Introducing Our Heritage Officer, Gaverne Bennett

I work as the Heritage and Black History officer sitting under the Library team with the determination to continue the great work I could already see be seen being done in Hammersmith and Fulham borough. Attending a meeting with leading councillors in the borough in November, indicated to me how much of a forward-looking borough Hammersmith & Fulham is, how seriously black history was being taken and making sure every resident feel seen was to them.

Working with groups within the borough that actually organised the great events I saw had happened, the education department (especially Jan Parnell, Keith Fernandes, Rosie Peters, Shanee Naidoo, and Sally Brooks to name a few), the Race Equality working group( LBHF Staff members Waheeda Soomro, Peter Parkin, Neema Lyimo, and Yvonne Okiyo), Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team(Yvonne and Charis), libraries (Steve, Val, Mandy, Ann, Claire, Cathy and Richard especially) , local schools, and community based organisations like Nubian Life only confirmed that impression.

My role is to make the heritage and history of the borough more easily accessible for borough residents and in general.

This means I deliver educational programs for schools and adults alike. I also do outreach work which involves working with various groups across the borough e.g. older people and young people.

I work closely with various stakeholders and organisations the borough to realise the objectives described above e.g. elected members, officers across the borough, equality leads, libraries, residents, community groups.

One of the core values of Hammersmith & Fulham council is to involve residents more, as well as make sure that all the great history and present work in the borough can be seen and understood easily. So I worked to create a special ‘Celebrating Hammersmith & Fulham: a borough like no other’ chart and online timeline as an ‘one stop shop’ infographic. In this way everyone can see all the great things happening across the borough.

Heritage Trails

During this time I completed the sterling work done by the Events Team and many others, especially Colin Salmon, Catherine Field, on the Black History trail. This was an initiative from the councillors to celebrate the world shaping Black History of the borough that has seen figures such as Bob Marley, Fela Akuti, Mahamta Ghandhi, Amy and Marcus Garvey, Labi Siffre as residents in Hammersmith & Fulham. Four trails were developed in all, the first of which, the first of which can be seen here: Heritage trail 1 | LBHF

I created a timeline detailing Hammersmith & Fulham’s history from 3000BCE where the earliest evidence of Neolithic peoples were starting to populate the Fulham riverside area was discovered until current day. Highlights include the opening of the Westfield shopping centre, Riverside studios and the Chelsea Football Club.

I managed to convince the British Library to loan books out to the borough so pupils can visit locations close by to see them. For example, the first edition of Mary Seacoles memoirs, an illustrious resident, who is buried in the borough and was featured as a Black History character for the month of February – Black historical figure spotlight | LBHF –  (her burial place is also part of a trail). Similar opportunities are being explored with the British Museum.

I completed a Black Literature timeline for The British Library. The timeline explores the history of Black literature and writing in Britain in 50 texts. It includes works by writers living and working in Britain, as well as titles first published here and authored by people who were born in former British colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Americas.

The aim is to feature more residents great work in the future and encourage residents to lead as this chart is updated at regular intervals. Celebrating H&F: A borough like no other | LBHF

I also collaborate with different teams across the council to deliver events across the borough that promote all dimensions of the boroughs rich heritage.

Major events in Hammersmith & Fulham

Race Equality Week

I worked with the Race Equality Working Group to produce a series of events for  Race Equality week which ran from 7-11 January. Amongst an impressive array of speakers, the Heritage department managed to get  Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Yemisi Iiesanmi, and Professor Kehinde Andrews (who runs the only Black history university department in the UK at Birmingham university) to speak.

Events included

Why race equality matters
by Professor Kehinde Andrews
Monday 7 February

Race equality within the Metropolitan Police
by Superintendent Paul Wilson
Tuesday 8 February

Hearing from an LGBTQ+ perspective
by Yemisi Ilesanmi
Wednesday 9 February

My life experience in the NHS
by Dame Elizabeth Nneka Anionwu (OBE)
Friday 11 February

Everyone who attended the sessions agreed they were inspiring and eye opening in turn.

Alex Wheatle Interview

I arranged an interview with award winning writer Alex Wheatle. Alex Wheatle has written 17 books to date including Brixton Rock, Liccle Bit, Cane Warriors and his most recent, Kemosha of the Caribbean. Alex’s life had been featured on Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series on BBC.
In the interview, Alex tells us about his career and how An Inspector Calls and Robin Hood were his favourite books in school and what he is reading these days.

International Women’s Day

International Women’s day happens in March and the theme for 2022 was Break the Bias. The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team organised lots of amazing events including an International Women’s SLT Panel Event and Equalities Lunch and Learn. I helped arrange a panel discussion, chaired by Cllr Fennimore(H&F Deputy Leader) with acclaimed speaker Angela Saini, author and TV presenter, along with Dame Elizabeth Aniuonwu.

The event took place on Tuesday 8 March at 7pm in an online session over Teams. Angela spoke on her books Inferior and Superior and her experience of being a woman in STEM. Dame Elizabeth discussed her life : growing up in her town, working in nursing, sickle-cell patients and her books Mixed Blessings from a Cambridge Union and Dreams From My Mother.

Women in STEM for Institution of Engineering and Technology

Local Schools

I produced content that can be sued in local school and by teachers, or for anyone who wishes to learn more about their local heritage. These include History lessons, and monthly Black History characters. I also worked closely with a number of schools and teachers to give talks and other events.

I participated in the borough’s presenting sessions “The power of representation” in January (organised by Jan Parnell and Keith Fernandes) which explored how diversity can equip our children for future challenges giving them pride in the place they live.

I invited Rosie Peters, Deputy Head, from Wendell Park school to speak at a British Museum event I had been invited to speak at titled, “Surfacing African and African Diaspora stories’. Rosie spoke so eloquently for her school, for the great work being done in the borough, that the Museum said it would happy to work more closely with schools on various projects bringing history to life for children in Hammersmith & Fulham.

I spoke at a Primary school event for History and Geography teachers where they made aware of all the resources that are available from the Heritage office (including lesson plans aimed at involving children in trails and so on). The idea of how the Queens Platinum Jubilee could be an opportunity to discuss life in Britain over the last 70 years was discussed and aligned this with the various celebrations across the borough.

I also gave a talk to Fulham Cross Academy at an outstanding event organised by Vishanee Naidoo and Sally Brooks. At the meeting made staff aware of all the great opportunities to make pupils proud of the rich heritage of the borough and in doing so increase their confidence.

I made contact with all the football clubs in the borough Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers  to tie in their activities with local residents, schools and support local initiatives more closely.

Honouring our Resident’s Achievements

The unveiling of a plaque to the memory of notable, Esther Bruce, took place on the 10 March with Nubian Life residents attending. Esther’s autobiography, The Sun Shone on Our Side of the Street: Aunt Esther’s Story – was the first biography to chronicle the life of a working-class Black, British woman.

One of the most outstanding examples of resident self organisation is typified by the work of the Nubian Life centre. Working with its Executive director, Jazz Browne, an interview was arranged with a passenger of the Empire Windrush, Jack Crosby. He spoke of his experience coming over to the UK and had many positive messages for the younger generations in Hammersmith & Fulham which will be available soon.

Black Literature timetime for the British Library

Looking Towards the Future

In addition, acclaimed writers Michael Rosen, Salena Godden have agreed to speak in the borough about their work at some point in the future. The film maker Steve McQueen also said he is open to the idea of speaking in Hammersmith & Fulham.

I also planning a series of online Black History Talks based on my infographic timelines for the The Guardian ,
The British Library and The British Museum .

On 28th  April at 19:00 I will be talking about the work I have done to make Hammersmith & Fulham great history more accessible to all, as well as my work for  The Guardian, British Library, British Museum, and National Gallery. You can get a ticket here.

Watch this space…

Gaverne Bennett,
LBHF Heritage and Black History Officer

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The Heritage & Black History office has been busy…

Celebrating Hammersmith and Fulham Link to Full Size image

The Heritage & Black History office have created lots of material to help you learn about the heritage and the people of Hammersmith and Fulham.

H&F history timeline

Which details the occupation of Hammersmith and Fulham from 3000 BCE to current time

Heritage trails

We have put out the first of 3 heritage trails. The  first series takes you through 9 different iconic locations in Hammersmith and Fulham

Monthly Black History figures

Every Month we will highlight a famous person who worked or lived in Hammersmith and Fulham and had an impact on Black History.

History lessons for children

We aim to publish lesson plans every 2 weeks or so for primary schools that teachers can use directly in class

History lessons for young people and adults

We aim to have lessons for adults every 2 weeks that you can watch or material you can download.

