new way to shop online but buy locally

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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