Below is an excerpt from A story of Norwood Green
Norwood Green Residents’ Association
The First Fifty Years…
In 1931 all householders were faced with a property rating re-assessment which would result in a relatively substantial increase in their rates bills. It would also be the first such increase for the majority. The average rateable value of residential property in Southall at that time was £65 and the proposed increase amounted to about £6 per house, about 10%.
After the implications of the re-assessments had sunk in and prompted by groups of protesting residents throughout Middlesex — it was the County Council who were
making the increases — a number of homeowners on the newly-established Warren and Woods estate arranged a meeting at a house in Wimborne Avenue, then the home of a private school. This meeting, at the end of February 1932, drew over 70 people to protest about these rate increases. Those present unanimously agreed to form an organisation to be called ‘Norwood Green Residents’ Association’. The meeting went on to elect officers and a committee whose first job was to assist members with their appeals against the re-assessment notices and to secure legal assistance when appearing before the Assessment Committee. Within a very short time 150 members had been enrolled, a high proportion of the estate built at that time. Membership covered a whole family.
The first Chairman elected was Mr H. Moody of 8 Manston Avenue. Other officers elected at that first meeting were: Mr A. Parker Askew, then of 2 Minterne Avenue, as Vice-Chairman; Mr A. C. Whittaker of 3 Manston Avenue as Hon. Secretary and Mr W. Warren, of “Seaton” Norwood Green Road as Hon. Treasurer.
In spite of the collective and individual protests Middlesex C.C. confirmed the increases and, as history so often records in these affairs, the authorities got their way.
But there were many other problems facing those early residents on a new estate which kept the new Committee busy. Dealing with these caused the Association to grow steadily in numbers as it soon proved that results could be achieved by representation even though the original reason for coming together had not been very successful. Our records do not include any details of the deliberations of the committee in the first two years but after the initial enthusiasm interest does appear to have waned. The feeling of apathy is borne out by a report of the AGM held in 1934.
This meeting decided to elect a new Committee one of whose actions was to start a well-produced official journal to report on the activities of the committee and to
encourage a wider membership. The first issue was published in July 1935. It was about quarto in size and consisted of 12 pages, 5 of which carried advertisements,
between grey covers.
The cover carried a heading showing an artist’s impression of Norwood Green and its elm trees from the northwest corner by the drinking fountain and was overprinted
with the name of the Association. The new magazine was well received and was followed by a second issue in October 1935.
The Journal has appeared every quarter since that time apart from the war years.
Publication was suspended in September 1939 although several issues of a two-page duplicated bulletin were issued to keep members informed on current problems.
The second issue reported increased membership, then up to 200, and publicised several social events which included three dances, a whist drive and a children’s party
at Christmas which was followed by a Carnival Dance for adults. It also contained a resume of the main problems being tackled, a proposal to start a reserve fund (by earmarking 6d from each subscription of 2/ 6d per annum) for future emergencies; two whole-page articles — one was on Dictatorships; a Women’s Page; some jokes and a few letters to the Editor. It is also interesting to note that quite a few of the advertisements were placed by the same establishments who still support us.
Issue number 3 introduced competitions which continued until the war. A crossword puzzle first appeared in August 1938. Each issue contained articles on a bewildering
variety of subjects such as ‘The Library Movement’, ‘The Police Call-box System’, `How Water is Obtained from Abyssinian Wells’, ‘The Sardine as food’, as well as a regular gardening article by ‘Spade’, some poems and some home-spun philosophy.
The August 1938 issue carried an article on `Air Raid Precautions’ by the officer appointed for Southall seeking to enrol volunteers for the new force.
During these early years three major problems had been causing concern. These were inefficient and irregular bus services, the lack of a children’s road crossing patrol in Norwood Road and the provision of a local junior school. Other complaints worrying members were the poor state of Glade Lane (used as a short cut to Southall); the bad state of the road and pavements in Minterne Avenue; dangerous bends in Tentelow Lane; the lack of a footpath along much of Tentelow Lane; poor street lighting in many places (gas at that time); the bad state of Windmill Lane; and the bad state of pavements generally (at a time when most members were pedestrians). At this time it must be remembered that the Biscoe School, established in 1767 and run by the Church of England, was the only village school taking the infant range. Its capacity was about 40 boys and girls in one room. Other children had to go to Clifton Road schools which involved a long walk and crossing the busy Norwood Road. This gave rise to the worries about a road crossing patrol. Attempts were also made to persuade Heston and Isleworth Council to allow some children to go across the boundary to the newly opened school in Thorncliffe Road but without much success. It was to be 1953 before a new school was built in Norwood Green. Steady progress was made to resolve some of the problems with the ready cooperation of the Southall Council but the war interrupted the final solution to many. During this period membership gradually increased until it stood at about 300 at the outbreak of war in 1939. This represented about 50% of the families of the Association’s area at that time. The committee carried on meeting until April 1940. In this record of the early years of the Association one item worth recording is a decision which was taken by the committee in October 1936 after a long and careful consideration. The committee had learnt that the General Housing Co Ltd, which built many of the houses in and around Thorncliffe Road, were prepared to offer a piece of land not required for their purposes near the site of Bridge Hall and to build a hall and social centre for the Association. This site is now occupied by the flats known as Norwood Close near the corner of Thorncliffe Road. After several discussions with the company’s architect and directors, including their attendance at a committee meeting, about plans and the possible methods of financing the venture, it was reluctantly agreed to recommend to a special general meeting that the project should be dropped. The hall would have been licensed with a billiard table and be capable of being let to other organisations for a variety of functions. There is no doubt it would have been a valuable asset had the hall been built. After enumerating the annual costs including the repayment of a mortgage over 10 years, the payment for a steward and estimating the best foreseeable income, the committee were faced with an annual deficit of about £130 per annum, equivalent to about £2,000 at present day prices. The running costs were estimated at £350 pa. Total assets of the Association were £43 and the recorded membership at the time was 232.
Following the end of hostilities in Europe a committee meeting was called for June 1945. Present were Cllr Luckett as Chairman, Mr Cullingworth as Hon. Secretary
and two committee members — Mr Hudson and Mr Horne — all of whom held the same positions when war started. Mrs Cullingworth was co-opted to the committee to form a quorum. The Chairman and Hon Secretary gave an account of matters they had dealt with during the war and, following suggestions for resuming social functions for the benefit of the membership, it was decided to call an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Association on 23 July 1945. Thismeeting did take place in July and 70 members crowded into The Plough clubroom to hear Mr Luckett start the meeting with an explanation for the benefit of newcomers why the Association
was formed and what were its main objectives. Officers and committee members were elected to further the work of the Association and to start again to find solutions to the many problems still outstanding plus others resulting from six years of war and neglect, as well as to recruit new members.
One of the new problems soon to appear was a shortage of paper which prevented the immediate issue of the Journal. In the event it was not possible to restart publication until June 1948. The 120 bus route, started in 1938 by taking over part of the 105 route, was still a source of dissatisfaction due in some measure to a
shortage of fuel and labour. This was a much more important link in the days of few cars and petrol rationing. In these early post-war days much time was taken up with
complaints about widespread weeds and overhanging trees in both public and private hedges, poor street lighting and the bad state of pavements. Worries were also expressed about noisy and low-flying aircraft from Heston aerodrome as well as the wide and arbitrary powers proposed to be taken by the Minister of Aviation under a section of the Civil Aviation Act of 1936. As a result of our representations in conjunction with Southall B.C. the order was withdrawn. Among the matters again considered at this time was a possible site for a hall to serve the Association. Sites investigated were on land adjoining The Plough; on land adjoining Norwood Hall; land at the rear of the old Bridge Hall and on what is now the car park at the junction of Harewood Terrace and Norwood Road (then owned by C F Freeman Ltd). Terms were eventually agreed with the Education Committee of MCC for a site at Norwood Hall and plans made to buy an ex-RAF hangar for £600 plus £500 erection costs. Unfortunately the MCC would only agree to a short-term lease and the proposal was again abandoned. In later years the committee also considered the possibility of
acquiring or renting the site of The Cedars and Half-House in Tentelow Lane when these were demolished but this proved too expensive and the site was acquired by MCC for an Old People’s Home.
In late 1946 a proposal was made for the committee to revive the pre-war Flower Shows held on the Green. This was accepted and the first post-war show, held on the
Green on 12 July 1947, proved very successful. This led to a demand for the establishment of a separate Horticultural sub-section of the Association. To confirm the strength of this demand a Special General Meeting was arranged and held in The Plough Clubroom on 31 October 1947. The meeting decided to form a separate selfsupporting section. This was ratified at the next committee meeting of the Association and the Horticultural Section was inaugurated in January 1948. The first Chairman of this new section was Mr Hearn of Minterne Avenue and the Hon Secretary was Mr W G Moore of 35 Melbury Avenue. Mr Whitney Straight agreed to become President of the Section later that year and he and his wife always took a keen interest in its activities rarely failing to attend the annual shows on the Green. At the third annual show held in July 1949 Lady Daphne Straight presented the prizes accompanied by two charming Misses Roosevelt, relatives of the late US President. This new section went from strength to strength especially under the chairmanship of Mr Arthur Askew who had been elected in 1948 and continued in that office until his death in 1979. In 1954 the Horticultural Section started its own Newsletter and at the AGM of the Association in the same year it was agreed that the Section change its name to Norwood Green Horticultural Society whilst still remaining part of the parent Association. Efforts continued to obtain a junior school within the confines of Norwood Green and these increased following the closing, by the Trustees, of Biscoe School in 1950. In this year also residents would have been aware of delays and diversions of traffic in Tentelow Lane as the Metropolitan Water Board laid the third pipe — nearly six feet in diameter — along the pipe track pumping water from the Thames at Hampton Court to the Lea Valley. This runs across the fields behind St Mary’s Avenue crossing Tentelow Lane near the Horticultural Society’s huts on its way through Greenford, passing in front of Hoover’s factory and on to North London.
There were always plenty of problems facing the committee, some small and local and some larger threatening to severely affect the whole neighbourhood. Of the latter
there are four which should be mentioned:
A view of the shopping parade in Tentelow Lane. February 1982. The proposal to build a World Exhibition centre on 140 acres of Osterley Park at a cost of £20 million in 1962. The site would have contained 1 million sq.ft. of exhibition halls, 5,000 seater conference halls, 500 bed hotel plus blocks of flats 120ft high for employees. Car parking for 10,000 vehicles was to be included and the whole was planned to attract 20 million visitors each year. The attraction of the site was the recently-built M4, the Piccadilly tube line and above all the nearness of Heathrow. The plans eventually found a home as the National Exhibition Centre just outside Birmingham. The proposal in 1955 to build a Borstal for boys, on the site of Warren Farm in Windmill Lane (now GLC playing fields) following the giving up of this land by St Bernard’s Hospital. In 1965 Messrs Wates proposed to build a major housing estate on the site of the derelict Heston Farm covering a large area south of the M4 and extending into Osterley Park. Then there was the proposal in 1970 by Messrs Wates to build a Trade Centre at Wyke Green, again involving part of Osterley Park and the re-location of the existing golf course. At about the same time, 1970, there was a proposal to build over 1,600 houses and six shops on the land north and south of the M4 motorway (mostly Heston Farm) which included the ‘horses field’ between Norwood Road and Boundary Close and the M4. These proposals involved considerable effort on the part of the officers of the Association including the attendance and in some cases speaking at public enquiries. In three cases we were associated with other organisations set up to protect the areas involved. We were represented by Counsel at two of these enquiries and paid money out of the reserve funds towards their costs thus proving the wisdom of the earlier decisions of the committee in this respect. Happily we can report that the efforts and vigilance of the committees over the years were worthwhile since these applications were turned down by Ministers of the day thus maintaining the pleasant open spaces that are stillaround us today.
One of the aims of the Association has always been to make provision for the social recreation of its members. In the earlier years and until 1952 five dances, including
Fancy Dress and Carnival Dances, as well as an annual Dinner and Dance were organised and well attended, as were five whist drives each year. The whist drives continued until 1962. Each Christmas before the war a party was provided for the children of members. Since the war, children have been taken to a pantomime or Ice Show. In 1948 visits to theatres were started for members and during the next 10 years there were a number of outings to such events as the Royal Tournament, the Circus, Chessington Zoo, Southend lights and the Tattoo. Sometimes demand was such that two visits took place! In keeping with these aims a Tennis section was formed in 1963 and appeared to thrive for two years reaching well over 100 members. The club operated on courts at Warren Farm playing fields by courtesy of the GLC but in spite of enormous efforts by the Chairman and organiser, Mr P E Smith, enthusiasm began to wane and the section was wound up in 1966. Since 1956 the attendance at social functions has fluctuated and has sometimes been very disappointing to the organisers. The reason for this is difficult to establish; it may be the increasing influence of television or inflation or perhaps the ageing of the population. Again it could be the lack of suitable local hotels and theatres making it generally necessary to travel out of the borough to attend our functions. But the committee will continue to try and meet all reasonable demands. As can be imagined, over the years, in attempting to maintain Norwood Green as a pleasant and friendly place in which to live and work, many small worries and complaints have been voiced by members and have been taken up with the various authorities concerned. The chief among these worries over the years (but by no means all) have been the state of Glade Lane, litter (especially
dumping of rubbish in Osterley Lane), damaged road surfaces and pavements, speeding traffic, noises and smells from various sources, noisy aircraft, dogs fouling
footpaths, irregular bus services and heavy traffic through the village. Some problems Donkey rides during the Flower Show on Norwood Green 1971 causing much correspondence have now disappeared e.g. bad street lighting (now electric and plentiful); nuisances by occupiers of the land at the rear of Dorset Avenue (now built over); smelly piggeries in Havelock Road (also now built over) and Glade Lane (now reasonably made up and paved). Other problems are still with us because
there is no apparent cure e.g. parking of private cars on the narrow estate roads; traffic congestion in Windmill and Tentelow Lanes due to increased volume and unsatisfactory junctions with no immediate plans for improvement; and fouling of footpaths by dogs due to the inability of owners and authorities to take suitable
In 1969 we were pleased to welcome the decision of the London Borough of Ealing to include a large part of Norwood Green among the seven Conservation Areas established in the Borough under the Civic Amenities Act of 1967. The aim of making such areas is to pay special attention to the preservation or enhancement of the character or appearance with respect to buildings and land in each area. This accords well with our own aims. Although there will always be those who wish things will always stay as they are conservation does not necessarily mean there must be no change whatsoever. If this were so we should still have a small wooden chapel, poor roads, badly lit streets and a majority of peasant cottages without bathrooms. Again each of us has his or her own ideas on what is good or bad design and what will or will not enhance a neighbourhood. We can but hope that proposals and decisions about conservation taken on their merits will maintain a fair balance between these views. Constant vigilance by and support for an Association such as ours will ensure this remains so. A history of the Association would not be complete without mention of Mr Reg Baker who has given so much of his time and effort to the printing and production of the Journal, the magazine of the Association, over the last 30 years. He was greatly assisted in this work by his late wife, Irene, who was also an energetic committee member for 18 years until her death in 1978. Both deserve our thanks.
At the end of this book will be found a chronological list of the more important or interesting events which have affected our neighbourhood during these 50 years in the hope that they will be of interest to older as well as more recent arrivals. Finally a tribute must be paid to the energies, foresight and dedication of the early members who laid the foundations of the Association so successfully. Without wishing to detract from the memory of others not recorded mention must be made of Cllr (later Alderman) F H Luckett who served as an officer, mostly as Chairman, of the Association between 1932 and 1946 when he resigned due to ill-health. He died in 1952. Mr F A Cullingworth was Hon. Secretary from 1939 until moving in 1949. Mr Arthur Gilbert served on the committee from 1936 until moving in September 1959. For most of
this time Mr Gilbert was Social Secretary and the moving spirit of the social life of the Association, acting as MC at dances and as toastmaster at dinners. Other long-serving members were Mr S A Wilshin (19 years); Mr R G Holyer (29 years); Mrs C de Jong (24 years); Mrs Dorothy Pettit (26 years); Mr Jack Dawson (17 years) and more recently Mr G R Inkpen (27 years, most of them as Hon. Treasurer). But finally mention must be made of Mr H A de Jong, a founder member who held every office in the
Association until becoming Vice-President in 1955, and is still serving in that capacity at 93 thus spanning the whole of the 50 years of the Association’s life.
D R. Lewis