Celebrating Hammersmith and Fulham – Link to Full Size image


They also created lots of exciting events and talks with prolific authors as well as highlighting some of Hammersmith and Fulham’s most notable residents.  Please have a look at our Eventbrite for upcoming events

Chat with Alex Wheatle

5 January 2022

Alex Wheatle MBE is a British novelist and has written many critically acclaimed books including  Brixton Rock, East of Acre Lane, Liccle Bit and  Kemosha of the Caribbean. Wheatle’s books have been translated into French, Italian, Urdu, Welsh, German, and Japanese.
Alex Wheatle lives in London. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2008

Chat with Professor Kehinde Andrews

Monday 7 February

For Race Equality Week 7-13th February 2022, we spoke to Kehinde Nkosi Andrews over Teams about his career and his work.

Prof. Andrews is a British academic and author specialising in Black Studies. He is the director of the Centre for Critical Social Research, founder of the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity, and co-chair of the UK Black Studies Association.
Andrews is the first Black Studies professor in the UK and led the establishment of the first Black Studies programme in Europe at Birmingham City University.

Esther Bruce Blue Plaque unveiling

10 March 2022

The unveiling of a Blue Plaque to the memory of notable, Esther Bruce, who was born in Fulham, one of the first Black Londoners to be born in Britain has been honoured with a blue plaque near Charing Cross Hospital. The event was attended by  Nubian Life residents.

Chat with Dame Elizabeth Aniuonwu and Angela Saini

Tue, 8 March 2022 at 19:00 – 20:30

For International Women’s week in March organised by the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, we heard from acclaimed speaker Angela Saini, author and TV presenter, to come along and speak on Breaking the bias along with Dame Elizabeth Aniuonwu.
See a review here

Chat with BBC TV presenter Professor David Olusoga

24 March 2022 at 19:00 – 20:30

Chat with Professor David Olusoga about where next for Black History and diversity in Hammersmith & Fulham.
You can obtain tickets here: Chat with David Olusoga

Chat with Gaverne Bennett

28  April  2022 at 19:00 – 20:30

Gaverne Bennett  will be talking about the work  he has done for helping to make Hammersmith & Fulham great history more accessible to all as well as my work for  The Guardian, British Library, British Museum, CIWEM  and The Institution of Engineering and Technology.
You can obtain tickets here: Chat With Gaverne Bennett

Bringing Our Community Together

Our Heritage officer Gaverne Bennett has contacted lots of community groups including :

Football Clubs

All the football clubs in the borough – Chelsea, Fulham and Queens Park Rangers
To tie in their activities with local residents, schools and support local initiatives more closely.

Nubian Life centre

Working with its Executive director, Jazz Browne, an interview was arranged with a passenger of the Empire Windrush, Jack Crosby. He spoke of his experience coming over to the UK and had many positive messages for the younger generations in Hammersmith & Fulham.

Local Schools

The Heritage office also worked closely with schools in the borough presenting sessions “The power of representation” in January.

Fulham Cross Academy

Spoke at an event to students of Fulham Cross academy about the rich heritage of the borough.

Race Equality Working Group

Worked  with this Hammersmith and Fulham council group to present events for Race Equality week( 7-11 January). Speakers included Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Yemisi Iiesanmi, and Professor Kehinde Andrews (who runs the only Black history university department in the UK at Birmingham university)

Posted in Askew Road Library, Author event, Avonmore Library, Event, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, Shepherds Bush Library, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Jessy Emma Scott’s Journal

In 1964 I came across an old journal in Thorps second hand bookshop at the top of Guildford High Street. I found it in a pile of books in the corridor waiting to be sorted out. It cost me 7/6d. 

To begin with the journal was a bit of a puzzle, the feather pen script was difficult to read, but eventually over a period of time I managed to decipher it and the clue to where it came from was in title on the cover, Ravenscourt.

The journal (number V) covered a period from December 1843 to August 1844 and belonged to a young lady called Jessy Emma Scott. She lived with her family on an estate near Hammersmith, London called Ravenscourt. When the family eventually sold the estate to the local council in 1887, the grounds became Ravenscourt Park and the house became Hammersmith’s first public library.

Over the years the journal has been mostly kept in a drawer but now and again I’ve done a little bit more research on the text. I have had the journal for so long now that I feel I’ve got to know Jessy quite well. So when lockdown happened I thought I’d do her justice and put the journal on the web so other people can see it as well. I really enjoyed doing this.

