Sunday 30 June 2024

Brent & Harrow PSC and Wembley Muslim Centre are holding a Brent West Hustings Tuesday July 2nd 7pm




Hosted by Brent & Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign in partnership with Wembley Muslim Centre
Hybrid event - Zoom & in-person

 🕠7pm 📍Wembley Muslim Centre, 1-3 Hazel House, Lancelot Road, HA0 2AL

Register here:
Please submit questions in advance by email to

London Sees Annual Drop in Community Spaces with Brent Hit Hardest

 From Foundation for Future London LINK

By Amy Zamarripa Solis

  • Freedom of Information requests from East London charity reveal disparities in community spaces available across London boroughs.
  • Brent faced the highest number of local authority-run community space closures
  • Boroughs like Barnet, Havering, Newham have seen more closures than openings

Research carried out by Foundation for Future London into local authority-run community spaces has revealed that closures are now outpacing new openings in some London boroughs, with 46 community spaces permanently shut down between 2018-2023, nearly 10 a year.

The research – obtained through Freedom of Information requests – revealed 1,758 spaces are currently open, with openings and closures varied between boroughs across London. Brent faced the highest number of closures at 13, while only opening four new spaces. Boroughs including Barnet, Havering, Newham, Hillingdon and Lewisham have also closed more spaces than opening new ones in the five years from 2018 to 2023.

The findings as part of Foundation for Future London’s Empowering Safer Spaces campaign, run in partnership with local partner Westfield Stratford City aim to understand young people’s perceptions of existing community spaces across London. The campaign will explore how safe and accessible community spaces across the capital truly are, bringing together government, businesses and academics to discuss the importance of these safe community spaces. Young people, with real lived experiences, will also be represented at the roundtable, meaning all voices will be represented.

The data also revealed that, between 2018 and 2023:

  • Barnet and Havering both closed three spaces with just one new opening each
  • Newham closed two spaces and opened zero
  • Hillingdon and Lewisham both closed one space and opened zero each

Other areas lack community spaces completely – Ealing has the lowest total with just three open to residents. This is followed by Harrow, with only eight, and Lambeth and Haringey with nine.

Areas like Islington – with more than 223 community spaces – seem to have a higher focus on nurturing their community offerings.  Barking and Dagenham also stand out by creating 30 new spaces in the last five years – the highest among all boroughs queried. Tower Hamlets follows with the next highest at 20 newly opened spaces. Finally, while Greenwich closed four, it opened 10 new amenities, bringing its total to 183 spaces.

Foundation for Future London will launch its wider findings at a panel event in July, with support from partner Westfield Stratford City and hosted by University College London. The panel will focus on how London can be made a safe place for everyone, where all feel welcome and have access to equal opportunities.

Sarah Nelson, CEO at Foundation for Future London said:

“The growing lack of safe spaces and services across London is worrying . All young people deserve access to safe spaces to learn, play and grow within their local communities. While some boroughs have made strides in opening new amenities like parks or sports centres, others are falling behind – with closures outpacing openings.

“This trend is particularly worrisome. A lack of safe spaces affects the overall quality of life and developmental opportunities available to young residents. These findings reinforce the need for greater investment to develop and protect vital community spaces across London. Robust community facilities and accessible services and support to young people are integral to fostering equal access to vibrant and supportive environments.”

Alyson Hodkinson, Head of Sustainability UK, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said:

“The vitality of our community spaces is crucial, and the recent findings highlight a concerning trend: closures of such spaces are outpacing new openings in several boroughs, leaving gaps in places where young people can learn, play, and connect. At Westfield Stratford City, we recognise the significance of vibrant community hubs in fostering social cohesion and providing positive outlets for our youth. As an integral part of East London, we are committed to supporting the development of these spaces, ensuring they remain inclusive and inviting environments for all.”

For more information about Foundation for Future London and its Empowering Safer Spaces campaign, visit

Friday 28 June 2024

Brent Council fails dismally to replace felled trees

Brent Council's response to a Freedom of Information Request LINK (converted to an Environmental Information Request) has revealed that in the period 2019-24 1,356 trees were felled and only 762 planted.

