Man to appear in court over collision which killed woman and her three dogs

Image above: Olivia Riley and two of her dogs; Met Police

Laszlo Dancs to appear in court on 23 May

A man from Acton will appear in court charged with driving offences following a fatal collision in Chelsea, which resulted in the death of a woman and her three dogs.

Laszlo Dancs, 28, of Heathfield Road W3, is charged with causing death by dangerous driving, drink driving, drug driving and failing to provide a sample of breath when required.

It is said that he had 128mg of benzoylecgonine in his system and he is also accused of having 137 milligrams of alcohol in a sample of blood, above the legal limit of 80 milligrams.

He was charged and appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14 November 2022.

The charges relate to collision involving a car and a pedestrian in Cheyne Walk, SW3 on Saturday, 14 May 2022.

The pedestrian, Olivia Riley, 41, from Suffolk, died at the scene. Olivia was the stepdaughter of best-selling author Lucinda Riley.

Olivia was out walking her dogs at the time, two yellow labradors and a golden retriever. All three dogs were killed in the collision.

Mr Dancs will appear at the Old Bailey on Tuesday 23 May.

Appeal for information after motorcyclist loses leg in Acton collision

Image above: Gunnersbury Lane / Lilian Avenue junction; Google Streetview

Driver of other vehicle did not stop at the scene

Police are appealing for information after a collision in Acton resulted in a motorcyclist having to have his leg amputated.

The incident happened at approximately 7.10pm on Sunday (21 May).

A car and a motorcycle were in collision on Gunnersbury Lane, at the junction of Lillian Avenue, Acton, W3. The rider of the motorcycle, a 45-year-old man, was found with a serious injuries.

He was taken to hospital where his left leg had to be amputated below the knee.

The driver of the car involved, a silver Mercedes Benz saloon, did not stop at the scene but the car was found a short distance away. The driver ran off along an alley that runs between two houses in Lillian Avenue.

Detectives from the Met’s Serious Collision Unit investigate and are asking anyone witnessed the incident or has any information to contact police.

In particular, officers are asking for anyone with dash-cam footage, who was in the area near the time and date of the collision to the contact them.

Any witnesses or anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101 or contact via Twitter @MetCC. Please quote CAD 5843/21MAY

To give information anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at crimestoppers-uk.org.

This Sporting Chiswick – The Masonian Bowls Club

Chiswick’s bowls club is taking part in Bowls England’s ‘Big Weekend’ on Sunday 28 May and invites you to come along

Guest blog by James Thellusson

Behind the busy food stalls at the Chiswick Farmers Market is a low-slung green building. On Sundays, when the market is humming, the people and the stalls almost obscure it. You’d be forgiven for not noticing it.

Take a closer look through the pyracantha arch and you’ll see an open door, a couple of tables and two glass cabinets stuffed with cups and plaques peeping out at you. You’re looking into the clubroom of Chiswick’s only bowls club, a quiet oasis in Dukes Meadows.

The Masonian Bowls Club (to give the club it’s full name) is nothing to do with the Freemasons. Funny handshakes aren’t part of the rituals here, all you’ll get is a warm welcome and a seat away from the madding crowd at the Sunday market. You can even buy a tea or coffee while you’re there at a bargain price compared to the hi-falutin’ barristas outside.

“We’re here every Sunday to answer questions about the club or the game for anyone who wants to pop in,” says club captain Andy Tucker, who also runs a stall at the market selling Somerset Ciders. “We welcome people of all ages, backgrounds, creeds and colour.”

Not those Masons

The club’s name is actually a homage to Dan & Charles Mason, the owners of the Cherry Blossom Polish factory, which used to operate near the Hogarth Roundabout and originally operated on land leased from Chiswick Urban Council. It moved to its current location in 1983 after the land was sold to developers.

The club has regular ‘roll-up and try-out’ evenings on Thursdays from 6pm. There’s no formal dress code for these events (though you will need flat shoes such as plimsoles) and the club will loan you a ‘wood’ (as the bowls are called) and then give you a gentle lesson on how to play.

Right now, however, Andy and the club’s executive team are gearing up their big recruitment day on the bank holiday weekend when the club is open from 10am till late.

“May 28 is our big annual try out day. We’re part of Bowls England’s ‘Big Weekend’ and will have a team here all day, and we’d love to see you there. Come with your kids, friends and family. Or come alone. Either way we’ll give you a welcome and free tuition.”

The club has 50 members (which probably makes it Chiswick’s most exclusive club) and plays competitively in the Middlesex, Richmond & Barnes, Thames Valley,  & South Middlesex Leagues. But the season, which runs from May to October, is equally full of friendly games against teams from Putney to Springfield. Annual membership is value for money at £35 and sponsorships of competitions can be had from £500.

“The club has some good players and has won competitions. But we’re as much about the fun and social side of the game as the winning,” says Andy.

Quintessentially English

Bowls has been played in England since the 12th century and the oldest playing green in the country is still being used in Southampton. The game has had its ups and downs though. It was banned by Edward III because it distracted the yeomen of England from archery, which seems like a good call because it’s hard to imagine that Edward would have won his victory at Crecy by rolling bowls down the hill at the charging French cavalry.

England is the top country for bowls. We’ve won more medals at it at the Commonwealth Games than any other country. Which is not surprising in some ways, because so many players are here. But I think there’s more to it than this. There’s something quintessentially English about bowls – its well-loved lawns, its washed whites, its patient play and its manners. Not for bowls, the huffing and puffing of tennis, the vulgar disputations of football or the sweat of the scrum.

Sir Francis Drake ignored the imminent threat of the Spanish Armada long enough to finish his game of bowls, so bowls could claim to have invented English sang froid .

“Bowls is a great for men and women (or couples) to play together because it’s more about skill than strength. It’s easy to learn and the capital cost of equipment is very low, especially compared to games like golf or cricket.”

Chiswick’s best kept secret

Years ago when the Chiswick Farmers Market first opened we used to go there with my daughter. She was intrigued by the fifteen foot privet hedge which hides the bowling lawn.

“What’s behind the hedge?” she used to ask.

“The Secret Garden,” I replied. Frances Burnett’s novel about a young girl discovering a hidden garden was one of her favourite books.

It turns out that wasn’t such a lie after all. The Masonian Club is one of Chiswick’s hidden secrets, the lawn is beautifully kept and the game is a delight. Pop along on Sunday 28 May and see for yourself.

Masonian Bowls Club is at Market Drive, Dukes Meadow, W4 2RX

Telephone: 07394 362064

masonianbowlsclub.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Two of the biggest names in British film and theatre to judge Chiswick In Film Young Film makers competition

Images above: Michael Attenborough CBE; Colin Firth CBE, photograph Gage Skidmore

Colin Firth and Michael Attenborough to judge Chiswick new competition for young people

The Chiswick In Film Festival will be back this autumn – put the dates in your diary now: Friday 29 September – Sunday 1 October, and this year we are involving young people, under the age of 18, in a film making competition.

Two of the biggest names in British film and theatre have agreed to be our judges and two highly proficient and successful exponents of the art of film making will be hands on, giving encouragement and practical advice throughout the film making process.

The Chiswick In Film Festival was started last year by The Chiswick Calendar in collaboration with Chiswick Cinema and two local film buffs – BAFTA award winning editor Andrea Carnevali and feature film creator and scriptwriter Rob Sprackling.

READ ALSO: Chiswick In Film Festival 2022

READ ALSO: Chiswick In Film festival will be back next year

Now that Chiswick once again has a cinema, the idea was to celebrate Chiswick’s involvement with the film industry by showing some of the films which have had sequences shot here, and to screen films made by some of the actors, directors and writers who live here.

This year we are building on the success of the first festival by adding a film making competition for young people under the age of 18 and we are delighted that Colin Firth, long term resident of Chiswick and star of many films and TV series (Pride and Prejudice, Shakespeare in Love, Bridget Jones ‘s Diary, Love Actually, Mamma Mia! and most recently Supernova and Empire of Light) will judge the films for us, along with theatre director Michael Attenborough.

Michael Attenborough (son of Richard and nephew of David) is Director Emeritus of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, having been Artistic Director of the Almeida Theatre, Principal Associate Director and Executive Producer of the Royal Shakespeare Company and directed plays at a number of theatres around the country.

“It is incredible to have the support of such renowned industry figures for our independent cinema and for the community of Chiswick” says Chiswick Cinema’s marketing executive Chris Parker.

“There is an amazing amount of talent in the local area. It is such an honour to have them involved and something we are really grateful for.”

The film makers competition is run in partnership with Fr Fabrizio of St Peter’s Church, Acton Green. The deadline for entries is midnight on Wednesday 13 September. The top three films will be screened at the Chiswick In Film Festival.

Image above: The three top films will be screened at the Chiswick In Film Festival

Entry Rules

  1. Films produced must be no more than five minutes in length.
  2. Films must be shot in or feature in some way Chiswick and its surrounding areas. It is up to you how you interpret this rule.
  3. Entries are welcome for those aged between 10 and 18 years old.
  4. Final films must be eligible for a ‘U’ for Universal, ‘PG’ for Parent Guidance or ‘12A’ rating and be provided in landscape format.
  5. Full release and waiver forms must be signed by a consenting adult (aged 18+) during the production of the film.
  6. Films of any genre will be accepted (Advertising, Animation, Artists’ Film, Comedy, Dance, Documentary, Drama, Experimental, Fashion, Music Video, Thriller).
  7. All films must be English language, dubbed into English or subtitled in English. But they can also be mute or just contain music.
  8. The use or integration of any copyrighted material (either visual or audio: i.e. music, songs or famous paintings or film clips) will not be permitted. The applicants will be fully responsible for the clearance of all music or sound contained in their entry. The relevant section of the entry form must be completed to support this.
  9. We will accept submissions of films screened elsewhere or produced for other purposes providing they meet the other rules.
  10. The filmmaker will retain the copyrights for the finished short film.

