Turnham Green Terrace piazza launch

Sunday 15 September 2019

Sunday’s street party on Turnham Green Terrace to launch the ‘piazza’ was a huge success by all accounts. I’m hopeless at judging crowds but there must have been several thousand people there across the day. The sunshine certainly helped, but there were lots of families and adults taking part in the activities laid on by Abundance London and the Cookbook festival and everyone was out to enjoy themselves, with some great music by local bands BGM and Duffy & Bird. The street was closed to traffic for the day, with stalls and activities all the way along and a big marquee for Cookbook festival events on the grass.

Good for business

“Fantastic, a lovely atmosphere, great to see everybody out’ said John Fitzgerald, manager of Snappy Snaps, ‘the busiest I’ve seen the Terrace in years”.

“A wonderful event and a really good opportunity for a new business to meet new people” said Krishan, one of the directors of natural health apothecary Zen Maitri.

“We maybe did three times the business we normally do” said Tyson Mercan, owner of Pizza Treat. In fact they ran out of burgers and closed at 5.00pm when they’re normally open until 10.00pm. He was one of several businesses who said he would like to see the street closed regularly.

‘It was incredibly busy for us’ said Joanna Dziedzic, manager of Windfall Natural. ”We did about 40% more business than usual. I would like to see it happen monthly’.

The Chiswick Calendar stall – Sam Pennington organising the raffle

Launching the piazza

The party was organised by Karen Liebreich of Abundance London, to launch the ‘piazza’ – the area of open space between the railway bridge and the shops. Over the past few months no doubt you have noticed the beautiful flowers, the stylish new benches and bike racks. Thanks to Cllr John Todd the water fountain has had a polish and is almost working again (soon to be working again says Hounslow council). #

It took a small army of volunteers to weed the beds, tidy up and clear the space of rubbish and put up the marquee and the gazebos. Nice to see two of our councillors, Ron Mushiso and Ranjit Gill with their sleeves rolled up.

Unveiling Sir Peter Blake’s art work

Sir Peter Blake CBE RDI RA unveiled a large print of his Chiswick Empire collage – the first of many community art works which will grace the space, ‘the W4th plinth’ (named after the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square – geddit?) The idea is that the art work will be changed regularly and the public can vote on what will be shown there. If you are an artist who would like your work to be mounted, the details of how to submit your art for consideration will be on the Abundance London website: abundancelondon.com

Capitalising on the Chiswick Book Festival

Part of the thinking behind the party was also to capitalise on the success of the Chiswick Book Festival and the Cookbook festival. Food businesses always do well from people grabbing a meal or a drink between festival sessions, but it’s not only the food businesses which benefit. My neighbour told me she had three hours between one session and another, so on the spur of the moment she went for a massage.

Lucy Cufflin, co-organiser of the Cookbook festival, told me she wanted all the businesses in the Terrace to benefit, by putting on events which would draw the crowd down the street, to spend money in the shops between festival sessions. Karen Liebreich said: “What we wanted to achieve was the kind of positive happy initiative that we need more of to support our high road. Going forward, in difficult circumstances, we need more planting, more travel by foot and bike, more local shopping and eating”.

It seems to have worked. Between the Book festival, the Cookbook festival and the street party you could happily occupy yourself all day, with painting and making activities for children, including the opportunity to create a bug tower, when not listening to your favourite author and buying books.

“It was great fun” said Bernadette, who works in Postmark cards. “We definitely had more business than a regular Sunday. There were lots of young families. It was great to see the Terrace so busy and buzzy”.

“I really enjoyed it” Alexa from Bayley & Sage told me. “The music was great”.

Snappy Snaps had a photo booth where children and families, or indeed adults on their own, could pose dressed up as superheroes. John Fitzgerald reckons they had 150 families through on Sunday, who will now receive free T shirts and posters “as a little thank you to the public who’ve given us their business over the more than 30 years that we’ve been here”.