How many of the latter survived is not stated. The record for a counci that has declared a Climate Emergency is not very sastifactory.

The full request and not very full answer is reproduced below. For ease I have marked Brent Council's answer in bold:

Environmental Information Regulations 2004

Thank you for your information request received on 12/06/2024. This request is being handled under the Environmental Information  Regulations 2004.

I can confirm that Brent Council holds the information you have requested. 

Your request and our responses are set out below:

Please could you provide information under the FOIA for the below;

1. How many trees has the local authority, its contractors or other organisations funded by the council planted in the borough between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2024, and how many trees have been removed in the same  timeframe? Where known, please also provide information about the number of trees planted on land the Council has made available to other parties for tree planting. Please provide information in a table with the headings/format below.

- Number of trees planted by the council, its contractors and/or other organisations funded by the council
- Where known, number of trees planted where the council has made land available to other parties for tree planting
- Number of trees removed

2019/20 - 415 felled 464 planted
2020/21 - 192 felled 90 planted
2021/22 - 258 felled 69 planted
2022/23 - 217 felled 83 planted
2023/24 - 274 felled 56 planted


For the calendar year 2023 there were 135 (plus) trees planted in parks

2. What are the council's tree planting targets for the period 1 April  2024 to 31 March 2030? How many trees does it intend to plant in the borough over this period (either by the council, its contractors or other organisations funded by the council) and how many does it expect will have to be removed? Where known, please also provide information about tree planting targets on land the council has made or intends to make available to other parties for tree planting. Please provide information in a table with the headings/format below.

- Targets for tree planting by the council, its contractors and/or other organisations funded by the council
- Where known, targets for tree planting on land the council has made or  intends to make available to other parties for tree planting
- Expected number of trees to be removed



For the calendar year 2023 there were 135 (plus) trees planted in parks. A difficulty in providing information is the wide range of tree sizes that the Parks Service manages, from seedlings to mature trees. While the total structural tree canopy may possibly be increasing, the numbers of trees planted or removed can be complicated also by the numbers of trees that arise naturally or are removed naturally. 
We do not hold any estimates or targets for trees to be planted, or removed by Parks, for future years up to 2029/30 therefore this is a refusal under regulation 12(4)(a) under the EIR 2004 for this part of your request.






WILLESDEN GREEN: Controversial Cranhurst Road mixed place of worship/accommodation development Planning Appeal deadline July 8th


27 Cranhurst Road, NW2


The purple pin marks the property in its suburban context


Following refusal of planning permission for extensive alterations to an Edwardian house in Cranhurst Road, Willesden Green the applicant has launched an Appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

The application by the Gaudiya Mission  (a Hindu monastic organisation) was for excavation of a basement, the doubling of the number of bedrooms from 4 to 8 and new structures in the garden area.  The house currently has planning permissions for mix as a place of worship and accommmodation.The proposal would have increased the worship area to accommodate more people.

The decision to refuse was made by delegated Brent Planning Officers, not the Brent Planning Comittee.

This is the timetable for the  Appeal:



'Interested party' comments have to be sent in by Monday July 8th.

This is the proposal as submitted to Brent Council:

Proposed creation of basement, single-storey side to rear extension, rear dormer extension with 2x front rooflights and outbuilding to the rear garden to the premises.




1 The accommodation proposed across the first floor and loft floor levels does not align with the space standards as outlined under policy D6 of the London Plan (2021) and consequently would not provide an adequate standard of accommodation and internal amenity for future residents. As a result, the proposal is therefore contrary to policy DMP1 of Brent's Local Plan (2019-41) and policy D6 of the London Plan (2021).


2 The proposed single storey rear and side extension and basement by reason of their design, height and bulk would appear overly prominent, incongruous with and detrimental to the character and appearance of the existing property and surrounding area. As such, the proposal is contrary to planning policies DMP1, BD1, & BD3 of Brent's Local Plan (2019-41), Supplementary Planning Document 2: Residential Extensions and Alterations (2018) and Basement Supplementary Planning Document (2017).