Images above: Andrea Carnevali; Rob Sprackling

Supplying a professional sounding board for help and advice

Andrea Carnevali and Rob Sprackling are industry professionals who live in Chiswick, who will be on hand for help and advice if you have any film making questions, by email at info@chiswickcinema.co.uk throughout the competition.

Andrea is a film editor who has edited shows such as Who do you think you are? for the BBC and produced, edited and directed documentaries for ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5, Discovery and Netflix as well. Andrea regularly reviews films for The Chiswick Calendar. See his film reviews here: Chiswick Calendar film reviews.

Rob is the creator of animation movies for children Gnomeo and Juliet and The Queen’s Corgi, and cult comedy feature Mike Bassett: England Manager. He is currently writing and directing his  new animated feature film Flamingo Flamenco!

The two of them will be hosting a cinema drop in at Chiswick Cinema, in the Taycan Lounge on the second floor, on Friday 14 July from 3.30 – 5pm, where they will answer any questions in person.

“I am very excited to be running this competition for young people” Andrea told us. “It brings together two things I love – working with children and films. It’s the best combination. Children and young people have such spontaneity and enthusiasm, they have such creativity and a ‘no boundaries’ attitude. And they are much cleverer than we think they are.

“They have the skills to use mobiles and cameras. Their technical skills are miles ahead of what ours were. All they need is a good idea. The films don’t have to be very polished and if you have questions, get in touch. We are here to help.”

Rob Sprackling said:

“I am really looking forward to working with young people locally, encouraging them to develop their creative voices. They have the best imaginations anyway, it’s just about helping them shape and present their ideas.”

For all the details of the competition (including a copy of the release form, to be added soon) go to Chiswick Cinema’s website.

chiswickcinema.co.uk

Still: A Michael J.Fox Movie – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

Still: A Michael J.Fox Movie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – Review by Andrea Carnevali

Documentary following the life of actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, exploring his personal and professional triumphs and travails, and what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease. Available to watch on Apple +

I have always liked Michael J Fox, ever since I was a teenager. Maybe because up until the age of sixteen I was still shorter than the shortest girl of my class and maybe seeing somebody just as short and yet so successful, liked and revered,  made me feel a little better (spoiler alert, I did grow up eventually… and all at once too).

But who am I kidding? I just loved Back to the Future so much (and I still do) and that love spilled into him to, to the point that later on I was able to forgive him for all his other not-so-good films (Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success, just to mention two).

If, unlike me, you need any reason to like him and even see him as an exceptional person, you need to look no further than this documentary and whatever your beliefs were before, you’ll come out of this loving him too (and hopefully thanking me for suggesting you should watch this).

The word “inspirational” get waved about a lot when it comes to certain films and documentaries. It is a bit irritating sometimes, but never has it been more fitting than here, used to describe the life of Michael J Fox.

For a man who was essentially given a death sentence at the age of 29, at the height of his success, when he was first diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991, Michael J Fox has so much life, humour and strength that it is humbling to watch.

Director Davis Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth) charts Fox’s career from his early days in Hollywood, after dropping out from high school, through the successful Family Ties sitcom, his meteoric rise with Back to the Future and all that came after that, cleverly intercutting archival footage, dramatic recreations, under Fox’s narration, and seamlessly integrating clips from his movies.

It is all beautifully crafted and edited (the flashy segment on Fox working on both Back to the Future and Family Ties is masterfully put together) and it is a pleasure to watch, but the shadows of his struggle are never too far. In fact, for all the whistles and bells, all the successes and clips, the laughs and the fun, whenever the film slows down and all the masks come off and the stark reality sinks in, that’s when the film is at his most powerful.

Fox is 100% candid about it. He hides nothing: he talks his early struggle in accepting the disease, the clever ways he used for years to hide his early tremors on his left hand, before finally coming out publicly.

His depth, reflectiveness as he tells his story is heartfelt, honest and moving, but despite the sadness of his situation, he is just as funny, engaging and entertaining as he has always been.

There is never a hint of self-pity, and the film itself, following in his footsteps, is a perfect match for a man who is living his life as fully as possible, offering a real inspiration (here’s that word again) for others.

Still is available to watch on Apple+

Post delayed in Chiswick due to ‘increased demand’

Image above: Chiswick Post Office

Royal Mail deny prioritising parcels over letters

Royal Mail has acknowledged a recent delay in postal deliveries within the W4 post code area, following a surge in demand for its services. A number of people in Chiswick, including residents of Chesterfield Road, have reported missing mail this month.

Residents have reported missing mail for up to and over a fortnight and a backlog of mail has reportedly been discovered at Chiswick Delivery Office, which employees said was because a postman had recently left and a regular replacement had yet to be found. The employees explained that the prioritisation of parcels over letters had led to this situation.

A Royal Mail spokesperson has denied this, saying:

“Royal Mail does not operate a policy of prioritising parcels. We regularly remind colleagues that the delivery, collection, and processing of letters and parcels should be treated with equal importance.

“However, parcels, due to their size, can impede the movement of both staff and mail, posing health and safety risks and causing delays. During particularly busy periods, such as post-strike recovery, local offices may occasionally clear parcels to ensure efficient movement of all mail, including letters.”

A Royal Mail spokesperson added:

“We are sorry to hear some residents in Chiswick have experienced delays. Every item of mail is important to us. When delays happen, every effort is made to ensure post is delivered and the reasons behind the delays are addressed.

“The service in the area has recently been impacted by an increase in demand. This demand had returned back to normal by the middle of last week, residents can expect business as usual going forward.

“We encourage anyone with concerns about the delivery of their mail to please contact customer service on 03457 740 740 or via www.royalmail.com.”

The X-Files – Review by Andrea Carnevali

The X-Files: Season 1 – Episode 1: “Pilot” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️– Review by Andrea Carnevali

Two F.B.I. Agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained, while hidden forces work to impede their efforts. Available to watch on DisneyPlus and Amazon Prime.

My new blu-ray full set of all the seasons of the X-Files has been sitting on the shelf for years, looking at me and asking “when are you going to watch me again?”

After my son asked about it, I thought today was as good as day as it will ever be… and the perfect excuse to introduce him to one of the most influential TV series ever made.

It’s easy today, 30 years later (my God where has time gone?!?!), to underestimate the impact this TV Show has had, not just on Sci-Fi but on television in general.

The X-Files was ground-breaking for the time and I am pleased to see how a lot of it still works today…

A lot of the ingredients that made the series so delicious are in this pilot episode (though the iconic title music isn’t there yet): the mysteries, the government conspiracies, the flashlight at night, the banter between the sceptic (Scully) and the believer, the smoking man in a corner or the room, the gross stuff, the UFO and so on…

This is brilliant stuff already from the outset: tightly and smartly written, looking more like a movie than a tv show has hardly ever looked (or sounded): yes, of course Twin Peaks had been released a couple of years before, but this is the show that really broke the rules of television, keeping people in the shadows, only lit by flashlight, letting the action develop in wide shots, as opposed to the usual big close ups and looking more and more like real cinema experience. Even those typed-up captions on the screen with location, dates and time was fresh and new at the time.

Of course the X-Files will go on getting better and better and by season three  and four it will get as good as TV can ever get, with episodes as gripping as any movie out there, attempting things TV had never done before (including an episode with one continuous take). Before Binge-TV became a thing (that possibly started with 24) The X-Files was there.

But the real secret behind this series can be seen already in this pilot: the amazing chemistry between the two leads, possibly unbeaten still today (as far as TV is concerned) is palpable. From the moment the two meet, to the first unexpected hug, leading to years of speculation on whether the two of them will ever get together.

David Duchovny gets a lot of flack for his deadpan deliveries, but his understated performance fits the character so well that it’s hard to see anyone else playing the part (so much so that when he left the show towards the later seasons, the X-Files was not quite the same anymore).

But beyond the flat tone of his speeches, you can see how much he’s enjoying himself being Fox Mulder. He has a couple of wonderful moments in this episode, smiling and cracking jokes, but at the same time, he nails the more emotional bit (see how he manages to make the story about the abduction by alien of his sister feel plausible).

And then of course, Gilliam Anderson’s Dana Scully: she will become he heart and soul of the series and to this day, she is still winning awards left and right. I loved her at the time, and I still do today. Her intensity is so powerful that actually does the work for both of them.

I loved watching this episode again today and aside from the terrible clothes and huge computer monitors which date it all back to the ‘90s, everything else still works and it made me want to start watching it all again.

I’m only giving it four stars because I know it’s going to get a lot better, more sophisticated, both technically and in terms of content and stories, and even more ground-breaking (and yes, it’s going to lose the plot on the mythology a little bit, I know, but those who have seen it all, know that there are a lot of great episodes even in the later seasons).

It is one of the few shows that was able to bring together adventure, sci-fi, horror, police procedures, mysteries and comedy all in one.

Roll on The X-Files again: the truth is out there!

The X Files is available to watch on DisneyPlus and Amazon Prime.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick, and a co-creator of the Chiswick In Film festival.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

Chiswick In Film festival: Chiswick In Film festival will be back next year

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.

