Join in with 2018’s Summer Reading Challenge

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge launches in our libraries tomorrow, Saturday 14 July. The challenge is fun, free and designed for all children whatever their reading ability and it’s been designed to help children to improve their reading skills and confidence during the long summer holidays.

Children can read whatever they like for the challenge – fact books, joke books,
picture books, audio books or you can download a book,  just as long as they are borrowed from the library.

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge is called Mischief Makers – Dennis the Menace, Gnasher and friends invite the children taking part to set off on a hunt for Beanotown’s famous buried treasure.

Each of our libraries will be holding special events for children of all ages, some of these are listed now on our website Pop in to your local LBHF library to find out more about the Summer Reading Challenge and collect a special  events programme.





Posted in Askew Road Library, Children, Crafts, eaudiobooks, ebooks, Event, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Library, Summer Reading Challenge | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

School memories from the 1950s

In the 1950s, the majority of children went to a local school within walking distance of their homes. So in 1954 I started school life at Ellerslie Road School. It was only recently that I discovered that it was in fact the year that the school celebrated its 60th anniversary, having opened in 1894.

The Hammersmith Ordnance Survey map of 1894 shows the position of the newly opened school just south of Old Oak Farm and east of the disused Brick Yard. Adjacent to the school were fields, which in 1904 became the ground for the Shepherds Bush Football Club. It was not until 1917 that Queens Park Rangers moved in to the ground. The ‘School End’ and later the ‘Ellerslie Road Stand’ became well known to football fans.

There were two black iron gate entrances to the school on Ellerslie Road. The infants and junior girls entrance was on the right and the junior boys was on the left. The gates led into separate playgrounds. I presume they felt the boys were too rough to play with the girls and the infants. The infants school was the first building just inside the gate and was separate from the junior school.

My first school photo

It was a very cold introduction to school life for me. Although we were not required to wear a uniform all boys wore short trousers (even in the winter). The toilets were outside in the playground and they were no more than brick built sheds.

Although the playgrounds were segregated all the juniors came together for lessons. The classrooms were arranged around a central hall. At one end were two big wooden staircases which led up to a balcony. On the left was the teacher’s room and on the right was the Headmaster office. The school had parquet flooring and the lower parts of the walls were shiny glazed bricks with painted plaster above.

Archive photo of an infants class circa 1916
(note the glazed bricks)

Each morning we were given a 1/3 pint bottle of milk which was always extremely cold in the winter. But on particularly hot summer days it often smelt and tasted ‘off’. For some reason there were one or two boys who always drank the unwanted leftover bottles. I seem to remember that the record was about six bottles in one go. Some children were also given cod liver oil capsules to supplement their poor diets.

A lot of children were able to go home for lunch but there was a dining hall in prefab type building at the back of the school. This building was approximately where the Jack Tizard School now stands in South Africa Road. Before the new Ellerslie Road Stand was built at Queens Park Rangers the roof of this building was often used by older boys to climb into the ground on match days.

There were very few books and they were given out and collected in for each lesson by the ‘book monitors’. As a result they were all quite dirty and dog-eared. One term I was very thrilled when I was told I had won a book as a prize. However, my joy turned to disappointment during the prize giving ceremony, when I was told the prize was actually for the school and I had to hand it back.

As with all schools there were good and bad teachers. One teachers, a stereotypical Victorian spinster tried to convert us to Catholicism. We were subject to a very strict regime and had to recite Latin prayers at the start and end of each day. Without fail she gave us detention every night. After a few weeks the mothers started to get very annoyed. One day my mother went to the cloakroom, picked up my coat, opened the classroom door and called me out. The teacher confronted my mother but several other mothers did the same. The detentions stopped and very soon after that the teacher left the school.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, I witnessed a very important milestone in British history. It was the arrival of the first black pupil at the school. He had the very unusual name of Cosmos and he was very bubbly boy who soon became friends with everyone. It was many years later that I realised he was one of the Windrush generation.

I don’t actually remember going any school trips but we did have the occasional trip to Lime Grove indoor swimming baths and it was on one such trip that I learnt to swim. Another milestone was that in our final year boys started to wear long trousers and that winter was much more bearable.

