diamond geezer

 Sunday, April 15, 2018

Random Station: WEST HARROW
London Borough of Harrow
Metropolitan line, zone 5
Hinterland: 1.6km²

The Metropolitan Railway didn't bother with a station at West Harrow when the Uxbridge branch opened, because it was all fields. Later they realised fields=houses, dropped anchor and kickstarted development. Today West Harrow bleeds into North Harrow and South Harrow, to the west of Harrow town centre, overlooked by Harrow-on-the-Hill. Expect what follows therefore to be somewhat harrowing, if not especially exciting.

10 places of minor interest in West Harrow

1) West Harrow station
Opened in 1913, this station's never quite shaken off the ambience of suburban afterthought. The current building was added in 1991 and looks a bit like a garden centre, admittedly a very small one, and serves only the London-bound platform. Westbound trains are reached via a separate (ungated) staircase on the other side of the bridge, watched over by CCTV to ensure every local resident touches in and out every time, which obviously they all do. The view from the platforms is of the largest collection of allotments in Harrow, hence the gentle curve retains an air of rural halt.
Historical nugget: In 1955 the West Harrow Allotment and Garden Association spent £17 on an old railway carriage to act as an annex to their hut. Its eventual replacement cost £1700.

I arrived at the station at the same time as a group of Conservative canvassers for next month's local council elections. They weren't here to press the flesh but to pose with a copy of their latest election leaflet, because nowhere else says "West Harrow" like the front of the station. They smiled at the photographer from a variety of angles, paused politely to let me pass, then went back to holding up their pieces of paper. Thanks to the appearance of these exciting images on social media, I can confirm that two of the group are currently councillors (in other wards), one heads up Harrow's Conservative opposition, one is studying politics at Portsmouth University and one is an award-winning cacti grower. The area's Labour MP has his HQ just up the road, opposite West Harrow Garage.

2) St Peter's Church
The date on the gable of the first house opposite West Harrow station is 1914, as you might expect. But slightly further back is a small cluster of slightly older streets, predating easy access, surrounding a Grade II listed church. St Peter's was designed by a fellow called Fellowes Prynne, and knocked up from snecked rubble in a style described as Somewhat Italianate Late Decorated Gothic. These days it's bigger than it needs to be, which suits the multimedia style of the worshippers within, who seem very much at the modern end of all-inclusive Anglicanism. Come attend a relaxed informal service of contemporary worship, sign up for a mission-friendly Hub, and maybe relive the curate's Pokemon Go sermon.

3) Vaughan Road
Eighteen minutes into his seminal Metroland documentary, John Betjeman reaches Harrow. He spends some time up with the boatered boys on the hill, but also takes time out to visit a row of unassuming houses which fall just inside the sphere of West Harrow station.
"Here at the foot of Harrow hill, alongside the Metropolitan electric trains, tradesmen from Harrow built in the '80s or '90s I should think, from the look of the buildings, these houses, and a nice little speculation they were, quiet, near the railway station, with their own church and public house, and they're named, reverently, after the great people of Harrow School - Drury, Vaughan, Butler." (Metroland, 1972)
I tracked down pretty much the right spot, compared and contrasted. I'd say the houses look much the same as they did almost 50 years ago, only are perhaps less well scrubbed. Harrow is now a four-bin borough, which doesn't help, and neither do the assortment of satellite dishes bolted onto the front since. Scaffolding and skips suggested a flurry of home improvement behind closed doors, as did the armchair one resident was pushing out into the street. Nobody was drying their clothes out of the front window when Sir John passed by, I'll wager, nor sitting on the doorstep smoking a fag.

4) West Harrow Recreation Ground
Well this is nice. The land for WHRC was bought from Roxeth Estates in 1923, which I know from the helpful information board the council erects at the gateway to all its recreational green spaces. This one has very much a sporting purpose, mostly football and cricket, but also bowls and tennis, plus a special "adventure area" for older children (which looks very much like a playground). The West Harrow Bowls Club Welcome Everyone, according to the sign at the entrance to their rinks, which was locked. They also offer free tuition, and have an Open Day coming up on Sunday 6th May, because new blood would be more than welcome. But mostly I found the Rec full of family strollers, elderly sitters and lads on bikes wearing massive Beats headphones. If only the Park View hut had been open, rather than locked with a banner reading "Cafe Open Now" hung on the front, everyone would have been even happier.

5) Shaftesbury Circle
One of the last infrastructure developments hereabouts, which stalled when World War Two broke out, was this circular intersection linking four swish avenues. Two quadrants formed shopping parades, one had the neighbourhood pub and the other was residential. The shops live on, including Lobsters Fish Bar and the Shaftesbury Pharmacy, the latter allegedly 'Winners of 2 National Awards', but their shop window is silent on the matter. As for the pub, not unexpectedly called The Shaftesbury, that's not unexpectedly transmogrified into a full-blown McDonalds drive-thru. It was packed on Saturday, along with a posse of moped-riding delivery boys out front, all contributing to the traffic jams this scenic roundabout now creates.

6) The Philathletic Ground
Harrow School falls outside my geographical remit, but the playing fields on which its old boys play football creeps in. The Old Harrovians are technically the world's second oldest existing football club, two years younger than Sheffield, knocked together under the new association rules in 1859. Alas they never made the FA Cup Final in its earliest days, but one of their players inspired the competition, basing it on Harrow's inter-house knockout tradition. Also alas, Harrow abandoned soccer for rugby in the 1920s causing the Old Harrovians to vanish for thirty years, which is why they can't be the world's second oldest surviving football club. But they did thrash the Old Cholmeleians three nil last weekend, and are closing in on the Old Brentwoods in the Arthurian League Division 1, so are enjoying a decent season.

7) Whitmore High School
Imagine being a pupil at the comprehensive school which looks out across the playing fields towards Harrow. That school is Whitmore High, an oversubscribed co-ed where actor Dev Patel once studied, before it was completely rebuilt in 2008 during that brief era when the government pumped millions into schools. The new building resembles a crab's claw from above, and a gently swooshing fortress from the front, cleverly denying public access to anything but the car park. Only the headteacher's parking space, immediately outside the door to reception, is labelled.

Switching now to the northern side of the forking Metropolitan railway line...

8) Pinner Road
At the end of the 19th century Pinner Road was the sole meandering lane through acres and acres of fields. Unsurprisingly it got built up first, and now has the longest parade of shops in West Harrow's catchment area, plus a Tesco seeking to put several of them out of business. Largest of the competition is the Nita Cash and Carry, with its sacks of rice and stacks of loo roll and milk for a quid. Elsewhere I spotted a vegetarian caterers, a Yellow Fever jab clinic, a lawnmower shop called The Cutting Edge, a web designers called Aspiring Panda, an antique shop, Harrow's oldest tattooist, an Exclusive Indian "Restro-Bar", and a butchers guaranteeing 100% unstunned meat.

9) Harrow Cemetery
Opened in 1887, this long strip of grassy burial ground off the Pinner Road is now 'full', other than for interment in family graves. It's now the ideal site to watch wildlife, walk the dog or to bring your two year-old to play in his model car, if only he were interested rather than staring at the miniature steering wheel in incomprehension. It's also, I'm excited to announce, the place where Harrow council stores its new litter bins. I found forty of them dropped off behind the old chapel, each wrapped in pristine plastic with a '50kg' sticker stuck to the top. Appearing soon on a street corner perhaps near you.

10) Harrow Recreation Ground
And finally, yet another recreation ground, even bigger and better-loved than the last one. Harrow Rec opened in 1885, part park, but mostly sports pitches, sloping downhill with views across the town centre towards the church on the hill. Prior to 1967 it was locked on Sundays. On the first decent weekend of spring it was busy with dogwalkers and joggers, chatterers and snoggers, and a heck of a lot of kids in football kits having encouragement bellowed at them by bellicose fathers. Birds sang. A red-bound copy of the Complete Short Stories of Somerset Maugham lay abandoned under a bench alongside an empty bottle of Русский Стандарт vodka. Budding Andy Murrays tapped meekly on the tennis courts. Couples posed for selfies stood in front of peak pink blossom. When the sun comes out, even a muddy park is still the place to be.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards