Tag Archives: Paddington

Glimpses of Queen’s Park in 1936

01 Headpiece adverts

Adverts from the Queen’s Park Calendar, December 1936

Westminster City Archives holds a few editions of a monthly local community guide from the 1930s called The Queen’s Park Calendar. One from December 1936 gives some impressions of contemporary social life in the area.

02 Cover and contents

Front cover and contents of The Queen’s Park Calendar, December 1936

The calendar gave Queen’s Park residents local information on shops, civic and church events, the public library, public transport, postal collection times, the cinema, and sports and recreation.

A notice of the Queen’s Park library advises that “all residents of Queen’s Park may borrow books on the signature of any ratepayer”. The library was open every day and with generous hours.

03 Queens Park Public Library

Advert for Queen’s Park Library, The Queen’s Park Calendar, December 1936

Among a short list of new books acquired by the library are two that reflect anxieties about international relations: “War Over England.  Air attack, with incendiary booms to melt steel like tallow, calculated to stir public apathy” by L.E.O. Charlton; and “The Far East comes nearer.  To a little Japanese expansion, add equal portion Chinese territory, flavour with Russian propaganda, simmer gently and this is the result”, by H.H. Tiltman.

The two neighbourhood cinemas, the Pavillion, Kensal Rise and the New Palace, Chamberlayne Road, offered a mix of British and American fare, and fitting the festive season they included Cicely Courtneidge in “Everybody Dance” and Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers in “Swing Time.”

Queen’s Park Rangers F.C., then in League Division Three (South), played two home fixtures over Christmas: on the 25th against Exeter City, 11am kick off; and on Boxing Day against Bristol City. With one day off, Rangers then travelled west for a return fixture with Exeter.

For those braving the tennis hard courts at the Paddington Rec and Queen’s Park, spots could be had for two shillings per hour.  The Rec’s cycling and running tracks could be used for training (running, four pence; cycling, six pence).

The Willesden & District Motor Club met every Tuesday evening at its HQ, the William IV pub on Harrow Road.  Afternoon recreational runs were held on Sundays, departing from the pub.

04 New Years Carnival Dance

Advert for an event at Porchester Hall, The Queen’s Park Calendar, December 1936

1937 was welcomed in with a New Year’s carnival dance at Porchester Hall, where “continuous dancing to two bands, 7.30 until 12.45” was to be enjoyed. Tickets five shillings at the door.

05 Tailpiece adverts

Adverts from the Queen’s Park Calendar, December 1936

Arthur sends his apologies

The apology of Arthur Tresbit by Robert Thayer

“Arthur Tresbit is about to cause the destruction of civilisation as we know it… And for that he’s very sorry.”

Robert ThayerAuthor Robert Thayer gave a balanced and interesting talk about the nature of high finance, and in particular the financial crash of 2008, to the Paddington Library Reading Group recently.
The illustrated talk formed a backdrop to his recently published novel, The Apology of Arthur Tresbit, an amusing fictional account of an ordinary man who destroys the world financial system.

To find out more about forthcoming events at Paddington Library, visit our News & events page.

[Laurence]

Festivity

Westbourne Park Baptist Church Community choir at Paddington Library, December 2016Our calendar of festive events was enjoyed by all, even though with the timing of Christmas and the late break up of schools we had to pack a LOT into a few days of holiday!

Sadly not many pictures were taken – perhaps a stipulation by Father Christmas? But please take the reports by Westminster Music Library and, here, Paddington Library to be representative of a whole lot of fun being had across the borough.

In the middle of December, we welcomed the members of the Westbourne Park Baptist Church Community choir, who staged a nativity with Mary and the three wise men in Paddington Children’s Library. Audience participation was very much forthcoming and along with the resounding carol singing there was abundant gold, frankincense and myrrh, not to mention mince pies, biscuits and fruit juice.

Westbourne Park Baptist Church Community choir at Paddington Library, December 2016

A bit later in the month, Paddington Children’s Library hosted a busy Christmas party for the under fives, with special guest Father Christmas in what looked like a brand new suit! This was Father Christmas’ first visit to our new childrens’ library in Queensway. It has been nearly a year since we moved into the former shop and it is time to reflect on and celebrate the popularity of the Under 5s, the burgeoning homework club with our fabulous volunteers and the numerous class visits, plus the art exhibition courtesy of Lyndons Arts Trust. It has certainly been a good year. Father Christmas was suitably impressed. He was also impressed with the behaviour of the children, all of whom received well deserved presents – a cuddly toy and a book each.

Under Fives' Christmas Party at Paddington Library, December 2016

Library staff would like to thanks to the South East Bayswater Residents’ Association for its generous support of both events.

Happy New Year!

[Laurence]

Mary Prince – Britain’s First Black Woman Autobiographer

Paddington Library celebrated Black History Month in October with a well-attended event with historian Beverley Duguid, who gave an illustrated talk about Mary Prince – Britain’s first black woman autobiographer.

Dr Beverley Duguid at Paddington Library, October 2016

The talk took a chronological look at Mary’s life in Bermuda and Antigua, her removal from there to England in 1828 and her petition to the British parliament for her freedom from slavery.

The history of Mary Prince, by Mary Prince

Dr Duguid has a PhD in history from Royal Holloway College gained in 2010.  Her academic work encompasses themes of gender, travel, religion, ethnicity, manners and customs and Britain’s colonial past.

