diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 04, 2018

Last month you suggested dozens of exciting quests I could undertake during 2018. Thanks for that. Today I'm giving four of your ideas a trial run to see how much mileage each offers, and which might have potential as a focus for relentless blogging as the new year progresses. See what you think...



RANDOM LONG-LOST LONDON TELEPHONE EXCHANGE
SUN Hendon [786]


Long ago, before telephones multiplied, London's telephone exchanges had unique three letter codes. Westminster had ABB (for Abbey), Edgware had EDG (for Edgware), and Surbiton had LAG (because some of the names were a bit weird). In this new series for the new year I'll be visiting all 283 London telephone exchange areas, in a randomly selected order, and telling you all about the interesting areas they represent. Hopefully we'll get through the whole lot by Christmas. In each location I'll attempt to track down the thing the exchange was named after, visit the site of the old exchange, and take a in-depth look inside the nearest phone box to see how it's getting on.

For my first visit we're off to enjoy the SUN in northwest London. That's S for 7, U for 8 and N for 6, assuming you have one of those Bakelite labelled dials.

The code SUN is a reference to SUNnyhill, specifically Sunny Hill Park, an area of municipal parkland opened by Hendon council in 1929. Its 16 acres were previously part of Sunnyhill Fields, owned by the adjacent Church Farmhhouse, and some of the former hedgerows can still be seen amongst the more formal landscaping and horse chestnut avenues. Tucked away in the park is the Sunnyhill Cafe, a log cabin renowned for its fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, and whose breakfast menu halts at 11.30am precisely.

Hendon's telephone exchange can be found on Watford Way, opposite the war memorial, at the heart of a burgeoning suburb. The original infrastructure dates to 1927, when it was known as the Hendon Auto Telephone Exchange. The building etc etc etc.



RANDOM LONDON POSTCODE
NW4 Hendon


Long ago, before email proliferated, the Post Office introduced postcode areas across the country. Uxbridge had UB, Croydon had CR, and Ilford had IG (because some of the names were a bit weird). In this new series for the new year I'll be visiting all 242 London postcodes, in a randomly selected order, and telling you all about the interesting areas they represent. Hopefully we'll get through the whole lot by Christmas. In each location I'll visit the site of the main post office, attempt to track down a mail-related location, and take a in-depth look at an interesting pillar box to check its collection times.

For my first visit we're off to NW4 in northwest London. That's NW for northwest, here representing much of northwest London.

Hendon Central post office is located on Vivian Way, not a million miles from the war memorial, at the heart of a parade of local shops. You'll find it inbetween a contemporary African restaurant called 805 and the Hendon Chinese Medical Centre. The post office doubles up as a shop selling cards, drinks and confectionery, because that's modern economics for you, plus many people often feel the urge to buy a lottery ticket and make some photocopies after they've bought a stamp. Recent metamorphosis from hub of the community to eBay collection point has enabled some impressively extended opening hours, which must be convenient for those living in the houses perched on top.

My chosen pillar box is the rare Edward VIII box on the corner of Elliot Road and Hendon Way, its cylinder only partially sullied by the addition of an enormous red container for the storage of mail etc etc etc.



RANDOM LONDON WAR MEMORIAL
Hendon


When the Great War ended, 100 years ago this year, many communities around the country erected a memorial to commemorate the local dead. In this new series for the new year I'll be visiting all 278 of London's freestanding war memorials, in a randomly selected order, and telling you all about the communities they represent. Hopefully we'll get through the whole lot by Armistice Day. In each location I'll visit the site of the main memorial, attempt to track down one of those commemorated, and take a in-depth look at a nearby area bombed during a Zeppelin raid.

For my first visit we're off to Hendon, the cradle of UK aviation, then in Middlesex but now in Greater London so it definitely counts.

Hendon's war memorial wasn't erected until 1922, and was dedicated by the Bishop of Willesden on St George's Day. Architecturally it forms "an elegant and well-proportioned memorial with a sword carved in relief on the stone cross shaft", according to the English Heritage listing, and was sculpted by the Yockney and Hartham Park Stone Company. 362 names are set out across three brass panels, with an additional stone plinth nearby to incorporate Second World War losses. Originally the memorial was located near St Joseph's Convent, a short distance to the north, but in 1962 it was moved to Watford Way, opposite the telephone exchange, as a result of a road-widening scheme.

One of the names on the memorial is that of Gunner Arthur Henry Walton, who had the misfortune to be "accidentally killed" two weeks after the war finished, and is now buried in Cement House Cemetery, Belgium. His house in West Hendon no longer exists and is now part of a Barratt estate etc etc etc.



RANDOM 1918 LONDON CONSTITUENCY
Hendon


1918 is the centenary of the Representation of the People Act which finally gave women the vote, admittedly only some women, but a great step forward for universal suffrage all the same. In this new series for the new year I'll be visiting all 88 of London's 1918 constituencies, in a randomly selected order, and telling you all about the electorates represented. Hopefully we'll get through the whole lot before another General Election is called. In each location I'll visit the locations the constituency was named after, attempt to track down a local act of suffragette protest, and take a in-depth look at a community building used as a polling station today.

For my first visit we're off to Hendon, one of a fresh batch of constituencies created in 1918.

Hendon's first MP was the Conservative Coalition candidate Philip Lloyd-Greame. He was the younger son of Lieutenant-Colonel Yarburgh George Lloyd-Greame, studied law at University College Oxford, was awarded the Military Cross in 1916 and later became the first Earl of Swinton. The defeated Labour candidate was Edith How-Martyn, a former leader of the Women’s Freedom League, who in 1906 had carried out one of the very first acts of suffragette militancy by attempting to make a speech in the House of Commons. In 1919 she was elected to Middlesex County Council, but later switched her campaigning focus to birth control and became honorary director of the Birth Control International Information Centre.

The constituency of Hendon comprised the Urban Districts of Hendon and Kingsbury, and the Rural District of Hendon. Its boundaries didn't change until 1945, by which point the electorate topped 200,000, which is pretty massive compared to today. Sunny Hill Park, the central post office and the war memorial are just three of the many things to be found within its boundary today etc etc etc.


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