Train strikes 31 May and early June

Image above: A South Western Railway train at Chiswick Station

Industrial action planned for 31 May and from 2-3 June

RMT members working for 14 train companies will stage a fresh strike on Friday 2 June in their long-running dispute over pay, jobs and conditions, the union has announced.

The strike will see 20,000 staff in catering, rail stations and working as train managers take action, affecting train services throughout the country.

Thousands of passengers will face disruption including those planning to go to the FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley and the Epsom Derby on 3 June.

Train drivers are also due to strike.  Members of Aslef will walk out on Wednesday 31 May and Saturday 3 June.

The strike on 3 June coincides with the FA Cup final, where Manchester City and Manchester United will face each other at Wembley, and is likely to cause significant disruption to those travelling to watch the game.

Stations likely to be affected include in all upcoming strikes include: Chiswick, Chiswick Park, Gunnersbury, Acton Town, Kew Bridge, Brentford and South Acton.

Image above: RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch

RMT condemns pay offer as “unacceptable”

The RMT said it found the Rail Delivery Group’s (RDG) previous offer and associated conditions “unacceptable”.

“Despite contact between the parties since the strike on 13 May, no new proposals have been formulated for the RMT to consider,” the union tweeted today.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch added:

“The Government is once again not allowing the Rail Delivery Group to make an improved offer that we can consider.

“Therefore, we have to pursue our industrial campaign to win a negotiated settlement on jobs, pay and conditions.”

Meanwhile, an RDG spokesperson blamed the union’s leadership for choosing to “prolong this dispute without ever giving their members a chance to have a say on their own offer”.

“In recent discussions with the RMT, we have continued to stand by the fair, industry-level dispute resolution proposal agreed line by line with their negotiating team, which would have resolved this dispute and given our lowest-paid staff a rise of up to 13%.

“Instead, they will be subject to yet more lost pay through industrial action, customers will suffer more disruption, and the industry will continue to suffer huge damage at a time when the railway is taking more than its fair share from taxpayers to keep trains running post-COVID.

“We remain open and willing to engage in national-level talks so that we can secure a pay rise for our people and the long-term future of an industry vital to Britain’s economy.”

Stephen Graham drama set in Victorian criminal underworld filming in Mortlake

Image above: Set pieces along the Thames towpath; photograph Nick Raikes

Disney+ series A Thousand Blows set in the former Stag Brewery

The Stag Brewery in Mortlake is the subject of a controversial development. The place where Budweiser used to be made is set to become a complex of luxury flats. But in the interim, while the abandoned brewery building stands empty, it has become the set for a TV drama, a gripping tale of violence and mystery starring Stephen Graham (This Is England, Boiling Point, Snatch, Line of Duty).

The drama is set in Victorian times and the old brewery is a perfect setting for filming  A Thousand Blows, a 12-part drama exploring the sinister world of illegal boxing and criminal gangs, including the notorious all-female gang known as the Forty Elephants.

Written by Stephen Knight, the author who wrote the Peaky Blinders series,  the blockbuster production has attracted a talented ensemble of actors, writers, and creatives. Produced for Disney+,  A Thousand Blows will reach a global audience.

The production company has recreated the dark underbelly of Victorian London, constructing an expansive set within the Stag Brewery grounds. The rear of the historic Maltings building, dating back to about 1902 and facing Thames, has been repurposed as a workhouse – an integral location within the series.

Beyond the studio walls, scenes are being shot along the towpath, which has been transformed into a realistic film set. Despite this, production around the series remains cloaked in secrecy, and even local residents, who have been granted the unique opportunity to tour the set, were bound by non-disclosure agreements to prevent any unauthorised sharing of images or information.

Curious passers-by may catch a glimpse of the towering scaffolding supporting the intricate set, as well as several camera towers that dot the landscape.

Image above: A sign on the Thames towpath

London’s violent Victorian underworld

Set in the 1880s, the series draws inspiration from real-life characters and events. It delves into the clandestine world of illegal boxing rings that thrived in the city. Following the journey of two Jamaican best friends, Hezekiah (Malachi Kirby) and Alec (Francis Lovehall), the narrative thrusts them into the heart of post-industrial London’s violent underworld.

Erin Doherty, known for her role as Princess Anne in The Crown, plays Mary Carr, the formidable leader of the infamous Forty Elephants gang, notorious for their shoplifting sprees in London’s West End. Members of the gang would present themselves as housemaids in affluent households to steal their hosts’ belongings.

A Thousand Blows weaves together the lives of Hezekiah, Alec, and the captivating Mary Carr as they navigate the treacherous streets of East End London during the 1880s. As Hezekiah immerses himself in the cutthroat world of boxing, he encounters the ruthless Sugar Goodson (Stephen Graham), sparking a rivalry that extends far beyond the confines of the ring.

Image above: (Left to right) Francis Lovehall, Erin Doherty, Stephen Graham and Malachi Kirby star in A Thousand Blows; Disney+

First TV production for Stephen Graham and Hannah Walters’ production company Matriarch

Stephen Graham’s wife Hannah Walters plays Eliza Moody, a member of the women’s gang. The couple met at drama school and have appeared in a number of films and TV dramas together. She played Sonia McNally, the wife of prison officer Eric (Graham) who find themselves between a rock and a hard place when their son Daniel is sent to prison in Time.

They also appeared together in This Is England. Hannah played the part of Trudy in the TV series, while Stephen played Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne in the 2006 original movie and in the TV spin-offs.

They have set up a production company together, Matriarch, and A Thousand Blows is the first TV series they have produced. Stephen Graham has worked with Steven Knight before, in the final series of Peaky Blinders. Graham said:

“To be able to work with Steve again and the talented team of writers we have for this project is truly wonderful, and to tell the story of these incredible characters during this period of time in London is a joy.

“Aside from having the privilege of bringing the role of Sugar Goodson to life, I am also extremely proud that Matriarch is co-producing this show whilst helping to create opportunities for people in front of and behind the camera, instilling the ethos of providing training within production that otherwise would be difficult for some to pursue as a career.”

Award-winning broadcaster and historian Professor David Olusoga, who was recently honoured by BAFTA, will also act as executive producer on the series.

Steven Knight said in a statement:

“I’m really thrilled to be working on this project with Stephen as well as the very talented production team and group of writers.

“I always love to delve into untold history, and this is a story that really deserves to be told. We are recreating an amazing world and telling a remarkable true story.”

Tinge Krishnan (The Mosquito Coast, Industry) is lead director and executive producer, with Hustle actor Ashley Walters and Coky Giedroyc joining as series directors.

Lee Mason, Director of Scripted Content, EMEA, Disney+, said:

“It’s a privilege to work with this extraordinary group of talent, helmed by our fearless creator Steven Knight.

A Thousand Blows tells a story that we rarely get to see on screen, and we are delighted to have the inimitable Stephen Graham and visionary Tinge Krishnan help bring this incredible world of richly diverse characters to life.”

Brentford’s Ivan Toney suspended for eight months

Image above: Ivan Toney

Toney will likely be blocked from any attempt to circumvent his ban

Brentford striker Ivan Toney has been suspended from Brentford FC until 2024 and fined £50,000 by an independent panel after admitting 232 breaches of Football Association betting rules.

The ban, which the FA will enforce, only applies in England. But it is understood the governing body will apply for the 27-year-old’s suspension to extend worldwide.

That would prevent the striker from moving elsewhere on loan to serve his punishment. The FA is still to see the independent panel’s written reasons for Toney’s ban.

Toney’s suspension starts immediately, but he will be allowed to return to training on 17 September, four months before the playing ban expires.

His breaches took place between 25 February 2017 and 23 January 2021, during which time he represented Scunthorpe United, Wigan Athletic, Peterborough United and Brentford.

Toney has scored 20 goals in 33 Premier League appearances this season, helping Brentford into ninth place in the table.

He will miss Brentford’s game at Tottenham on Saturday at 12.30pm and the final match at home to league leaders Manchester City on 28 May 4.30pm.

“I am naturally disappointed” – Toney

Toney, who has one England cap, is under contract at Brentford until 2025. In a statement acknowledging his ban, Toney said:

“Today I have received notification of my eight-month ban from football following a hearing before an FA Regulatory Commission that took place yesterday,” he stated.

“I am naturally disappointed that I will not be able to play for the next eight months. The written reasons for the Commission’s decision have not yet been published, so I make no further comment at this point other than to thank my family and friends, Brentford and our fans for their continued support, through what has been a very difficult time.

“I now focus on returning to play the game I love next season.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

WW1 play at St Michael & All Angels Church raises £2,000 for Combat Stress veterans

Image above: Cosmo’s War; photograph James Cox

Cosmo’s War raises £2000 for veterans charity

A play staged in Chiswick on Remembrance Day about the First World War, has raised £2,000 for veterans’ charity Combat Stress. Cosmo’s War was based on letters exchanged between Bedford Park artist Cosmo Clark and his family during the war.

The performance, at St Michael and All Angels Church and featured music and images, including sketches and letters by Cosmo. Jamie White, a history student from Chiswick, read the part of Cosmo, while professional actors read other roles. The vicar of St Michael & All Angels, Fr Kevin Morris, served as the narrator.

A £2,000 cheque was presented to the charity during Mental Health Awareness Week. Combat Stress Director of Fundraising, Robert Marsh, expressed his gratitude for the donation, emphasising the organisation’s reliance on public support to provide treatment for UK veterans. Combat Stress was established in 1919 to assist soldiers returning from WWI with psychological and physical injuries.

