Priceless Memories

Reflecting on the bus journey home the other day, I asked myself: what motivates me to keep these pages going? I mean, I’m paying time and money to keep these pages alive, and I get nothing obviously material back in return. Of course, materials aren’t everything are they?

Upper deck of Route 79 bus
(Taken with cameraphone after boarding it in Kingsbury London NW9.)

Of course not. It soon became clear to me exactly why. Quite apart from friendships real and virtual, and some sense of arty satisfaction at mashing up words, images and sounds together and sharing them in a brave attempt to convince myself I can be more of an artist than the scientist that I am during the daytime (even though society unfortunately labels me an engineer), there is one thing that made it starkingly obvious. And this was it. An attempt to write up a brief history of my London neighbourhood about five years ago started to attract comments from people who had memories of the area from the past. And then it dawned upon me (actually it fell like a ton of bricks on me) that there’s a whole load of unwritten history out there; stuff that’s locked away inside people’s heads that probably only gets shared in conversations over cups of tea at gatherings of family and friends. Stuff that goes unrecorded forever.

Unrecorded. Unshared. Undiscoverable. Forever.

But I realised that a tiny little fraction of an iota of those memories were being captured on this seemingly insignificant “blog” that I was keeping going out of the goodness of my heart. “Out of the goodness of my heart” I kept telling myself. Until I realised that it’s not out of the goodness of my heart, it’s a sense of absolute duty and obligation. When the comments to various postings started becoming conversations between “old Kingsburians” and I realised there was stuff here that you could never even begin to find in the local history section of WHSmiths in Brent Cross Shopping Centre or the local library I got myself the one and only meaningful reason why I just had to keep these pages alive, no matter what. The privilege of hosting Priceless Memories. And I thank all those who share them here, and those who email privately with even more.

I finish this posting with copy of an email sent to me by Ray,who kindly gave me permission to publish his Priceless Memories of his life in my beloved neighbourhood in years gone by:

Hi Jag

In reply to your email, I trust that you had a merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

I read through a lot of your correspondence both from readers and yourself re Route 79 website. I found that a lot of comments were not quite true especially about Kingsbury.

I was born in Edgware, 1939, and lived in Wembley until evacuated during the war and went to Bradford-on-Avon. There are a few years that have slipped my memory but in or about 1945-46 our family moved to Berkley Road, Kingsbury and I remember at one time that I played with Shirley Eaton. At the bottom of the road, station end, was Express Dairy, that the old horse and milk floats, years later I was to work as a milkman at the same dairy.

In early 1947 my family moved to Townsend Lane in the prefabs opposite Elthorne Road. My friends and I often played over on the “gunsight” and also searched amongst the rubbish dump in the fields towards the Welsh Harp for anything of good. In fact I built my own cycle from different parts and sold it to a young lad down the road for £1.10s. I went to Fryant Infant school, I joined the 1st Kingsbury Scouts with Mr Rowbottom as scoutmaster. Then I went to Kingsbury Secondary Modern School on the Edgware Road, Colindale (opp. Colindeep Lane) and once Tylers Croft Sec school (Roe Green) had been completed all the pupils were transferred, sadly the boys were separated from the girls. We used to watch Kingsbury Town football team and Kingsbury Town cricket teams, the latter had their tea room at the bottom of our garden and mother used to do the catering for the cricket teams, she was well known for lovely bread pudding. From the age of 12 I started to play cricket for the second eleven, a few other names I recall, Don Bick (played for Middlesex), Mick Williams, Alan Biddle, the Bashford sisters, Jill and Brenda, one of them used to play for the England Womens Cricket Team.

There was also a young football team called Silver Jubilee Juniors, names as far as I can remember are; Bevan Goodman, Mick Prudden, Bob MacIntosh, Derek and Ray Baggett, Dermot Allen, his cousin Bertie Burgess and Colin Fensome.

. Leaving school I worked for Halfords, Wembley then Harrow until all my friends were called up for National Service so I signed on in the regular army. On returning from Kenya my parents had moved to Mead Court, Buck Lane, Kingsbury Green, new to me. For a temporary job I was a bus driver with London Transport, Hendon garage on the 113 then 183 (Golders Green to Northwood/Pinner) routes.

The driving was too easy so I tried my hand with Express Dairy, by now they had electric floats. Opposite Mead Court was United Dairies, (this is where several of your readers have been confused). I wanted a mans job so I went driving for British Oxygen, East Lane, North Wembley.

