Fresh designs for Gypsy Corner even taller than previous plans

Image: Visualisation of the two proposed towers as seen from North Acton Playing fields

Developers now propose a 58-storey building rather than 55

A new design proposal has been put forward for two tower blocks at 4 Portal Way, adjacent to the A40 Western Avenue near Gypsy Corner.

Aldau Development, an Egyptian property developer, has opted out of a prior plan that had secured planning approval to erect two towers on the same site. The taller tower, originally intended to span 55 storeys, has now been proposed to reach a height of 58 storeys in the latest submission.

The proposed building would surpass existing structures nearby and would be visible across parts of Acton and Chiswick, potentially becoming west London’s tallest residential tower.

In response to regulatory alterations mandating the inclusion of additional staircases in buildings of a certain height, the revised plans now integrate a second staircase in both towers.

The application for the development has been lodged with the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, serving as the designated planning authority for the site. The proposal encompasses two mixed-use residential-led buildings, with the shorter tower standing at 44 storeys.

The development is projected to comprise a total of 669 flats, of which 35% would be classified as affordable, alongside a 90-room hotel and commercial and retail spaces on the ground floor.

The taller north tower would accommodate 451 flats, with the remaining 218 units situated in the south tower. Of the total units, 65% are slated for build-to-rent purposes, with 25% offered at Discounted Market Rent and 10% at London Living Rent, distributed across both towers.

The original design, sanctioned in 2020 and conceived by architectural firm KPF, envisioned two interconnected towers linked by a bridge at the ninth floor. This earlier scheme featured 702 flats and a 159-room hotel.

Image: A visualisation of the now abandoned tower proposal

Previous application received 167 objections

The 55-storey tower would already have been the tallest in this cluster of skyscrapers at 237 metres high but the new proposals drawn up by Apt could see an even taller main building although the second tower will be one storey shorter.

The Cairo-based developer is quoted in Building Design magazine as saying:

“Since the existing planning permission was approved in February 2020 there have been significant events nationally and globally that have affected developments across London.

“These include: the Covid-19 pandemic, changes to fire regulations, raw materials shortages, inflationary pressures on build costs, supply issues and rapidly rising energy costs.

“Whilst the existing scheme could be amended or adjusted, a wholesale approach to tackle the key items such as introducing two fire stairs, dual aspect façades and a more sustainable energy strategy warranted a holistic review.

“As such a redesign from the ground up was undertaken in 2022-2024 in close collaboration and consultation with the [Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation] since January 2023.

“The proposed scheme has evolved from a design lead approach with core principles retained throughout.”

Another scheme for a 56-storey three tower project by Pilbrow & Partners at 1 Portal Way was approved last November.

There were 167 objections to the earlier scheme at 4 Portal Way made mainly on the basis of height and inappropriateness for the area.

You can find out more details about the application and make comments on the OPDC website.

Author seeks tales of the Tabard in Chiswick

Image: The Tabard pub, with studio theatre above

Local historian seeks anecdotes from thespians and drinkers

A local historian is hoping to gather stories and sightings of well-known thespians who have frequented The Tabard pub and over the last 75 years and the studio theatre above it.

Wesley Henderson Roe is writing a brief history of The Tabard pub in Bedford Park and its theatrical links, which is set to be published in the 2025 Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal.

A large number of prominent actors, playwrights, agents and directors have visited the pub since it opened in the late 19th century. Welsley says he is “particularly keen” to hear anecdotes from post-1950s or any sightings of people from the world of performing arts enjoying a “convivial beverage”.

If Wesley can gather enough material, he hopes to publish an illustrated booklet on the pub and the theatre, which celebrates 40 years in operation next year.

Working alongside Simon & Sarah Reilly, Theatre at the Tabard’s artistic director and executive director & creative producer respectively, Wesley seeks to create a historical archive from the time the theatre began in 1985.

If you have any tales from The Tabard, Wesley can be reached by email on wesnclare@aol.com or by phoning 07958 231035.

Chiswick street unanimously rejects EV charging points

Image: Pleydell Avenue; Google Maps

All 30 households on Pleydell Avenue sign petition protesting EV charge points

Residents of Pleydell Avenue in Chiswick are up in arms over new parking restrictions introduced to accommodate Electric Vehicle (EV) charging bays. All 30 households on the street have signed a petition protesting the move, which they say has led to the loss of up to eight parking spaces for non electric vehicles.

The residents claim there was no consultation prior to the implementation of the new bays, despite the fact they pay for resident parking. Hounslow Council has initiated the scheme on a trial basis, aiming to collect feedback before making a final decision.

Their main grievance is that the restricted bays are now exclusively for EV owners during charging sessions, leaving other residents without parking space. With only two EV owners on the street, the situation has exacerbated the scarcity of parking.

Residents are demanding clarity on plans for charging points in nearby streets, arguing that these areas could accommodate the bays without impacting parking on Pleydell Avenue.

They say some parking spaces on the street are affected by aphid infestations, further complicating the situation.

There are also concerns about the ambiguous enforcement of parking regulations in the new bays, with residents worried about potential disruptions from night time charging activities.

Image: A Hounslow Highways worker repurposing a parking space to an EV charge bay elsewhere in Chiswick

Council to respond to petition “within a fortnight”

In a letter to Hounslow Council the residents say they do not have a problem with electric vehicles:

‘In the long term, residents should play an active role in the planning of EV charging infrastructure to ensure consensus and promote the adoption of EVs. Alongside public chargers, residents should have the opportunity to establish and utilize their own charging points.

‘This option is significantly more cost-effective, typically half the price of public chargers, and enables the use of electricity from solar panels, offering both the most economical and environmentally friendly solution.

‘We propose an alternative solution that would address the need for EV charging infrastructure without inconveniencing residents. There is ample space at each end of our street where electric charging posts could be installed without obstructing parking for residents.

‘This arrangement would allow residents with EVs to charge their vehicles while freeing up parking spaces in front of their houses for other residents.

‘Additionally, we believe that post chargers would be a more efficient and faster alternative to lamppost chargers, further enhancing the convenience of EV charging for residents.’

A Hounslow Council spokesperson said:

“The Council would like to thank the residents of Pleydell Avenue for their petition, which we have received. We will review this and hope to respond to them within a fortnight.”

Police appeal for witnesses after man found dead on Tube tracks

Image above: East Acton station

Man in his 20s found dead on the tracks by East Acton station

Police are appealing for witnesses after the body of a man was found on the train tracks by East Acton tube station.

Officers were called to East Acton just after 11.00pm on Friday 19 April following reports of a casualty on the tracks. When they arrived, along with paramedics, they found a man in his 20s from the Waltham Forest area dead at the scene.

His family are being supported by specialist officers. A man in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and has since been bailed.

Police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone else with information to contact them by texting 61016 or by calling 0800 40 50 40, quoting reference 1000 of 19 April or to call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

E-bike bursts into flames damaging South Ealing flat

Image: The burnt out e-bike in South Ealing; London Fire Brigade

Firefighters from Chiswick fire station among 25 to attend blaze 

The London Fire Brigade have issued guidance after an e-bike which burst into flames damaged a flat in South Ealing on Friday (27 April).

Firefighters were called to South Road at 10.51pm and the incident was over by 00.05am. The blaze saw 25 firefighters with four fire engines from Ealing, Acton Chiswick and Heston fire stations attend.

A small part of a two room flat on the ground floor was damaged by fire. Two men left the flat before the Brigade arrived and were checked by London Ambulance Services while 20 other people also left the building before the Brigade arrived.

Following the incident, the LFB issued safety tips for all e-bike and e-scooter users to follow:

  • Never block your escape route with anything, including e-bikes and e-scooters. Store them somewhere away from a main through route. Our advice is to store these items in a safe location if possible, such as a garage or a shed.
  • Do not attempt to modify or tamper with your battery. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Converting pedal bikes into e-bikes using DIY kits bought online can be very dangerous. They pose a higher risk of fire.
  • Check your battery and charger meets UK safety standards. Watch out for signs that the battery or charger aren’t working as they should – if it’s hot to the touch or has changed shape.
  • Always use the correct charger and buy an official one from a reputable seller. We have particular concern where batteries have been purchased from online marketplaces and when they’ve been sourced on the internet, which may not meet the correct safety standards.
  • Let the battery cool before charging. Batteries can get warm during their use and it is advisable to allow them to cool down before attempting to re-charge as they could be more susceptible to failure. If you are charging batteries indoors, please follow our advice on safe charging.Unplug your charger once it’s finished charging. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions when charging and we would advise not to leave it unattended or while people are asleep.
  • Fit alarms where you charge. Ensure you have smoke alarms fitted in areas where e-bikes or e-scooters are being charged and make sure they are tested regularly. You can quickly and easily check your home by visiting the LFB’s free online home fire safety checker tool.

Police hunting west London for potentially dangerous convict

Officials believe convict detained under Mental Health Act could pose risk to the general public if not found soon

Image: Matthew Barnard

Police are still hunting for a dangerous convict a week after he ran off from his handlers in Ealing Broadway while on escorted leave.

Matthew Barnard, 43, absconded from Barclays bank in Ealing Broadway on 23 April shortly after midday. Barclays is his last known location.

Barnard is detained under Section 37 and Section 41 of the Mental Health Act following a conviction for assault.

Officers and medical professionals are concerned at his lack of access to medication and the risk he may pose without it. They want to return him to a secure unit at Ealing Hospital as soon as possible.

Members of the public are warned not to approach him. Instead they should call 999 immediately quoting the reference 2984/23APR24.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Suspected burglar causes chaos in Grove Park street

Image above: Man stood on balcony with unknown female

Suspected burglar in Grove Park has police and paramedics attending as he stays on balcony for 24 hours

There was chaos on a Grove Park street over the last two days with a flurry of emergency services descending on Spencer Rd. Residents of Spencer Rd told The Chiswick Calendar the man in the photograph above had attempted to burgle a second floor flat, when he was startled and climbed down onto the balcony of an empty flat the level below.

Eye witnesses say they saw “twelve police cars, four fire engines and six ambulances parked on the street.”

The Chiswick Calendar were told by the London Ambulance Service:

“We sent an ambulance crew to this incident yesterday but they were stood down as we weren’t required.”

Image above: Police and paramedics at the scene; photograph Stephen Collett 

Residents left confused by incident

When I spoke to two residents on Friday (26 April), who wished not to be named, they told me:

“We first heard all the sirens around 3pm yesterday and saw out of our window a man on the balcony. The emergency services vehicles completely blocked the road but all they’ve done is talk to him. He said at one point he only wanted to speak to a female police officer.

“The police ended up leaving in their marked car around 9am this morning but their unmarked colleagues have been here since then just watching him.

“We are completely baffled by the incident. If he is a burglar and tried to steal then why hasn’t he been arrested?”

Another resident who lives opposite the block of flats said:

“It is clear the man is suffering and he’s been out in the cold all night long. The police must put an end to this incident so we can all get on with our lives and the chap can get the support he desperately needs.”

The Chiswick Calendar have approached the police for comment.

Former Chiswick Councillor Frank Field dies aged 81

Image: Frank Field 

Former Labour minister was Chiswick Councillor for four years

Former Labour minister Frank Field has died aged 81. As an MP he represented Birkenhead, who made a name for himself campaigning for welfare reform, but before he became an MP in 1979 he was a councillor in Chiswick.

Lord Field was a councillor in the Turnham Green ward on Hounslow Council in 1964 but lost the seat at the 1968 local elections. During his time as a councillor he lived in Dukes Avenue and then Barrowgate Rd.

While he was on the Council, he was appointed as a member of the Children Committee, the Consumer Protection Committee and the Housing Committee.

Lord Field was a minister for welfare reform under Tony Blair’s government and joined the House of Lords in 2020. He announced in 2021 that he was suffering from a terminal illness. He died in a London care home on Tuesday night.

In a statement released by his family they said:

“He will be mourned by admirers across politics but above all he will be greatly missed by those lucky enough to have enjoyed his laughter and friendship.

“Frank was an extraordinary individual who spent his life fighting poverty, injustice and environmental destruction His decency and faith in people’s self-interested altruism made a unique contribution to British politics.”

After Field had resigned as Tony Blair’s minister for welfare reform in 1998, former environment secretary John Gummer said he was “one of the really good men of politics”.

Council Leader pays tribute: “His contributions to Hounslow Council and the wider community have left an indelible mark”

Hounslow Council leader, Shantanu Rajawat said in a statement:

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and loved ones of Lord Field. Lord Field’s dedication to public service, both locally and nationally, leaves behind a legacy of commitment and advocacy that will be remembered for generations to come. His contributions to Hounslow Council and the wider community have left an indelible mark, and he will be missed.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

West London MPs hail Labour’s plan to renationalise rail

Image above: Library image of a London train

Ruth Cadbury and Rupa Huq celebrate Labour’s key election promise

The two MPs in whose constituencies Chiswick falls have gleefully posted on social media their support of Labour’s announcement that it will renationalise the railways if they win the next  General Election.

Ruth Cadbury, MO for Brentford & Isleworth, posted:

“Across the country we’ve had to put up with poor rail services for far too long. Today @LouHaigh set out Labour’s plan to reverse this decline & deliver Great British Railways.

Under Labour Britain’s railways will be

Passenger focused

Publicly owned

Fit for the future”

Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton,  wrote:

“Exciting bold, visionary pledge from @UKLabour to nationalise our railways within 5 years.

I’ve been arguing for this with others like @SamTarry for at least 10 years.”

Sam Tarry is the Labour MP for Ilford South and is a member of the Select Committee for Transport. Rupa was referring to her appearance on BBC News in 2014 when she spoke about Labour’s plans under Ed Miliband to cap prices on trains and declassify trains in order to make them “accessible for all.”

Labour plan for renationalising rail within five years

Louise Haigh, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Transport announced the plans yesterday (Thursday 26 April). They hope the plan will offer passengers the “cheapest fares.”

Speaking about the plans Louse Haigh said: “Labour’s plan means delivering a publicly owned railway within five years, putting passengers first, and bringing down costs for taxpayers.”

She went on to say: “Our railways have become a national symbol of decline, of a country that no longer works and a Government with no plan to fix it.”

Labour say a new public body would inherit existing contracts when they expire, taking on responsibility for running services. They also plan to introduce automatic refunds for train delays and better internet connection on trains. The new public body would be called the Great British Railways (GBR).

Responsibility for running train services has been the job of private companies since the 1990s.

RMT back Labour announcement

The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) support the initiative. Their General Secretary, Mick Lynch said:

“Labour’s commitment to bring the train operating companies into a new unified and publicly owned rail network is in the best interests of railway workers, passengers and the taxpayer.

“We strongly welcome these bold steps to fix 14 years of Tory mismanagement of our privatised railways and Labour’s promise to complete a transition to public ownership within its first term in office.

“For too long private companies have made millions in profit from taxpayer subsidies and in return provided appalling levels of service.

“This announcement however should be a first step to completely integrating all of our railway into public ownership.

“It is time for a railway fit for the 21st century that serves the public, not the privateers and shareholders.”

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Chiswick pub offers chance to win 1878 edition of Vanity Fair

Images: 1878 edition of Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

Buy a ticket to the performance of Vanity Fair this weekend to have a chance of winning 1878 edition 

The George IV pub on Chiswick High Rd offering the chance to win a 1878 edition of William Thackeray’s classic novel Vanity Fair.

The prize, provided by the pub’s neighbour antiquarian bookseller Foster Books, can be won by anyone who buys a ticket for the theatrical performance of Vanity Fair at the pub this weekend.

Open Bar Theatre, which stages “awesome theatre” in pubs and pub gardens, will be running the performance at The George IV between 7.30pm and 10.00pm on Sunday 28 April.

Promoting the performance on their website, this is how the George IV describes the show:

‘Into this world of Vanity Fair steps Becky Sharp, a poor but ambitious orphan determined to raise her standing in Regency London.

‘Without a mother to make connections for her, Becky must make her own using only her brilliant wit and charm, first by taking advantage of her loveable (and gullible) friend Amelia, then Sir Pitt Crawley and his squabbling family. She wins over the higher ranks of the army as they battle Napoleon and returns to conquer the British aristocracy.

“Join us as we follow Becky and Amelia as they rise and fall and rise again in the eyes of society. Four of Open Bar’s finest performers will play all the colourful characters of William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, with original songs, beautiful costumes and, of course, some signature audience participation.”

You can buy tickets to the performance on The George IV’s website at:

georgeiv.co.uk/whats-on/vanity-fair

Julian Opie’s LED sculpture Curly Hair bought by Pitzhanger Manor

Image: Julian Opie’s sculpture Curly Hair

Walking into the Pitzhanger Manor Gallery

Guest blog by Robert Eagle

A mysterious chap called ‘Curly Hair’ has been striding towards the entrance of the Pitzhanger gallery in Ealing for almost three years – but has never managed to get through the door. And it now looks as if he is going to continue doing the very same thing for ever and a day. With very little hope of ever reaching his apparent destination.  But does he care?

Old Curly Hair is certainly a bit of an enigma. He’s a piece of digital art, a two-dimensional LED display, an array of light-emitting diodes, standing two metres tall and made to mimic the movements of a man walking at a brisk pace from nowhere to nowhere.

I’m a great fan of contemporary electronic art and would love to see more of it outside art galleries everywhere. And there are citizens of Ealing and art-funding organisations who clearly agree because they have raised money and persuaded the artist who made him to sell him to the Pitzhanger for no more than it cost him to make him.

The artist in question is called Julian Opie, who, judging by his portrait, is curly haired himself.

Julian Opie self-portrait, Lisson Gallery

Opie is a leading light of the New British Sculpture Movement, a fashionable bunch of mostly blokes who work seriously hard at taking nothing too seriously. Others in the group you may have heard of include Anthony Gormley, who made the Angel of the North; Barry Flanagan, who does sculptures of flying hares; and Rachel Whiteread who creates inside-out houses.

Mr Opie loaned Old Curly (or New Curly as he then was) to the Pitzhanger in 2021 for an exhibition of his own work, and the sculpture has stayed there ever since. Curly is an eye-catching and amusing item to have standing outside your entrance, and since he qualifies as art (rather than just another flashing neon sign), it obviously made sense for the Pitzhanger to stump up the funds and make an Honest Curly of him.

While the fundraisers toast their success, it may be worth sparing a thought for what the original owner of Pitzhanger Manor might have thought of this contemporary art installation.

Sir John Soane was a leading art and classical antiquities collector, architect of the Bank of England, pioneer of the Neo-Classical style of architecture and owner of another fine house in Lincoln’s Inn Fields that is now one of the most delightful (and free!) period museums in London. What would such an admirer of classical Greek and Roman sculpture have made of this two-dimensional electronic logo heading with such vacuous determination towards his former front door?

The Pitzhanger doesn’t try to conceal the fact that Soane was a rather Marmite character.  Quotations posted on the gallery walls state that while he was “architect, artist, man of science, lover of his profession and benefactor” he was also said to be “irritable, impetuous and intractable – mad in his own way”.  These contradictions could of course mean that he was a brilliant bloke who didn’t suffer fools gladly. Whatever, Pitzhanger’s current management thinks Sir John would have been delighted by Curly Hair; their press release says:

Just as Sir John Soane used Pitzhanger to display his collection of classical art and sculpture alongside contemporary works by leading artists of his day such as JMW Turner and William Hogarth, so Curly Hair is testament to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary and historical art at Pitzhanger today.”

When I see the words “ongoing” and dialogue” juxtaposed in an art blurb I tend to go into catatonic spasm. But this time I think they are right. Just as Soane would have regarded the classical sculptures and moulds he brought back from Italy as true witnesses of a past age, I think he would have seen this getting-nowhere-quickly digital Curly as a true witness of ours.