Mr Marsh said:

“Thank you to St Michael & All Angels Church for their donation. Combat Stress is 77% reliant on public donations to deliver its life-changing treatment for UK veterans. From eye-watering endurance challenges to marathons, we appreciate the tenacity and determination of our many fundraising challengers and the generosity of our supporters.”

Image above: Robert Marsh receiving the cheque from Bernard Adams, and Father Kevin Morris with therapy dog Bosco; Photograph Roger Green

“Superb performance”

After the performance on 11 November 2022, Mark Izatt, a trustee of Combat Stress, wrote on Twitter:

“It was a superb performance. I had read the letters before but this gave them a whole new meaning”.

Cosmo volunteered for active service at the age of 17 and won the Military Cross. He documented his experiences in drawings and letters from the front and later became well-known as an artist. His father James Clark painted The Great Sacrifice, acknowledged to be the most popular painting of WW1.

He also painted The Salutation mural in the north aisle of St Michael & All Angels Church.

There were six of James Clark’s great granddaughters and several granddaughters and great-granddaughters of Cosmo, who saw the play and posed for photographs with the cast.

Bernard Adams, a former BBC producer, wrote Cosmo’s War based on the letters exchanged between Cosmo Clark and his family at 44 Rusthall Avenue W4. Copies of the play are available for purchase on Amazon.

Image above: St Michael & All Angels’ Remembrance Day service and scenes from the play; photographs James Cox

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

LB Hounslow fill ‘record-breaking’ 2,000 allotments

Image above: Allotment in Chiswick; photograph Chiswick Horticultural and Allotments Society

Hounslow hits 100% allotment occupancy

Nearly 2,000 allotment plots are now filled in LB Hounslow, one of the largest portfolios of allotments in London.

Hounslow Council say they have worked hard on a range of measures over the last year to allow residents who want to grow their own fresh fruit and vegetables the opportunity to cultivate land that they can call their own. Their efforts seem to have paid off with the Council boasting the highest rate of occupancy recorded for many years.

Hounslow benefits from one of the largest portfolios of allotments in London with a total of around 1,950 plots. With an explosion of interest in gardening and living a sustainable lifestyle, the Council outlined its green ambitions in its Allotment Strategy in 2020 with the aim of offering an improved and modernised service by 2025.

Lampton Services Greenspace, which delivers allotment services on behalf of the Council, has been working over the winter to clear a backlog of allotment plot clearance works required, post Covid.

Over 182 plots were renovated or improved for letting and Council has now reached 100% occupancy across Hounslow’s 29 active allotment sites.

Apply now to get on the allotment waiting list

An important role that tenants can play is to keep the Council informed of any changes in address or contact details; this will also help the Council to understand if the need for a plot remains with a tenant or if the plot is no longer needed and can be re-let.

An allotment plot often requires restoration after a period of non-cultivation. This can be a resource-intensive process but the Council is say they are ‘committed’ to improving availability and cutting the waiting list.

You can apply for an allotment place on the Council’s website :

hounslow.gov.uk or call: 020 8583 6618

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Two children taken to hospital after house fire in Chiswick

Image above: The fire damaged property on Wilkinson Way; London Fire Brigade

Two adults and four children treated at the scene

Two children were taken to hospital after a fire at a house in Chiswick in the early hours of Wednesday morning (17 May).

Firefighters were called to the house on Wilkinson Way at 12.00am with crews from Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Hammersmith fire stations attending the scene.

Two adults and four children were treated on scene before two of the children were taken to hospital by London Ambulance Service crews.

The fire was under control by 1.00am.

A small part of the ground floor, most of the first floor and half of the second floor of the end of terrace three-storey house was damaged by the fire.

Firefighters think the blaze was caused accidentally.

Park Royal crash driver gets seven and a half years

Image above: Rida Kazem

Rida Kazem jailed for dangerous driving

A 24-year-old man has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison for causing the death of a 33-year-old woman and seriously injuring a second by his dangerous driving.

Rida Kazem, of Costons Avenue, Greenford, was sentenced on 17 May at Isleworth Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to the charges against him. In addition to the prison term, Kazem has been disqualified from driving for 12 years.

The fatal collision occurred on 22 August, 2022, at around 3.48am on the westbound A40 near Park Royal Underground Station.

Kazem picked up two women nearby on Johnsons Way, NW10, and drove along Coronation Road onto the A40. After coming to a stop at a set of red traffic lights, he accelerated at an excessive speed up to around 110mph when the lights turned green, breaking the speed limit twice over.

Misjudging a slight bend in the road, Kazem’s vehicle collided with the kerb and one of the back wheels came off. Despite the impact, the car continued rolling at high speed and crashed into a stationary Tesla occupied by a man in his 50s. The vehicle then flipped over a wall and came to a final stop on the railway tracks of Park Royal Tube station.

Image above: Park Royal Station; Google Streetview

Karem refused to provide a blood sample

Yagmur Ozden, 33, was killed. The second passenger in the Range Rover, a woman in her 20s, and the Tesla driver were injured. Both have fully recovered. Kazem himself was initially critically injured and taken to the hospital, but he has since also made a full recovery.

The Serious Collision investigation Unit detectives launched an urgent investigation following the incident.  Kazem refused to provide a blood sample when requested by police, but several key witnesses provided statements to the police, and crucial evidence was furnished by a forensic collision investigator, including a complete data download of the vehicle.

Kazem had two previous speeding offenses, including  driving at 95mph in a 50mph zone and had received a driving ban, which ended in June 2022, just months before this  incident took place.

Family of Yagmur Ozden disappointed by the length of the sentence

Detective Constable Benjamin Simpson, from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, said:

“Our thoughts remain with Yagmur’s family and friends who have experienced the most tragic loss.

“CCTV footage recovered from the local area clearly shows Kazem travelling at excessive speed, and losing control of his car.

“His guilty plea was an acknowledgement that he should have known better, but this does not mitigate what he did.

“The driving he displayed in this incident was both deliberate and selfish with no regard for the public and has ultimately resulted in life changing injuries and the loss of Yagmur’s life.

“I fully understand the family’s frustration with the length of sentence handed down today. I hope that other motorists will reflect on this case and recognise that what they do behind the wheel can have tragic consequences.”

Big River Clean up, 22 June

Image above: River Thames clean-up organised by Active 360 two years ago

Big River Cleanup organised by paddle-boarding company Active 360 for 22 June

The Chiswick-based paddle-boarding company Active 360 has announced the return of ‘the Big River Cleanup’ after a two-year break.

The event, to remove as much plastic and other waste as possible from the River Thames and west London’s waterways, will take place on 22 June and is open to anyone willing to contribute to the cause.

Image above: a volunteer uses a litter pick 

Plastic pollution in the Thames “is not getting better”

The clean-up activities will cover a range of tasks, including litter collection along the shore and on the water, by canoe and paddleboard, and other initiatives designed to enhance the natural habitat along the waterways.

Active 360 encourages all participants to register in advance for the event, which you can do online at: berichmond.london/get-on-board

Included in the price is a training session at Kew Bridge on an evening or weekend before the event. There is a special discount for companies in the Richmond Business Improvement District (BID) and members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme – both employees of participating businesses and Chiswick Calendar subscribers who have Club Cards.

Many companies have chosen litter-picking by paddleboard as a fun day out for their employees on previous river clean-ups, which they can chalk up their company’s Corporate Social Responsibiliy commitment.

Promoting the event, Active 360 Founder Paul Hyman told The Chiswick Calendar it would be great to get as many people as possible to clean up the river this year:

“The Thames is unfortunately still plastic polluted and not getting better.”

Image above: Plastic waste in the River Thames

Safety training

Recognising the increasing number of people using the waterways without proper experience or safety equipment, the Port of London Authority’s Assistant Harbour Master will be there this year, joining volunteers on the water to promote river safety.

Water sports such as canoeing and paddle-boarding are becoming increasingly popular and the PLA is finding people buy equipment online or from supermarkets and go on the River Thames with little to no experience. The Chiswick stretch of the river can be particularly tricky because of the tides, and river safety officials say the need for education on proper safety practices has become paramount.

For more information on how to get involved and register, please visit Active 360’s website or contact their team.

active360.co.uk/paddle-and-pick

Sally Jacobs costumes for ENO and RSC up for sale at Chiswick Auctions

Stage designer who was an important figure in theatre for half a century

A collection of 297 stage costume designs by Sally Jacobs (1932-2020) comes up for sale at Chiswick Auctions’ sale of Books and Works on Paper on Wednesday 24 May.  The archive, that includes mixed media designs for Royal Shakespeare Company productions from the 1960s, is expected to sell for £18,000-22,000.

Jacobs worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1962-65 before moving to Los Angeles to produce designs for the Mark Taper Forum until 1982. The designs here include the 26 costumes for the RSC’s production of Love’s Labours Lost in 1964 plus 15 designs for company’s The Screens, directed the same year by Peter Brook.

The 17 designs for the RSC’s Don Gil of the Green Breeches by Tirso de Molina include those for actors Diana Rigg and Glenda Jackson.

Jacobs’ career was innovative, wide-ranging and influential. Among the later designs in the collection (almost all are signed and dated) are those created for productions at the English National Opera and the Royal Opera in the 1980s and 90s.

At Covent Garden, Jacobs had followed her triumph on Turandot with another Serban production, Fidelio in 1986. She created the set as a vast dungeon which finally breaks open as Leonora rescues Florestan and sunlight floods the stage. All 25 stage designs for the production are part of the archive.

