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MELANIE PRESS Fashion, the Primrose Hill Way


Martin Sheppard on the history of Gloucester Avenue

‘LIVING’ The Primrose Hill Fitness Centre

Produced by Primrose Hill Community Association


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March 2020 On The Hill On The Go




Keep up with the latest news and happenings on our social media channels.



Editor’s Letter 05


On The Street 07

Burns Night, PHCA News, Ross Willet Cricket Academy


What’s On 16


Primrose Hill Entrepreneurs 18


Things to do in March

Nicola Brown discusses her design company

Plastic-Free Primrose Hill 20

Press by Melanie Press 26

Our Song Club 21

Cartoon & Letter 28

Cutting down on excess plastic

Nicola Manasseh on the merits of singing

‘Living’ in Primrose Hill 22

Cleo Chalk takes a look at ‘Living’, the Primrose Hill fitness centre

Before Darwin Court 24 Martin Sheppard reveals what was there before Darwin Court was built

Fashion, the Primrose Hill way

Marketplace 29

Contact details for local services

Primrose Hill Eats 30

Dad’s chocolate and toffee cupcakes by Collis Bakes

Hello, Primrose Hill! 31 Raising a wee dram to Robert Burns


The Primrose Hill

JUMBLE SALE Saturday 28 March 11:00 am to 1:30 pm

Clothes Galore, Bric-A-Brac, Books, Toys & Games. Refreshments. £1 entry, uNDER 16’S FREE all proceeds go to the community centre

Primrose Hill Community Centre 29 Hopkinsons Place, off Fitzroy Road, NW1 8TN www.phca.cc/jumble

The Team



Maggie Chambers editor@onthehill.info

Editorial Group

Dick Bird, Doro Marden, Phil Cowan, Pam White, David Lennon, Mole on the Hill, Micael Johnstone, Andrew Black

What’s On Editor Julie Stapleton

Social Media and Website Editor Jason Pittock


Brenda Stones, Vicki Hillyard


Sarah Louise Ramsay www.slrphotography.co.uk


Bridget Grosvenor


Luke Skinner agency-black.com

Advertising Sales

Melissa Skinner 07779 252 272 melskin@hotmail.co.uk Special thanks to all our contributors.

This publication is created by the community and for the benefit of Primrose Hill on behalf of your local charity, the Primrose Hill Community Association (PHCA). All proceeds from this publication go directly to fund the charity. We hope you enjoy. www.phca.cc Disclaimer: the views in the magazine are not necessarily the views of the PHCA.

This product is made of material from well-managed, FSC® certified forests and other controlled sources


Welcome to March I’m always astonished by how much plastic I find in our recycling bags. And that’s in spite of my supposed awareness. Life is so structured these days that it’s hard to avoid. But things look set to change as local initiatives aim to reduce the load. There’s now a restored milk float doing the rounds, delivering goods to people who bring their own containers; a few local shops now operate a similar refill system. Doro Marden, our resident eco-queen, has recommended a range of solutions to help rid our lives of excess plastic. See p 20 for details. As for clothing, this year BAFTA and the Academy Awards asked people to wear sustainable fashion, or something they’d worn previously. In case you’re already gearing up for next year’s award ceremony, do bear in mind Mary’s Living and Giving where the profits go to Save the Children. And if you’re taking a child along, Fara supports the work of FARA charity, transforming the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people in Romania. Do support these outlets, either by buying from them, or donating your unwanted clothes, books and toys. Alternatively, search out an eco-friendly brand or try an outfit from the small, responsible British brands stocked by Press and featured this month (see p 26). Another option to source pre-loved books, toys and clothes (possibly not BAFTA-worthy, but you never know in Primrose Hill) is the popular annual jumble sale held in the Primrose Hill Community Centre. This year it’s on Saturday 28 March, so head on over and track down a bargain. Have a good month, enjoy the start of spring, and keep chipping away at the excess plastic! •

ISSN 20-6175

Cover PHOTOGRAPH BY Sarah Louise Ramsay


Find us on facebook.com/islingtontribune


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A Poem by Russell Butler As oases to camels, so park benches to me, I plod from haven to haven, an ageing nomad Seeking cool hill stations on the Primrose Mountain If I can lodge no special claims for the elderly, The sight of a sudden empty seat does make me glad. Full benches judiciously move me on again.   But consider the benchmarks in your life too, And you may find that they are – like mine – too few.

Trib 6


Burns Night p8

PHCA News p 11

MARCH 2020

Haverstock Journalists p 12

Top Reads at the Library p 13 AND MORE

BURNS NIGHT Continued on p 8 



Burns Night at the Community Centre (Or ‘Och Aye the Noo’)

Aficionados of all things Scottish packed out a tartan-festooned Community Centre on the evening of 25 January to celebrate the birthday of legendary poet and lyricist Robert Burns. Guests arrived to a warm welcome of hot toddies and salmon canapes before settling in for a stellar evening of performances and ritual hosted by head clansperson Catherine Kelly. To set the scene, a reading of Burns’ ‘The Primrose’ was beautifully recited by local resident Catherine McQueen. Resident band The Jolly Beggars started their musical contribution to events with a rabble-rousing Scottish reel as an introduction to our very special guest, Andrew Marr. Andrew’s dulcet tones were put to great effect describing The Immortal


Memory through the poems ‘To A Louse’ and ‘Holy Willie’s Prayer’, guiding guests on a vivid journey through some of the key moments in Scottish history as seen through the eyes of the Bard. Interspersed with some of Burns’ most melodic songs, Andrew then peeled away the layers of legend that surround the great man to reveal the grittier aspects of his life and times. Guests seemed particularly fascinated to learn that Mr Burns had been profligate in many departments that excluded writing, having fathered at least 13 children that we know of at the time of going to print! No Burns supper would be complete without making a bit of a fuss about a haggis, and this creature in question didn’t disappoint. The revered dish was magnificently piped into the venue by a very fetching Keith Thompson in full Highland regalia.

The little critter was then addressed, cut and toasted in that order, before being served with traditional sides to a ravenous congregation of guests. It should be noted that no live haggis was harmed in the making of this event, and there were vegetarian options available! After dinner James Hamilton took up the reins, reciting a piece on Burns that introduced a distinctly more international flavour to the proceedings: adding a ‘neighbourly nations’ interpretation of the Bard’s work and how far it has influenced people around the world. Needing no introduction to Primrose Hill nor anywhere else, Annabel Leventon took to the stage and charmed everyone with her beautiful recital of ‘To a Mouse’, followed by stunning vocal performances of ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and ‘Comin’ Thro’

MARCH 2020

A Toast to the Lassies This is a toast to honour the 51% of the population who inhabit our wee world, and tonight in particular the shining lights who are the Primrose Hill lassies. Lights the like of Pam White, A venerable institution of conservation, film clubs, lectures and lamp posts Who helps keep our community bright For saving the planet or simply rewilding your garden Look no further than Doro Marden With a full portfolio is Maureen Betts Whose endeavours and works for our great community Her high standard sets the Rye’, accompanied by her talented son Harry Adams on guitar. The whisky flowed and the night continued as guests lapped up even more entertainment, thanks to Layla Brown’s touching a capella renditions of ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and ‘Ay Waukin, O’. In another plot twist, guests pondered the meaning of ‘I Murdered Hate’ and ‘The Vision’, recited and fascinatingly explained by Ian Bremner. Performance artist Francesco provided the penultimate act, bringing the evening to a crescendo with his intoxicating recipe of drumming and interpretive dance, while guests enjoyed the traditional Scottish dessert cranachan, skilfully concocted by Doro Marden. A toast is a toast is a toast, and there were at least that many more to come for laddies, lassies and anyone else who wanted to propose one. As the night drew to a close, a happy gathering of our community danced to the closing songs, courtesy of The Jolly Beggars. The Primrose Hill Burns Night raised over £850 for our Community Centre and has now become one of the hottest tickets in our local calendar, thanks in no small part to the volunteers who ran the show and the amazing performers who gave freely of their time and talents. Appreciation must also be extended to Shepherd Foods, who generously donated Gaelic goodies for the event. My sporran is brushed and my sash is stashed, but I’m already looking forward to next year. Tickets for Burns Night 2021 will go on sale this December. Och Aye the Noo! Phil Cowan @Primrose_Phil •

Maggie Chambers, our revered editor of On The Hill, Has steered our great magazine with love and skill Our library is blessed with Marijke Good Whose thoughtful stewardship turns words to life’s food I doff my cap to Julie Stapleton who helps to run the centre With the patience of a saint As hers is not an easy job –‒ it really ain’t To Sue Bird, whose many talents include the Top of The Hill Quiz, A Primrose Hill institution it certainly is Nada Nutt, who seems to help at every event, A nicer person I’ve never kent For local history we turn to Line Cooper Whose garden parties are super-duper Our thanks to Annabel Leventon for her talent and song We’re so glad she could come along A deep bow goes to Catherine McQueen Without whose contribution this night might not have been And then there is the lovely Kay, Whose wonderful smile always brightens up my day Finally to our host this evening, Catherine Kelly, Whose hard work, imagination and dedication Made tonight happen and put food in your belly Apologies to any lassies missed, But this was always going to be an incomplete list! Let’s raise a toast to the lassies! Phil Cowan @Primrose_Phil




A view of the east end of King Henry’s Road c 1905, where it meets Ainger Road (on the left of this image). In those days, the only road users were horse and cart and the odd pedestrian. I’m loving the horse poo in the middle of the road –‒ it must have been a familiar sight in Edwardian times! I think that the big tree on the left is still there, as are the houses pictured here. The card was posted on 29 August 1905 by NB from number 93 King Henry’s Road, who wrote to E: “Just a line, hope you are well. Love from.” • @old_primrosehill_postcards


MARCH 2020

News & Information from Primrose Hill Community Association

Your regular update from PHCA, publisher of On The Hill

Jumble Sale

The spring Jumble Sale will take place at the Community Centre on Saturday 28 March, 11am to 1.30pm. We are now taking in donations: clothes, bric-a-brac, drinks, bottles, books, DVDs, toys, games, jewellery and accessories all welcome. Unfortunately we cannot take electrical items. Please bring donations to the Centre at any time. If you can volunteer for sorting on the Friday evening or selling on Saturday, please let us know on 020 7586 8327 or info@phca.cc. Otherwise do come along and grab some bargains! £1 entry (under 16s free). Refreshments available. Proceeds go towards the Primrose Hill Community Centre upkeep.

Open House

Our Open House co-ordinator is abroad on urgent family business, so there will be a delay in getting the programme out this month. Please check our website (www.phca.cc), which will be updated as soon as we have the March programme.

Reminder – Short Mat Bowls

Short mat bowls at the Community Centre has now started. Come along on Tuesdays from 1.30pm to 3.30pm. It’s not too serious and is a lot of fun, and a great way to meet new people. It is open and free for all adults (no need to book) with tea and cake available afterwards.

Unwanted Gifts

As we settle into 2020, all the festive decorations put away and Christmas seeming like a distant memory, there are always a few leftover bits and bobs to remind us that we are done with over-indulging for a while! Have you any bottles of wine, boxes of chocolates or unwanted gifts hanging around that you just can’t face or find a home for? Here at your Community Centre we love unwanted and unloved post-festive items! We have events throughout the year that are always in need of prizes! One

thing we do is create hampers – we’ve made lots over the years. So don’t worry if you just have a bubble bath, or a box of biscuits or a single bottle of something. It doesn’t take much to create a fabulous hamper that saves the Centre expense, but is still a fantastic gift/prize for someone at one of our events/fundraisers. Your response in previous years was fantastic! So have a think; ask your friends and neighbours. Call by and see Mick or Julie – we’d really appreciate anything you can spare. Thanks in advance for any donations.


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Ross Willett: Lord’s Cricket Academy Coach Sirin from Haverstock School’s Young Journalists interviews Ross Willett. I walked along an open-air corridor beside the glorious playing fields at Lord’s, where WG Grace, the most famous player of all time, and Bob Willis, one of England’s greatest fast bowlers, played the game. To my disappointment I thought that I would be able to have a go at bowling with the help of the bowling machine, but I couldn’t because the Lord’s Cricket Academy had been transmogrified into a huge empty warehouse. I asked Ross Willett why, and he explained that it was the Cricket World Cup and players were preparing for the finals. The teams from other countries practise in the space to get ready. The Cricket Academy normally echoes to the sounds of the bowling machine flinging balls at the players in different styles: fast bowling, swing bowling and spin bowling at different speeds. I expect that 20 miles per hour would sound like a pup, pup, pupping noise, in contrast to the whistling sound of a ball at 100 miles per hour! I asked about test matches, where the game goes on for six hours a day for five days; how are the cricketers trained to cope with these games? Ross explained that the players are taught to ‘keep their eye on the ball’. This means two things. First, you have only one chance to bat or catch the ball; you get just a few seconds to make a decision on how to hit the ball, and a bowler may suddenly change from


what you think is one sort of bowling action to another. The second thing is mental stamina: you might have had a bad day on the first day, so ‘keeping your eye on the ball’ means understanding that the game is going to continue; you have to learn from your mistakes and register your emotions, but carry on. I was disappointed that the Cricket Academy was shut, but I still learned a

good lesson for life: ‘keeping your eye on the ball’ means that you have your eye on something big that you want to achieve, and you might only have one shot at it. You have to keep it foremost in your mind and not get distracted. Many thanks to Ross Willett and the Cricket Academy and the press team who helped us get in. Sirin (Year 8) •

MARCH 2020

Top Reads at Primrose Hill Library Each month we order new books for adults and children, most of which are borrowed so frequently that they are rarely seen on the display shelves. How intensively they are borrowed can be seen on the date stamps inside their front covers. Here’s a recent one, together with front covers of two highly popular current reads. Primrose Hill Community Library opening times: Monday: 10:00–18:00 Wednesday: 12:00–19:00 Friday: 10:00–18:00 Saturday: 10:00–15:00 •


The Lives of Lucian Freud Youth William Feaver

Big Sky Kate Atkinson

Care Packages Live-in Care Hourly Day Care Hourly Night Care 24 Hour Care




44 Gloucester Avenue The house at 44 Gloucester Avenue has been developed by Victoria Square Property Company Ltd, a long-term professional landlord who has many holdings in the Camden and north-west London area. They have owned this property since 1971 and are part of the William Pears Group. 44 Gloucester Avenue was developed by the Electric Telegraph Company in 1858. The Post Office acquired the site in 1870 and constructed more buildings. In recent years it provided offices, studios and warehouses for local businesses. Planning was granted in 2015 for demolition of two of the buildings


which have been rebuilt as residential blocks, but the buildings fronting the estate and abutting the railway were retained. Thirty-five apartments are to be let, as well as a residents’ gym, bike storage and Bringme parcel dropping system. The buildings are pet-friendly. Four affordable apartments are situated on the street frontage and the white house will be rented as a 4/5-bed home. There are five commercial studio units for rent in the rear spaces of the railway-side courtyard. www.courtyardapartments.co.uk www.courtyardworking.co.uk

Short Mat Bowls

The Primrose Hill Opera Cabaret

Short mat bowls started at the Community Centre in February and proved to be great fun. It’s open and free for all adults on Tuesdays 1.30pm to 3.30pm, no need to book. Tea and cake are served afterwards.

The well-attended Primrose Hill Opera Cabaret will be crossing the hill to its new venue, St Mary’s. The Opera Cabaret is a series of short sketches from different operas by top professional performers. Everyone takes a picnic to share during the supper interval and there is a bar available. This year it will take place on Sunday 31 May at 6.30pm. Tickets are available at www.operacabaret.org

MARCH 2020

New Book by David Gentleman Penguin Books are publishing a new book by local artist David Gentleman on 5 March. It’s called My Town – An Artist’s Life in London and it features many pictures of Primrose Hill and its surroundings, plus Camden and London in general. There will also be an exhibition of some of the pictures from 10 to 18 March at Patrick Bourne & Co, 6 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NP.

Letter to the Editor Dear Editor, , That certain night, the night we split air. There was pollution abroad in the its, There were old crows, dining on tit-b And a parakeet squawked in Chalcot Square. Yours faithfully, Howard Richards

Fair-Well: Refillable Goods Delivered by Milk Float Remember milk floats? A batteryoperated vehicle used to travel from door to door, leaving glass bottles of milk and picking up the ‘empties’ which customers left out for collection. Since those simple days, many people now drive to the supermarket to buy milk and the rest of their commodities, all packaged in plastic containers. But now a restored milk float, named Charlie, has been doing the rounds in Primrose Hill. The inspired idea comes from Claire Marchais and Jerrilee Quintana, who are on a mission to reduce plastic usage in everyday products. Their business, Fair-Well, sells loose dried goods such as nuts, seeds, pulses, grains

and pasta, as well as domestic cleaning products, soaps and shampoo. The idea is that you book Charlie the milk float – Primrose Hill is just on the edge of their catchment area – and have them fill your own containers, thus eliminating the need for plastic packaging. Other customers who live nearby can also come and refill their containers at the same time. Their products are organic, environmentally friendly, Fair Trade and plastic-free. Special highlights are organic popcorn for film nights and organic chocolate buttons. To find out more and to book a delivery, visit www.fair-well.co.uk

Remembering Lofty Lofty, one of the regulars of Primrose Hill Community Dogs, whom we featured on the front cover of the November issue of OTH, sadly passed away recently. He would meet his best friend, Oswald the miniature Dachshund, every morning outside Anthony’s Delicatessen for tea and a cuddle. He lived in Oldfield and would entertain everyone with his stories of training falcons and eagles. Of Community Dogs, Lofty said, “Knowing that the dogs are at the café motivates me to get out. They help me forget about my health issues, and are great conversation starters too. I meet lots of new people through the dogs.” He will be much missed by humans and dogs alike.


What’s On March NEW THIS MARCH TUESDAY 3 MARCH Film Show at the Library The ground-breaking portrait of 1980s Britain, My Beautiful Laundrette, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Gordon Warnecke, directed by Stephen Frears, introduced by Stephen Frears. PHCL. 7.15pm. £8 in cash, including a glass of wine, in advance at PHCL or on the door. FRIDAY 6 MARCH Age UK Camden Literary Festival Interviews and book signings on the theme of ageing through storytelling: Salley Vickers, Grandmothers (interviewed by Dame Esther Rantzen); Frances Liardet, We Must Be Brave (interviewed by Carol Bundock); Anne Youngson, Meet Me at the Museum (interviewed by Emily Rhodes); and Hazel Prior, Away with the Penguins (interviewed by Nikki Morris). St Mark’s Church, NW1 7TN, 9.30am–5pm. Refreshments available. Tickets from www. eventbrite.co.uk/e/age-uk-camden-literaryfestival-2020-exploring-ageing-through-storytelling-tickets-85252824493 SATURDAY 7 MARCH Jon Boden Jon Boden returns to Cecil Sharp House for a long-awaited solo show featuring material from Bellowhead, Spiers & Boden and more. CSH. 7.30–9.30pm. £20, or £10 under 26s. Recharge and Reset Meditation, yoga, chanting, oils and journaling workshop to nourish your body and mind. Learn to trust your inner potential and reclaim your truth. PHCL. 4–6pm. £30 per person. Emma and Mona: info@indigominds.co.uk, 07808 526 265 WEDNESDAY 11 MARCH Not the Anderson Twins A new collaboration between Alistair Anderson and Ian A Anderson, blending traditional Northumbrian music with blues, psych-folk, trad and world twang. CSH. 7.30–9.30pm. £15, or £10 under 26s. SATURDAY 14 MARCH England in Harmony Concert Primrose Hill Choirs, classical and popular songs. St Saviour’s church, NW3 4SQ. 6pm. £10 cash, under 13s free. Contact primrosehillchoirs.com

SATURDAY 21 MARCH Historical Pageants Day A free day of talks, exhibitions and performances of historical pageantry from local history organisations, museums, theatre groups, musicians and dancers. CSH. 11am–5.30pm, with evening event 7–9.30pm. Free. SATURDAY 21 MARCH Camden Choir Concert Music by the Bach family. St Mary’s NW3 3DJ. 7.30 pm. Tickets £15, students £10, from www.camdenchoir.org or on the door. MONDAY 23 MARCH Library talk Local author Henrietta Goodden on the renowned women teachers at the Royal College of Art who influenced the generation of postwar students that created Britain’s reputation for style and fashion from the 1960s onwards. PHCL. 7pm. £2 at the door. SATURDAY 28 MARCH PHCA Jumble Sale Quality clothes, bric-a-brac, books, toys and games, accessories and refreshments. PHCC. 11am–1.30pm. £1 entry. Belinda O’Hooley Best known for her music in the BBC series Gentleman Jack, Belinda O’Hooley now presents a new solo show of piano compositions. CSH. 7.30–9.30pm. £14, or £10 under 26s.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY TUESDAY 7 APRIL Film Show at the Library The Lunchbox, a modern Indian love story, starring Nimraut Kaur and Irfan Khan, directed by Ritesh Batra. PHCL. 7.15pm. £8 in cash, including a glass of wine, in advance at PHCL or on the door. TUESDAY 14 – FRIDAY 17 APRIL Circus Glory Easter workshop. PHCC. 10am–3pm. £15 per hour, £28 am or pm, £50 per day, £180 per week. Contact circusglory@gmail.com, 07973 451 603


SUNDAY 15 MARCH Family Barn Dance Bring all the family and take part in lively dances from Britain and beyond in a supportive and fun environment! CSH. 3–5pm. £8 adult, £6 child, £2 under 2s.

MONDAY Rhyme Time Library Rhyme Time for under 5s. PHCL. 10.30–11.15am. Suggested £2 donation. Contact 020 7419 6599

Youth Ceilidh A fun, friendly social event for 12–19-year-olds, with energetic live music. No experience necessary! CSH. 6–8pm. £6.

Ready Steady Go ABC Exploratory play, singing, dance and stories for babies and toddlers 6–18 months. PHCC. 9.45am–12.30pm. Contact 020 7586 5862

WEDNESDAY 18 MARCH Salt House Songs about place, politics, landscape and birds in the British song tradition. CSH. 7.30–9.30pm. £14, £10 under 26s.

Circus Glory Trapeze for ages 3–12. All levels welcome. PHCC. 3–6.30pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastresse@googlemail.com

Friends of Regent’s Park and Primrose Hill AGM With speaker Mat Bonomi, Head of Transport and Access, Royal Parks. St John’s Wood Church NW8 7NE. 6.30pm for 7pm.

Homework Club Do your homework in the Library with a qualified teacher. PHCL. 4–6pm. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 TUESDAY Monkey Music Award-winning music classes for babies and toddlers: music, movement, percussion, bubbles and fun. PHCC. 9.30–11.30am. Contact 020 8438 0189 for a free trial class.

Hartbeeps Multi-Sensory Sound Classes Multi-sensory classes for mums and their little ones. Music, movement and drama for under 5s. PHCC. Baby Bells 2pm; Baby Beeps 3pm; Happy House 4pm. Classes from £9.50. Contact clarelouise@hartbeeps.com WEDNESDAY Les Petits Bellots A new type of childcare, offering a perfect solution for parents who don’t want to commit to long-term nursery care. PHCL. 9–11.30am. Contact 07401 862326, www.lespetitsbellots.com Circus Glory Trapeze for ages 3–12. All levels welcome. PHCC. 2.30–6.30pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastesse@googlemail.com Music Classes with Helen New drop-in music sessions for early years. PHCC. Term-time only. Class 1: 4pm (18 months–3 years), class 2: 4.30pm (3–5 years). Suggested donation £3. Contact Helen 07855 909 325, helenlaurarichards@googlemail.com, www.facebook.com/musicclasseswithhelen Primrose Hill Children’s Choir Enjoy fun songs and games, and learn to sing well. Ages 4–11. St Mary’s NW3 3DJ. 4.10–5.10pm. First time free, then £8 per week. Contact Matthew 07817 234 925, www.primrosehillchoirs.com Homework Club Do your homework in the Library with a qualified teacher. PHCL. 4–6pm. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 Chess Club Learn chess at the Library with a trained instructor. PHCL. 6.30–8pm. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 THURSDAY Mini Mozart Musical story time. PHCL. 9.30am for young children; 10.15am for babies. Contact hello@minimozart.com Drop-in for under 4s Drop in and take part in a variety of activities. PHCC. 11.15am–1pm. £2.50 including snack and tea/coffee for parents and carers. Contact 020 7586 8327 Catherine’s Ballet Ballet classes for under 5s. PHCC. 4–5pm. Contact info@chalkfarmschoolofdance.co.uk, www.chalkfarmschoolofdance.co.uk First Class Learning English and Maths tuition. PHCL. 3.30–6.30pm. Contact primrosehill@firstclasslearning.co.uk FRIDAY Mums’ and Dads’ Morning Meet other parents while your children play. PHCL. 10.30–11.30am. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 Circus Glory Trapeze for ages 3–12. All levels welcome. PHCC. 2.30–6.30pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastesse@googlemail.com Pitta Patta Funky dance classes, ages 4–16. PHCC. 4–7pm. Contact Juliet 07971 916 174, Juliet@pittapattadance.co.uk, www.pittapattadance.co.uk SATURDAY Rhyme Time For all ages, with an adult. Every other Saturday (2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month). PHCL. 10.30–11.15am. Suggested donation £2.