There are three things I’d love to know, I’d like to see a picture of her. There must be a sketch or a photograph about somewhere. Also what made her wait until she was 50 years old to get married? And thirdly I wonder if any of her other journals have survived?

Barrie Compton

This is the link to the journal online:

And the family tree

The journal begins December 1843 with the family visiting Brighton.

Ravenscourt House from the white bridge, July 1831. Probably drawn by Jessy’s sister Lucy or Marianne. Picture credit: Hammersmith and Fulham Archives Centre


Ravenscourt House 1859    Picture credit: Hammersmith and Fulham Archives Centre.

I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if the house could be rebuilt on the same site?

Ravenscourt Park – Picture from a postcard c1910 

London and its environs 1841

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Improving the H&F Library Service

We are excited to tell you about work which is under way to improve our library service! 

Joining The Libraries Consortium

From 1 June 2022 H&F Libraries will be joining The Libraries Consortium, a group of twenty one public library authorities.  As a library customer, you will benefit from a wider range of stock (including e-books and audio books) once the new system is operational, and you will also be able to use PCs and wifi in any of the libraries in the consortium. Details of participating library authorities in The Libraries Consortium are available here

We need to implement a new Library Management System across Hammersmith & Fulham Libraries when we join The Libraries Consortium, so that we can share stock and resources together and give you access to a much wider range of items.  The Library Management System is the database which helps us to manage our library stock and holds basic customer information that enables us to deliver our services. 

From 1 June 2022, when you are searching for items in our catalogue, you will find stock from all the libraries in The Libraries Consortium, giving you access to over 7 million items. You will be able to reserve items as normal and ask for them to be delivered to your local branch for you to collect. 

You will also have access to:

To get ready for this change, we are asking for your help, in order to make our transition as smooth as possible as we move to this improved service.  Some changes are happening from 1st March, as we separate from our existing partnership with the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and Westminster City Council.  Our staff team are on hand to help you during this time.

How will this change affect me?

For Hammersmith & Fulham customers, from 1st March you will still have full access to all H&F Libraries stock.  However, you will no longer be able to borrow/reserve items from RBKC or WCC as we start the process of joining a much larger partnership. Until 31st May 2022 Hammersmith &Fulham library members will continue to be able to access Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster libraries to borrow books in person and to access Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster libraries to use Wifi and PCs.

From 1st March to 31 May 2022

To help us with the move, we need you to return any books belonging to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea or Westminster City Council before the end of May 2022.  You will need to look at the barcode label on your book to see who owns it.  If your barcode number starts 38005 then it is Hammersmith & Fulham Libraries stock and you can return it to us as normal. 

Please take books with a barcode number beginning 30116 or 30117 to any library which is part of the RBKC, WCC or Hammersmith and Fulham service.  

Coming Up

To continue to access services from RBKC or WCC from 1st June, you will need to request a new library card from them.  This is easy to do by calling into a library branch. You will not need to provide ID or proof of address unless your address has changed.

Our ordering process, loan periods, online reference library and the number of books you can borrow will not change when we move over to the new service, but nearer the transfer date you may need to take small steps such as updating your web browser bookmarks to the new catalogue address, and we will write to you again with more information about this nearer the time. 

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the changes but look forward to being able to offer a greatly improved library service.  We are committed to helping you with any questions during this period, so if you need any assistance, please ask in branch or by email.

Posted in Askew Road Library, Avonmore Library, eaudiobooks, ebooks, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, libraries, Online Resources, Shepherds Bush Library, Stock | Leave a comment

Christmas Cards

At this time of year many of us are busy noting what Christmas Cards we received. This is a small collection of cards kept in my family for over one hundred years.

We tend to think that our distant relatives did not travel too far but the following card proves differently. In 1911 my great grandfather Albert Milstead and his two teenage sons Albert and William sailed to Australia in search of gold. This Christmas card was sent by Albert to his son Arthur who was seven at the time.

Apparently they returned home from Australia broke and family hearsay suggest that what little gold they found had been stolen from their tent.

Shortly afterwards the family moved from Bromley in Kent to Gayford Road in Shepherd’s Bush. I have no idea why they decided to move 17 miles across London. However I do know that my grandfather Harry Baggett also made the same journey and worked for London Transport at Chiswick Works.