For the ENO in 1988 she also designed a critically approved Eugene Onegin, directed by Graham Vick. 51 designs for the production are featured in the auction, as are the 31 designs for the David Freeman’s 1996 version of Zimmermann’s modern classic Die Soldaten.

Clive Moss, specialist at Chiswick Auctions, says the work compares favourably with those held by institutions including the Harvard Theatre Collection and Victoria & Albert Museum.

“The artworks in the present collection offer an insight into the costume design process behind landmark productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Opera. In Jacobs’ signature style, they colourfully depict an array of British acting royalty.”

Police seek suspects after man dies following serious assault at Chiswick Station

Image above: Suspects in the Chiswick Station assault; photo British Transport Police

Man dies in hospital from his injuries after serious assault

Police have published photographs of three men they wish to speak to in connection with a serious assault which took place at Chiswick Station last year.

The assault happened on 14 October, 2022, at approximately 11.50pm, when the victim, a 38-year-old man, got into an argument with three other men. The victim was thrown against a concrete wall where he injured his head, rendering him unconscious.

The trio fled the scene onto a bus bound for the centre of Chiswick.

The victim was taken to a hospital, where it was found he had sustained a brain haemorrhage and a fractured skull. In December he went into cardiac arrest and he died from his injuries in January this year.

Detectives are not currently treating the case as a murder investigation and they are awaiting a report from the pathologist to determine the victim’s exact cause of death.

According to the British Transport Police, after conducting a series of inquiries, the three men photographed may possess information crucial to their investigation.

If you are able to identify any of these men or have anymore information, please contact the BTP by sending a text to 61016 or dialing 0800 555 111, and quote reference number 12 from October 14, 2022.

Alternatively, you can reach out to Crimestoppers anonymously at 0800 555 111.

Kitchen company Magnet set to open showroom on Chiswick High Road

Image above: 309-317 Chiswick High Road; Google Streetview

Unit at 309-317 Chiswick High Road has been empty since 2019

Magnet, the nationwide fitted kitchen company is preparing to open a showroom on Chiswick High Road.

The company is creating a showroom at 309-317 Chiswick High Road at the base of the Botanic House development and has applied to LB Hounslow to install new doors and windows and new signage.

The unit they have their sights on spans 12 square meters, equivalent to three standard shop units and has been unoccupied for the last three years.

Previously it was known as Conduit House, a three-storey building from the sixties that once housed Rice, Mailboxes Etc, and Yupa’s Thai Kitchen. In 2019, as part of £25 million redevelopment scheme, Conduit House was demolished and transformed into Botanic House, featuring 21 modern flats on its upper floors.

The grand unveiling of Botanic House coincided with the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result, the ground floor units has stood empty for years.

The ground floor units of Botanic House had been advertised for rent at £215,000 a year.

The planning application, with more details, can found under reference number P/2023/1472 on the Hounslow Council website’s planning section.

West London Queer Project expands services to other London boroughs

Image above: West London Queer Project

West London Queer Project secures funding from National Lottery Community Fund

West London Queer Project (WLQP) has been successful in a bid to win funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

This funding will enable WLQP to expand their offering into the neighbouring boroughs of Richmond, Ealing, Hillingdon and Hammersmith & Fulham over the next two years.

The primary goal of this expansion is to improve and enrich the lives of west London’s LGBTQ+ community by providing social, networking and sporting opportunities which currently do not exist in these boroughs.

WLQP has always been committed to supporting the LGBTQ+ community, and this funding will allow them to expand their reach and impact. The expansion into neighbouring boroughs is consistent with WLQP’s long-term vision and will allow the organisation to better serve the community’s evolving needs.

Image above: Co-founder Aubrey Crawley (centre) accepting an award at The Chiswick Calendar party in January 2023; photo by Anna Kunst

Organisiers “incredibly grateful”

Aubrey Crawley, WLQP’s Founder, said:

‘‘We are incredibly grateful to the National Lottery Community Fund for recognising the value and importance of our work. This funding will allow us to make a real difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ people living in west London and beyond.

“LGBTQ+ spaces, including theatres and performance venues across London are continuing to disappear and these spaces are vital for our community to feel safe, connected and empowered.”

Joe Leonard, Co-founder added:

“At the same time, the landscape for the LGBTQ+ community has been evolving and we no longer have to rely only on bars and night clubs to meet other people, enjoy ourselves and have a sense of belonging.

“This is why we offer a wide range of events including Touch Rugby, regular walks, family meetups and drag and comedy shows. We’re also in the planning stages of adding football to our list of offerings.”

Chiswick Cheese Market Sunday 21 May

Image above: Chiswick Cheese Market, April

Guest blog by Lucy Cufflin

So, I’ll start with the worrying stuff – we have all seen the reports recently of heatwaves across Southern Spain but what we may not know is that there has been a drought here for months.

I’m writing looking out over the scorched and parched mountains of the Sierra Nevada and am told it should look like this at the end of a hot dry summer, not in May at the end of a wet winter. I arranged to visit a local cheesemaker – but sadly there is no cheese in sight…….no greenery so the goats and sheep have produced virtually no milk and what they have made is kept for the babies…… NO CHEESE!

There is of course cheese from last year to be bought and I can report that the cheese is extremely good indeed and I have been enjoying chunks of this nutty slightly spicy cheese on my mountain hikes along with some fabulous sardines.

So, in the same way as we know the world of wine growing is changing year on year watch this space because the world of cheese making is also on the move …… I think in the not-too-distant future Northern Europe may be producing the cheeses that rely less on lush grass – perhaps more goat and sheep cheeses? Only time will tell.

Image above: Sierra Nevada looking far drier than it should in May

Anyway, back to Chiswick– the market is only a week away and we have lots and lots of fantastic cheeses lined up.

First off, Cheesemaker alert!!!…… Todd Trethowan will be side by side with Roi selling his award-winning Pitchfork Cheddar and Gorwydd Caerphilly this month so if you are keen to see a real live cheese legend then make sure you visit their stall.

Even better than that, Todd is staying after the market and you can join him, drink in hand, as he talks us through tasting his amazing cheeses at Old Town Deli on Devonshire Road. 3pm – 4pm – what better way to end a cheesy day out?

This event is only £10 per ticket including the cheese and a drink – don’t miss it! Very limited places – Wow!

eventbrite.co.uk

Gary at Hamm Tunn (@cobblersnibble) made a welcome re-appearance at the last market and he is busy this week making his ‘St Crispin’ – a small soft cheese that he says was a complete accident – he was making his ‘Shoetown Blue’ and once the curd was ladled into the moulds he saw that his bacteria to add for ‘blueing’ was still on the worktop – he allowed the cheese to continue without the blue and St Crispin was born – and what a happy accident it was as it was definitely one of the stars of my shopping basket last month.

I was told by Alfonso that the smoked olive oil from his @collonaverdefarm was superb drizzled over soft poached eggs and so we did ………. And he was not wrong – infact we have drizzled it over asparagus, over burrata from @lalatteria and over many treats since the last market. It’s very very special is all I have to say!

So, which cheese is good at this time of year? Well, inevitably the soft fresher cheeses are at their best with the lushest grass to graze and the fruity milk gives all the soft cheeses an especially great flavour but don’t forget the summer milk mature cheeses – so cheeses that are matured for a year are now the milk from last spring.

TIP – Ask how old the cheeses are that you are buying and work out when the milk was produced as it will make a difference to the end flavour of the cheese. A lovely cheese that made its first appearance of the spring last market was Flower Marie – a soft Ewe’s milk cheese from @goldencrosscheese available from Fay @bigwheelcheese stall. So, search out the fresh and the year-old cheeses at this market as well as your favourites – full list of stall holders on our website.

chiswickcheesemarket.uk

Don’t forget we have wonderful, melted cheese from @themacfactorylondon again and the very best toasties from @grateandgrill.

I’m late setting off for my mountain hike in this breath takingly beautiful part of the world, so before I sign off, just a quick reminder that the fabulous Victoria from mummywineclub.com is hosting a fabulous cheese and wine paring  event again  but this time alongside the very knowledgeable Marcus Brigstocke so it should be a really entertaining feast – for tickets

mummywineclub.com

Adios from The Sierra Nevada and see you at the market on Sunday 21 May.

Lucy

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Wylde Market, meeting the producers

Images above: Fresh caught sea bass and wild venison

Food fresh from the producers in Devon

Wylde Market set up recently in Chiswick, giving consumers the opportunity to buy fresh food direct from the producers rather than going through a succession of agents. They are members of our Club Card scheme and, as the name suggests, they deal in wild food – mainly fish and game.

As I was in Devon a few weeks ago, I took the opportunity to meet a couple of the producers – fisherman Ben and venison producer Hugh, to find out what the arrangement looked like from their end. Both were pleased to be able to connect directly with people enjoying their produce, and both make more money than they do if they have to sell to a chain.

Ben – Sea bass fisherman

Ben has recently moved back to Devon and bought a boat, having lived in Bristol for many years performing music live. His father was a fisherman in St Ives in what is now considered a golden era for the fishing industry, the 1970s.

Although he grew up with it and learned all about it from his father, initially Ben had not wanted to become a fisherman, so I asked him why now? When all we hear is that times are hard for fishermen, fish stocks are depleted, foreign industrial trawlers take fish from inshore waters and Brexit has made it all so much more complicated.

“My career as a musician rather evaporated during the Covid lockdowns and my wife and I wanted to get back to Devon. I found I missed the sea and wanted to get back in touch with that lifestyle.”