3 The proposed rear element at basement and ground floor level, by reason of excessive height and proximity to the boundaries of adjoining properties would have an unacceptable impact to the  neighbouring amenity of the adjoining occupiers. Moreover, the proposal by not offering sufficient natural daylight to the basement and ground floor areas of the premises is deemed to offer poor levels of internal amenity for future occupiers, contrary to policies DMP1, BD1 & BD3 of the Brent Local Plan (2019-2041), the guidance contained within Supplementary Planning Document SPD1 Brent Design Guide (2018) and Basement Supplementary Planning Document (2017).


4 The proposal by reason of the insufficient provision of information regarding soft landscaping and planting fails to demonstrate how that the scheme will achieve a satisfactory urban greening factor on the site and provide sustainable urban drainage. The proposal would therefore be contrary to policy policies BD1, BGI1 & BSUI4 of Brent's Local Plan (2019-2041) and policies G5 and G6 of the London Plan (2021).


5 By reason of the lack of a Fire Statement, it has not been demonstrated that the proposal will provide a suitable fire safety and safe means of escape strategy for all building users, contrary to Policy D12A of the London Plan (2021).


6 By virtue of the lack of details regarding bicycle parking and a statement regarding visitor numbers and opening hours, the proposal does not adequately consider the requirements of Local Plan policy BT2 (2019-41).


7 No relevant arboricultural studies were submitted in support of the proposal. As such, it is considered that the applicant has not sufficiently demonstrated that there will not be a harmful impact on trees adjoining the applicant site. Accordingly, the proposal is therefore deemed to be contrary to Policy G7 of the London Plan (2021) and BGI2 of the Brent Local Plan (2019-2041). DocFDN Ref: 23/2411


8 By reason of the lack of submission of a suitable Drainage Strategy, it has not been demonstrated that the proposal will achieve greenfield run-off rates for surface water, contrary to Policy BSUI4 of the Local Plan (2019-41)


The Officers' Report gives more information on the views of local residents:



Thursday 27 June 2024

Monday July 1st International Reggae Day at the Reggae Tree outside Hawkeye Records, Harlesden 5pm


  The Reggae Tree is outside Hawkeye Records

 From Black Music Congress


We wish to invite you to the celebration of the 30th anniversary of International Reggae Day (IRD) in Harlesden on Monday July 1 2024: 1. 5.00-6.00pm Runnings Around The Reggae Tree (In front of Hawkeye Records, 2 Craven Park Rd, London NW10 4AB) A gathering led by The Reggae Tree Ambassador Diane Shrouder-Johnson where we highlight musical and environmental issues (the Tree is a product of the IRD Plant A Tree Challenge), plus the rich reggae and black music history of Harlesden, Brent – the capital of reggae in Britain. 


We'll be expecting a vocal contribution by singing Bob Marley's 'One Love'.


Afterwards  6.30-8.30pm The Brent Reggae Album Covers Exhibition (Harlesden Library, Craven Park Rd, London NW10 8SE) Local historical musicologist officially unveils and provides the background to how he came to curate the exhibition, followed by a presentation by Colin Brown on The UK Reggae History Online portal, and responses from special guests and attendees. Includes the playlist from the IRD UK 2024 Recommended Album 'Reggae Mandela', which speaks to the IRD @ 30 theme of Riddims & Resistance, plus refreshments

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Byron Court Primary staff , parents and children, take their campaign to Parliament and Department for Education in Election Week - watch out for their Big Red Bus

 From Brent National Education Union


NEU members at Byron Court Primary School, who have already taken 10 days of strike action are due strike for the three days running up to the General Election in a fight to save their local community school from a takeover by the huge Harris Federation chain of academies, a company whose CEO donated to Tory funds.  Strikes are continuing on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.


Campaigners will take to Parliament Square and the DfE on 2nd July in a big red vintage routemaster bus to gain publicity to ask the incoming education minister to overturn their “academy order”.


The school’s forced “academy order” follows an intimidating Ofsted inspection which, for staff, had parallels with the experience of Ruth Perry and resulted in the same “inadequate” one word judgement. They are hoping for a new Labour government, who have promised to get rid of Ofsted one word judgements, to intervene and revoke the academy order to keep this as a community school.


118 campaigners wrote to the DfE prior to the decision being taken, to oppose the move, but a recent FOI request for information on how this was presented, has been snubbed. There have been two complaints against Ofsted but so far Ofsted have not investigated the process that took place.