1914 saw the start of WW1 and Princess Mary sent small embossed brass Christmas boxes to all those serving in the armed forces. The contents of the boxes varied but most contained an ounce of tobacco or a packet of cigarettes, chocolate or sweets and a Christmas card. My grandfather’s box and the contents have long since gone but this is the Christmas card he saved, complete with tea stains.

Exactly a week before his 21st biryhday in July 1917, and whilst on leave from the front, Harry married my grandmother in St Saviour’s Church in Cobbold Road, Shepherd’s Bush. Albert her father and Albert her brother were the two witnesses.

My grandmother’s brother Tom travelled extensively with his regiment during WW1. He sent his mother the following letter card from India. Although it was postmarked in May it was possibly intended to be a Christmas card.

At some stage Tom travelled to South Africa and in December 1917 sent this letter card to his mother.

Armistice was on 11 November 1918 and Tom appears to be back in India. He sent this Christmas card to my grandmother for Christmas:

And this grainy scratched photo shows the Christmas cake they shared in India:

Meanwhile in 1918 this photo card was sent by Albert junior to his brother in law Harry (my grandfather).

Albert rose to Second Lieutenant in the London Regiment and in the last week of the war won the Military Cross. This appeared in the London Gazette on 10 December 1919:

For great gallantry whilst leading his men through a heavy artillery and machine-gun barrage in the attack on Bebourquiaux on 4th November, 1918. He volunteered to go forward and take the ridge 400 yards in front of the River Annelle. He successfully dislodged the enemy machine guns from their strong position on the ridge and established his platoon in a dominating battle position, remaining there until relieved by another company eight hours later.

Albert remained in Shepherd’s Bush and from 1938 until he died in 1976 he lived in Collingbourne Road.

Finally this undated silk Christmas card was sent to my grandmother’s sister Emily by her brother Will. Although it has lots of foxing and the cardboard mount is stained the silk embroidery is still vibrant.


Peter Trott, Local Studies & Archives Volunteer

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The Swinging Sixties

I dedicate this blog to my friend Colin Levy who passed away on 12 October
after a short battle with cancer.
May he rest in peace.

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space and for me it was then that science fiction became fact. His historic flight was just six weeks after my eleventh birthday and around six months later I started at Christopher Wren Secondary Modern School. In many ways that summer was the beginning of my ‘Swinging Sixties’.

Internationally the early 1960s were very eventful with the building of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of President John F Kennedy. In the UK there was the Great Train Robbery, Winston Churchill died, the Aberfan School disaster and England won the World Cup.

Closer to home 1964 saw the first episode of Steptoe and Son who lived at the fictitious address of Oil Drum Lane, Shepherd’s Bush. The first episodes were filmed at the BBC Studios in Lime Grove before moving to the Television Centre in Wood Lane. Most of the outside locations were filmed in the roads around Notting Hill and Norland Gardens but some were shot locally, including Wormholt Road, St Luke’s Church and the White City Stadium.

In August 1966 Braybrook Street witnessed the brutal murders of Police Sergeant Christopher Head, Constable David Wombwell and Constable Geoffrey Fox. People came out in their hundreds and stood in the pouring rain to see the funeral cortege arrive for the service at St Stephen’s Church, directly opposite the Police Station.

Family copy of the Imbercourier magazine (this photo was taken from the Police Station)

A few months later Wormwood Scrubs Prison was in the news when Russian spy George Blake escaped. I was out on my early morning paper round and witnessed the police activity following the overnight escape. In March 1967, Third Division Queen’s Park Rangers won the League Cup final against First Division West Bromwich Albion.

The 1950s had seen the rise in popularity of Rock and Roll but in 1962 The Beatles debut single ‘Love me do’ was released which was the start of ‘Beatlemania’. Local boy Roger Daltrey was born in Hammersmith Hospital 1944. In his early years he lived in Percy Road and went to Victoria School in Becklow Road. At the age of 15 he was expelled from Acton County Grammar School and around that time joined The Detours skiffle group. By 1964 the group had evolved into The Who.

The Detours at the White Hart Acton in 1963 Photo courtesy of Irish Jack
The Detours at the White Hart Acton in 1963. Photo courtesy of Irish Jack

By this time my brother was already working and had bought a Dansette record player. With our limited budget we often bought cheap ex juke box records from a stall in Shepherd’s Bush Market. Main stream radio was slow to react to the demand for 24/7 pop music and in 1964 pirate radio stations London and Caroline began transmitting non-stop pop music from ships moored off the Essex coast. At that time my only money came from my paper round and my friend Colin earnt his money on a pink paraffin delivery round. Small pocket transistor radios had become affordable and we both bought ones that were small enough to fit in our shirt top pockets.