SUNDAY Perform A unique mix of drama, dance and singing classes to bring out every child’s true potential. Ages 4–7. PHCC. 10–11.30am and 11.30am–1pm. Try a free class. Contact 020 7255 9120, enquiries@perform.org.uk, www.perform.org.uk

FOR ADULTS MONDAY Mary’s Living and Giving for Save the Children Take advantage of 50% off books, movies, pictures, records and CDs, every Monday, 10am–6pm. Lunch Club At Jacqueline House, Oldfield Estate, Fitzroy Road. Freshly cooked lunch served at 12.30pm sharp. £5 for 2 courses. More info from PHCC. Bridge Club (ACOL) PHCC. 1.45–3.45pm. £3. Contact Maureen Betts 07919 444 187 Circus Glory Trapeze for adults. All levels welcome. PHCC. 1.30–2.45pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastresse@googlemail.com Neighbourhood Information Centre Drop-in advice centre. PHCL. 2–4pm. Free. Contact 020 7419 659 Bridge Class Join us in the Library for a game of bridge. Beginners/intermediate. PHCL. 6.30pm. Contact jojarrold@gmail.com Chilled Strings Small amateur string chamber orchestra, guided by professional tutor Kwesi Edman. PHCC. 6.30–8.45pm. £10 for each evening. Contact sueandhercello@gmail.com Primrose Hill Choir Love to sing? All styles of music, all welcome. PHCC. 7.30–9.30pm. £7. Contact Matthew 07817 234 925, www.primrosehillchoirs.com TUESDAY Mary’s Living and Giving for Save the Children Take advantage of 20% off men’s items every Tuesday, 10am–6pm. Free English Classes Learn English at the Library. PHCL. 12–1pm. Free. Contact jojarrold@gmail.com Pilates PHCL. Dynamic sessions, 9am and 10.15am; gentler session 11.30am–12.30pm. £12 per class, £100 for 10 classes. Contact lizacawthorn@gmail.com Lunchtime Laban Workshop for actors, dancers, singers and the rest of us. Explore the where and how of movement with Rudolf Laban’s Scales and Efforts. PHCC. 12–1pm. £10. Contact Jenny 07970 536643, jennyfrankel.laban@gmail.com Short Mat Bowls PHCC. 1.30–3.30pm. Free for all adults, no need to book, with tea and cake afterwards. General Yoga PHCC. 6.30–8pm. Contact Catriona 07958 959816, cat.b1@blueyonder.co.uk Morris Dancing Class Have fun, increase your fitness and improve your dance skills whilst learning Cotswold Morris dances. CSH. 7–9pm. £8, or buy 5 and the 6th is free.

What’s On March WEDNESDAY Mary’s Living and Giving for Save the Children Student day: 20% off all items with a student ID card, every Wednesday, 10am–6pm. Lunch Club Jacqueline House, Oldfield Estate, Fitzroy Road. Freshly cooked lunch at 12.30pm sharp. £5 for 2 courses. More info from PHCC. Circus Glory Trapeze for adults. All levels welcome. PHCC. 1.15–2.15pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastesse@googlemail.com Open House A regular activity (film, talk, performance) followed by tea, cake and chat. PHCC. 2pm. Free. Chess Club Learn chess at the Library with a trained instructor. PHCL. 6.30–8.30pm. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 Bridge Class Join us in the Library for a game of bridge every first Wednesday of the month. Beginners/ intermediate. PHCL. 7.30–9pm. Contact jojarrold@gmail.com, 07887 568 822 English Folk Dance Club Fun for dancers of all abilities and none. No partner needed. PHCC. 7.30–10pm. Drop-in charge £6. Contact camdenfolkdance@yahoo.com THURSDAY Mother and Baby Pilates Tone your limbs, flatten your tummy and strengthen your pelvic floor. PHCL. 11–11.55am. Contact pilateswithpaulette@gmail.com, facebook.com/pilateswithpaulette paulette@restorativemovement.info, www.restorativemovement.info Gentle Pilates Gentle but effective Pilates class. PHCL. 12.30–1.30pm. £10 per session. Contact annie@mactherapy.org Narcotics Anonymous PHCC. 1.30–3.45pm. Free. Lu Jong A self-healing practice that improves body awareness, posture and flexibility, while cultivating balance on the physical, mental and energetic levels of body and mind. PHCL. 2–3pm. £10 cash drop-in class. Contact lujonginlondoninstillness@gmail.com, 07957 476 944 Primrose Hill Yoga Slow flow yoga: create space and strength in the body, and quieten and focus the mind. PHCC. 5.30–6.30pm. £11 drop-in, or £50 for 5 classes. Contact Carolineshawyoga@gmail.com, www.carolineshawyoga.com Kriya Yoga Yoga class. PHCL. 7–8pm. This session is not available for drop-in. For cost and further information, contact Hagen, kriyayogauk@btconnect.com Hatha Vinyasa Yoga Free Yoga (Hatha Vinyasa) class. Gentle flow yoga, beginners welcome. Bring your own mats. Strengthen the body whilst calming the mind. PHCC. Every Thursday, 7.30–8.30pm. Free. Contact payal_vasudeva@yahoo.com English Country Dancing Explore England’s social folk dance heritage (country, ceilidh and barn dancing) in this friendly and inclusive class. CSH. 7.30–9.30pm. £8, or buy 5 and the 6th is free.

Life-drawing Beginners to professionals, just drop in! PHCC. 7–9.15pm. £10. Contact 020 7586 8327, phlifedrawing@gmail.com, www.meetup.com/ Primrose-Hill-Life-Drawing-London, Instagram: @lifedrawingph FRIDAY Early Morning Pilates Stretch and strengthen the whole body to improve balance, muscle strength, flexibility and posture. PHCC. 8–9am. £15 drop-in, £120 for ten sessions. Contact Natalie 07709 543 581, natalienicollfitness@gmail.com Mums’ and Dads’ Morning Meet other parents while your children play. PHCL. 10.30–11.30am. Free. Contact 020 7419 6599 Aerial Pilates with Pieta Improve strength and flexibility through movement with the support of an aerial sling. PHCC. 10–11am. Class sizes are limited, so book on 07726 721 791, www.circusbodies.com

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Circus Glory Trapeze for adults. All levels welcome. PHCC. 1.30–2.45pm. Contact Genevieve 07973 451 603, gmonastesse@googlemail.com Yoga for Seniors PHCC. 2.45–3.45pm. Free. Contact 020 7586 8327 Councillors’ Surgery Third Friday of the month. PHCC. 6.30–7.30pm. SATURDAY Councillors’ Surgery First Saturday of the month. PHCL. 11am–12pm. Primrose Hill Market St Paul’s School playground, Elsworthy Road, NW3 3DS. 10am–3pm. Contact www.primrosehillmarket.com SUNDAY Hopkinson’s Bar Meet for a drink with your neighbours. All welcome. PHCC. 12–3pm.

CONTACT DETAILS PHCC Primrose Hill Community Centre 29 Hopkinsons Place (off Fitzroy Road) NW1 8TN Contact: info@phca.cc www.phca.cc 020 7586 8327 PHCL Primrose Hill Community Library Sharpleshall Street, NW1 8YN Contact: events@phcl.org www.phcl.org 020 7419 6599 CSH Cecil Sharp House 2 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 7AY Contact: info@efdss.org www.cecilsharphouse.org 020 7485 2206

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ENTREPRENEURS Local entrepreneur Petar Savic talks to some of the start-ups and small businesses in Primrose Hill. This month he meets Nicola Brown. point where she is out either at school or training with her swimming squa, so I honestly feel I now have more time than I know what to do with!


YOU WERE SELECTED FOR THE TOP 100 FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS #IALSO100 CAMPAIGN IN THE UK FOR 2020. TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU. The aim of the f:Entrepreneur campaign is to showcase and celebrate dynamic and inspirational businesses led by women. The campaign is built around a programme of content, stories and events, including roundtables, Q&A sessions and panels, as well as larger all-day events throughout the year. On International Women’s Day all 100 women are invited to the House of Lords. I’m really excited about that.


I have a genuine love of interiors and an ability to see potential in any house or building. I am commercially minded thanks to my own experience of making gains by renovating properties, and I consult for mid-sized property developers so that they can maximise profits on their developments. I also enjoy working with individuals, so offer trouble-shooting mini-consultations for people who need some help getting their house to feel like home. I believe that everybody should live in a home that lifts them up and makes them happy.



I have worked for myself since my early 20s and it’s always felt right for me. Sometimes there are setbacks and, as a single parent, not having a regular wage can be especially daunting. At times, I have had to be completely fearless and just trust I would get through. I am not saying I recommend the ‘jump in and worry about it later’ route, but I think that working for yourself definitely requires courage; and if we question or try to plan the ‘right time’, that right time may never come.


Flexible working has been key since I became a single parent, when my daughter was 18 months old. I knew that I needed to create a working life which would enable me to be around to collect her from school and put her to bed during those formative years, whilst financially supporting our family unit. I would often work flat-out during school hours, then be back at my desk at 8 pm. My daughter is 12 now, and after years of feeling there would never be enough time in the day, I am at a

I love the whole movement happening right now, of women truly supporting other women. Back when I was developing my own houses, it was such a male-dominated industry and lonely as a solo female entrepreneur. These days there are more and more women in the industry and we’re all willing to share and help each other, which is really refreshing. A turning point for me was when I was invited to join a selective business tribe called Sister Snog, which is a magnet for female founders. To have a 60-strong group of women who are making their mark in the business landscape, and inspiring each other to do the same, as well as being a constant source of support and ideas when needed, does incredible things for your mind and your business. You are the company you keep, and surrounding yourself with people who lift you up has been game-changing for me.


Although I am definitely a city girl, I do love to be near the grass and in the parks. I have been living here for five years. We make good use of the hill during the summer, when we’ll go for a stroll, take a picnic or G&T and a card game, and sit on a blanket in the light evenings. During the week, if I have meetings in town, I will usually walk through Regent’s Park rather than get the tube. This always gives me a moment of clarity and time to feel super-grateful for where we live. It’s a green community space minutes from the city ‒ the best of both worlds. www.construct-design.com @construct.design.london •


Going Plastic-Free By Doro Marden

Fair-Well’s restored milk float

Do you despair at how much plastic you end up throwing away? Almost everything we buy, from shampoo to shirts, comes in single-use plastic, most of which cannot be recycled. Daniel Webb collected every piece of plastic that came into his flat during the course of a year. He then sorted and categorised all 4,490 pieces (in a sports hall with a lot of help) and created an artwork out of it! By weight his plastic rubbish was just under the average for the UK (which is 34.4 kg), and over 90% of it was single-use packaging, mostly for food. Daniel calculated that only 4% of his throw-away plastic pieces would actually be recycled in the UK –‒ yes, only 4%! Other recyclables would be exported, nowadays to South East Asia, where it causes environmental problems and is not properly processed, often ending up in oceans. See more about his project and how you can join in by collecting your plastic for a week at www.everydayplastic.org


Of plastic not collected for recycling, a third ends up in landfill and twothirds is incinerated, releasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, plus toxic chemicals which put those living nearby at risk. Camden is part of the North London Waste Authority, which is planning a big new incinerator at Edmonton. Opponents argue that investment should be made in alternatives, such as waste sorting and public education. Councils will be locked into contracts delivering large amounts of waste for years to come. See more at www.stop-edmonton-incinerator.org So what can we do as individuals? Refill – lots of options, including a new visiting converted milk float, Fair-well, which stocks dried food plus cleaning and beauty products (www.fair-well. co.uk). Budgens at Belsize Park and Earth in Kentish Town do refill, and Queen’s Crescent Market hosts a refill stall on Thursdays and Saturdays. Let’s hope our shops catch up soon. There are still milkmen who deliver in our area, even organic in glass bottles.

Hook Dairy’s raw milk stall at the Primrose Hill Market has a refillable glass bottle option. I have started making my own kefir again, after realising how many plastic bottles I was using; yoghurt is also easy to make. For cleaning materials, Mercury Stores in Chalcot Road have cardboard boxes of bicarbonate of soda and bottles of white vinegar, good oldfashioned and effective materials. There are lots of recipes for cleaning materials online. The online Ethical Superstore (www.ethicalsuperstore.com) has Humble toothbrushes made of bamboo, and interdental sticks, plus silk dental floss. (Wouldn’t it be good to be able to get these locally – Mr Lalani of Primrose Pharmacy, please note!) Do let us have your tips and ideas for using less plastic. Menstrual product alternatives? Real nappies? If the infant Henry VIII had worn disposable nappies, they would still be in landfill. Indestructible plastic is destroying our oceans, soil and health: let’s use our consumer power to work towards becoming more plastic-free! •

By Nicola Mannasseh When I was living in the Middle East, I used to visit a place in the Sinai desert in Egypt where almost every evening local Bedouins and tourists gathered in circles to make music, sing and clap. Not only did we experience togetherness and new friendship, but singing lifted our spirits and made us feel confident. It was healing for me because as a child I was told that I sang out of tune; when our school performed musicals I was asked to just mouth the words. In my twenties, I went to different singing teachers in order to learn how to sing; I was always told that I could sing, but sometimes needed help to be in the right key or pitch. The beauty of the desert parties – which reminded me of teenage holidays singing around campfires – was that it didn’t matter whether I sang always in tune, quietly or just hummed along. Nobody was judging and the audience were all participating. A few years ago I moved back to London and in order to continue singing I joined a local choir. At first it was fun, especially because our choir leader chose wonderful songs for us to learn. However, the learning was often hard for me as we spent ages going over and over verses until all the different voices – altos, sopranos, tenors, basses – had nailed their parts. I would get restless, waiting for us to be able to just sing the whole song through without having to start again. Then the idea came to me: gather a group of people from my neighbourhood, find a guitarist with a wide repertoire of wellknown songs and we could just sing one song after another without caring to repeat or perfect them. Thus Our Song Club was born two years ago. Our Song Club now has three venues: in Chalk Farm, Hampstead and Paddington. We meet fortnightly in rooms attached to churches. We have two wonderful guitarists who are friendly performers so that shy singers can simply follow them and feel encouraged to sing out. Both guitarists came into my life by coincidence. I had advertised on the Nextdoor app for somebody to help me with some

computer issues; I met Geoff over a cup of coffee in a café whilst he fixed my computer. A year later he was the only one to respond to my Nextdoor advertisement for a guitarist. It wasn’t until we finished that first hour of singing that we both remembered how we had met previously. More recently I was in a café getting a very early morning takeaway coffee and telling the owner that it was a shame he didn’t have a noticeboard so I could advertise for a guitarist. Another customer in the café heard what I said and asked if he could be of help. Two weeks later Harvey joined us in the Octagon Room at St Saviour’s Church in Eton Road NW3 to accompany our local group and ten new members who had joined via meetup.com. Singing not only brings joy, but also releases feelgood chemicals into the brain, so it is good for your health. Last April, Line of Duty actress Vicky McClure produced a fantastic two-part documentary called Our Dementia Choir, in which she showed how people losing their memory can actually improve their condition through singing. As well as putting together a choir of young and old suffering from dementia, she also commissioned some scientific

experiments on the effects of singing. How I cried at their final performance; I felt even more determined to bring ‘singing just for singing’s sake’ to our neighbourhoods. After Our Song Club meetings, some people like to chat to each other and some prefer to go straight home. There are no rules, just as nobody is required to sing every song, although I always choose familiar ones and people often comment that they’re delighted to know so many. I realise that there are a few members who have some sort of sadness, loneliness or depression, or don’t get to do enough physical exercise. One regular says that the club is like going to the gym, but much more pleasurable; another member comes when she can and tells me that after singing she goes home believing that all is well in her normally difficult world. Maybe that happiness doesn’t last all the way to our next meeting, but I am glad she can know that feeling of being on top of the world; at least she can own it for a few hours – and all because there’s a place, a group, a guitarist and some songs to sing. For more information about Our Song Club, email nicolamanasseh@ gmail.com or call 0734 0632689 •


Introducing ‘Living’ in Primrose Hill By Cleo Chalk The time we give to family commitments, work deadlines and dinners with friends can leave too little time for staying fit. If you’re then offered the daunting prospect of a morning jog up the hill, most can be forgiven for giving it a miss. But with Luke and Jo Gray’s unique take on a fitness centre, ‘Living’, Primrose Hill residents can find another way. To call it a fitness centre really only gives you a hint of what Living has to offer. It’s certainly a lot more than just a gym. Each client is given the personal attention of nutritionist Jo and personal trainer Luke, and allowed time to focus on their own needs and motivation for training. “We work with everyone,” Jo tells me, “from patients in their 90s to elite fitness fanatics. Our job really involves getting to know people and understanding what makes them tick.” For busy Londoners who are tired of the one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf approach taken by some of the chain gyms, it’s not hard to see why Jo and Luke’s Living philosophy is a breath of fresh air. And although they do have several famous faces taking advantage


of their services, it’s something that any of us can join. The philosophy underpinning their work is about the importance of finding ways to live in balance. Jo explains that this means “making a small difference to your lifestyle and a huge difference to your life”. In a session with her or Luke, you can expect to go through a fitness regimen, but they will also discuss your diet and help you find ways to continue meeting your targets when you’re back at home. “We do set homework,” Jo says, “but it’s not as scary as it sounds! I’ll help the client find ways to integrate our work into their own life, give them recipes and even show them how to cook up healthy meals.

Living founders Jo and Luke

“Sometimes we work with celebrities who want to stay fit because they’re in the public spotlight or have health needs of their own. Really, though, our clients come from all over. We have people who come in here because they have a big birthday coming up and they want to find a way to be a better self. “A lot of people come through word of mouth – this is a close-knit area, so we get lots of friends of friends coming in. We also get people who haven’t found the right place to train: some people are put off by the atmosphere of a traditional gym and want something rather more intimate.” Jo is also quick to dispel the myth that getting healthy needs to involve unsustainable diets or cutting out all your favourite foods. By focusing on practical, sustainable goals they make staying fit a lot more palatable. As Jo puts it: “Live your life in a healthy way, without trying to survive on a lettuce leaf and a lentil.” This focus on building a healthier relationship with food can help people to avoid dangerous fad diets and yoyoing weight. Jo talks about clients who have come to her in despair, presenting guidelines from their nutritionists that simply don’t seem achievable. “They’ve come to me and said: ‘How on earth am I going to manage this?’ So I work with them to come up with a new diet plan that fits their health needs but also tastes of the things that they like.” This belief has led to them launching their Eighty Twenty programme, a

“We work with everyone... from patients in their 90s to elite fitness fanatics. Our job really involves getting to know people and understanding what makes them tick.” twelve-week online challenge that includes a variety of resources: food prep, movement and exercise videos, and weekly wellness guides are all part of the package. The idea is simple: “80% of the time staying on track – choosing from our healthy recipes, reading our wellness magazine and exercising to our films for just 20 minutes a day; and 20% of the time allowing yourself a ‘bit of what you fancy’!” For those who aren’t quite ready for the commitment of a personal trainer but would like a taster of what Living has to offer, Eighty Twenty is a great way into their healthy ethos. Luke and Jo pop up in the videos to talk you through your weekly exercise routine and demonstrate their healthy recipes. With each week focusing on a different aspect of wellness – sleep, stress and anxiety to begin with, but a whole week dedicated to chocolate later on – it’s a holistic approach. Luke emphasises the importance of setting short-term targets that can be achieved quite

quickly, so that you are motivated to keep working towards bigger goals. At the other end of the scale, for those who want to make the full commitment, there’s the opportunity to attend Living Retreats. This takes place in a beautiful country house in Surrey, which gets people out of the city, to concentrate on their objectives without any of the stress of everyday life. “This is a total reset,” says Luke, “taking people away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and putting them in a homely environment. They’ll get outstanding food cooked by Jo. We’ll really look after them. But there’s also hard work.” Luke and Jo are both keen to reach out to more people in the local area. They describe their studio as a community within the community, where people come together with a shared philosophy of health and wellness. For Primrose Hill people interested in experiencing this for themselves, they’ve generously offered to provide a free initial consultation. This gives you the opportunity to discuss your fitness needs, find out what kind of regimen you’ll benefit from, and learn a little more about how Living Retreats operates. Also available for readers is an introductory offer of one free session when a package of 12 is booked. See contact details below: www.weareliving.co.uk www.livingretreats.co.uk www.livingeightytwenty.com •


From @old_primrosehill_postcards

Before Darwin Court By Martin Sheppard Until 1970 the houses bordering the railway at the entrance to Primrose Hill from Gloucester Gate, 4–24 Gloucester Avenue, were a distinguished group of high-quality Victorian villas. They had been built by the architect Henry Bassett in the 1840s. Although many were in need of restoration, most were habitable or restorable. They could easily have remained as highly desirable houses or been turned into flats. They were demolished, however, in the early 1970s and replaced by the three modern blocks of Darwin Court. Not all of Henry Bassett’s Gloucester Avenue villas had survived as long. No 2 was demolished to allow the railway to be widened in 1905. At the junction of Gloucester Avenue and Regent’s Park Road, Bassett’s double-towered villas were replaced by Cecil Sharp House in 1930. No 41, bombed in the war, was replaced by James Stirling’s red-brick block. On the railway side, the villas nearest to the canal, numbers 26–36, were replaced by an electrical substation in 1910. This is now 36 Gloucester Avenue.


The Achilles heel of the surviving villas on the railway side was that they were owned not individually but by British Rail, the successor to the London and Birmingham Railway which had built the line in the 1830s. They had, indeed, escaped destruction when the railway was widened in 1905. In March 1968 British Rail offered them to Camden Council, which decided against buying them. British Rail then sold them, for an undisclosed price, to a developer, Amberville Securities, which put in a scheme to Camden Council for redevelopment as a terrace of thirtyfive three-storey houses, seventeen maisonettes and a flat. Amberville was given planning permission for redevelopment in late 1969, but then rapidly sold the site to another developer, Samuel Properties, which at once put in a proposal for ninetyfour flats, each with a garage. By the time the St Pancras Civic Society and its nascent Regent’s Park branch discovered what was about to happen, the villas were already on death row.

A vigorous campaign, led by Jean Rossiter and Diana Gurney, who lived respectively at 10 Manley Street and 31 St Mark’s Crescent, made an excellent case for preserving the villas. They challenged the views and proceedings of Camden Council’s Planning Department and wrote to enlist the support of their local MP and of key Camden councillors. They also repeatedly demanded that the villas, and in particular numbers 4–10, should receive special protection from the GLC and Ministry of Housing, corresponding with Lord Kennet, the then Minister of Housing. The campaign to save the villas was supported by the Victorian Society. Sir Nikolaus Pevsner wrote on 17 April 1970: “As Chairman of the Victorian Society, I wish to plead for the preservation of nos. 4, 6, 8 and 10 Gloucester Avenue, four houses which could easily be converted and which represent the best that is left of a group once larger. Even so, these four remain very impressive, and they belong to a kind too rapidly jettisoned. They

are doubly impressive owing to their position at the junction of Gloucester Avenue and Regent’s Park Road.” Sir John Summerson, the distinguished architectural historian, who lived locally and who had written about the villas in the Architectural Review in 1948, added his voice to the campaign, which was also supported by the conservation campaigner Raine, Countess of Dartmouth, the daughter of Barbara Cartland and later stepmother of Princess Diana. Unfortunately, their efforts were in vain. Conservation, and with it the recognition of the importance of preserving notable local housing as well as outstanding individual items of architecture, was in its infancy. The late stage at which the campaign to save the villas had begun, the difficulty of overturning planning permission once given, and the lure that the redevelopment would increase the housing capacity of the area, made the combined local, London and national bodies unwilling to interfere. A central problem was Camden’s Planning Department, led by the forceful modernist Dr Bruno Schlaffenberg; he was helped by the fact that Victorian architecture, as opposed to Georgian, was still at a heavy discount. Philip Hardwick’s Euston Arch had been brutally demolished in 1961. Sir George Gilbert Scott’s masterpiece, St Pancras Station, almost followed. It was only saved by the intervention of Sir John Betjeman and by its listing as Grade I by Lord Kennet. By early 1970, Samuel Properties had in turn sold the site to JM Hill and Co, though the architects, Ronald Salmon and Partners, remained the same. Planning permission was given for the scheme. It was cold comfort to the campaigners to be assured by Councillor Alan Greengross on 21 April:

“The Committee, when discussing this, did not lightly reach a conclusion and it was only after extensively discussing the matter that they decided in favour of redevelopment. There were many reasons for this, not least the considerable housing gain that would be obtained over the whole site. “In the belief that one of the things troubling people in the area was the type of building that would take the place of these houses we added a very strong rider to our permission which I hope will make it quite clear to any intending developer that the replacement buildings will be judged against a most stringent standard and if need be they will be continuously rejected until they reach this standard.” Subsequently, in October 1970, an imaginative compromise was drawn up by a local architect on behalf of the St Pancras Civic Society. This was a feasibility study which allowed numbers 4–10 to be kept, even if the other villas were replaced by flats. The study was simply ignored by JM Hill Ltd, whose directors refused to meet representatives of the St Pancras Civic Society. There were, however, improvements made to the developers’ plans before demolition and rebuilding took place, rendering the development less obtrusive. The scheme for a continuous block of housing was changed to the present three blocks, and the proposed red brick was replaced by a more sympathetic hue. The villas were pulled down and replaced by the end of 1973. As a member of the St Pancras Civic Society summarised it: “The beautiful villas which have been replaced by the undistinguished flats known as Darwin Court were built in the early 1840s by Henry Bassett, a Royal Academy gold medallist. Numbers 2–24 Gloucester Avenue

were particularly handsome and formed a ceremonial entrance to the neighbourhood. The Civic Society tried hard to save the four longest and finest of the group, and the feasibility study shows how this could have been done. But permission had been granted for redevelopment of an earlier scheme, and to revoke it would have involved the payment of compensation – not just for expenses incurred but for ANTICIPATED PROFITS – an iniquitous rule which means that mistakes cannot be rectified. “The only consolation to be drawn from this sorry affair is that the design of Darwin Court is a lot better than as first presented. We could have had a long flat unbroken slab with horizontal windows.” As Diana Gurney wrote to the Minister of Housing and Local Government in October 1970: “The law as it stands does not assist people to defend the buildings they value, and it is we who are frustrated and posterity who will be the losers.” At least some of the original Bassett villas survive on the other side of the street as 39, 43 and 45 Gloucester Avenue. The whole case, on the cusp of conservation becoming a force capable of saving the Victorian heritage, led to the establishment of the Primrose Hill Conservation Area, in whose Advisory Committee’s archive the exchanges over Darwin Court form the earliest folder. Residents in Primrose Hill should remember Jean Rossiter and Diana Gurney with gratitude, as well as being thankful to their successors, Richard Simpson, Ann Swain, Valerie St Johnston and Pam White, for fighting later inappropriate developments. The Primrose Hill Community Association’s archive, now professionally sorted by Laura Rifkin, is an important source and resource for the history and current life of the neighbourhood. •

Holy Smoke! The 1911 census reveals that numbers 1 and 3 Gloucester Avenue were the Convent of the Helpers of the Holy Souls, while 8 and 10 were occupied by a religious order, the Servantes du Sacre Coeur. Next door to them was an American, Methodist-inspired Evangelical group, the Pillar of Fire.


Melanie Press: Women’s Style Boutique WORDS BY Ylwa Warghusen PHOTOGRAPH BY Sarah Louise Ramsay 26

On a bright, frosty morning in February, I met Melanie Press at her eponymous boutique, which since the summer has been located in a prime spot on Regent’s Park Road. Melanie herself is the epitome of that sought-after, effortless Primrose Hill look as she walks in with her cuddly Cavalier King Charles spaniel, called Brody. “Brody has his own fan club – all the children love him,” she says, smiling. It’s an easy commute up from Camden, where she lives with her husband Paul, a photographer and video-maker. Melanie grew up in North London and went to North London Collegiate School before studying fashion at Central St Martin’s, where she was a contemporary of Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo. She went on to work for Lynne Frank PR, famous as the inspiration for the Absolutely Fabulous TV series, before crossing the Atlantic to take up a design position at Ralph Lauren in New York. “It was totally luxurious and theatrical,” Melanie remembers. This was followed by a design role at Marc Jacobs, which had just been bought by Louis Vuitton. “Marc was lovely to work for, genuinely nice and a real character,” says Melanie. After seven years stateside, homesickness got the better of her and she landed a job at Cacharel in Paris, just as Clements Ribeiro had taken over as artistic director. For two years she was a regular on the Eurostar, along with some of her fashion friends like Clare Waight Keller and Hannah MacGibbon. Her first move into buying came with the position as creative director of Whistles. “I knew I liked retail,” she says, and subsequently she spent nine months fine-tuning her business plan before opening Press boutique on Erskine Road in 2004, right opposite the recently opened Triyoga –‒ “the place was buzzing”. Melanie’s love for Primrose Hill has not faltered over the years. “People here make a real effort to shop locally, to support their own small shops. I owe my longevity in the business to my clients.” She has a keen eye for new, upcoming designers and was the

first in the UK to stock such hit labels as Belstaff, Issa, Isabel Marant, Golden Goose. “Women in Primrose Hill want new things.” She still tends to select brands that customers can’t easily find elsewhere, such as Masscob, Soeur and the moreish Markberg bags. “But I’ve kept Golden Goose; they are just so comfortable and ground any outfit,” says Melanie. “When Triyoga moved to Camden, I had to rethink things. For a while I’d had a desire to go back to design.” The result is her own exclusive collection, Melanie Press, launched in 2016. It’s a small selection of updated heritage pieces with a London edge. She has a close relationship with her suppliers ‒ the lurex knits and shirting are crafted by a family firm in Italy; the lambswool and merino wool hails from the North of England (she used to consult for Pringle designs).

“I hope that my clothes will make you want to get out of bed on a Monday morning, that they’ll enhance your life.” One of her devotees is The Times’s fashion director, Anna Murphy, who has praised the label for its impeccable quality and easy wearability. “She’s a great supporter of small brands,” enthuses Melanie. “When you buy from a small brand, all the value is put into the garment; whereas for a big brand it can be in the advertising and the runway shows.” Melanie designs with her client’s lifestyle in mind: “She needs clothes to walk the dog, do the school run, go to work, summer in Ibiza … I want to empower her to be feminine, but with a boyish element to give it an edge.” Liberty florals paired with a boyfriend cardigan can be grounded with trainers. Ralph Lauren taught her that clothes should not be ‘one-season wonders’, something that resonates with fashion’s increasing emphasis on sustainability. Melanie does her part in this respect: “We host pop-ups and trunk shows where customers can pre-order items; in this way we minimise waste.” Saltspin, the denim label stocked by Press, is unique in that it’s made with much less water than most other jeans. And the clothes from Press are built to last, in quality as much as in their timeless style –‒ something that her faithful clientele confirm. “I hope that my clothes will make you want to get out of bed on a Monday morning, that they’ll enhance your life.”

Another thing that sets Press apart is its customer service: “We offer personal styling and wardrobe arranging. A lot of clients come back specially, even if they move away from Primrose Hill.” With the launch of the web shop and positive articles in The Times and American Vogue, the word is getting out, and Press has gained new customers as far away as Singapore and Australia. She draws inspiration from vintage and cites Claire McCardell’s feminine workwear as her ultimate sartorial benchmark. “I design what I would love to find in an antique market.” Her Sonnet & Doll dresses have quickly attained cult status and can be found in many chic local closets. A recent pop-up for the new yoga line from Sadie Frost – Frost London – had a great response. “People trust it: Sadie’s a local, she was a dancer and actress, her sister Holly is a yoga instructor and it’s made in Europe.” Another pop-up was that for Anna Mason, a favourite of the Middleton sisters, whose ‘occasion wear’ complements Melanie’s own collection of everyday classics. She values being part of a community of shopkeepers in Primrose Hill and feels it’s crucial for the village to preserve a good group of businesses in order to make the area interesting. It’s sad when local favourites such as Elias & Grace close down. Press’s recent move to Regent’s Park Road has brought heightened visibility and a new type of customer, but Melanie is thankful for her time in Erskine Road. “I figured out my brand identity there, I learnt from my clients.” Her vision for the shop is to add lounge seating and warm lighting and to host more events such as fashion shows and pop-ups. In her spare time, Melanie likes to be outside: “Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath, going to the coast. And classes at Triyoga!” The new spring collection has arrived in the shop and it’s a fresh take on some of the ubiquitous Press pieces – the cardigan cast in light grey merino wool, with customised ribbon trim and buttons, the flowing lurex trousers in green with a grosgrain ribbon stripe and a cord blouse with delicate Liberty flowers. These are clothes that are practical and dreamy at the same time, that you reach for again and again as they just work and make you feel good. And they’re all in limited editions, so you’re getting exclusivity. When I take my leave and step out onto the street, the frost has thawed and spring is most definitely in the air. www.pressprimrosehill.com


Primrose Hill LAUGHS

Letter to the Editor Dear Editor, Howard Richards’ letter in February’s issue of OTH links Isambard Kingdom Brunel with Primrose Hill. This merits a response. The engineer for the railway from London to Birmingham was Robert Stephenson. He not only established the construction technology for the railway age, but also took personal responsibility for the Primrose Hill contract, the first 9 miles from Camden Town. This most difficult section of line, including Primrose Hill tunnel and cutting, had driven the appointed contractor into bankruptcy after problems with ground conditions, particularly the swelling of Blue London Clay exposed to the atmosphere. Stephenson would have walked this section of line innumerable times during planning and construction from 1831 to 1837. Despite the great man’s long and fruitful association with the area, Robert Stephenson is virtually uncelebrated in Camden and Primrose Hill. Bizarrely, the local public house in Gloucester Avenue, promisingly called ‘The Engineer’, features a pub sign with the familiar stovepipe-hatted Isambard Kingdom

Brunel, as celebrated in the February letter. Brunel had no further association with the area after the early stages of planning, once the Great Western Railway had rejected the idea of a common terminus at Euston. Let us instead embrace Robert Stephenson’s engagement with Primrose Hill. Ode to the Other Engineer You shaped our area Created an island Built workers’ cottages Walked from Camden to Primrose Hill Supervising construction of your railway. Yet where you kinked Southampton Road Your stovepipe-hatted friend Gazes at your legacy At works he played no part in. Though usurped and ignored Your star will surely rise We shall remember you. Peter Darley Director, Camden Railway Heritage Trust •

Marketplace Thank you to all our contributors! R 4
























































































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Beauty & Wellbeing SHAMPOO HAIR AND BEAUTY SALON 63 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 8XD 020 7722 9594 alinashala@hotmail.co.uk Tu–Sa 09.00–18.00 Su 10.00–16.00 CLAIRE ROBINSON THERAPIES (MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER) Hypnotherapy & Counselling Services Princess Road, NW1 8JS 07733 328164 info@clairerobinsontherapies.co.uk www.clairerobinsontherapies.co.uk

Specialist PRIMROSE HILL DENTAL 61a Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 8XD 020 7722 0860 / 07845 0088 240 primrose.dent@gmail.com M, W, F 09.00–17.00 Tu, Th 09.00–20.00 Sa 09.00–13.00

PRIMROSE HILL BUSINESS CENTRE The First Business Centre in the World 110 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8HX 0207 483 2681 info@phbcoffices.co.uk M–F 09.00–18.00

Fashion & Jewellery HARRIET KELSALL 69 Regent’s Park Road, NW1 8UY 020 3886 0757 M–Sa 10.00–18.00 Su 11.00–17.00 www.hkjewellery.co.uk

Community PRIMROSE HILL COMMUNITY CENTRE 29 Hopkinson’s Place, Fitzroy Rd, NW1 8TN 020 7586 8327

PRIMROSE HILL COMMUNITY LIBRARY Sharples Hall St, NW1 8YN 020 7419 6599 M 10.00–18.00 W 13.00–19.00 F 10.00–18.00 Sa 10.00–16.00 POST OFFICE 91 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 8UT M–Su 06:00–22:00 CHALK FARM FOODBANK Revelation Church c/o Chalk Farm Baptist Church, Berkley Road, NW1 8YS 0207 483 3763 Th 10.30–12.00 www.chalkfarm.foodbank.org.uk

PRIMROSE HILL SURGERY 99 Regent’s Park Rd, NW1 8UR 020 7722 0038 M–W 09.00–18.00 Th 09.00–12.30 F 09.00–18.00


Primrose Hill EATS

Dad’s Chocolate and Toffee Cupcakes Fourteen-year-old Caia Collis makes her Dad’s favourite cupcakes for you to try at home. 1.

Preheat your oven to 180˚C, and line a cupcake tray with 12 cases.

2. Melt the chocolate. 3. With an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and add to the creamed butter and sugar. Add the chocolate. 4. Combine the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Mix the milk and vanilla in a jug. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate, butter and sugar, alternating with the milk and vanilla. 5. In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks start to form. Carefully fold the eggs whites into the main batter using a metal spoon. 6. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases and push a toffee into the centre of each one. 7.

Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20–25 minutes for regular sized cupcakes or approximately 15 minutes for mini cupcakes.

8. Meanwhile, make your vanilla icing by beating the butter in a mixer until smooth, then mix in the rest of the icing sugar. Once combined, add the vanilla beans and vanilla extract. 9. When the cupcakes are cool, take an icing bag and cut a hole at the end to release the amount of icing you want to pipe. With both hands on the piping bag, squeeze a continuous circle of icing going inwards and upwards. 10. To make the ganache, put the double cream in a pot and place over a medium heat until it starts bubbling. Take it off the heat, add the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Once it’s cooled, put it in a piping bag and drizzle over the cupcake. Then add some gold spray and gold leaf and decorate with toffee and Biscoff.

Ingredients Cupcakes • 130 g 70% cocoa dark chocolate • 85 g unsalted butter, at room temperature • 175 g soft brown sugar • 2 large eggs, separated • 180 g plain flour • 1 tsp baking powder • ¾ tsp baking soda • Pinch of salt • 240 ml semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature • 2 tsp vanilla extract • 12 toffees Icing • 500 g icing sugar • 225 g unsalted butter • 3 tsp vanilla extract • 2 heaped tsp vanilla beans Ganache • 100 g double cream • 40 g dark chocolate Decoration • Gold spray • Gold leaf • 12 Biscoff biscuits • Toffees RECIPE BY Caia Collis PHOTOGRAPH BY Sarah Louise Ramsay


Hello, Primrose Hill! Raising a wee dram at the Community Centre on Burns Night Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, Great chieftain o’ the pudding-race! ‘Address to a Haggis’ Robert Burns Photography by Jason Pittock and Petar Savic

Andrew Marr speaking

Catherine McQueen & Keith Thompson

Francesco Bucci

‘Auld Lang Syne’

Catherine McQueen & Andrew Marr

The Jolly Beggars

The Jolly Beggars and Annabel Leventon


In a fast food, ready-meal world, there are still those who want fresh ingredients 020 3151 6287 166 Regents Park Road, Primrose Hill, NW1 8XN

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Profile for On The Hill Magazine

On The Hill - The Primrose Hill Magazine, March 2020  

News, views, interviews and features relating to Primrose Hil, London. Magazine produced by the Primrose Hill Community Association and loca...

On The Hill - The Primrose Hill Magazine, March 2020  

News, views, interviews and features relating to Primrose Hil, London. Magazine produced by the Primrose Hill Community Association and loca...