This week Sorcha, the project lead, and Alistair Lambert, the project artist were invited to talk at Our Lady of Grace junior school in Dollis Hill.
With the amazing assistance of Margaret O’Mullane, teacher and talented artist in her own right, and the support of the school staff, pupils have been working over the past few weeks to create an artwork for the project.
Sorcha gave a short presentation at the school assembly to update everyone on the project, and Alistair excitingly unveiled the almost-finished Migration sculpture.
The artwork will be premiered at our Summer exhibition, which will travel to community venues around the area. Info will be posted on our Events page.
Our Lady of Grace recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The school grew to accommodate the children of migrants, including many Irish who came to the area in the 1960s. Local tradition tells that many Irish men were involved in the construction of new school buildings.
If you were one of the men involved in construction work, or have a story about the early days of the school, please get in touch. Call Sorcha on 0208 208 8590.
We have been busy collecting stories for the project and will be announcing the summer schedule for the exhibition and events programme soon.
In the meantime, we are representing at the Olive Road Street Party on Sunday 3 June.
Volunteers from the Generations of Learning project will be hosting the Memory Lounge, inviting locals to share their memories of Cricklewood.
The free event includes craft activities, bouncy castle, and other entertainments. Check out the NW2 website for more details. Come along and enjoy the day, learn more about the project, and share your memories.
If you have any memorabilia relating to Cricklewood in the 1950s or 1960s that you’d be happy to let us take a look at, we’d be delighted to chat to you on the day. This might be a photograph showing the way the area used to look, a newspaper cutting, a programme from the local cinema or from a sporting event.
We have been busy filming, recording, and photographing Elders telling their stories with the project.
These stories will be presented in an exhibition, travelling around Cricklewood and Brent over the Summer. They will also be collected into a formal archive that will become a resource for future generations.
The archive will be made up of audio recordings of the Elders sharing their memories.
We are also hoping to collect photos and memorabilia relating to the Irish and Pakistani communities in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.
Do you have anything you could share with us?
Perhaps this is an old photograph, or a newspaper clipping. Maybe you have an old ticket to a dance at the Galtymore or to the showing of a Bollywood hit at the State cinema.
If you have a programme from a sporting event, such as when the Pakistan cricket team visited London, or the Gaelic football was played at Wembley in 1965, we would love to see it.
You might even have held on to your tickets or boarding passes when you first came to the UK – if so, you’ve done a better job that the government might have done!
If you would be willing to give, loan, or let us take copies of your memorabilia, this will help us preserve and share the stories of the post-war migration generation.
Please get in touch with us below.
We are continuing to record the stories of Pakistani and Irish migrants who have memories of the Cricklewood area in the 1950s and 1960s, so drop us a line if you’d like to talk.
As we continue with work to record the oral histories of the Elder generation of migrants, we are also working with the younger generation to celebrate immigration.
One project is bringing together a local artist, Alistair Lambert, with primary school pupils to create a new artwork on the theme of migration stories. The piece will feature in our travelling exhibition over the Summer.
Our Lady of Grace junior school in Dollis Hill welcomes children from many different backgrounds, to create a friendly and encouraging learning environment. This children are part of the continuing story of migration to the British isles.
The story stretches back some 2,000 years, to the times of the Romans. Then, people from across the empire – from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East – settled and built lives in Britannia, alongside the ancient Britons.
Some 1.500 years ago, waves of Germanic peoples, the Saxons, came to England, integrating with the British. And 500 years later, Normans from France established themselves in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The 1600s brought French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution and then Dutch merchants, accompanying the new king, William of Orange. Many modern English families also have Dutch and French heritage as a result of these migrations.
The 19th century welcomed significant new communities of Irish people, Jews from Eastern Europe, and Italians. Smaller communities from India (which then included the area that would become Pakistan), Africa, and Yemen grew around the ports, especially Hull and Cardiff, as the growth of the British Empire increased global sea trade. The cultural diversity of the port cities of Glasgow and London reflect the diversity of the empire.
In the 20th century Irish migration continued to grow, even after independence in 1922. And in the years after the end of the Second World War in 1945, thousands were invited to come and help Britain rebuild, especially from countries in the West Indies, India, Pakistan.
The children at Our Lady of Grace include the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these settlers, alongside children who have arrived more recently from Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa. And many children have mixed heritage, as blended families share Irish, English, African, and European roots. They are the latest chapter in the on-going story of Britain.
Last week the Generations of Learning project was lucky enough to be invited to speak to the ladies group at the Pakistani Community Centre in Willesden.
Many of those present had stories of coming to the Cricklewood area to join husbands who’d come in the 1960s.
In the 1950s and 1960s, it was common for young Irish men and women to come on their own, or with friends or siblings to being their new life in London. Many couples recall meeting and falling in love in the youth clubs and dance halls, with the popular refrain being that many marriages were started in the Galtymore.
For the Pakistani men, many of whom expected to return home, they often left their families in Pakistani, often only reuniting with them after several years. While their children and husbands were able to more easily integrate into their new lives, through work and school, it wasn’t as easy for the women when they arrived in London.
Coming together as a group to learn English and study the Quran was an important way to build a sense of community. The ladies remembered cooking together for events at the PCC was a chance to share jokes and news, and they still come together every week to share a meal. In a perfect blend of their old homes in Pakistan and their new home in Britain, we were treated to a delicious dahl and homemade trifle.