The lifestyle is not easy. He gets up in the early hours, leaving the house at 2am to get out to sea and find the fish before his competitors. Once he has landed his catch he gets on the phone to Nick at Wylde Market and then later in the day he drives to Exmouth to send the orders by courier by 6pm. It’s a long day.

He goes out in a 16ft open boat to fish the inshore waters off the South Devon coast, but is cagey about where he fishes and how he finds sea bass, because the competition is so tough. Sea bass are found in shallow, reefy ground.

“They are elusive creatures who move with the tide. One minute they are there, the next they are gone” he tells me.

Image above: Sea bass fisherman Ben with the lure he uses

“The difference in working with Wylde Market is making the fishing viable for me”

He works by himself, catching fish with a rod and line. “I love fishing for them, it’s active fishing, challenging, quite like sport fishing. It’s a lot of fun.”

Sometimes he can catch 15 or 20 fish but at other times he may come away with none. He uses the Japanese Ikejime method to disptach them, pushing a spike through the fish’s brain – better for the fish he says, which dies quickly, not thrashing around as it suffocates, and better eating, as the fish does not release lactic acid which causes the flesh to break down more quickly.

“It is dispatched within seconds and I cool it down in slush ice, so the meat is in beautiful condition” – sashimi grade, ie. good enough for sushi.

What with finding the fish on the sonar, keeping an eye on navigation and the weather, fishing and dispatching, there is not much down time.  We are used to Mediterranean fish, farmed to plate size, but the fish he lands are generally between one and three kilos and sell to consumer for around £45 per kilo.

The disadvantage of Wylde Market for him is that they are only open one day a week – Wednesdays – so if the weather is bad and he can’t go out, or he doesn’t find any fish on a Tuesday night, that’s it for another week. The rest of the week he sells to the local fish market, where the price is much less.

So does he like selling direct to consumers through Wylde Market online?

“It is so much better not being at the mercy of the market, who sells it on to a fish merchant, who sells to a fishmonger, who eventually sells to a restaurant or retailer. The fish reaches you much fresher, within 36 hours or so, and I get to keep 60% the sale instead of 30%. I would say the difference in working with Wylde Market is making the fishing viable for me.”

Images above: Hugh Bourne overlooking the moor where he lives; Red deer on the skyline

Hugh – Venison producer

I was not sure what to call Hugh when I him on Dartmoor. Deerstalker? Hunter? He prefers deer ‘manager’ as that is the essence of what he does. Having grown up in Hampshire, studied agriculture and gained a Master of Science in Wildlife Management, he took an opportunity to buy some land on Dartmoor and set up a deer park.

Not the sort you take small children to, to pet the animals, but the sort where the deer live unmolested in 60 acres, until that is he culls them, which keeps the herd healthy he says, with enough to eat for the remaining herd, and gives him the venison from which he makes his living.

It is a park, not a farm, because his management is not interventionist, except that he may put a little food down in winter.

Trained to identify healthy animals and spot signs of disease (he is himself a trainer for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation), he does his own butchery in a spotless cabin a short walk up a track from his house and sells the meat mainly to organic butchers.

Business has become much tougher in recent years – a combination of Brexit making exports much more difficult, he says, and Covid closing off avenues to sell to restaurants. The meat he sells to Wylde Market is not from his deer park but from the moors, mainly when farmers and landowners have invited him onto their land to keep the numbers down.

Image above: Deer manager Hugh Bourne

Are the British public ready to eat Bambi?

In some areas deer are beneficial, he tells me, but farmers largely regard them as a nuisance as the way they browse, stripping the bark from trees, affects the way the trees grow; they are competition for sheep and cattle, wanting the same lush grass, and they spoil arable crops by trampling them.

Deer have been invading suburban areas recently. “They quickly understand where they are safe” says Hugh. A little bit of woodland on the outskirts of a town is perfect.

“The general public still don’t really know about eating venison” Hugh tells me. “You don’t see venison advertised on TV. Are the British public ready to eat Bambi? Hollywood has a lot to answer for.

“There is a lack of coordinated management and marketing in this country.”

Somewhere along the way we fell out of the habit of eating venison. Our forebears would have had no compunction about eating it if they could get their hands on it. Waitrose and M&S sell venison now. It is good, lean meat, says Hugh, but he is unhappy about shooting deer unless he knows he has a market for it, and will not sell to game dealers.

“I would rather not shoot it than sell it to a game dealer. In order to manage deer well there needs to be a value. They need to be respected, so a reasonable and sustainable harvest is taken.”

Hugh, like Ben, finds dealing with Wylde Market much more satisfactory than selling to dealers – he earns three times more and knows the meat reaches the consumer fresh and is not wasted.

Image above: Hugh with his dogs

Wylde Market are members of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme. The market opens each Wednesday from 7am until 7pm, with all deliveries made on Friday the same week. See the discount they offer to Club Card holders here: Wylde Market Club Card offer.

If you would like to buy fresh wild food direct from Wylde Market, have a look at their website to see what they have available on Wednsday mornings.

wylde.market

Chiswick councillor objects to reappointment of Hounslow chair after he “misled” committee

Image above: Entrance to Burlington Lane from A316 blocked by barrier which will now become a permanent fixture

“Flagrant abuse” endorsed by the Labour Pary whips, says Chiswick councillor

Cllr Sayyar Raza has been reconfirmed as Chair of Hounslow Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee at the AGM of the Hounslow Labour Party last night (Monday 16 May).

The councillor has been accused of misleading the committee over the issue of the most recent decision on traffic management in the south Chiswick Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Under these circumstance it is wrong that he should continue as chair, Chiswick Conservative Councillor Jack Emsley told The Chiswick Calendar.

“It is shocking to have a councillor mislead a committee. It is completely beyond the confines of the constitution and what we are asked to do as councillors.

“He is putting party before good governance and for the Labour party to reappoint him as chair it shows they are not taking the Overview and Scrutiny committee seriously.”

Freedom of Information request shows Cllr Raza misrepresented response from residents

Cllr Raza told the Overview and Scrutiny Committee he had received “hundreds of emails saying how good the LTN scheme is.”

Members of the public, including Conservative Party member Joe Hamblin, put in Freedom of Information requests (FOI) to see if this was true. The FOI response revealed Raza received 75 emails on the subject.

The Council has not divulged the content of the emails:

“To provide you with copies of each email received, the Council will need to contact and consult with each resident who has sent an email. This will take a significant amount of time to conduct.”

But Conservative members of the Overview Committee were copied on 74 of those emails, and say only two were in favour of the proposal to make the schemes permanent, 71 were against and 1 was unclear (argued the merits of both sides without a conclusion).

Oversight and Scrutiny Committee “should be objective”

“It is the job of the Oversight and Scrutiny Committee to look objectively at decisions made by the Council” Cllr Emsley told The Chiswick Calendar.

“If you mislead the Committee it is flagrant abuse. Cllr Raza misrepresented what residents had been telling him.

“I am sure the Labour whips would have asked him whether he misled the committee, but they decided to elect him anyway.”

The issue of traffic restrictions is a political hot potato. Conservative councillors have opposed the restrictions introduced in Grove Park, though even they are not united on the issue. Residents disagree, depending on where they live, over whether there should be access to Grove Park from the A316 for people who do not live there.

The traffic restrictions have seen access blocked at Hartington Rd, Staveley Rd and Burlington Lane for all except those with permits, to stop thousands of commuters driving through the residential area. Everyone else driving in from the east has to drive to Hogarth roundabout and along the A4 to enter Grove Park from Sutton Court Rd.

The Chiswick Calendar understands it was not only Conservative councillors who objected to the reappointment of Cllr Gaza as committee chair. We were told his reappointment at the Labour Party AGM was “a close run thing” and he was challenged by another Labour councillor.

Meanwhile Hounslow Council has published the ‘final’ details of the Grove Park LTN scheme, which will now be enforced by a permanent traffic order.

New mayor for Hounslow chosen without election

Image above: Cllr Afzaal Kiani

Decision to appoint branded “undemocratic”

The Hounslow Labour Party has held its AGM and selected a new mayor for the coming year.

Usually the mayor is elected. The members are asked to vote for their preferred candidate. This time The Chiswick Calendar understands the members were not given a choice. Instead the Leader, Shantanu Rajawat, expected the membership to rubber stamp his selection – Cllr Afzaal Kiani.

Cllr Kiani represents Hounslow Heath ward. Though popular in the west end of the borough, we understand Labour Party members in Brentford and Isleworth may not have voted for him, had they been given the choice.

Messages from a Labour group WhatsApp group were published on the Brentford Today & TV Facebook page which questioned the wisdom of the selection. Not only is the process seen as undemocratic but they fear the choice of candidate might bring them bad press. One mentioned a concern the Council may feature in Private Eye because of it.

Cllr Kiani was dismissed from his job with the Home Office as an immigration officer in 2014. He was suspended, his security clearance withdrawn, and then dismissed, all without any reason being given to him.

He took the Home Office to an Employment Tribunal claiming he had been sacked because of discrimination against him on the grounds of race or religion, but he lost his appeal. The judge, Mr Justice Langstaff, ruled that the Home Office had been within its rights to dismiss him without telling him why because of reasons pertaining to national security.

He was dismissed on the basis that he no longer met the requirements set out in government vetting policy. This may have been because his wife worked for a company called Global Immigration Management Ltd which provided advice on citizenship and immigration issues including work permits, but as the Home Office do not have to tell him why he was sacked, that remains speculation.