Marmalade jewellers had a stall where you had to ‘identify the gemstone’ which was always busy and all the cafes and restaurants had long queues. The Chiswick Calendar was selling raffle tickets on behalf of ourselves, Abundance London and the Cookbook festival, with 40 great prizes from local businesses which you can see listed here. If you bought tickets and want to know whether  you won, you will get a phone call from The Chiswick Calendar team if you are a winner.

Live music by BGM

The music was provided by BGM, who are well known to people living in Grove Park and Strand on the Green. They have form playing cover versions of rock and pop standards, with a bias towards the 1960s and 70s, rather well. The initials stand for ‘Bass, Guitar and Mandolin’ though band member Andy Murray told me: “by rights it should be BGMD today – Bass, Guitar, Mandolin and Drums”. The imaginatively titled band have a considerable track record of creativity south of the A4.

Alastair Dewar (Mandolin / Vocals) is the Chair of the St. Michael’s Players drama group; Andy Murray is the former Chair (current Vice-Chair) of the Grove Park Group of residents (who are currently developing another piazza at Grove Park, but that’s another story…) As with all good bands, the members got to know each other through gigging locally. Andy was playing guitar in the St. Michael’s Players pantomime band one year when Alastair approached him to set up an acoustic duo. Ian Trowbridge (Bass) appeared on the scene, a core member of local band ‘Stranded’ and a fellow alumnus of the St. Michael’s panto band, and so BGM were formed. The name does, as they say, what it says on the tin. Andy then enrolled his old friend Martin Scott, (Drums / Vocals) formerly of The Soft Boys, and with whom Andy had played in the ’80s in the Stiff All-Stars. (Evidence of the latter can be found on YouTube..) BGM can be contacted via andy@4-tunes.com

Andy’s orbit is a little bit bigger than the square mile below the A4, as he works with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, planning, co-ordinating and liaising with record companies on Pink Flloyd releases. If ever you’re in a pub quiz and there’s a question on Pink Flloyd, Andy would be your man.

Duffy & Bird

Also on stage on Sunday were Duffy & Bird, a folk / Americana duo, one half of whom (Tricia Duffy) lives in Chiswick. (The other, Al Bird, lives in Surrey). With two acoustic guitars and vocals, their sound is laid back and mellow. They are both songwriters as well as performers, so they play a lot of their own music, but on Sunday they also played the beautiful, haunting theme song from this summer’s top TV drama Keeping Faith, ‘Faith’s Song‘ by Amy Wadge, which is perfect for Tricia’s voice. Their debut album debut album ‘5 Lines’ was well received when it was released in 2017 and they are releasing a new five-track EP this autumn. You can hear ‘Avenue of Luck’, the single which they brought out in June, here on their website.

Abundance London ‘guerilla gardening’ awards

Writer Polly Devlin OBE, hot foot from her session at the Chiswick Book Festival, awarded the prizes in Abundance London’s ‘Guerilla Gardening’ competition. Two years ago the community group decided to create an award for the person or group that had done most to improve or create an unofficial garden around the Chiswick area. ‘Guerrilla gardening’ includes the tending of tree pits, small dilapidated areas, and also gardens where the local community has asked permission from the council or landowner and taken responsibility to create something of worth – beautiful and biodiverse, that could create pleasure for passersby and maybe a tiny habitat for wildlife.

The winner was Steve Nutt, who has been looking after the tree pit outside his house on Sutton Court Rd for several years, but over the last year has expanded his efforts to the other side of the road, under the curve of the railway bridge. He’s created a little garden there full of poppies, plum trees and bee-friendly plants. Runners-up were Alan, who looks after the flower beds outside Pet shop in Devonshire Road and Gill Harding, who looks after the beds outside Chiswick library, filling them with beans, herbs and rhubarb and making the area a very pleasant place to pass or to sit.

Images below – staff at Windfall Natural with their stall at the street party

Read more about Karen Liebreich and about Abundance London

See our profile of Karen Liebreich here

Read a feature about the work of Abundance London here

Read more about Lucy Cufflin and about the Cookbook Festival

See our profile of Lucy Cuffllin here

See also: Lucy ‘s guest blog about the 2019 Cookbook Festival