… 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.
With the first oral history interviews recorded*, we are starting to plan the ways we will be sharing the stories with local people.
We are really looking forward to working with Saira Niazi, founder of Living London and leader of fun explorations of hidden London. Saira will be working with the project to develop walking tours around Cricklewood, decorating the modern landscape with the memories of our Elders.
Details of the tour dates will be published on our Events page.
An International Studies graduate from Goldsmiths, Saira has over ten years experience in community engagement, project leadership and creative communications. She’s worked with communities across London from Nepalese gardeners in Plumstead to urban skaters in Fulham on various oral history, film and heritage projects. Through Living London, she has explored photographed, and written about over 1500 hidden London gems, and regularly leads guided tours across different areas of London.
Saira loves discovering new places, collecting stories and connecting communities. We can’t wait for the summer!
*Come back next week for news on the stories that have started to emerge.
Every year the Catholic church celebrates a World Day of Migrants, which this year took place on 14 January.
The event encourages a more welcoming attitude towards migrants, recognising their achievements. With increased migration as global conflict forces people to leave their homes in search of peace, safety, and a better life for their families, ‘migrant’ is in danger of becoming a dirty word.
Migrants and migration is frequently blamed for social problems, accused of ‘stealing’ jobs, or for creating pressure on UK housing, schools, and healthcare.
However, in the years after the end of the Second World War, migrants were invited to the UK from former Commonwealth nations, asked to help rebuild the nation.
Representatives from major organisations such as London Transport, British Rail, and the National Health Service travelled to various countries to recruit people to migrate.
[This well-known image was taken at a London Transport recruitment event in Barbados: London Transport Museum collection: 1998/83757]
Migrants from Pakistan and Ireland worked in the schools, they worked alongside British people in factories and shops and offices, helping to rebuild the economy and adding to the overall prosperity of the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s.
By the 1970s, Irish nurses made up 12% of the workforce in NHS hospitals and more than 18,000 medics came from Pakistan and India in the 1960s.
Over the next few months, we will be recording the stories of some of the migrants from Pakistan and Ireland. We will be sharing them here and in our travelling exhibition, celebrating the contribution of migrants to the recent local history in Cricklewood.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of our project Film Maker, who will be producing a short film on the Generations of Learning project.
Dominique Murphy-de Neef is an up and coming documentary film maker and mixed-media artist. She already has many credits to her name, in genres including comedy fiction and alternative cinema. Her most recent film SANCTIONED, a powerful short documentary, was nominated for Best World Short Film at IndieCork 2017 .
Dominique has Irish and Dutch heritage and recently graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. She is looking forward to creating a film that celebrates the contributions migrants have made to Cricklewood, London, and beyond.
The film will feature Elders who have volunteered to share their migrant story with the project. If you are from the Pakistani or Irish community and migrated to Cricklewood in the 1950s or 1960s and would like to take part, please get in touch at the details below. You don’t need to be still living in the area, as we are keen to record the variety of personal journeys before, during, and after Cricklewood.
We are also still looking for young volunteers interested in being part of the project.
December 18 is the UN International Migrants Day and Ashford Place is launching the ‘Generations of Learning’ project, which will collect stories from people who came to Cricklewood in the 1950s and 60s from Pakistan and Ireland.
On December 18 1990, the UN adopted the convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers. In 2000, it celebrated the first International Migrants Day to recognise the contributions made by migrants. Ashford Place has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding to work with young volunteers to record older generations’ experiences of settling in Cricklewood.
Labour shortages after WWII saw British industries actively recruiting in former colonial nations. Cricklewood was known for its many factories and attracted thousands of immigrants including significant numbers from Ireland and Pakistan, as well as India and the West Indies.
While the area’s Irish links are well known, the story of two communities growing side by side and the experiences they shared is less so. This exciting project will capture memories of people who left their homes to build new lives in post-war London, and the changes and challenges they lived through together.The archive created by the project will save the heritage of Irish and Pakistani migration for future generations.
Danny Maher, CEO of Ashford Place, said “This is a wonderful opportunity to record the experience of people travelling to Cricklewood in the 50s and 60s and offer some insights and thoughts on how immigration as a headline topic is viewed and reported today.”
Stories will be shared an exhibition, which will travel to schools and community venues, celebrating the contributions of migrants’ to the area. The events programme will include public discussions on contemporary issues surrounding immigration and migrant experiences. Organisations supporting the project include the Pakistan Community Centre Willesden, Brent Museum & Archives, and Hampstead School.
The Generations of Learning project aims to bring together people from different local communities, young and old, to share experiences and learn from one another.
The core of the project will be carrying out interviews with 30 Elders from the Pakistani and the Irish communities, to record their experiences, using these to create an exhibition, a short film, and online content like this blog.
During the exhibition, there will be a series of public events such as visits to local schools, reminiscence sessions, and family arts and crafts story-telling workshops.
As well as Elders willing to share their stories, we are looking for ten volunteers to help deliver this exciting project, while building their own skills and confidence.
We are offering a daily expense allowance and full training.Click the links below to download details of each role:
The Generations of Learning exhibition is due to launch in later Spring 2018. An exhibition programme is being planned to be hosted at venues in and around Cricklewood.