He now works as an independent consultant. The position of mayor is largely ceremonial. He will be taking over from Councillor Raghwinder Siddhu, who represents Bedfont ward.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Brentford 2, West Ham United 0

The team lead out the future generation of fans and players…

Second Season: Stand-in Superstar

The afternoon began with a shock: Ivan Toney was not in the starting line-up. Worse, he wasn’t in the list of substitutes either. Woe was almost tangible among the home side’s supporters. But not to worry – the sorcerer’s apprentice was on hand to spearhead the Bees’ late-season bid to finish ahead of West London rival clubs in the Premier League table.

Especially Fulham! said my mate Charlie.

Bryan Mbeumo’s undoubted talent has too often been hidden by the wizardry of Toney, his up-front partner and football professor when they trained together. Against the Hammers, it was left to Mbeumo to run the show, with Yoanne Wissa and Kevin Schade as his willing students.

The visitors helped a bit when West Ham manager David Moyes left out a handful of his key players, including Said Benrahma, not so long ago a crowd favourite at Griffin Park. Mbeumo led their replacements a merry dance, on one occasion intercepting a high through ball in an almost balletic one-foot movement to turn defence into attack.

And the goalscorer is…Bryan Mbeumo!

After twenty minutes In a first half which Brentford dominated, he also supplied the finish to excellent approach work that saw Matthias Jensen find him, unmarked and motoring towards goal. Mbeumo’s careful shot might have been saved, but keeper Lukaz Febianski, at full stretch, seemed to fumble the ball as it sneaked under him.

Febianski was constantly busy. Mbeumo shot wide – not unknown, remarked some cynics – but marshalled his troops well, so that Kevin Schade, hungry for his first Bees’ goal, and the persistent Wissa were each proving difficult to handle. Ben Mee was another irritant, having a fierce shot blocked on the goal line and deflected behind.

So the second goal came as no surprise when just before the interval, when Mee flicked on a Jensen long throw for Wissa to head the ball away from the keeper and into the net.

Moyes reacted to a threatened drubbing after the break. Almost certainly safe from relegation after a bruising season, he was now understandably worried that his team would fail to exploit their 2-1 advantage when travelling to the Netherlands for the second leg of their Europa Conference semi-final against AZ Alkmaar. So, on came Benrahma – to respectful applause – along with England international Declan Rice, Jared Bowen, and other West Ham hotshots.

Did it make any difference. You bet. David Raya, who had so far spent much of his afternoon as a spectator, suddenly found himself in a proper contest. With Rice running the midfield and the Bees’ defence stretched, they appeared to have clawed a goal back – much to the delight of their highly-vocal travelling support.

Vitaly Janelt closes in on Lanzini

Sadly, for them, it was a false alarm. A goalmouth skirmish that ended with Manuel Lanzini supplying Danny Ings with the ball he managed to stab home, only for lengthy deliberation and referee Michael Oliver’s visit to the VAR video screen revealing the decision of handball.

Of Thomas Frank’s handful of substitutes, Saman Ghoddos received an impromptu, warm response from the stands. It was announced earlier that Samman would be leaving the club at the end of the season. The attacking midfielder has featured mostly as a substitute and the crowd had always admired his spirit and enthusiasm.

But time moves on… with Frank celebrating his one hundredth victory in his time as head coach, although personal celebrating is not really his style.

‘I can remember my first win clearly,’ Frank told journalists earlier this month. ‘It was against Millwall at home… That first win was important. It was a good feeling and a little bit of relief, but then we lost three more”.’

He can now be proud of guaranteeing a top-ten place in the League this season, no matter what results are achieved at Spurs next week and, in the last game of the term, at home to Manchester City.

Hickey, Damsgaard and Janelt triangulate on the ball

A remarkable season, I observed to my mate Charlie, thanks to Ivan and the rest of the squad.

‘Especially Bryan,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Raya; Hickey (Roerslev 85), Mee, Pinnock, Henry; Janelt, Jensen (Onyeka 70), Damsgaard (Baptiste 77); Mbeumo, Schade (Ghoddos 85), Wissa (Dasilva 77).

West Ham United: Fabianski; Johnson, Aguerd, Ogbonna, Emerson; Downes, Soucek (Rice 57); Fornals (Mubama 57), Lanzini, Cornet (Benrahma 57); Ings (Bowen 83).

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor of the Bees United supporters’ group.

Pictures by Liz Vercoe

Episode 33: Is the coronation still going on? Sorry, I missed a bit, the dog needed a walk

Flags flying upside down, Rishi Sunak being criticised for ‘not being grounded in our culture’ despite his perfect reading from the scriptures at the coronation, and Nigel being accused of being a Marxist for taking the dog for a walk during the ceremony.

The Three Old Hacks chew over the coronation, the national anthem (time for a new one?) and the admirable state of Penny Mordaunt’s biceps.


More Platforms

Listen to more episodes here.

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

Gareth Armstrong’s new play A Critical Stage at the Tabard

Image above: Barbara Wilshere, Gareth Armstrong Jeremy Booth in rehearsal for A Critical Stage at the Tabard

Interview with Gareth Armstrong about his new play ‘A Critical Stage’

There is a new play on at the Tabard theatre in Chiswick. ‘New’ in that it opens on 31 May, but ‘new’ also in the sense that it has never been performed anywhere in front of an audience before – “a world premiere” says writer / director Gareth Armstrong wryly.

The play is set in 1942: ‘In a wartime London of blackouts, rationing and the Blitz, James Agate, famous author and theatre critic, refuses to change his lifestyle. But if the bombs can’t curb his passion for hard work, high living and illicit encounters, there are soon some bombshells threatening to blow his world apart.’

Image above: Barbara Wilshere as Gwen; David Acton as Leo

“A fantastic theatrical character”

Why choose James Agate as a subject?

“He was very famous in the interwar years. I read a biography of him by James Harding and just thought ‘what a fantastic theatrical character’.

“He was born in 1877; went to Manchester Grammar; when he was a child his father invited the great Sarah Bernhardt to lunch. He went into his father’s business and was a successful businessman in the cloth industry for 20 years  before changing career and becoming a prolific writer.”

Agate wrote some 40 books; broadcast on BBC radio and became a very influential critic. Unlike the other critics at the time, he had not been to university and brought a totally different perspective to theatre. His impact on the theatre, arts criticism and the cultural life of Britain was enormous.

It was Agate who ‘discovered’ Journey’s End, the play by English playwright R. C. Sherriff, set in the trenches in the First World War, which continues to be produced in theatres and has been recreated in film several times, most recently in 2017.

“It was because he said ‘this is really good’ that it got the attention it deserved” says Gareth.

Images above: Sam Hill as Smike; Jeremy Booth as James Agate

A Critical Stage is based on real life events: “I’ve invented a couple of relationships, but it is based on research, truth and speculation.”

Playing a dangerous game

Agate has written a damning review of a performance by Gwen, a prominent actress who confronts him about it. He is looked after by Smike, a young and tolerant houseboy and he has a volatile relationship with his secretary, Leo, an Austrian Jewish refugee. Agate was gay and indiscreet about his sexuality at a time when he could have gone to prison for it. As the play unfolds Agate’s increasingly careless behaviour is not going unnoticed with his bosses at the Sunday Times newspaper…

Theatre at the Tabard has a history of bringing new writing to audiences. Gareth introduced his play Fondly Remembered at the Tabard in 2015, a very funny play about the ageing members of a theatre company getting back together to plan the memorial service of one of their colleagues.

Gareth’s career started in the National Youth theatre. He has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and “run a couple of theatres in Wales” and was one of the artistic directors at the Sherman Theatre in Cardiff. He has lived in Chiswick for more than 20 years.

Images above: Gareth Armstrong; Barbara Wilshere

This is the fourth in-house production by Take Note Theatre since the company  took over running theatre above the Tabard pub in Bath Rd, Chiswick, in July 2022. The photographs, by Liviu-Andrei Enache, were taken during rehearsals.

A Critical Stage is on at the Tabard on Bath Rd in Chiswick from Wednesday 31 May until Saturday 17 June.

Book tickets at tabard.org.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

The Chiswick Calendar Freebie – Family ticket to Robin Hood

Image above: Cast of Illyria’s production of Robin Hood

Robin Hood: Family Outdoor Theatre at Chiswick House Gardens

With King Richard away at war, the rich are fighting amongst themselves to seize power. And they’re ready to play dirty! Luckily, so are the swashbuckling Robin Hood and his misfit rebels. They plot to bring down the greedy Sheriff of Nottingham and every other villain along the way.

This fast-moving production of Robin Hood by the award-winning outdoor theatre company Illyria ‘delivers huge laughs, swashbuckling adventures, and well-deserved revenge!’ Robin Hood never misses a target.

Pack a picnic to eat as you enjoy this fast-paced heist for all ages.

And if you would like to be in with a chance to win a free family ticket (four people, max two adults) for the open-air production at Chsiwick House on Saturday 27 May at 2pm, email the answer to this question to info@thechiswickcalendar.co.uk.

Q: A member of Robin’s faithful band of Merry Men is called Little John. Why is he called that?

Correct answers received by midnight on Tuesday 16 May 2023 will be put into a randomiser to pick the winner and we will let you know if you’ve won. the winner’s name will also be publicised on The Chiswick Calendar.

If you are unlucky in the competition but would still  like to go, you can buy tickets here:

Robin Hood at Chiswick House

23 May 2023 Update: Congratulations Margie Clements – you have a family ticket to Robin Hood on Saturday, 27 May 2023 and our team will be in touch with you.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick has the best pizza chef in Europe (barring Italy) It’s official!

Image above: Michele Pascarella (R) with fellow chef Francesco

Michele Pascarella, owner of Napoli on the Road

Chiswick has the best pizza chef in the whole of Europe, barring Italy. It’s official. Michele Pascarella, owner of Napoli on the Road, on Devonshire Rd, has just been awarded the title Pizza Maker of the Year 2023 by 50 Top Pizza, and the restaurant has been awarded 8th best pizza restaurant.

A delighted Michele told The Chiswick Calendar “it’s like the Michelin guide for pizza.”

Michele opened Napoli on the Road in September 2019, and despite the timing, the restaurant has done so well he is about to open his second, in Richmond, in June.

He started making pizza in Caserta, near Naples, at the age of 11. No, not as I lazily assumed, at his grandmother’s apron, but in a pizza restaurant where he was working to earn money. No one in his family worked in the hospitality industry.

He found he liked it and was good at it and came over here at the age of 19 with a group from central Italy setting up restaurants in Plymouth, Truro and Newquay. From there he went to Sartori, the famous Italian restaurant in Soho, then set up his own business with a van selling pizzas at street food markets, which he still does at food markets in Kensington.

Image above: Alexia, second right, with Deb (L), Jamie (R) and Jasper

Customers delighted for him

He is in his element at Napoli on the Road. His customers are mainly regulars. As we spoke, several came in and congratulated him. Alexia was having lunch with her mother Jamie, grandmother Deb and little brother Jasper. They come in about once a month on weekends as a treat. I asked Alexia what she thought of the pizza.

“It’s really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, GOOD!” she told me. You can’t say fairer than that.

The menu changes seasonally and is about to change next week for summer. There will be dishes with peppers, aubergines and artichokes added. Jamie’s tip is that the Aubergine parmigiana is really (really, really etc) good too.

Michele was justifiably cagey about what goes into his pizzas that makes them so good. He would only say that the dough is a modern dough rather than a traditional one, made with long fermentation and the toppings come from farmers markets.

Did I mention Napoli on the Road is a member of our Club Card scheme? Michele offers Club Card holders a 10% discount after 5pm on Tuesday to Thursday, and Friday lunchtime between 12 and 4pm. It also offers a 15% discount on takeaways at any time if you click and collect (mention you are a Club Card holder on the phone and show your card when you pick up your food). No discount on deliveries.

Image above: Napoli on the Raod, Devonshire Rd

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Would you consider becoming a Member of Chiswick House & Gardens Trust?

Image above: Dog walking in Dukes Avenue in May

No such thing as a free dog walk

Chiswick House Trust is on a membership drive. We have all got used to using the Gardens at Chiswick House as if it were our own back garden, or personal estate, but one over which we have no responsibility for the upkeep. Truth to tell, the upkeep costs a lot of money, and say the Trust, they need people in Chiswick who use the gardens to stump up to support it.

The Trust receives 22% of the cost of running the House and Gardens from English Heritage and Hounslow Council respectively. That leaves 78% for them to raise themselves. They are hoping this year to encourage more people who use the Gardens regularly will be persuaded to support the Trust financially.

Membership costs £50 a year for adults, (£75 joint membership for two adults or family membership for two adults + up to three children under the age of 17). It buys members unlimited free admission to the House and Kitchen Garden during seasonal opening hours, a programme of members’ events, a 10% discount in the café, shop and at the produce cart, and priority booking for Chiswick House & Gardens Trust run events.

Or, if you are not interested in any of the above, but go for a walk there most days, your reward will be the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with supporting a Good Thing and helping to keep access open to all.

You may think that once you have seen inside Chiswick House, there is no real reason to go back, but under the directorship of Xanthe Arvanitakis, there are displays and events programmed, designed to draw people back in for repeat visits, and the same is true of the Kitchen Garden.

This year there is priority booking for members for the opening session of this year’s Chiswick Book Festival, an interview with veteran gardener and broadcaster Alan Titchmarsh.

Image above: Daffodils, tulips and pear blossom in the Kitchen Garden mid-April

Let 15,000 flowers bloom

There have been 15,000 bulbs planted in the Kitchen Garden, which has just opened for the season, (open Thursday – Sunday, from 11am – 4pm). It is looking very spruce, and if you are at all interested in gardening there is a lot to admire. As I visited a few weeks ago the pear blossom, daffodils and tulips were out and the asparagus tips were just beginning to show.

A new initiative this year is that Chiswick House Trust will be selling cut flowers grown in the Kitchen Garden. Currently you can buy tulips from the shop in the conservatory. Whatever flowers, fruit and vegetables are in season will be on sale now until October. The Trust has also entered into an arrangement with Chiswick Flower Market to sell flowers at the market.

The gardeners – five staff and between 50 and 100 volunteers – have planted over 200 types of fruit and vegetables. Right now rhubarb and wild garlic is in season, but very soon now the gardens will be producing a prolific choice, through to the autumn when the beds will be full of pumpkins and squashes.

New too are the fruit cages and ideas for later in the summer are selling edible flowers, pick-your-own and tea-making. Visitors will be invited to make up their own tea infusions from a variety of herbs.

Image above: Fruit cages in the Kitchen Garden

A base for community groups

It is not all about raising money for the Trust. They will be donating half of what they harvest to Surplus to Supper, a charity which aims to ‘bridge the gap between food waste and food poverty locally’.

They also work with community groups, Mind Food for example, an Ealing based charity which charity help people struggling with stress, depression or anxiety by offering food-growing and creative sessions in natural green settings.

They have arrangements with schools – the Meet Me at the Gate project with Cavendish Primary School for example, engaging young children with the natural world – and projects for Black History month in the house. The results of a piece of work on the silk trade, an interactive digital display, should be seen in early June.

Image above: Volunteers repotting seedlings ready for their introduction to the great outdoors

There are dedicated sessions for vulnerable adults to use the gardens. Chef Manju Malhi was awarded a community medal for organising cooking projects using produce from the gardens during the pandemic. The chef, who specialises in British Indian cuisine, was one of 850 medal winners chosen to go to the coronation celebrations.

Chiswick House is a lovely setting for a wedding and the recent Wedding Show attracted a lot of interest. The conservatory is closed to the public in its entirety, as the wings need serious refurbishment, but the cupola is open and is a favourite spot for wedding photographs.

And of course the Trust benefits from the programme of events put on by external event organisers: Gifford’s Circus, open air theatre productions by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Luna Cinema and Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place weekend to name a few. Sadly last year’s Halloween spectacular is not returning, but Pub in the Park is.

First up will be a production of Robin Hood for families on Saturday 27 May.

Image above: Daffodils and Tulips mid-April

A snip at under £1 a week

The Trust would like you to come and enjoy all those things, but they would also ask you to consider whether, if you use the Gardens a lot, you could make a commitment of £1 a week to give it a little financial security.

Chiswick House reopens for the summer on Thursday 25 May. If you would like to sign up to be a member, you can do so here: Become a Member.

Three men convicted for running drugs factory in Acton

Image above: Roshan Valentine, Allen Valentine, Krunal Patel

Men were selling pharmaceutical drugs on the dark web

Three men have been convicted for running a large-scale drugs factory in Acton.

Allen Valentine, Roshan Valentine (Allen’s son), and Krunal Patel were involved in producing and selling Benzodiazepines, a type of sedative classified as a Class C drug. They operated under the guise of a company called Puzzle Logistics Limited and made illicit profits of at least £3.5 million.

The investigation was led by the Met Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, following intelligence received from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States about the men selling pharmaceutical drugs on the dark web. The detectives began the investigation in January 2022 and discovered that the three men were regularly visiting a warehouse unit in Acton Business Park. This warehouse was used for the production, packaging, and supply of the drugs.

The investigation involved specialist cyber tactics to gather evidence, and the Cyber Crime Unit had detailed knowledge of the dark web and training in cryptocurrency. Users would purchase the drugs on the dark web and pay in cryptocurrency, which were then delivered through the mail.

On August 17, 2022, Krunal Patel was arrested near the warehouse with 15 parcels labeled for posting to addresses across the UK. These parcels contained tablets imprinted with the brand names ‘Xanax’ and ‘Teva,’ which are licensed medicines within the Benzodiazepine group. Roshan and Allen Valentine were arrested later that same day.

Image above: the lab inside the Acton Warehouse, tools used to make pills

Various class C drugs seized

During the search of the warehouse, a concealed laboratory was found, along with a significant amount of equipment, chemical substances, and crates of pills manufactured on-site. The pills were analysed and found to contain various Class C drugs from the Benzodiazepine group, including Deschloroetizolam, Flubromazepam, Bromazolam, and Flualprazolam.

Allen Valentine claimed to be a doctor with qualifications in pharmacy, and ongoing inquiries are being conducted to verify his claims.

The three men were charged with conspiracy to produce Class C drugs and money laundering offences. Krunal Patel and Roshan Valentine pleaded guilty to the charges, while Allen Valentine pleaded not guilty but was found guilty after a trial.

The sentencing for the convicted men is yet to be determined, and a confiscation hearing will take place to obtain their illegal profits legally.

Detective Superintendent Helen Rance leads the Cyber Crime Unit, she said:

“Our specialist Cyber Crime Unit are experts at infiltrating the sale of illegal items on the dark web. We work collaboratively with International Law Enforcement partners to ensure operations like this are stopped in their tracks.”