Image: Pitzhanger Manor and Gallery, Ealing

Pitzhanger is worth a visit for the building alone, and if you only want to see Curly Hair standing outside, it won’t cost you a penny. But there are currently five other exhibitions inside the house, one of which, titled Chinwag, features some very engaging sort-of-humanoid sculptures by Alice Irwin, which complement Curly Hair rather well.

READ ALSO: Two new art exhibitions for spring 2024 at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing

Robert Eagle is an art dealer who lives and works in Chiswick.

roberteaglefineart.co.uk

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Ripley (TV Miniseries 2024) – Review by Andrea Carnevali

Ripley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A grifter named Ripley living in New York during the 1960s is hired by a wealthy man to bring his wayward son home from Italy. Ripley sees the opportunity of a lifetime to make a killing.

It’s probably a bit unfair, but also quite natural, to compare this miniseries on Netflix to the 1999 film The Talented Mr. Ripley by Anthony Minghella. After all, they are both adaptations from the same novel, written in 1955 by Patricia Highsmith; they both follow pretty much the same main plot points, they have (for the most part) the same characters, and they are filmed in the same Italian locations, and yet the two final products could not be further apart.

I won’t be going into which one is better because it’s a silly argument to have. Just the fact that one is a miniseries, and in eight hours or more can make the story breathe in a way that impossible in a film, makes the comparison pretty pointless from the start.

If anything, this Netflix series proves that there is definitely room for both: the lush technicolor Italy, where passions run wild, and jealousy can lead to murder on one side, and a much colder, darker, seedier version where Ripley, beautifully played with a hint of cold menace by Andrew Scott, who just disappears into this role, is a real sociopath, at times a bit weird and other times truly terrifying (he rarely ever blinks!), but always absolutely mesmerizing.

The choice of filming this in black and white is obviously key to the success of this series, offering the viewers a fresh and compelling perspective on the narrative and its characters. Of course, on the surface, it makes everything feel a lot darker, sinister, colder (it was also filmed during winter), but also more unsettling, and fits perfectly with this new depiction of Ripley. And as it happens, it also makes this one of the best-looking TV series I’ve seen in a long time.

You might not get that romanticism from Minghella’s vision of Italy, and yet every frame can still be hung on a wall: those wet cobbled streets looking so timeless, the southern towns built on stairs, ancient and evocative.

Andrew Scott plays Ripley as a real enigma, just as Highsmith had written about 70 years ago (and yet, it’s a book so modern and fresh that often feels like it could have been written just yesterday). Ripley is a man lacking morality, “a human vacuum,” as described by writer-director Steven Zaillian (the Oscar winning screenwriter of Schindler’s List). He is a much more difficult character to decipher and instantly like than Matt Damon ever was, yet the power of the story is such that pretty soon, we are with him wholeheartedly, and we just don’t want him to be caught.

I loved this series, and the more I think about it, the more I appreciate what it did.

I loved how the series took its time and did not want to rush things. I adored that one of the episodes was basically entirely spent watching somebody trying to get rid of a body (and that cat watching everything!! Brilliant!!).

I loved how it often focused on details that were just red herrings, basically placed there with the only purpose of making us feel jittery, anxious, unsettled, but nothing more than that (I’m talking about the suitcase with evidence against Ripley’s crime, the stains of blood in the bathtub, the ashtray as a weapon of possible murders to come).

These are things that only a TV series of more than eight hours can do. I also loved how authentic it all felt, even to an Italian like me. The locations are real, lived-in, the characters talk the way people really talk, with their different accents, depending on the region they are from, whether they are from the north or the south.

Yes, of course, there are a few clichés here and there, but hey, it’s an American product after all. In Rome, for example, they can’t help but have a nun or two walking in the background at every possible moment.

I was a bit annoyed by the signs at the train station showing names of cities in English as opposed to Italian (something that, especially in the ‘50s, would have never happened), but those are silly minor quibbles in the big scheme of things.

I was willing to get past those tiny faults. In fact, I was quite surprised by how much of the dialogue was in Italian (subtitled obviously). What did bother me a little bit more was the fact that I found Andrew Scott a little bit too old for the part: even though he carries his 50 years very well, Tom Ripley is supposed to be a twenty-something young man, with his whole life ahead and very little to lose, hence the reason why he decides to go to Italy in the first place anyway: because he’s so young.

As it is, both the beginning and the reasons for his decision to go to Italy still feel a bit contrived and slightly forced (as they did in Minghella’s version, to be honest). They only just about get away with it in the novel.

But there is so much to like here.

This is a meticulously crafted piece of filmmaking, the best of classic noir, Hitchcock, Italian cinema of the ‘50s, all in one. A piece of beauty that rewards your patience and is really one of the best things Netflix has ever produced. I binged it in two days and I can’t wait to revisit it again (and there’s a little bit of me that hopes they might adapt the next four Ripley books too!)

Ripley is streaming on Netflix right now.

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 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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The Talented Mr Ripley (1999) – Film review by Andrea Carnevali

The Talented Mr Ripley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In late 1950s New York, a young underachiever named Tom Ripley sees a once in a lifetime opportunity for enrichment when he is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. On at Chiswick Cinema Tuesday 23 April.

I’ll come out clean, right from the start: I love this film and always have, and the idea to be able to host a film club around it (this Tuesday, 23 April at 8.25pm at The Chiswick Cinema), show it to a crowd, talk about it, and share the dozens of stories behind the scenes, and its cinematic techniques, fills me with joy.

With the release of Ripley, the ultra-stylish TV series on Netflix, based on the same novel, and the 25th anniversary of the film itself, there seems to be no better time to revisit this gem.

Everything about this film screams ‘Alfred Hitchcock’ for me, and I mean that in the best possible way. From the way director Anthony Minghella manages to build tension, often even without the aid of additional music, to the attention to  detail for costumes and makeup (look at the way Gwyneth Paltrow reminds us of Grace Kelly, for example) and of course to the use of the locations, using the lush colours of sunlit Italy (which rarely looked more inviting), in stark contrast with the dark deeds taking place in the story.

And as Minghella takes us through this gorgeous-looking film, we slowly found ourselves sympathising with a criminal and hoping he doesn’t get caught,  just like we did in famous classics by Hitchcock, Psycho, Rope, Shadow of a Doubt and to a degree even Strangers on a Train, a film which incidentally was adapted from a novel by the same author as The Talented Mr Ripley, the American writer Patricia Highsmith.

Highsmith clearly loves writing about Ripley (she went on to write four more novels about the character), and her affection for the him is apparent from page one.

Minghella too understands that for a film to work, he’s got to humanise his main character of Tom Ripley, make us like him, despite his deceptions, questionable choices, and horrible actions, so as a screenwriter and director, he decided to add interesting layers of emotions to his persona  (the whole homosexual subtext in the film, for example, which is only briefly touched in the book).

His camera focuses on mirrors and distorted images all the time, constantly reflecting the inner conflicts, duplicity of his character. Minghella also loves toying with his audience, with clues and details, adding tension at every corner.

Minghella is great not just at filming Italy with its picture perfect postcard-like beauties, but the relationship between two main characters as well (see how his camera frames them mostly in two-shots when their friendship is blossoming, and in singles, once it begins to break down).

His cast plays it all to perfection. Matt Damon has never been better than this (perfect casting choice. Can you imagine if Minghella had gone for his original choice, Tom Cruise?). Jude Law has rarely been so attractive, Minghella’s camera flirts with him, seducing both Tom Ripley’s character and his audience into submission. Law was also nominated for an Oscar and won a BAFTA for this role.

The rest of the cast is just as strong and impressive, from the sleazy Philip Seymour Hoffman (How I miss that actor!), to the ever-so-splendid Cate Blanchett and of course the above-mentioned Gwyneth Paltrow, fresh from her Oscar win the year before for Shakespeare in Love, here confirming not just her beauty but her acting chops too (sadly, this might be her last strong performance).

All of this is topped by the wonderful soundtrack (which often plays on a loop in my house), which plays a huge part in the film adding a whole series of layers of readings.

Gabriel Yared’s original score is used sparingly but perfectly captures the beauty and romanticism of Italy, while at the same time blends haunting melodies and suspenseful motifs throughout the film, adding tension, mystery, intrigue, suspense, but also melancholy and longing.

And that’s not all. There’s also a series of jazz and classical cues. They infuse the film with a mixture of feelings which mirror those of the different characters as well as the complexity of the plot itself. So, on one hand we’ve got the impulsiveness and spontaneity of jazz, ready to improvise, change, and morph according to the circumstances. On the other hand, the much more rigid, rule-bound, classical music, representing that sophistication and refined  taste of the high society settings depicted in the film.

In one scene there is even a piece of opera by Monteverdi, beautifully used to highlight Ripley’s internal turmoil, his conflicting emotions, his sense of loss, longing, all of which enhances the poignancy that surrounds his character.

And whilst all this on paper might make it all sound quite brainy and full of itself, The Talented Mr. Ripley is anything but. Underneath all these layers (some more subtle than others), there is a cracking thriller, which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, guessing at every corner and eventually makes them all want to go book our ticket for the next holiday as soon as possible.

There is a screening of The Talented Mr Ripley at Chiswick Cinema Tuesday 23 April for Andrea’s Film Club.

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 2023

See all the latest stories: Chiswick Calendar News & Features

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FoodSt market – Sunday 28 April

Guest blog by Richard Johnson

Chiswick High Road will soon be bursting into song as Food St market gets set for a real family fun day out on April 28 11am-4pm. Apart from the fantastic food trucks selling everything from Australian Parmas to Japanese ice cream and New England lobster rolls – the Old Market Place will be treated to songs (and dances) from the shows as well as a visit from The Ice Queen herself.

The songs – and dances – from Matilda and Frozen will come from Chiswick Theatre Arts students aged 9-17. And the Ice Queen herself – from Little Dreamers Entertainment – has even promised to pop down and pose for some photographs. If she isn’t in a TERRIFYINGLY bad mood.

Kicking off proceedings will be Scott McMahon, Food St’s favourite busking balladeer. And a whole raft of new talent joining the amazing market of Brazilian barbecue, Egyptian falafel, Turkish goleme and the THIRTY other world cuisines.

This will be the first market for smokery giants Wood and Leg, plus our Ethiopian trader Delina – another exciting product of the collaboration between Food St and Shepherd’s Bush market.

“One of our signature dishes is Beyaynetu which is a simple combination of legumes, vegetables, spices and herbs” says Nazareth from Delina.

“This is always served on gluten-free fermented flatbread called Injera which is a superfood grain. Many of our ingredients we use are authentic from Ethiopia. Even if you are a meat lover, this dish changes your perception of naturally vegan food; how tasty it can be.”

Wood And Leg are excited to be joining our fresh produce section – there’s vegan and gluten-free treats from Sprouting Pea, fresh pasta from Pasta di Julia, artisan cheeses from Dispensamor, olives from The Olive Bar, Japanese patisserie from Kichiya, baked pies and quiches from Hush Hush and Portuguese tarts from Almada Bakery.

A producer of smoked meat, sausage, poultry, cheese, fish and more, Gintaras Kurtinaitis of Wood and Leg boasts that he is “the only London-based producer that specialises in such a wide variety of smoked products with recipes from all round the world.”

“My signature product is Lithuanian air dried sausage smoked over juniper. In the world of charcuterie makers it is known as Salame Lituano. The customers love its special flavour. It’s definitely rare to find authentic products that were invented in the 16th century.”

Lucky Chiswick.

Richard Johnson is the organiser of the FoodSt market which takes place on the last Sunday of the month at Old Market Place on Chiswick High Rd, oppostite Waterstones.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Duet Review – Theatre at the Tabard

Image: (L) Wendy Morgan as Sarah Bernhardt; (R) Cynthia Straus as Eleanora Duse 

The ghost of Sarah Bernhardt appears

As she prepares for her performance as Marguerite in The Lady of the Camelias, internationally renowned actress Eleonora Duse is visited in her dressing room by the ghost of Sarah Bernhardt. The cause of this manifestation is a mystery.

Duse is in ill health, complaining of a bad cold and clearly suffering with ennui (an unfortunate theatre manager is told that “there will be no performance tonight”), has she unwittingly summoned her fellow acting legend or has Miss Bernhardt returned for her own reasons? We will find out as the evening progresses.

That is the set up of Duet, the new show at the Tabard, written by Otho Eskin and directed respectfully by Ludovica Villar-Hauser.

Images: (L) Wendy Morgan as Sarah Bernhardt; (R) Cynthia Straus as Eleanora Duse 

The bringing together of two of the most feted stars of the stage in the late Victorian era plays up their essential difference: Duse the rather dour and serious “suffering priestess of high art” as her companion calls her, and Bernhardt the diva, the show off, revelling in the adoration of the crowd.

As Duse, Cynthia Straus brings restraint to the role, allowing glimpses of the artist’s troubled soul; “I became obsessed with death” she says, reliving her past, her black dress reflecting her heavy gloom. Her art is “simple, unadorned”, in contrast to Bernhardt’s more showy moves.

Wendy Morgan as Bernhardt has altogether more fun, entering in the harshest of white spotlight, her more colourful patterned dress catching the light (Alice McNicholas costumes are particularly impressive), allowing her to hit poses designed to elicit enthusiastic applause.

Indeed, she takes the opportunity to demonstrate by way of a nifty masterclass, how to milk that applause and draw out a curtain call far beyond its normal length, bringing her far downstage, arms aloft, soaking up the love from her adoring audience.

The third cast member, Nick Waring, plays a series of male roles with enormous gusto, popping in and out of the action and often lifting scenes with his confident energy.

Overall, this is an absorbing evening. That said, the heavily accented language presented a challenge and feels to me, like a mistake; there is an obvious need to indicate the character’s nationalities, but it feels overdone.

“What ‘ave we ‘ere, where ‘ave you been ‘iding?” asks one of Bernhardt’s aristocratic suitors, teetering dangerously close to ‘Allo ‘Allo territory.

Villar-Hauser’s direction brings to the fore the two leads’ inner states. She is aided by Hazel Owen’s atmospheric, musty backstage setting and she uses the full width of the Tabard stage, often placing her characters at the extreme edges, leaving a vast emptiness in the middle, reflecting perhaps the distance between the two stars’ acting styles.

It does feel slightly too low key though, any real confrontation between these two huge personalities seems to be held back.

For serious students of theatre history, this is an absorbing story of two women who attained the sort of stardom that is no longer possible, it is a snapshot from a bygone age.

Duet runs until Saturday 11 May at the Theatre at the Tabard.

Tickets – Duet

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett

Simon Thomsett has worked in the professional theatre for a number of years. He started out as a stage manager and technician then became a venue director and producer, notably at the Hackney Empire, Fairfield Halls and most recently the New Victoria Theatre in Woking.

Since leaving full time work last year, he is now working as a consultant and on some small scale producing projects. He is a Chiswick resident and a passionate advocate for great theatre.

West End performer Rosemary Ashe returns to Theatre at the Tabard

Image: Rosemary Ashe in Honeymoon in Vegas at the London Palladium in 2017

Rosemary Ashe joins the cast of Gareth Armstrong’s play ‘Fondly Remembered’

West End performer Rosemary Ashe is best known for her leading roles in opera and musical theatre, but she is as much an actor as she is a singer, and she returns to Theatre at the Tabard in May in an acting role.

“People are sometimes surprised. They say ‘oh I didn’t know you could act” she told The Chiswick Calendar, (without rancour).

Images: Rosemary Ashe in concert; in Call Me Madam

“It’s very funny and entertaining”

Her part in Fondly Remembered, in which she returns to Theatre at the Tabard on 22 May, is that of Zoe, an older actor who has been in a long-running soap on radio for 30 years.

The play, written by fellow Chiswick resident Gareth Armstrong, is about five older actors who worked together for many years, who meet up to plan the memorial service of a friend. The process of exchanging memories gets a bit out of hand and there are revelations which, on reflection, may have been better left unsaid.

“It’s very funny and entertaining” Rosemary told us. She has just played Olive in Broken Water at the Arcola Theatre: “a very serious subject” in which three women of different generations explore some dark periods in their lives, but chiefly Rosemary is known for parts and productions that are more on the lighter end of the theatrical spectrum.

Images above: (L) Rosemary Ashe in Committee at the Donmar Warehouse in 2017; (R) In When We Are Married at the Garrick Theatre, 2010

She has played almost every female part in musical theatre – from Maria in West Side Story to Sister Mary Lazarus in Sister Act

Rosemary trained at the Royal Academy of Music and the London Opera Centre, and after 40 years of performing, her CV requires several sheets of A4 to cover all the opera, musical theatre, theatre and TV productions she has taken part in, as well as the cabaret and concert performances she has given as one woman shows.

She has played and created many roles in some of the most popular musicals of the past 40 years, including The Boyfriend, The Phantom of the Opera, Forbidden Broadway, Oliver!, The Witches of Eastwick, Mary Poppins and Adrian Mole.

You can see her full biography here: RosemaryAshe.com

Images: With William Relton in West Side Story in Nottingham in 1983; Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera

Favourite role?

She is often asked which has been her favourite role.

“It’s very difficult to answer as I have played such a myriad of fantastic roles. Carlotta in Phantom stands out of course and is something I am extremely proud of. Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd which I did in Gothenburg.

“But I LOVED playing Felicia Gabriel in The Witches of Eastwick as I had to sing, dance, act and do sleight of hand. Learning magic ticks was a huge challenge, on a nightly basis I  had to produce all sorts of things out of my mouth mid song, including a spider, candle, coin and then vomit cherries!”

Images: Rosemary Ashe in The Witches of Eastwick

Creating the part of Carlotta as part of the original cast of Phantom of the Opera

Rosemary was nominated for an Olivier award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical for her performance as Felicia Gabriel in The Witches of Eastwick, and she created the part of Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera – the opera company’s prima donna.

“I was in the original cast and made some changes with vocal coach Gerald Moore and embellished the part vocally. We put in a top E in alt. It’s stratospherically high and in those days I could do that eight times a week. Now all the other poor women who’ve come after have had to do it too.”

Images above: Rosemary Ashe in Broken Water at the Arcola Theatre, 2024

Most highly praised? Most prestigious? Most fun?

Which role has brought her the most praise?

“Well, Felicia Gabriel in The Witches of Eastwick as aforementioned, but recently playing Olive in the new play Broken Water. Many people thought it was the best thing I have ever done!”

Is that the same as the most prestigious role?

“No, I think the most prestigious role was definitely Carlotta in the Phantom of The Opera, particularly as I was in the original cast and could make it my own creation.”

In which production(s) have you had the most fun?

“Well, all of them probably!! I love what I do and the variety of it all. Being part of a company of like minded individuals is amazing and when you are doing eight shows a week (or 12 in pantomime), you need to have fun, but not so much that the audience know about it!

“Playing the nasty nanny Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins was huge fun. I love being a baddie! if you get booed at the curtain call you know you’ve done your job correctly!!”

Images: (L) Playing Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd in 2008; (R) Playing Miss Andrew in Mary Poppins in 2004

Hairy moments?

“I was playing Helene in La Belle Helene for Sadlers Wells Opera and was scantily dressed in a wrap around towel and g string. After a love duet (‘The Dream Duet’) the singer playing Paris laid me down on a big lacy cushion. (It should have been a bed, but that got cut due to budget restraints!).

“My husband Menelaus came on stage saying ‘Helene, I’m home’. My reply was shock horror ‘My husband!’ I then tried to get up quickly but my crown got caught in the lacy cushion and I was stuck.

“After several goes I eventually got disentangled and catapulted up only for my towel to slip down and reveal my naked bosoms which literally popped out and then went back in again. The show stopped. The cast and audience were helpless. We couldn’t continue for quite a while. So the audience certainly got their money’s worth that night!!”