About that time a major piece of PE equipment arrived at the school. It was a very new modular system made up of two sections of three triangular shaped climbing frames with wooden ladders. The two sections were linked across the top by a metal tubular bar that held ropes and ladder.

Traditionally the senior class were the cast for the end of year play. In my year it was Treasure Island and the new PE equipment doubled up quite nicely as the rigging of the pirate ship Hispaniola. The production was quite professional with costumes and make up. Sadly, although we could see what our friends looked like we had no idea what we looked like ourselves as there were no mirrors. Few people owned cameras so I don’t think any photos were ever taken. In my part as Redruth, I was the first person to walk on stage and talk. I don’t remember having any nerves even though my mother was sitting right next to the area where I had to wait before making my entrance. Later in the play I had a very dramatic death scene.

My final year at Ellerslie Road School ended with me passing the eleven-plus exam. Then it was the long awaited summer holiday before going on to secondary education.

Entrance to Imre Close

Ellerslie Road School closed in 1998, just over 100 years after it was built. Imre Close was built on the site; named after Imre Kiralfy, who was the mastermind behind the White City Franco- British Exhibition of 1908.

Peter Trott
Hammersmith & Fulham, Local Studies and Archives volunteer

Posted in Archives & local studies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

7 Deadly Dates with Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise

We’ve an event with Jean-Paul Noel-Cephise, author of ‘7 Deadly Dates’ on Wednesday 11 July at Shepherds Bush Library.  The book is a witty take on the realities of online dating from a male perspective. You can book a free place via Eventbrite

So join us next month – you will have the chance to buy a copy of the book on the night and ask JP for his dating secrets.

Over to JP to tell us more about his book –

I became separated from my ex-wife after being married for 16 years. The only way I could describe being divorced after a long marriage is to stop a noisy, juddering train ride and then find the silence itself deafening. The initial peace after the marathon journey was pretty uncomfortable. It took me some time to adjust to being single again.

In that time I decided to begin dating again to find a new woman. I had a romantic dream of meeting a woman to have a partnership with and of falling in love and having my happily ever after. Like Shrek.

Like everyone else who has tried to date via the internet, I thought: let me use technology to find love like everyone else seems to be doing. Let me find “The one”. My soul mate. My partner. The lady in my life. You get the idea. I decided to give online dating a try.
Being out of “The dating game” for so long meant I was out of touch with the rules. I joined an internet dating site as it seemed so easy to find a woman this way. I couldn’t believe that I was soon receiving so much attention and interest from lovely ladies all around the country. It made me feel great!

One in five people are now finding their partners online. People are still a little sceptical about using the internet to find love but I wasn’t afraid to try. The process was: scan over the picture, then scan over the profile. If you’re interested then message the person, then speak, then meet up. It’s actually all in reverse to how we date normally in our lives.
What I found when I was dating is that no matter how the person looked in their pictures or how they described themselves in their profiles they were rarely put together exactly as I had thought they were.

7 Deadly Dates recounts the surprises that I found and how I attempted to cope with them while also trying to enjoy the date.

Is it because the net isn’t right for this purpose? Is it right to use technology to find love? Are people truthful about themselves? Is there a right way to date online? Dating sites give you advice on how to present aspects of yourself but do these apply to everyone? Some aspects make dating tough, especially in these days of social media where there is an intense pressure on people to always look good, be entertaining and to continuously attract positive attention!

My author’s talk will talk about what led me to write my book, what happened when I got comfortable being single again, what happened in one of my “deadly dates” and how meeting someone in real life is becoming more of a challenge today when we can “hide” online. It will also be focusing on my personal solution to this dilemma!

Posted in Author event, Event, Shepherds Bush Library | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Boom! Free Comic Book Day arrives once again…

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May – tomorrow – it is a day where new titles are released and shops offer a giveaway of free issues – our libraries are taking part, courtesy of those lovely folks at Forbidden Planet

The day is perfect for both collector fanatics and those who are picking up a comic for the first time.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries and don’t forget to ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out. You’ll discover characters from the DC Universe including Superhero girls, Doctor Who, plus look out for the exclusive DC Nation!

Why not also check out the graphic novel selection? or the new release DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Hammersmith & Fulham library has to offer?

Posted in Books | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Read and Relax reading groups in LBHF

This is guest blog post from Liz Ison. She works for The Reader and looks after the Read and Relax reading groups that run in LBHF. Over to Liz to tell us more…

Do you love stories, poems and great literature?

Would you like to find out what shared reading is?

Did you know that there are many shared reading groups going on in your local neighbourhood running every week?

Meet The Reader, an organisation that is passionate about the power of reading together.
We at The Reader are the pioneers of Shared Reading. The volunteer Reader Leaders who run our weekly groups, bring people together to read great literature aloud.

Groups are open to all, readers and non-readers alike. Come along and listen to stories and poems read aloud. It’s an opportunity to read and talk together in a friendly and relaxing environment. Free refreshments provided!

Our shared reading groups have been running locally for many years bringing shared reading to the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. We work in libraries, community centres and other organisations spreading the joy of shared reading.

Here are what our group members have to say about shared reading:

“I’ve felt really happy since the session with you —bought myself some flowers the next day…and went for a long walk while listening to music— all in one day. Our happy thoughts trigger happy chemicals in our brain.” Aysha

“An anchor during the week”

“It always makes me feel more fulfilled than the other days”

  • 95 % look forward to the group as an important event in the week
  • *84% think the reading session makes them feel better*

Here are some groups to try in our local libraries:

Fulham Library, Tuesdays 10.30am – 12 noon

Hammersmith Library, Tuesdays 1.45pm – 3.15pm

Avonmore Library, Wednesdays 10.30am -12 noon

Shepherds Bush Library, Wednesdays 2pm – 3.30pm

We look forward to welcoming you to a group soon. To find other shared reading groups in your area you can contact:

Erin at or call 07483 972 020

Liz at or call 07807 106 815

More information is on the The Reader website too.


* 2017 Reader evaluation data for Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea shared reading groups)

Posted in Avonmore Library, bibliotherapy, Books, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Library | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Local suffragettes

This year marks 100 years since Parliament passed The Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave the vote to women over 30 who were property owners or married to a property owner.  It took another 10 years for all men and women to be given the same voting rights at the age of 21.

In the early 1900s there were two main groups campaigning for women’s suffrage.  There were the suffragists in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), led by Millicent Fawcett, who used peaceful methods such as writing letters and organising petitions.  The other group were the suffragettes who were prepared to use any means including illegal and violent acts against property.  The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), formed by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903, was the leading organisation.

Dora Montefiore

Dora Montefiore lived at Clare Lodge, 32 Upper Mall, Hammersmith.  She moved there in 1892 when her son began attending St Paul’s School. She was wealthy, articulate and a widow and her outrage at the legal disabilities suffered by a widowed mother, for example that she had no automatic right to guardianship of her children, mixed with the rising suffrage movement led her to a life of political activism.

The house in Hammersmith was surrounded by a wall and could be reached only through an arched doorway. For six weeks in 1906, Montefiore and her maid barricaded themselves into the house.  She believed that “taxation without representation is tyranny”, she declined to pay her income tax and refused entry to the bailiffs.  Mrs Montefiore used to address the frequent crowds from an upstairs window.

The “siege of Hammersmith” as the newspapers called it lasted 6 weeks and the house became the centre of a series of demonstrations led by Miss Annis Kenney and Miss Theresa Billington.

Miss Billington

The Daily Graphic covered the story on the 25 May with the title “Petticoat Politics: Amusing Scenes at Hammersmith”. The siege ended on the 3 July when the bailiffs forcibly entered using a crowbar to open the garden gate and confiscated silver and furniture to the value owed.

Siege Clark Hall

Annie Cobden-Sanderson

Anne Cobden married the barrister Thomas Sanderson on 5th August 1882 and they lived at River House, Upper Mall, Hammersmith They both held progressive political opinions and adopted the surname Cobden-Sanderson. She became good friends with William Morris and joined his Hammersmith Socialist Society.

Anne and Thomas established the Doves Press in Hammersmith and this became an important part of the Arts and Crafts Movement. They lived there until Thomas died in 1922 and Anne in 1926.

Illustrated House

In October 1906, Dora Montefiore, Annie Cobden- Sanderson, Miss Kenney and Miss Billington were among 10 members of the WSPU charged with using “threatening and abusive words and behaviour…at Old Palace Yard, Westminster”.  In court Annie said: “We have talked so much for the Cause now let us suffer for it… I am a law breaker because I want to be a law maker.” They were ordered to each find surety of £10 for six months good behaviour or be imprisoned for two months. All declined to pay and were sent to Holloway.

Her friends were shocked and quick to leap to her defence, mainly through The Times letter page.  George Bernard Shaw wrote that she was “one of nicest women in England suffering from the coarsest indignity” of being in Holloway Prison. Millicent Fawcett wrote, despite not always agreeing with her activities, complaining about the press reports of her behaviour in court: “I have known Mrs Cobden-Sanderson for 30 years. I was not in the police court on Wednesday when she was before the magistrate, but I find it absolutely impossible to believe that she bit, or scratched, or screamed, or behaved otherwise than like the refined lady she is.”

Mr Cobden-Sanderson wrote in November saying, “The suffragists claim first, equal rights with men, and then equal treatment: not the equal treatment minus the rights.” He described the conditions the women endured in prison and relayed his wife’s only request, that the Home Secretary allow all prisoners and captives the use of pen, paper and ink.

Annie was arrested again in August 1909 while picketing the door of No 10 Downing Street in order to present a petition to Asquith.

Mrs Depard Mrs Sanderson


A branch of the WSPU was opened at 95 Fulham Road in April 1907.  Mrs Flora Drummond, described in the West London Observer as the “Fulham lady who has the coveted distinction of being the woman to get nearest the Speaker’s chair at Westminster”, presided.  Miss Isa Gardner became the hon. sec. of the branch.

Woman with Baby

This is one of the suffragette photographs taken by Christina Broom, reputedly the first woman press photographer, who lived and worked in Fulham.  She photographed a number of suffragette events between 1908 and World War I although she appears to have been interested in the suffragette movement for its commercial value rather than from any political ideology. The Fulham & Hammersmith Archives have her rowing pictures, but her suffragette prints, including this one, belong to the London Museum, who have kindly allowed me to reproduce it here.

Sir William Bull

Although obviously not a suffragette, it is worth mentioning that the local Hammersmith MP, Sir William Bull, was a vocal member of the Conservative and Unionist Women’s Franchise Association.


Sir William Bull

He was publicly supportive of the campaign for better treatment in prison and both Sylvia Pankhurst and Christabel Pankhurst thanked him for paying a visit to militant WSPU organiser Vera Wentworth in Holloway Prison in 1908. He supported the efforts of Willoughby Dickinson MP who was one of the most dedicated campaigners for women’s suffrage in the House of Commons and regularly tried introduce legislation.  He used to joke that although he supported his constituents, Dora Montefiore and Annie Cobden-Sanderson, they did not seem to support him!

Fiona Fowler
Hammersmith & Fulham, Local Studies and Archives volunteer

Posted in Archives & local studies, local history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baby’s first library card – inspiring a lifelong love of reading

It’s never too early to start reading to your baby – so all newborn babies in Hammersmith & Fulham are being given their very own library card to help inspire the love of reading. This new scheme will see parents automatically given a library card when they register their baby’s birth.

Twins Shilah and Gabrielle were the first babies to get their library cards when their mum, Chenelle came to register them last week.

Twins Shilah and Gabrielle with their mum, Chenelle and older sister, Amaia.

Why is this?

Well, reading aloud is one of the simplest and most important activities you can do with your new baby.  Newborns are calmed by the rhythmic sounds of lullabies and nursery rhymes and, as your baby grows, they will delight in turning the pages of books and looking at the pictures.

Regular reading also:

  • Increases vocabulary, curiosity and memory
  • Creates positive associations with books and reading
  • Builds listening skills
  • Improves academic achievement at school
  • Helps babies bond with parents and carers.

On your first trip to one of our libraries with this card, please speak to a member of staff who will activate it for you.

What else can we offer?

Baby bounce and rhyme time sessions

It’s never too early to bring your baby along to a library and new mums and dads are encouraged to come along to our free weekly rhyme time and baby bounce sessions. For more details about these sessions, see info on under 5s sessions

Check out our children’s centres

Our children’s centres support families with children aged five or under. Services include stay and play sessions, baby massage, sleep workshops and much more. For more details, see info on our children’s centres or you can contact the Family Information Service on 0845 313 3933 or email

If this has inspired you to join the library, there’s more info on our Membership and joining page





Posted in Children | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment