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.
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.
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.
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.