We will be interviewing some of the ladies and discovering more of their stories in the coming weeks.We will also be holding an informal reminiscence session at the PCC on 23 March. Visit our Events page for more details.
If you are part of the Irish or Pakistani community and have a story to share of coming to Cricklewood, please drop us a line below.
… and all over London, people were getting ready to celebrate Irish culture and community.
While people are preparing to don fake red beards and giant hats for the parade in Central London, in Cricklewood we will be sticking to tradition.
At Ashford Place on Friday 16 March, there will be a Bacon & Cabbage meal, followed by live music and quite possibly dancing.
Between 2-4pm, there will also a chance to enjoy some cake and share some memories with the Generations of Learning team. We will be looking at photos and other memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s and chatting over old times.
Please drop in and join us; bring your own memorabilia and memories and we’ll provide the tea and cake!
There will also be a chance to preview our exciting new film.
[We will be holding a second session on Friday 23 March, 2-4pm @ Pakistan Community Centre, Marley Walk, Willesden NW2 4PU]
Until 1870, when the new railway station opened, Cricklewood was a small village, with a number of large mansion houses on the outskirts.
The Cricklewood area was identified as a London postal district including Cricklewood, Dollis Hill, Childs Hill, parts of Golders Green and Brent Cross, Willesden (north), and Neasden (north). (This only changed after the borough re-organisations in 1965, but the area is still covered by the familiar NW2 postcode.)
In 1879, a second station opened at Willesden Green. As commuting into central London to work became possible, the area began to develop, with thousands of new homes being built between 1880 – 1930. The ‘tree roads’ – Pine, Larch, Ivy, Olive and our own Ashford Road – were part of the Cricklewood Park development constructed between 1893-1900.
Local amenities included the well-known Crown Hotel, rebuilt in 1889, and the shops along Cricklewood Broadway built between 1910 and 1914. There was a new school and a cinema and skating rink for entertainment. Three synagogues were built for the new Jewish communities. Several churches were built for the growing population, including St Agnes Roman Catholic Church, built in 1883 to cater to the growing number of Catholics, many of whom were Irish migrants.
Gladstone Park was completed in 1901 and the swimming pool was opened in the park in 1903. Elders we have interviewed as part of the Generations of Learning project have fond memories of swimming there in the summer.
In the years following the start of the First World War in 1914, light industry grew, with factories making use of the transport links along the A5 (aka Cricklewood Broadway). One of the best known factories was Smiths Industries, which opened in 1915. By the 1960s the company employed some 8,000 people. This and other factories attracted many migrants into the area. In the years after the end of the Second World War in 1945, people from the former British Empire colonies were invited to help rebuild the UK. Elders speaking as part of the project recall the Ascot Gas Water Heaters company had a notably large number of workers from Pakistan.
As England’s close neighbour, migration from Ireland had been long established, and in the 1950s and ’60s, thousands of young men and women came to build new lives. Many enjoyed the freedom of the big city after quiet lives in the rural countryside, and Cricklewood was famed for its ballrooms; the Galtymore and Burtons.
Migrants from Pakistan also came from the rural areas, many coming to Cricklewood from the Punjab, which had strong links with Great Britain.
The Punjab was a key recruitment area for the British army in pre-Partition India and many Punjabi men fought for Britain in the First and Second World Wars. Those who came to Britain in the 1950s and ’60s often left families at home, thinking they would only stay a few years before returning themselves.
If you have memories of Cricklewood in the 1950s or 1960s as part of the Irish or Pakistani community, we would love to hear from you! Please call Sorcha on 020 8208 8590.
Our interviews with the Pakistani community got off to a great start as Mr Tariq Dar spent the morning sharing his memories of his life in Cricklewood.
The young Tariq came to Cricklewood from the Punjab in 1965. He joined his father and his uncle who had been working in London since the 1950s. Tariq recalled his days at John Kelly Technical College (now Crest Boy’s Academy), playing cricket in Gladstone Park, and watching movies at the State Cinema in Kilburn. The cinema had special weekend showings, often on a Sunday, of the hit movies from Pakistan and India. Films were often shown alongside newsreels from home, and the wrestling results were eagerly awaited.
As an adult, Mr Dar has made a significant contribution both to the Pakistani community and the wider Cricklewood community, from supporting fund-raising for the first purpose-built mosque in the area, to tree planting in the park he played in as a boy, to improve the environment for future generations.
The interview was filmed at the Pakistan Community Centre, next door to the Central Mosque of Brent. The centre developed from the workers organisations of the 1950s, set up to support the early migrant workers who came to Cricklewood from Pakistan. It now hosts everything from women’s meetings to community events.
During the interview, Tariq recalled: “The way the community works has changed. We are thinking more outside the box now. We still do cultural events in the community, but we are well integrated into British society. We are part and parcel of the community.”
We are looking forward to organising some fun events with the PCC over the summer, so keep an eye on our events page!
Mr Dar’s interview will feature in the Generations of Learning exhibition this summer, and will be given to Brent Museum and Archives to form part of the permanent archive. We are continuing to interview people to capture their stories. If you came to London from Pakistan or Ireland and have memories of Cricklewood in the 1950s or 1960s, we would love to hear from you.