Disasters?

” Being hit on the head by the curtain at the curtain call for Bitter Sweet in Aberdeen. I’m ashamed to say once I’d recovered I laughed so much I had a wee accident!!”

Greatest honour?

“Being nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performer in the Witches of Eastwick.”

Images: Rosemary Ashe giving a Noel Coward concert for the Bedford Park Festival, 2014; In her one woman show Adorable Dora

The benefits of living in Chiswick

Rosemary has lived in Chiswick for nearly 30 years, and loves living here.

“I wouldn’t live anywhere else” she told me.

She likes the idea of being at the Tabard again, not least because she can walk there.

Being part of the community around the Tabard and St Michael & All Angels Church has afforded her the opportunity to try out her one woman show Adorable Dora, about Dora Bryan, which she first performed in the church in front of a local audience, and she continues to perform in theatres around the country.

READ ALSO: Adorable Dora – Rosemary Ashe’s tribute to Dora Bryan

It is also how she met Gareth Armstrong – a theatre practitioner with five decades of experience as actor, director, voice artist, teacher, writer and playwright, and writer of Fondly Remembered – who also lives locally.

She will be reunited in the play with William Relton, who she has not worked wih since they played Maria and Tony in West Side Story in the 1980s.

“We always said we’d never work together again” she told us, “”because we laughed too much.”

Fortunately, Fondly Remembered is a comedy.

Video: The original production of Fondly Remembered at the Tabard in 2015

Fondly Remembered premiered at the Bedford Park Festival 2015

The play premiered as part of the Bedford Park Festival in 2015. Since then, sadly the actress who played Zoe, Josie Kidd, has died. She and Lucinda Curtis spoke to us about the play along with writer and director Gareth Armstrong, in this video we made of the initial production.

Rosemary Ashe, William Relton, Barbara Wilshere, Robin Kermode and Jeremy Booth take part in Fondly Remembered at the Tabard from Wednesday 22 May – Saturday 15 June.

Book tickets here: Theatre at the Tabard – Fondly Remembered

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Sparks fly as thieves steal mopeds outside of The George IV pub

Video: Gang recorded stealing at least one bike from outside the George IV

Bike thief use electrical saw to cut through lock 

Thieves have brazenly stolen up to three mopeds from outside The George IV pub this weekend, as punters watched in astonishment.

Footage of the incident posted on X, formerly Twitter, shows one man using what appears to be an angle grinder to cut through the lock of a parked moped on Chiswick High Road, directly in front of the George IV’s doors on a busy Saturday night (20 April).

A customer posted the video online, which was reposted by content aggregator UB1UB2. The page regularly posts incidences of crime in west London.

Sparks can briefly be seen flying as the thief cuts through the bike’s lock, before he starts push the bike away from its parking space. The bike’s registration number is PK21 UJB.

READ ALSO: Smash and grab thefts on the rise in Chiswick

A second person can be seen keeping lookout, also on a moped. It is unclear whether this vehicle was also stolen, but the person recording the incident makes the effort to zoom in on the second bike’s registration number as well, which is LB23 RJZ.

The two people who were caught on camera were wearing all black, face coverings puffer jackets and motorcycle helmets (one black, one white).

Towards the end of the video, a third, similar-looking bike pulls up next to the two as they begin to flee the scene. The driver of this bike cannot be seen in the footage.

Staff at The George IV told The Chiswick Calendar the incident has been reported to police, but as of Monday evening officers have yet to arrive to question anyone.

Crêpeaffaire reopens in Chiswick with 50% discount this week

Crêpeaffaire are back serving sweet and savoury crepes, waffles, coffees, smoothies and milkshakes

Crêpeaffaire, the franchise which offers sweet and savoury crepes, waffles, coffees, smoothies and milkshakes, has returned to Chiswick High Road.

The branch in Chiswick closed in February and a notice appeared in the window of the premises stating the landlord had ‘re-entered the premises’.

Now, say Crêpeaffaire, they are “thrilled to announce the grand reopening of its popular store in Chiswick” at 382 Chiswick High Road, opposite Turnham Green.

“Chiswick has always been a vibrant community with a discerning palate for quality food experiences. We are super happy to welcome customers, old and new” said Daniel Spinath, Founder of Crêpeaffaire.

To entice people back in they are offering 50% off crêpes this week (week beginning Monday 22 April).

The cafe’s opening times are 9.00am – 5:00pm Sunday to Friday, and 9.00am– 7.00 on Saturday.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Age Concern Chiswick looking for volunteers

A role where the desire to chat is considered an asset

Age Concern Chiswick is a local charity based at their Friendship Club on Oxford Road North. They are looking for volunteers to help out with running their Freindship Club and keeping the garden looking nice.

‘Our mission is to support older people living in Chiswick, Brentford and nearby areas.’

At the Friendship Club, members can meet like-minded people, chat, have a snack and enjoy keep fit, yoga,  line dancing and play bingo. Age Concern Chiswick runs outings every month and puts on occasional talks and workshops, and from time to time arranges special dining events.

They need more people to support their operations on the days they are open, currently two days per week on Mondays and Thursdays. The work involves helping in the kitchen to make drinks and light snacks and generally socialising with our Members.

‘A commitment to attend regularly but not necessarily constantly is sought.  In time we plan to open on a third day.’

A small team maintains the garden and more help is always welcome. Again, ‘regular but not necessarily constant’ attendance is what they are looking for.

Other volunteering opportunities are available for specific roles aimed at enhancing the Friendship Club’s development, and providing more services and events.

You can find out more about Age Concern Chiswick by visiting their website. If you would like to volunteer please email them and tell them what you are interested in doing, and a little bit about yourself, and they will be in touch.

Contact Age Concern Chiswick

Email: ageconcernchiswick@outlook.com

Website: ageconcernchiswick.org

Image above: Age Concern Chiswick Christmas lunch

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

Hammersmith based artist makes first memorial statue of Queen Elizabeth II

Image: Hywel Pratley and his statue of Queen Elizabeth II in the gardens of Oakham public library

Hywel Pratley’s sculpture was unveiled in Oakham, Rutland on Sunday

An artist from Hammersmith has made the first memorial statue of Queen Elizabeth II to be commissioned since her death in September 2022.

Sculptor Hywel Pratley, whose studio is beside Ravenscourt Park, was commissioned by the Lord-Lieutenant of Rutland, Dr Sarah Furness, to create a statue for the library gardens in Oakham, the county town of Rutland.

The gardens are a focal point in the town, as they are the starting point for a number of long-distance footpaths and guided walks. The statue, which stands seven foot tall and is made in bronze, was unveiled on Sunday 21 April, the late Queen’s birthday, to general acclaim.

Image: The sculpture being made in Hywel’s workshop; image from video by Jules Fuller

Hywel spoke to The Chiswick Calendar about what it was like to be given such a prestigious commission.

“It has been a bit of a rollercoaster,” he told us. “I’m currently sitting in the bar of the hotel opposite the Library Gardens, watching a steady stream of people walking by looking at it, taking pictures of it and taking selfies with it. There were thousands of people at the unveiling yesterday and there has been a huge amount of press.”

Image: “I like to start the process by getting the profile right, then you’ve got a trusted foundation”; image from video by Jules Fuller

A high-stakes undertaking

Creating a public sculpture is a high-stakes undertaking, especially of someone who is so well known and loved. People feel no qualms about expressing their opprobrium if they don’t like what the artist produces.

“I feel that sculptures should elicit a strong, visceral reaction, hopefully good, not bad, they should provoke an emotional reaction, but people feel very at liberty to voice their opinions about public sculptures, and they do say some absolutely awful things.

“I’m quite sensitive, and a friend of mine said to me: ‘are you sure you want to do this?’ but I went ahead and I’m very happy.”

 

Image: The sculpture being made in Hywel’s workshop; image from video by Jules Fuller

The sculpture is set on a stone plinth with bronze corgis leaping around the base.

‘Corgis yap their approval as statue of Queen Elizabeth II unveiled’ read the Daily Telegraph headline … ‘hailed as a fitting tribute to the “Mother of our nation”.’

‘Everyone says the same thing as ‘beautiful’ new statue of late Queen Elizabeth unveiled’ wrote the Express … ‘Fans are gushing over a special added touch. The eye-catching statue depicts a young Queen Elizabeth flowing in regal robes but it also features her three beloved corgis at her heels and fans think this extra detail is a sweet touch.’

Image: The sculpture being made in Hywel’s workshop; images from video by Jules Fuller

A sculpture that captures the Queen’s “benevolence, her power and her beauty”

Hywel was not trying to create a “Mme Tussauds likeness” but is pleased that people are taking the stature as a whole and see it as recognisable.

He wanted to create a “harmonious” representation of the Queen, he told us, capturing “her benevolence, her power and her beauty”.

“I had so many images of her up on the wall in my studio and they all look different, depending on the occasion, her mood, her age. There are a thousand different decisions to be made, based on a thousand different looks.”

He settled on the stamp image as being the best-known version of the Queen’s face on which to base the features.

“Some sculptors start with a ball” he told us. “I like to start the process by getting the profile right, then you’ve got a trusted foundation.”

Images: The sculpture being delivered; images from video by Jules Fuller

Not only is this the first memorial statue of the Queen and the first public statue in the county of Rutland, but it is Hywel’s largest sculpture to date.

He trained at the The Masbro Centre, Shepherds Bush, and the Florence Academy of Art, where he now teaches sculpture. The torsos and portrait busts you can see on his website are quite stunning.

The commission was intended as “a long-lasting way to mark our affection, respect, and the 70 years of public service that made up the longest reign in British history” said Dr Furness.

Hywel Pratley was chosen for his talent in figurative work and his experience in the field of bronze casting.  Jules Fuller has made this video about the process of creating the statue.

Investor plans to turn Chiswick Tower into 415-bedroom ‘co-living’ block

Image: Chiswick Tower

Office block could be turned into huge ‘affordable housing’ block

The investor who is buying Chiswick Tower is reportedly planning to change the building into a 415-bed ‘co-living’ space.

According to The Standard the secret investor’s offering will include activities such as yoga classes as well as co-working spaces.

Co-living is a relatively new concept of housing, characterised by small individual private units supported by adjacent communal facilities, such as shared kitchens, lounges and amenity spaces. The model is being marketed largely to appeal to younger professionals looking for communal living.

The investor wants to turn the 190-space car park into an “affordable housing scheme“ as part of these plans.

The 19-storey office block was built in 1966 as the headquarters of IBM. After IBM left in 1992 the tower was then taken over in 1995 by BSI (British Standards Institution) after a major refurbishment.

Chiswick Tower changed hands again in 2010 when it was bought by Hermes Real Estate for a reported £56.5 million in 2013, and continued to be let as office space.

The identity of the new owner has not been revealed, but speculation in The Standard suggested they were based in the Middle East and ASK Partners has described them as a private investor.

Elliot Blatt, Head of Origination at ASK said:

“Our client has a very sound business plan to repurpose this building, adding value to an already desirable development site.

“We are definitely seeing appetite for co-living increase, as the set-up has gained in popularity amongst graduates and young professionals.”

Campaigners to save Ealing’s Victoria Hall urge people to take part in “poorly publicised” consultation

Image: The Victoria Hall before its closure with Ealing Town Hall in September 2023; photograph Roger Green

Public consultation ends this week 

Campaigners trying to save Ealing’s Victoria Hall are preparing for the latest round in the 10-year battle to save the public hall next which stands next to the old Town Hall, as a “poorly publicised” public consultation comes to an end this week.

The consultation, which ends on Sunday 28 April, is the latest stage of a process needed for the Charity Commission to allow Ealing Council to take control of Victoria Hall in order to sell it to a hotel developer.

Roger Green, Chair of the Friends of the Victoria Hall, said:

“There has been little effort to run a proper public consultation. Information about it has been hidden away on an obscure Council public notices web page that is hardly ever updated and a note pinned to a corner of a graffiti-daubed notice board in front of Ealing’s now-abandoned Town Hall.”

In July 2016 Ealing Council entered into an agreement with a developer to sell off its Town Hall on a 250-year lease to turn it into a luxury hotel.  However, over 20% of Ealing Town Hall consists of the Victoria Hall, built by public donations and since 1893 the property of a charitable trust set up for the benefit of the local community that had paid for it.

The consultation is the Charity Commission’s latest attempt in a process that started in 2019 to push through a new set of rules (a ‘Scheme’) for the Trust which would clear the way for Ealing Council to take control of the Victoria Hall and sell it off.

Image: The graffiti covered Town Hall notice board on which details of the consultation were posted

New scheme is “even less satisfactory than the old one”, say campaigners

Mr. Green said:

“The latest Scheme in our view is even less satisfactory than the old one. What would be left to the charitable Trust would be much reduced in size and flexibility. No space would be available to the community from Friday evenings to Monday mornings except at boutique hotel wedding reception rates.”

He added:

“The Council’s mismanagement of the charity-owned property – the Victoria and Prince’s Halls plus associated rooms – has persisted for decades. Having not produced audited accounts for the charity for many years, it has presented the Commission with a dubious set of figures that effectively annihilate the charity by saddling it with massive historic debt.

“It even denies the charity any future income from the hiring of the space, by stipulating that for the developer should receive this.

“This latest Scheme, the Commission’s third, seems to be designed to ensure that the Victoria Hall Trust will go out of business, with the loss to the communities in Ealing of the facilities originally intended by the original philanthropists.”

Representations about the proposed Scheme can be made here: charitycommission.gov.uk

Two boys given community sentence for “horrific” killing of animals at Capel Manor College

Image above: Capel Manor College in Gunnersbury Park

Two boys aged 11 and 12 told they “must do something” to pay their parents back

Two boys who killed and tortured animals and destroyed their enclosures at a college in Gunnersbury Park have been given a community sentence.

The boys, aged 11 and 12, were told they “must do something” to pay their parents back as they were sentenced for killing more than 20 animals at Capel Manor college. The boys had previously admitted to causing unnecessary suffering to animals as well as criminal damage during the break in on 25 February.

Rabbits, snakes and birds were among the creatures killed. Other animals such as guinea pigs and snakes were recovered in the nearby sports hall. A barn owl named Shiraz was recovered near Heathrow after being released by the two boys.

On Thursday (18 April) the two were ordered to pay £200 each in compensation, of a total compensation bill of £59,000.

The court previously heard how CCTV footage, which was not shown in court, displayed “extreme animal cruelty.”

During the hearing at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Youth Court, Ms Green gave both boys a community sentence and told them they had only avoided a jail sentence because of their age and the fact this was their first offence.

As part of the referral order, both boys must attend regular meetings with their parents and youth offending teams for 12 months – the maximum term for an order of this type.

Image: A missing barn owl named Shiraz has now been found

“It’s horrific what you’ve done, absolutely horrific”

Lynn Green, the Magistrate told them:

“This is your punishment, not your parents.”

“You must do something to pay them back… whatever they ask you to do,” she added.

In her sentencing remarks, she said: “It’s horrific what you’ve done, absolutely horrific.”

Referring to the CCTV footage of the incident, Ms Green said:

“We didn’t want to see the video, we can’t face it.”

During mitigation, Harriet Palfreman, defending the 12-year-old boy, said her client “understands the gravity of the offences committed” and that he is “susceptible to impulsivity”.

Dafne Moran Toha, defence lawyer for the 11-year-old, said both boys were “extremely remorseful for their actions”.

Ealing Council rejects Liberal Democrats’ proposal to bring back ward forum

Image: Councillors voting against the Liberal Democrats’ amendment to bring back ward and town forums

Liberal Democrats condemn “democratic deficit” created by ending of ward forums

Ealing Council have rejected a proposal to bring back ward and town forums.

The proposal, which was put forward by the Liberal Democrats, promoted the re-establishment of the forums to “enable a better engagement and improvements in their area on local issues.”

During a meeting of the Council Tuesday 16 April, Leader of the Opposition on Ealing Council and councillor for Chiswick’s Southfield ward, Gary Malcolm, put forward the proposal. Cllr Malcolm said bringing back ward and town forums would act as a form of “devolution” which would allow “more community input and better outputs for residents”.

Speaking against the motion, the Labour Leader of Ealing Council Cllr Peter Mason referred to Ealing’s existing model which covers Ealing’s seven towns of Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale and Southall.

“Communities in Ealing are thriving, alive and are buzzing with discussion and debate and engagement and activity,” Cllr Mason said, “It tells you something about incredible our seven towns are. Communities come together for themselves to determine the type of neighbourhoods they want to live in.”

He condemned the proposal as a “top-down enforcement” of democratic engagement and encouraged representatives to meet residents on their own terms, at meetings organised by communities themselves rather than those organised directly by the council.

“The Forums were paused during the COVID pandemic and have not been revived since then,” Ealing’s Liberal Democrats said, “despite the Council having a budget to fund and action them.

“Ealing Labour have trumpeted much about Town Forums, but these have not appeared, meaning that residents are becoming disenfranchised.

“Ealing Liberal Democrats endorse the essential need for both Town and Ward Forums to enable residents to engage and establish ideas or projects that will address local issues.”

Image above: Ealing Lib Dems

Lib Dems reference the fact Hounslow hold ward forums

In promoting ward forums, Ealing’s Lib Dems referenced LB Hounslow’s ward forum structure.

“In Hounslow for example each individual councillor has a small budget for such schemes which strengthen community ties, either through working as local project delivery, discussion chambers or to engage other agencies such as police or health services in a locally focussed approach.

“It should be noted that the funds for use in local projects have been absorbed by Ealing Labour and are redistributed to other unknown services in an opaque fashion. In a Liberal Democrat Official Budget amendment recently, we showed how it was possible to have both Town Forums and Ward Forums.”

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Miss Fu-sion launches new dance single at Theatre at the Tabard

Image: Miss Fu-sion, aka Linda Hall

For one night only …

Miss Fu-sion appeared at Theatre at the Tabard on Monday night (22 April). Aka Linda Hall, born and bred in Chiswick, Linda chose the Tabard as the place to launch her new dance single Heart Rush because not only does she still have many friends in Chiswick, and her mother lives here, but also she has many clients who know her from teaching dance and fitness classes at the Hogarth Club, and Virgin Active Riverside and Chiswick Business Park.

Linda is relaunching her career as a singer and dancer having raised her family. She always wanted to be on the stage; having started secondary school at Gumley House Convent School, the Roman Catholic school in Isleworth, she quickly realised she would rather be at the Barbara Speake Stage School in Acton, and persuaded her mother that’s where she should go.

When she left school at 16 she started dancing professionally in the West End, spending her summers doing holiday camp variety shows and the Christmas period in pantomimes. She remembers being very excited about appearing on Saturday Superstore with a band.

“I love every aspect of music – jazz, musical theatre, pop. The one thing Gumley School did give me was that I learned classical guitar there.”

Image: At the gym

She played at Glastonbury in 1998 with a girl band called Lash. The band broke up soon after, but the experience gave her one lasting benefit. She met her husband Chris at Glastonbury, as he was in a boy band which shared the same manager.

In typical show-biz manager style, their manager told Chris that Linda had a boyfriend already, but he didn’t manage to stop them getting together, nor was he able to stop his girl band from breaking up.

Linda and Chris bought a house in Surrey and had two children. Chris changed to a ‘sensible’ career in property development, while Linda built a career as a dance and fitness instructor.

She has taught at most of the big health centres and gyms in and around Chiswick, Brentford and Isleworth. Now she is “out the other side” of raising children, she is relaunching her career as a performer with her new dance single Heart Rush.

Image: At the gym

Why the stage name ‘Miss Fu-sion’?

Being on the road with a band can lead to some unhealthy habits, Linda told The Chiswick Calendar.

“I was so aware of my weight I wouldn’t eat during the day, then we’d eat late at night after the performance and there was a big drinking culture, so I got into Kung Fu as a way of keeping fit. I had a good teacher who inspired me, and I now teach kids in schools.”

She went back to her own primary school, St Mary’s, to teach Tai Chi, and she still teaches in Kew.

But Monday was all about the music. ‘Fu’ is an echo of her love of Kung Fu, and ‘Fusion’ describes how she brings Latin, Jazz, acoustic guitar together in her show in which she sings, plays and dances with dancers from the Resolution Dance Company.

The show sold out a week ago, with a waiting list for tickets.

You can listen to Heart Rush here: Heart Rush – Miss Fu-sion and find out more about Linda on her website here: missfusion.uk

April 2024 Books

What’s new and good to read this month? Dan Coombes has a look at what’s on offer from publishers in April and chooses Hagstone by Sinead Gleeson, The Sleepwalkers by Scarlett Thomas, and Saltblood by Francesca de Tores.

Images: Hagstone by Sinead Gleeson; The Sleepwalkers by Scarlett Thomas; Saltblood by Francesca de Tores

Hagstone – Sinead Gleeson

An exploration of art, voyeurism and all-round strangeness wrapped up in a slightly uneasy air of supernatural occurrences and human failings, this is a debut novel from an acclaimed essayist and critic, and promises great things to come in the world of engrossingly odd and atmospheric fiction with something to say.

The sea is steady for now. The land readies itself. What can be done with the woman on the cliff? On a wild and rugged island cut off and isolated to some, artist Nell feels the island is her home. It is the source of inspiration for her art, rooted in landscape, folklore and the feminine.

The mysterious Inions, a commune of women who have travelled there from all over the world, consider it a place of refuge and safety, of solace in nature. All the islanders live alongside the strange murmurings that seem to emanate from within the depths of the island, a sound that is almost supernatural – a Summoning as the Inions call it. One day, a letter arrives at Nell’s door from the reclusive Inions who invite Nell into the commune for a commission to produce a magnificent art piece to celebrate their long history.

In its creation, Nell will discover things about the community and about herself that will challenge everything she thought she knew. Beautifully written, prescient and eerily haunting, Sinéad Gleeson’s debut novel takes in the darker side of human nature and the mysteries of faith and the natural world.

Images: Hagstone; Sinead Gleeson

The Sleepwalkers – Scarlett Thomas

Scarlett Thomas’ most famous novel, The End Of Mister Y, is still one of the best works of semi-fantastical fiction I’ve ever read, twenty years on (and while this is a recommendation for her newest novel everyone should read Mister Y too, because it’s great), and her books, usually full of big ideas, strange philosophies and enigmatic plots, are ridiculously underrated. The Sleepwalkers retains her trademark surreal oddness and deals with some massive themes while also managing to be funny, smart and deliciously dark.

Evelyn and Richard arrive on an idyllic Greek island for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the season and out at sea a storm is brewing. They check in to an exclusive hotel, the Villa Rosa, where the proprietor Isabella flirts outrageously with Richard while treating Evelyn with a rudeness bordering on contempt.

Isabella tells them the story of ‘the sleepwalkers’: a couple who stayed at the hotel the year before and drowned in a tragic and unexplained accident. It starts to feel like the entire island is obsessed with ‘the sleepwalkers’, but what at first seems like a fun tale to tell before bed quickly evolves into a living nightmare.  Caught in a web of deception and intrigue, where nothing and nobody are quite what they seem, Evelyn and Richard discover that their island paradise may in fact be hell on earth and that their only means of escape is to confront dark truths about themselves and those they love.

Images: Scarlett Thomas; The Sleepwalkers

Saltblood – Francesca de Tores

I don’t really know what the word rollicking means. Does anyone? Even so I’m compelled by forces I can barely understand to describe this book as exactly that. A rollicking yarn, even. Adventure, intrigue, subterfuge, romance, brilliantly evocative and epic historical fiction, absolutely jam packed full of…rollicks? Also buckled swashes and possibly even spliced mainbraces.

In a rented room outside Plymouth in 1685, a daughter is born as her half-brother is dying. Her mother makes a decision: Mary will become Mark, and Ma will continue to collect his inheritance money. Mary’s dual existence as Mark will lead to a role as a footman in a grand house, serving a French mistress; to the navy, learning who to trust and how to navigate by the stars; and to the army and the battlegrounds of Flanders, finding love among the bloodshed and the mud. But none of this will stop Mary yearning for the sea.

Drawn back to the water, Mary must reinvent herself yet again, for a woman aboard a ship is a dangerous thing. This time Mary will become something more dangerous than a woman. She will become a pirate. Breathing life into the Golden Age of Piracy, Saltblood is a wild adventure, a treasure trove, weaving an intoxicating tale of gender and survival, passion and loss, journeys and transformation, through the story of Mary Read, one of history’s most remarkable figures.

Images: Saltblood; Francesca de Tores

Dan Coombes is a bookseller at Bookcase, an independent bookshop open in Chiswick since 1993. A specialist in science fiction, Dan has been a bookseller for 16 years.

Bookcase is a member of The Chiswick Calendar’s Club Card scheme – see their current discounts for Chiswick Calendar readers here: Bookcase Club Card offer.

See all The Chiswick Calendar’s previous monthly book reviews here.

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Brentford 2, Sheffield United 0

Image above: Ever-involved Maupay takes a tumble

Third Season: Win at last

At last! Having put together a small but respectable list of drawn games, Brentford managed to collect three points from a desperate Sheffield United, who finished the afternoon at the GTECH Stadium even more firmly cemented to the foot of the Premier League.

Bad luck, United. But the Bees’ success catapulted them into fourteenth in the table. Okay, they had slipped to fifteenth by the end of the weekend, but this was a cataclysmic event for an injury-shredded squad whose recent poor form had begun to convince all but the most diehard fans that relegation was either just around the corner or, maybe the corner after that.

It is by no means a given that Brentford can avoid the drop, but one could almost see the tension evaporate as two second-half goals put them five and six points clear of Everton and Nottingham Forest, two strugglers handicapped by FA fines for misdemeanours.

Against United, despite the home ground choir in fine voice, Brentford failed to dominate play in the first period. Yoane Wissa, running like a racehorse, was a danger to United’s disciplined defence, Bryan Mbeumo caused occasional havoc on the right, and Neal Maupay was… well, Neal Maupay, missing chances, including one when clear with only the keeper to beat he clipped the ball wide.

With time not exactly standing still, one fully expected Ivan Toney to be propelled from the substitutes’ bench to the pitch after the break, which proves that fully expectations are not what they were. Toney remained on the bench, probably still troubled with a rogue muscle. Then things looked up when Zanka had the ball into the net; then things looked down again, correctly, when his effort was nullified for offside.

Images above: Zanka steadies the ball for his 101st Premier League appearance, The Blades’ defence effectively pinned down Mbeumo

The rotten luck continued when a Mbeumo free kick was converted by Damsgaard but, after a longish delay, ruled out because Nathan Collins was judged to have committed a foul.

But, hey, things looked up again itself just after the hour when Damsgaard, gaining in authority every minute, let loose a shot that goalkeeper Ivo Grbić seemed to have covered, but was sharply diverted by Oliver Arblaster to rack up an own goal.

Now the Bees were so near to those illusive three points that the fans as well as the eleven men on the field were tense. The opposition players probably weren’t at their calmest, either.

Keane Lewis-Potter arrived from the bench and promptly turned the United defence inside-out to send a shot towards a tantalising gap patently beyond Grbić’s reach. No, it wasn’t – Grbić’s save palmed it away for a corner.

Referee Sam Barrott allocated seven minutes extra for sundry stoppages. What a quandary for the players: could they score again or concede in trying? Mark Flekken galloped into the Sheffield half and thumped a long ball that wasn’t going anywhere with Bees written on it.

Images above: Defender Collins’ in position for an attempt on goal, Three vital points! It’s been a long time coming…

And then with four minutes, give or take a heartbeat, back-from-injury Kevin Schade – remember him? – bustled into the penalty area to send a pin-point cross to the feet of Frank Onyeka. Having been off the bench for all of a minute, Onyeka shot low and accurately. Such drama is what football dreams are made of.

It is a Brentford tradition that good fortune is greeted with celebration. Thomas Frank and his squad embarked on a triumphal tour of the pitch. The fans in the stand were dancing; so were some of the team. Back at the dugouts, owner Matthew Benham appeared on the touchline to hug Frank. ‘This has definitely been the most challenging season’, he was to tell the BBC.

Five games to go, I reminded my mate Charlie. Not sure I can stand it!

‘Cissie,’ said Charlie.

Brentford: Flekken; Roerslev, Zanka, Collins, Reguilón; Damsgaard (substitute Yarlmoliuk 88), Janelt, Jensen (sub Onyeka 90+1); Mbeumo (sub Schade 90), (Maupay (sub Lewis-Potter 79), Wissa (sub Pinnock 90).

Sheffield United: Grbić; Holgate (sub Ben Slimane 90+1), Ahmedhodzic, Trusty; Bogle (sub Archer 76), Hamer, Arblaster, Osborn, Larouci (sub McAtee 57); Brereton, McBurnie.

Bill Hagerty is a contributing editor to the Bees United website. Photographs by Liz Vercoe.

Bill, who lives in Chiswick and is a former Fleet Street editor, was named Journalist Laureate 2023 the London Press Club awards:

Is the river wall at Strand on the Green in danger of collapsing?

Image: The gap between the tow path and the river wall beside the Bull’s Head pub

No action yet from Hounslow Highways or Hounslow Council more than a year after detailed inspection concluded repairs were ‘urgent’

A gap has appeared between the river wall and the tow path at Strand on the Green over the past few years. Hounslow Council and Hounslow Highways have acknowledged urgent work is needed to repair the river wall, and have promised to do something about it, but more than a year on from a report which concluded there was damage of ‘high severity’ where ‘urgent’ work was needed, they have yet to carry out the work.

The gap, which measures about 5cms, is underneath Kew Railway Bridge, and runs along the edge of the path outside the Bull’s Head pub. It looks as if the wall has moved away from the path.

The river wall supports not only the tow path but the ground behind it, on which stand the pub, the railway bridge and houses. If the retaining wall collapsed, the consequences could be catastrophic.

Images: The gap between the tow path and the rivver wall beside the Bull’s Head pub; foot for scale

Gap first reported by Chiswick Calendar three years ago

The gap was first reported by The Chiswick Calendar in July 2021, and an inspection of the wall was carried out as a result.

READ MORE: Gap opens up along the tow path at Strand on the Green

The Network Manager at Hounslow Highways, Satbir Gill, told us then it did not look as if the wall was in imminent danger of collapse, but they would continue to monitor it while they considered their options, and they were looking at the best long-term solution. He explained one option would be to anchor the wall, to stop it moving, but there were other techniques to be considered.

Cllr Guy Lambert, the Cabinet Member on Hounslow Council with responsibility for highways, said it was quite clear it was the Council’s responsibility and is something which “clearly should be addressed before it develops into something much worse.”

Images: River wall by the railway bridge at Strand on the Green from the foreshore (L) looking east; (R) looking west

February 2023 Strand on the Green Residents Association takes it up with LB Hounslow and Hounslow Highways

In February last year concerned local residents met LB Hounslow officials and councillors and Hounslow Highways engineers to discuss the problem and it was decided that a planned inspection of the wall due in 2025 should be brought forward.

There is a regular programme of inspection – some are cursory, visual assessments, while others, ‘Principle’ inspections, which are detailed inspections, are carried out every six years.

The next Principle inspection, due in 2025, was brought forward to March 2023, resulting in the report identifying areas of ‘high severity’ that needed ‘urgent’ work.

Chair of the Strand on the Green residents association (SoGA) Ann Collins has been in touch with LB Hounslow and Hounslow Highways through a series of emails, conversations and meetings since she took over the Chair in January 2023. Though she has not seen the full, detailed report, she has seen a summary and been told it indicated ten “high priority core defects” and that areas of the wall were classified as “close to collapse”.

Image above: Further along the tow path, looking west

Second meeting in April

Ann was at the February meeting and at a subsequent meeting in April with Hounslow Highways, LB Hounslow and Cllr Guy Lambert, at which the draft report was discussed. At first she was optimistic the Council was taking the problem seriously and would act.

“I left that meeting under the impression they were going to do the work”, she told The Chiswick Calendar.

Maintenance of the wall and the tow path is the responsibility of Hounslow Council. Although Hounslow Highways looks after highways in the borough, and the tow path is recognised as a designated highway, repairs to the river wall are not part of the package of work for which they are regularly responsible.

Instead, when work needs doing to the tow path or the river wall, the Council allocates a budget and commissions Hounslow Highways to do that specific piece of work.

Images above: Steps up from the Strand; Close up of the wall

Work scheduled for ‘early spring’

In November Ann was told works would be scheduled for early spring. Realising that the Council were setting their budget for the year in February and they would have to allocate budget to it, she got in touch with the Council again in February, a year on from their first meeting, this time contacting Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat directly, as well as officials in the Highways, Environment and Climate department.

“Shantanu said he would pass it on to the relevant people” Ann told us, “and Sabeel [the officer responsible for organising the work to be done], said they had commissioned, and had budget for further detailed analysis and a plan, which was surprising because this is what they were supposed to be doing last year.”

But still there has been no sign of workmen on the foreshore and no indication of when the work is scheduled to be done.

Images: Stretch of the path looking west, beheath the railway bridge; Stretch of the path looking east from the slipway

“Nothing that has happened in the past 12 months gives me any confidence that this is going to happen soon.”

Ann has asked again this week when it will be carried out. She has been in touch with the Council and Hounslow Highways regularly since that first meeting over a year ago.

“Nothing that has happened in the past 12 months gives me any confidence that this is going to happen soon.”

Meanwhile, in the period since the report was carried out the towpath has been soaked repeatedly by high autumn and spring tides, and there has also been heavy rainfall draining down the widening gap between the path and the wall and potentially washing away the foundations.

England saw a record amount of rainfall in the year and a half leading up to last month, according to figures from the Met Office. They have recorded the highest amount of rain for any 18-month period in England since the organisation began collecting comparable data back in 1836 – 1,695.9mm of rain between October 2022 to March 2024.

To the untrained eye, it looks as it the wall is tilting.

“If you stand on the slipway underneath the railway bridge you can see quite clearly that the wall is not at a 90 degree angle,” said Ann.

This is not just a concern for local residents, she says. Strand on the Green is an outstandingly beautiful area, used by many hundreds of local people routinely and by many visitors to London, and the river wall is part of the flood defences for London.

Image above: A popular spot for visitors; photograph Anna Kunst

Response from LB Hounslow and Hounslow Highways

After talking to Ann, The Chiswick Calendar put the following questions to the Council and Hounslow Highways:

Can you tell me what is happening?

I understand the Principal inspection last March found damage of ‘high severity’ and that areas of the wall have been classified as ‘close to collapse’ – can you explain what is happening to the wall?

  • Is there a programme of work scheduled for repairing the river wall?
  • What is planned?
  • When will it be carried out?
  • Has the budget for it been allocated?
  • What is the process? Will it be carried out by Hounslow Highways engineers or a specialist firm brought in?
  • If so, have you chosen one? Signed a contract? Agreed a start date?

Here is what they said:

‘Hounslow Highways, on behalf of Hounslow Council and working with the PFI Client Team, have been actively engaged in conducting Annual Structural inspections of the Strand on the Green retaining wall since before concerns were raised in 2021.

‘These inspections, which assess the condition of the wall, initially yielded satisfactory scores.  However, in 2022, some signs of deterioration began to emerge, and by 2023, more serious issues were identified and raised for further investigation and attention.

‘In light of these pending findings, it has been recommended that a thorough, close-up inspection of the retaining wall be undertaken by external specialist surveyors to facilitate a comprehensive analysis. This in-depth examination will enable the identification of specific areas requiring different  types of repairs. This inspection will occur within the next four weeks and a final report produced soon after.

‘These findings will form the basis of a Capital Project proposal for the Council to consider, review and confirm a programme of works with a specialist service provider, incorporating recommendations provided by the Strand on the Green Residents Association (SOGA).

‘Throughout this process, there has been ongoing communication between the involved teams and relevant stakeholders, including Ward Councillors and SOGA.  This communication  will continue as project findings unfold, ensuring transparency and keeping stakeholders informed of progress.’

Image: Enjoying the sunshine at Strand on the Green; photograph Jennifer Griffiths

Another detailed report needed before the budget can be put to Cabinet

When I asked for further clarification they said as the ‘Principle Inspection’ last March identified serious defects, there now needed to be a ‘Design Inspection’ to provide a detailed solution as to how to make the repairs.

The Design inspection (and report) is being done by a different supplier to the Principle inspection, whose expertise is structural maintenance, as opposed to structural inspections. Only once they have the detail of how to solve the problem will they be ready to put the budget to Cabinet.

They did not elaborate on why the process, given that this is ‘urgent’, is taking so long.

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Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat station planning to relocate

Image above: A Chiswick Lifeboat crew out on duty

Chiswick RNLI station investigating a move to Wandsworth 

Chiswick’s RNLI Lifeboat crew is planning to relocate to Wandsworth, The Chiswick Calendar has learned.

A feasibility study is currently underway into what role the charity could play if it were based in Wandsworth rather than Chiswick.

The RNLI has a building in Wandsworth, and we understand some members of the crew based in Chiswick have long wanted to be based right on the river, to improve their response time. At the moment they have to run the length of Chiswick Pier to get from their office to their rescue boat.

Image: The Chiswick lifeboat at Chiswick Pier

Chiswick is one of the RNLI’s newest lifeboat stations and one of four operating on the River Thames, the others being at Teddington, Tower Bridge and Gravesend. The stations were the first in the UK to specifically cover a river rather than estuarial waters or the sea. Chiswick’s station opened in 2002, and operated with an e-class Tiger Marine fast response boat.

A spokesperson for Chiswick Lifeboat said there were still “many hurdles to go through” and that the move was by no means imminent.

The feasibility study being carried out includes figuring out how the building in Wandsworth could be used, as a location for the lifeboats has not yet been identified. Other considerations include what roles might be needed at the new site.

Until all the necessary permissions are granted, the spokesperson added “nothing was certain” but the move is definitely an option under strong consideration.

Asked whether the move is being considered to make rescues along the river more efficient and whether more people will be able to be helped, Chiswick Lifeboat said it was too early to comment.

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New owners set to take over The Crown

Image above: The Crown in 2021

New high-end restaurant chain set to take over

New owners are set to take over the site of The Crown pub in Chiswick and open a new pub.

According to a report in Propel, a hospitality industry newsletter, an upmarket pub venture backed by JKS Restaurants is planning to take on the lease. This would be the group’s third pub after The George in Fitzrovia and The Cadogan Arms in Chelsea.

The opening of The Cadogan Arms in July 2021 was funded by the group, in partnership with Dominic Jacobs and James Knappett. The George followed later the same year. James Knappett is  the culinary director. He is the chef at the two Michelin starred Kitchen Table on Charlotte Street which is owned by JKS.

JKS has a number of high-end restaurants in its portfolio, including those with Michelin stars such as the Spanish restaurant Sabor. It also owns the Chinese dumpling chain Bao and Bubbledogs, the hot dogs and champagne restaurant.

The business was set up by three siblings from North London, Jyotin, Karam and Sunaina Sethi whose initials form the name of the company.

The group’s first Michelin star was gained by Gymkhana in Mayfair and it gained a second one in this year’s guide.

The Crown stopped trading recently after an earlier unsuccessful attempt to sell it by the owners Harcourt Inns. No timeframe has been given for the redevelopment of the site.

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