[Laurence]

The great and the good

George Ryan, pictured in bas relief at the base of Nelson's Column, London

All of us who live or work in Westminster have walked through Trafalgar Square dozens of times, but how many of us have actually looked at Nelson’s Column  properly? Certainly not me until recently when I happened to look at the bas-reliefs at the base of the pillar and wondered what they actually represented. Coincidentally on the bus home I heard a trailer for an excellent-sounding radio programme, Britain’s Black Past which mentioned the reliefs and revealed that at least one of the sailors pictured was black. A bit of research revealed that a third of the crew of the Victory, Nelson’s ship, were born outside Britain (including, somewhat surprisingly, three Frenchmen) and that one of the men pictured, George Ryan, was black.

As we celebrate Black History Month, what other memorials of interest can we find in Westminster?

Well, for a start there’s the oldest monument in London – Cleopatra’s Needle. Nothing to do with Cleopatra, it actually predates her by 1500 years, being made for Pharoah Thotmes III. One slightly odd feature of the Needle is that the four sphinxes, ostensibly there to guard it, actually face inwards so you’d think they’d be fairly easy to surprise…

Cleopatra's Needle, London

Moving forward to the eighteenth century brings us to Ignatius Sancho (1724-1780) who, despite pretty much the worst possible start in life (he was born on  slave ship and both his parents died soon after) became butler to the Duke of Montagu and, after securing his freedom, was the only eighteenth-century Afro-Briton known to have voted in a general election (in Westminster). He wrote many letters to the literary figures of the time such as the actor David Garrick and the writer Laurence Sterne, was painted by Thomas Gainsborough and was also a prolific composer.

IgnatiusSancho

You can read more about Sancho in several books available to view at Westminster City Archives, and listen to some of his compositions.

And if you happen to be passing the Foreign and Commonweath Office, see if you can spot the memorial to him.

A more famous near-contemporary of Sancho, was Olaudah Equiano (1747-1797), another former slave and author of one of the earliest autobiographies by a black Briton.

Olaudah Equiano

Like George Ryan, Equiano (or Gustavus Vassa as he was known in his lifetime) was a sailor who travelled to the Caribbean, South America and the Arctic, having been kidnapped from Africa as a child. While still a slave, Equiano converted to Christianity and was baptised in St Margaret’s Westminster. His autobiography, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano was one of the first slave narratives and was reprinted several times in Equiano’s lifetime. He became a leading member of the  abolitionist movement, as one of the Sons of Africa, a group of former slaves in London who campaigned against slavery. You can see a plaque to him at 73 Riding House Street, Paddington and see him portrayed  by Youssoo N’Dour in the  film Amazing Grace.

Olaudah Equiana Plaque, London

One black Briton who needs almost no introduction is Mary Seacole (1805-1881), who fought racial prejudice to nurse and feed  soldiers in the Crimea and who was so popular with her former patients that the Times reported on 26th April 1856 that, at a public banquet at the Royal Surrey Gardens:

“Among the illustrious visitors was Mrs Seacole whose appearance awakened the most raputurous enthusiasm. The soldiers not only cheered her but chaired her around the gardens and she really might have suffocated from the oppressive attentions of her admirers were it not that two sergeants of extraordinary stature gallantly undertook to protect her from the pressures of the crowd.”

You can follow the famous war correspondent WH Russell in the Times Digital Archive (log in with your library card number) – he was a great admirer of Mrs Seacole. And if you haven’t already, do read her extraordinary autobiography The Wonderful Adventures of Mrs Seacole in Many Lands. There are two plaques in her honour in Westminster – one at 147 George Street and one at 14 Soho Square.

Mary Seacole

Less well-known than Mary Seacole  is Henry Sylvester Williams (1869-1911), a Trinidadian teacher who came to London in the 1890s, studied Latin at King’s College and qualified as a barrister in 1897 (though he earned his living as a lecturer for the Temperance Association). He was a founder-member of the Pan-African Association, whose aims were

“to secure civil and political rights for Africans and their descendants throughout the world; to encourage African peoples everywhere in educational, industrial and commercial enterprise; to ameliorate the condition of the oppressed Negro in Africa, America, the British Empire, and other parts of the world”

In 1906, Williams was elected as a Progressive for Marylebone Council and, along with John Archer in Battersea, was one of the first black people elected to public office in Britain. You can read more about Williams (and the other people listed here) in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and see a plaque erected by Westminster Council in his honour at 38 Church Street.

Bringing us nearer the present day are two former residents of Westminster who everyone knows. Guitarist Jimi Hendrix, discussed before in this blog, lived for a short time in 1968 at 23 Brook Street, Mayfair, and you can see a blue plaque to him there.

Jimi Hendrix, blue plaque

And we finish on perhaps the most famous memorial of recent years – in 2007 a bronze statue of Nelson Mandela was erected in Parliament Square in the presence of Mr Mandela himself.

Nelson Mandela stature, Parliament Square

You can find out more about the people in this blog by checking out our library catalogue and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as well as our Newspaper Archives. Plus if you want to know who the first Black British woman to write an autobiography was, don’t miss the event at Paddington Library on 27 October!

[Nicky]