A few other names apart from Shirley, Julie or June Rogers ( I believe she was a singer) lived in the Buck Lane area, one of Lonnie Donnigans group lived in K Green, Charlie Watts went to school with my brother.

My cousins husband who is a fireman in Wembley informs me that Wembley is divided into two areas and once you cross the “border line” one notices the very distinct difference in life. The Asian side are not very health and safety wise, there is a lot of potential fire hazards but these people are not all that concerned.

I married in 1966, moving to Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Dorset, Surrey and to Somerset where I now live and am enjoying a happy retirement.

Unfortunately last June I had a stroke followed by two minor ones, that has left me with losing some of my memories, but bits and pieces keep coming back.

At the moment Jag that is all I can remember but I hope that it is of some help, if there is anything that I can do to assist you on your web-site please do not hesitate to contact me, same goes to any of your readers.

Kind regards


London Transport Museum

If you haven’t visited the new London Transport Museum yet then you might want to; it’s an excellent place to while away a Sunday afternoon. I did exactly that this weekend just gone, courtesy of a few very sociable fellow flickrites who gathered there to browse and take pics and generally just share the experience. Whilst most turned up with some serious photographic gear, I turned up with my mobile phone and snapped away as usual. Click on the green button in the Shockwave Flash image below to load a musical montage of some of the low-fidelity pictures I took and uploaded whilst there.

London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, London.
(All pictures taken with my cameraphone.)

Click the same green button to advance through the pics. The musical accompaniment is an infectiously bubbly track called “Deewana” by Alyssia featuring Dee and the Punjabi Hit Squad, which is itself a real hit on the London urban desi scene at the moment. (Punjabi Hit Squad are THE pioneers of urban Asian/Western fusion beat) Turn up the volume, tap your feet and enjoy!

Princes Avenue

It’s a about a mile long and cuts through residential Kingsbury, London NW9, from Honeypot Lane in the West to Stag Lane in the East. People live here; the road is almost one hundred per-cent residential, save for a row of schools that provides for one of the largest concentrations of school-children in the country. (You can imagine what the traffic is like here during school-run hours.) The Jubilee Line runs beneath it. A village called Roe Green extends right off it. It’s served by London bus route 305, which for the first part at least, can be flagged down or stopped anywhere you like. Not that there’s anywhere for the bus to pull into; because people live here you see, and so their cars live here too. And these days a lot of people have cars, and a lot of people have more than one car. So a lot of people who live here sacrifice their front gardens for concrete driveways so that they can put their cars somewhere. And still the road is chock-a-block lined with parked cars. So most mornings at around half past eight, amidst the huddles of children marching their way to school, you will see huddles of lazier children at the Honeypot Lane end waiting for the bus, flag it down from between parked cars, board, and then alight less than a few minutes walk further up. A procession of cars will follow the bus all the way, each one complete with child clutching lunchbox and book-bag.

Princes Avenue, Kingsbury, London NW9
(Taken with cameraphone from just outside Kingsbury High, headed towards Honeypot Lane.)


(Taken with cameraphone at a crossing outside Morrisons supermarket, Queensbury, London NW9.)

Think about the step-change you need. Stop. Stop thinking about the useless stuff. Like what to cook for dinner tonight, or what to do with all the clutter that’s building up on your Facebook profile. Or what’s going to happen next in the book that you’re reading. Stop worrying about the guy who jumped a red at the traffic lights outside Tesco in Slough, or when you’re going to get round to tippexing your house number on the front of the wheelie-bin. Worry about where you’re going next, and what you’re gonna do if you don’t sort out that BIG STUFF that’s been niggling at the back of your mind. Because it’s not longer at the back, it’s at the front. And soon you’re going to be losing sleep over it. You don’t need this. But it’ll remain there. It has a legitimate leave to remain. An indefinite entry-visa. Unless you do something about it.

Words have always been a romantic preoccupation of yours, speaking far louder than your actions ever could. But it’s time to face the truth: There were many times in your life when you left it to fate and you got lucky with the consequences, but you’ve been lucky far too long, and one day it’ll come back and bite really hard. Actually, it already has, but you’re in denial. No more. Do something. Think about it.

And take care crossing the road whilst you’re at it. A good citizen waits for The Green Man.