NEU members, parents, councillors and the local community have been turning out to support picket lines and prtotests at the school, Brent Civic Centre and Central London. They have been supported by Barry Gardiner.

Jenny Cooper of the NEU national executive has stated:


The “SAVE BYRON COURT” campaign has found itself on the frontline of defence against privatisation, since the election was announced, and school staff around the country are watching to see what the next government will do. We do not want this to be the last community school to be given to private hands- we want it to be the last time this battle has to be fought.

Monday 24 June 2024

436 children under five admitted to Northwick Park and Barnet Hospitals with breathing difficulties according to latest (2023) figures

 From Mums for Lungs

A Freedom of Information request sent to London Northwest University Healthcare Trust and the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust reveals the scale of respiratory problems amongst the youngest children in Brent and Barnet. 

In 2023, the latest figures available, 436 children under five were dmitted to hospital with respiratory difficulties. Across 22  London hospitals surveyed, more than 15,000 children were admitted with serious breathing difficulties. 


 Baby grows Brent: credit Jonathan Goldberg. 

L-R: Amandine Alexandre, Sally Toure, Tony Burch, Frances Holloway, Gourav Gourav, Ilaria Esposito, Agnieszka Szewera in Roundwood Park near Northwick Park Hospital. Pic credit: Jonathan Goldberg / Mums for Lungs.


The figures, obtained by air pollution campaigners, Mums for Lungs, have prompted calls to speed up the removal of all diesel vehicles by at least 2030, with some limited exceptions. 

Parents have been hanging baby grows that spell out ‘Clean Air Now’ near areas affected by high levels of pollution, all in breach of World Health Organization standards.

Across England as a whole, 15,328 children aged 19 or under were admitted into hospital for serious asthma attacks alone, according to Public Health England figures from 2022/23. For London, the figure is 2,705.


Amandine Alexandre, a parent who lives in Brent and trustee of Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum said,


Although air quality in Brent has improved since 2016, Harlesden High Street is bucking this trend. Thanks to our Breathe London monitoring station, we know that, most days, nitrogen dioxide levels still far exceed the air quality standards set by the World Health Organization in 2021. This is very worrying considering that NO2 irritates our lungs and weakens our immune system. Harlesden residents deserve cleaner air now.”


Harlesden Neighbourhood Forum, a charity responsible for implementing the local neighbourhood plan, was successful in bidding for a Breathe London community node in 2021. The solar powered pollution monitoring station was installed by Imperial College London in March 2022. (It was taken down by Brent council by mistake in the autumn of 2022 and was re-installed on March 30th 2023.) The data can be accessed live on Breathe London. It can also be easily visualised on Air Aware


The Breathe London Network was established in 2021 as a partnership between the Mayor of London, Imperial College London, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. It is making reliable air quality monitoring data more accessible to local communities by building a network of accurate and reliable air quality sensors across the capital.


Air pollution monitors in Brent and Barnet continue to show high levels of some of the most dangerous forms of pollution - including nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM 2.5). 

Due to the small size of many of the particles some of these toxins may enter the bloodstream and be transported around the body, lodging in the heart, brain and other organs. Exposure to PM 2.5 can result in serious impacts to health, especially in vulnerable groups of people such as the young and elderly. 

Short-term exposure to concentrations of NO2 can cause inflammation of the airways and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections and to allergens. NO2 can exacerbate the symptoms of those already suffering from lung or heart conditions.

Monitors in Brent  show levels of air pollution  in some cases close to the legal limits (23 - 33 μg/m3 NO2) and well for  PM2.5 above WHO guidelines for 2024 so far as well. 


Brent – Ark Franklin 

Brent – IKEA 

Brent – John Keble Primary School 

Brent – Neasden Lane 


NB. UK legal annual limit values:

NO2 = 40μg/m3, PM2.5 = 20μg/m3.  

WHO guidelines:

NO2 = 10μg/m3, PM2.5 = 5μg/m3

 Editor's note: The new North Brent Secondary School is due to open in Neasden Lane


Dr Anna Moore, a respiratory doctor who works in a London NHS Hospital, added: 

All the evidence shows that there is a clear connection between high levels of air pollution and respiratory conditions. These figures also demonstrate that there are hundreds of children who are in hospital with conditions that could be prevented. At a time when NHS resources are stretched thin, we need to urgently clean up our air, including completely phasing out the most heavily polluting diesel cars, trucks and vans and focus on infrastructure which enables safe walking and cycling as this is vital for long term health.

Jemima Hartshorn, Mums for Lungs, said:

Thousands of children are unable to breathe because of preventable air pollution, this must change. So many children are being admitted to hospitals with serious cases of asthma, and all the evidence shows that damaging lungs at an early age can cause lifelong health conditions. The next national Government, Mayors and local authorities must all use their powers to phase out diesel vehicles and protect children from painful and debilitating health conditions.

Road transport is the largest contributor to air pollution in London and it’s thought that air pollution contributes to around 4,000 early deaths each year in London. 

Mums for Lungs have written to the main political party leaders Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer calling for them to discourage people from buying diesel vehicles and to set a target for England to be diesel-free by 2030, with limited exemptions, alongside action on wood burning and creating more School Streets, which restrict car use at drop off and pick up. 



LETTER: We need to complain to London Travelwatch re lack of travel information on event days

 Dear Editor,

Re Wembley Stadium events.
We need everyone to complain to Travelwatch, about lack of service, diversions with no signage telling people anything? or where to go and catch the bus, and why they suspend  the service for so long before the event.  
Why nothing on TFL website, bus information displays, Wembley Stadium website site - nothing! 
Don't even get me started as to why there is no pick up area allocated for all the chauffeurs and ubers blocking the roads - more on that another time.

A Wembley Resident

Who are Transport for London and London TravelWatch and what do they do?

TfL is an integrated transport authority responsible for the day-to-day operation of London’s public transport network.  It also manages London’s main roads.

You can contact Transport for London at:

London Travelwatch is the official watchdog organisation representing the interests of transport users in and around London.  It is officially known as London Transport Users Committee.  It is independent from the transport operators and deals with complaints about services operated or licenced by TfL.  This includes:

  • London Buses
  • London Underground
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • Tramlink
  • River boats and ferries
  • Santander cycle hire
  • Emirates Air Line (cable car river crossing)
  • Oyster Card
  • Victoria Coach Station
  • Dial-a-Ride
  • Congestion Charge
  • Low Emission Zone

It also deals with main line railway services operated by some National Rail Companies.

You can contact London TravelWatch at

Take a breath! Another Wembley Stadium event on Saturday - GREEN DAY THE SAVIORS TOUR


Wembley Stadium will be hosting Green Day – The Saviours Tour on Saturday 29 June.

Please read below to see how this might affect you.


Doors will open from 4.30pm and road closures will be in place from 1.35 pm.

We expect the area around Wembley Stadium to be very busy before and after the event so please avoid the area if you can unless you have a ticket.

Event day parking

Event day parking restrictions will be in place from 8am to midnight on main roads and from 10am to midnight on residential roads on Saturday 29 June.

If you have a paper permit, please make sure you clearly display it in your vehicle. If you have an electronic permit, you do not need to display this.

Drink-free zone

We want to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

To crack down on anti-social behaviour, we will be enforcing a ban on street drinking in the streets around Wembley Stadium before these matches, as part of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO).

If we find anyone drinking on Olympic Way or in the surrounding streets, they will be asked to hand over their alcohol and enforcement action may be considered. 

Latest information

For up-to-date information about Wembley events, please visit the Wembley Stadium website

Saturday 22 June 2024

TfL blasted over lack of information and misinformation re Wembley Park bus routes during 3 Days of Taylor Swift concerts

The forecast on Wednesday



The start of the chaos on Friday morning


I was crushed by happy, smiling and excited 'Swifties' on the packed Metropolitan line yesterday but the mood amongst Wembley Park residents  was rather different.

It started off early morning when the 206 route from The Paddocks to Kilburn Park was stopped before 9am affecting people from the area travelling to work, school or shopping.

TfL via Twitter denied all knowledge of the curtailment and suggested residents rang their customer service, depite the fact they are a customer service. Instead they devoted themselves to publicising their Swiftie alternative tube map. Whimsy is no substitute for a public bus service!

The TfL website failed to inform passengers of the curtailment and the result was confusion and over-crowded pavements. Particularly worrying was that school children at each end of the 206 bus route would find that their bus was not running (southbound from Wembley Park) or would be dumped at Bridge Park (if travelling north to Wembley Park). People working at Brent Park Tesco and Ikea as well as the industrial area south of the stadium were similarly disrupted.

About half an hour ago I found a woman at The Paddocks bus stop vainly waiting for a 206. She had been waiting for more than 30 minutes and said she would demand a council tax rebate.

Unfortunately this feeds a feeling that as far as Wembley Stadium, Brent Council, Wembley Park LDN (Quintain) and TfL go the needs of Wembley citizens (and particularly bus users) come way down the priority list on event days.


 Last word from a Wembley Central resident:

Last night when Wembley Hill Road and Wembley Triangle were closed to all but traffic exiting to travel down Harrow Road to North Circular Raid it was chaos . There were untold amount of Chauffeurs/Ubers/Taxi's etc all parked up on double yellows at the Triangle next to the railings, blocking the road into Wembley High Road.  All drivers were out of the cars, on their phones no doubt calling their passengers to let them know where they were waiting, The traffic on the south bound High Road was at a standstill.  It was complete chaos, I have no idea why Police or Traffic Wardens were not called to prevent this, it was still like this at 11.30pm.  The concert did not officially end until 10.45 that's when the fireworks went off. 

 The consultation regarding Wembley Stadium's Planning Application to hold additional major events closes on Monday.

Make you comments HERE. 

WINDRUSH DAY – The stories of some West Indians in Wembley

 Guest post by local historian Philip Grant to mark Windrush Day. Written in a personal capacity

1.West Indian immigrant workers search a newspaper for jobs on arrival in 1948. (Image from the internet)


Today, 22 June, is Windrush Day, the anniversary of the arrival of the “Empire Windrush” at Tilbury Docks in 1948. The ship brought hundreds of men from the Caribbean, looking for jobs, after the British Nationality Act of 1948 allowed citizens of Commonwealth countries to settle in the UK, to help rebuild the country after the Second World War. 


There had been people from the West Indies in Wembley twenty-four years earlier, representing their island nations at the British Empire Exhibition. This is one of the photographs, taken at the time by a Harlesden photographer, which I will be using in a talk I hope to give in October this year at Harlesden Library, as part of the “Becoming Brent” project for the BEE’s centenary:


2.Representatives of Trinidad and Tobago in their section of the West Indies Pavilion, 1924.
(Source: Brent Archives – Wembley History Society Collection)


I don’t know whether any of the original Windrush passengers came to live in Wembley, but there were certainly other West Indians here that year. Just over three weeks before the “Empire Windrush” docked, the entire West Indies test cricket team came to Vale Farm, at the invitation of Wembley Cricket Club, to play in a benefit match for Learie Constantine (after whom a cultural centre in Willesden is now named). You can read about the match in an article that I will ask Martin to attach below.


3.Learie Constantine, at the height of his cricketing popularity. (Image from the internet)


Learie Constantine was a remarkable man, braving colour prejudice in the late 1920s and 1930s to become the club professional for the Lancashire Cricket League side, Nelson, where he became very popular. During the Second World War he worked for the Ministry of Labour, looking after the welfare of West Indian men who had come to Britain to work in wartime factories. He went on to become a lawyer, fighting racial discrimination, and played an important part in bringing about Britain’s 1965 Race Relations Act.



In July and August 1948, Wembley County School in Stanley Avenue played host to the mens’ Olympic Games teams from seven Commonwealth countries, including Bermuda, British Guiana (now Guyana), Jamaica and Trinidad. The school also arranged accommodation, with the families of pupils, for the female members of two teams. Three Jamaican women athletes stayed with the Welson family, shared coconuts and pineapples with them (a rare treat in food-rationed Britain) and cooked them a meal of boiled rice with grated coconut and red beans.



4.The Jamaican Olympics team at Wembley County School, July 1948. (Courtesy of the Old Alpertonians)



Most of the Jamaican team, paid for by public subscription to represent their island at the Olympic Games for the first time, had spent twenty-four days on a banana boat to reach England. Their captain, Arthur Wint, was already in London, as he had just finished his first year as a medical student at Barts Hospital. He would win Jamaica’s first Olympic gold medal, but he already had wartime medals. Along with his brothers, Lloyd and Douglas, he had volunteered to join the RAF in Jamaica, been sent to train in Canada, and finished the war as a Spitfire pilot (one of around 500 World War Two “Pilots of the Caribbean”!). Arthur Wint was another remarkable West Indian to have graced Wembley in 1948, the “Windrush” year. You can read my article about his life here.



But it wasn’t all sunshine for people of the Windrush generation who came from the Caribbean to work in Britain. The work available was mainly in public services, like London Transport, the Post Office or nursing. Several people I collected memories from for a Kingsbury local history project in 2009, had come to this country from the West Indies in the 1950s and 1960s.  One told me of the hostility that many English people showed them when they arrived, just because of the colour of their skin. Many landlords would not accept coloured tenants, and even going to church was not pleasant, as they were made to feel unwelcome at first.



Another incident recounted to me was about one of the first West Indian families to rent a flat in an old Stonebridge tenement row called Shakespeare Avenue. A live snake was put through their letterbox! Luckily neighbours called a local Englishman, nicknamed “Noah”, who was good with animals. He recognised it was non-poisonous, and soon picked it up and took it away.



5.Christmas Day in the Children’s Ward, Wembley Hospital (Chaplin Road), 1950s.
(From a nurses recruitment brochure in the Wembley History Society Collection at Brent Archives)


One job where accommodation for West Indians was not a problem was as a nurse, or nursing student, at Wembley Hospital. The hospital’s matron welcomed a number of young women from the West Indies in the 1950s, for a two-year training course to become a nurse. You would be paid a £300 a year training allowance, out of which £128 a year was deducted to cover the cost of your board and lodging in the Nurses’ Home. Once you qualified as a State Enrolled Nurse, your annual salary would be £452. I have used the photograph above, of one of these nurses, several times, but I have never discovered the name of the nurse. If you recognise her, please let me know her name in a comment below!



Barbara came to London from Barbados in 1964, to work as a nurse. By 1970, she and her husband lived in a privately-rented one bedroom flat in Harlesden, costing £3 10s a week. Brent Council had built its Chalkhill Estate, but was finding it hard to let hundreds of homes there, because the rent was so much higher than the “controlled rent” (as low as £1 a week) families in run-down properties were paying. That is when Barbara and her husband, and other hard-working West Indian families, got the chance to become Chalkhill tenants. They had to show their passports, provide references to prove that they were of good character and that they had sufficient income to pay the rent (which was £10 10s for their new two-bedroom flat).



6.The Chalkhill Estate with Brent Town Hall beyond, 1980s. (Internet image, courtesy of Winston Vaughan)



Brent Town Hall is a Wembley connection of the last West Indian in my article. Dorman Long was born in St Lucia, and as a young man was a teacher there, before he came to London in 1960. As his teaching qualifications were not recognised, his first job here was as a postman, later going on to work for a housing association, then as a race relations adviser. He soon became involved in local politics, and was a Brent Labour councillor for 33 years. 


7.Dorman Long (right) greeting Nelson Mandela at Wembley Stadium, April 1990.
(Source: Brent Archives – “Wembley Observer” newspaper cutting)



Cllr. Dorman Long was Leader of Brent Council from 1987 to 1990, following a turbulent period when the borough was frequently labelled in the press a “Barmy Brent”. One of his finest hours was welcoming the recently-freed Nelson Mandela to Wembley, and trying to make him a Freeman of Brent. I did not know him personally, but I have read that Dorman Long was a kind person, and a man of principle – excellent qualities for a leader.



Windrush Day was established to honour the contribution that migrants, particularly those from the West Indies, have made to this country. I hope this article has shown, through just a few examples of both ordinary and extraordinary people, how much our community has benefitted from the diversity and experience they have brought and shared with us.



Philip Grant.