Although we constantly listened to pop music we were desperate to see live performances. We had no money to pay for expensive show tickets so we found ways to see them for free. In the school holidays we attended live lunchtime radio broadcasts, although it did mean we had to travel into central London. One favourite location was the BBC Playhouse Theatre in Craven Street where I remember seeing The Animals. We occasionally went to the BBC Paris Studios in Lower Regent Street but it was a small venue and more difficult to get in. We saw one memorable show where The Seekers performed live.

Of course we really didn’t need to travel far as the BBC were right on our doorstep. The BBC studios in Lime Grove broadcast Top of the Pops live but unfortunately for the majority of us it was impossible to get tickets.

Reverse of ticket showing the BBC locations

The BBC Centre in Wood Lane broadcast some live evening shows and also regularly recorded shows. You had to write in and wait a couple of weeks for an allocation of two tickets to arrive in the post. We did get tickets for a few shows and I remember seeing the famous Pan’s People dance. It’s hard to believe now but the security was very lax at that time. You had to show your tickets at the front gates but then walked unescorted to the studio entrance. I remember after one show Colin and I didn’t leave with the rest of the audience but walked around the Centre and grounds unchallenged.

By far the easiest place to get into was the BBC Theatre on Shepherd’s Bush Green. Initially we wrote in for tickets for the most popular shows. Once we had our tickets we always arrived very early to ensure getting seats in the first row of the theatre. However, we soon discovered that there were always two queues outside; one for ticket holders and one for people without tickets. The reason was that the BBC always wanted to ensure the theatre was completely full for every show. On most visits we didn’t have tickets so we always made sure we were at the front of the non-ticket queue to ensure we got in.

Front of ticket for the BBC Theatre

We became regulars at the Theatre to see shows such as The Frost Report, The Billy Cotton Band Show and the Al Read Show. The Frost Report actually launched the television careers of John Cleese, Ronnie Barker, and Ronnie Corbett. On our way to one of his shows we actually bumped into David Frost getting out of his car in Pennard Road. We chatted to him and when he found out we didn’t have tickets he pulled out a single ticket from his jacket pocket and wrote on it admit two. One of our favourite shows was Gadzooks as every show featured at least one top singer or group. Unfortunately it only ran from February to September 1965.

During school holidays we often hung around the stage door in the mornings as we knew that stars arrived for rehearsals ahead of the evening show. I remember seeing the singer Kathy Kirby several times as she had her own weekly show. One morning we started chatting to a group of slightly older teenagers unloading their battered van. We had no idea who they were but asked them for their autographs anyway. They signed a publicity card for us and it turned out that they were an up and coming group called The Small Faces.

Although I started work in 1967 I never earnt enough money to buy tickets to see any of the big stars perform in concert. However, in the last year of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ an older Dutch pen friend came over to stay and took me to see The Beach Boys at the Hammersmith Odeon.

My 1969 programme

My interest in space from the start of the decade continued throughout the sixties and in fact I chose space travel for my school project. Then in July 1969 I was glued to the television to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon. My ‘Swinging Sixties’ ended with a move from my first job in Earl’s Court to a new job working in ‘The City’.

By Peter Trott
Hammersmith & Fulham Local Studies and Archives volunteer

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The School Year (1950s and 1960s): On little or no money

The post war and baby boomer years were pretty tough for many Shepherds Bush families. Money was tight and younger children would often wear hand-me-down clothes. Sometimes both parents worked, or the father would have to do extra work. Neighbours often helped each other out. Needless to say there was not much spare money around.

Initially I did not get any pocket money but sometimes on the way home from Ellerslie Road School we stopped at the sweet shop for 4 or 8 farthing chews or 2 ounces of loose sweets. But naturally as I got older I wanted some money in my pocket and I tried different ways to get some. I would offer to run errands for the man who lived downstairs, or my mother, or my grandmother who lived close by. If I was lucky I would be given some of the change from the shop. My Nan was a widow and was struggling herself but her brother-in-law visited periodically and between visits he saved all his pennies and halfpennies for us.

However, I soon learnt that here were other ways to get money. I looked for discarded beer and pop bottles that I could take to the shop to get the deposit back. Surprisingly, at that time, there was an amazing array of vending machines for chewing gum, chocolate bars, boxes of sweets, cartons of milk and cigarettes. So whenever I passed a machine I always checked the reject coin slots and change dispensers for coins. The old red telephone boxes also had coin machines; once someone put their money in they had to press Button A to be connected or Button B to get their money back for an unanswered call. So I always pressed Button B in the hope that someone had rushed off without taking their money back.

Telephone box coin machine

But without doubt the best money making time was the weeks leading up to bonfire night. I would make a ‘Guy’ and set up on the Uxbridge Road where there were plenty of local shops. Within two hundred yards stood four pubs; the Princess Adelaide, the Coningham Arms, the British Queen and the Princess Victoria. There were always plenty of people passing and the men going in and out of the pubs were often quite generous. Several neighbours on our road pooled their fireworks to spread the cost which meant that most of my ‘pennies for the Guy’ could be saved to spend on other things.

My favourite ‘Guy’ pitch was just to the right of the Handy Store which was between the British Queen and the Princess Adelaide pubs.

Sometimes we made the most of circumstances and the exceptionally hard winter of 1962/1963 was a good example. There had been very heavy snow and due to three months of prolonged cold temperatures ice and snow was still on the ground. Armed with a shovels and brooms a small group of us went door to door offering to clear snow. Between us we earnt quite a lot of money.

Some children on the White City Estate had perfected the art of car minding on QPR match days or dog racing nights. A combination of kindness and fear of getting their car damaged meant that drivers paid the children to watch their cars. We tried it ourselves one match day but it was quite hard work. We constantly ran up and down South Africa Road looking for cars arriving and asking the driver ‘can we look after your car mister?’ We were quite conscientious and stayed in the road throughout the match watching the cars but we realised that most of the White City kids had gone off to do other things. At the end of the match we had to run up and down the road looking for the returning drivers. Some would quickly drive off but if you were lucky and caught them they would give you some change.

My friend Colin, who I met at Christopher Wren Secondary Modern School, had an ingenious money making scheme when he was at junior school. With the aid of an old pram he went door to door collecting old newspapers which he then sold to a local scrap dealer. In our early teens the employment laws were very lax and we could easily work for money. Colin worked on a paraffin delivery round but I opted for a morning paper round. Newspaper deliveries were very popular and every newsagent employed several paper boys and girls. I worked for my local newsagents run by the Venables family and I was paid around 12 shillings for six mornings work. We all looked forward to Christmas as we got a share from the Christmas Tips Box that was kept on the shop counter. As I had the longest and heaviest round one year I decided it would be much more lucrative to knock on all my customer’s doors to wish them a Merry Christmas. I did collect a very large number of tips but afterwards I got a stern telling off from the boss.

Venables the newsagents is in the centre of this photo

Occasionally I worked the odd Saturday at Wyatts the local butchers. One Christmas I spent the majority of my time in the basement plucking chickens and turkeys, removing giblets and cutting off the claws and heads. It was quite dark and so cold that periodically I had to hold my hands close to the small bulkhead light to get some feeling back. After that experience I never went back!

S C Wyatt the butchers – with the canopy

Around that time new employment laws were introduced regarding part time jobs for teenage schoolchildren. The following Christmas, after filling out all the necessary paperwork, I got a seasonal Saturday job in a small Tesco’s store in Acton High Street. It was my first ‘official’ job working alongside a group of full time employees and although it was quite hard work I enjoyed the experience.

A couple of my friends left school at the age of 15 but most left at 16. I had already sat my GCE O Levels but I stayed on to retake a couple due shortly after my 17th birthday. Just before I took my exams I was interviewed and accepted for a job in the Design Office at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. I knew that I would be expected to pay something towards my keep at home but at long last I would be earning a good regular weekly wage.

By Peter Trott
Hammersmith & Fulham Local Studies and Archives volunteer

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In the grounds of Fulham Palace

The Gentle Author, who writes for Spitalfields Life, has very kindly given us permission to share his recent piece on walking around the grounds at Fulham Palace.

You leave Putney Bridge Station, cross the road, enter the park by the river and go through a gate in a high wall to find yourself in a beautiful vegetable garden with an elaborate tudor gate. Beyond the tudor gate lies Fulham Palace, presenting an implacable classically-proportioned facade to you across a wide expanse of lawn bordered by tall old trees. You dare to walk across the grass and sneak around to the back of the stately home where you discover a massive tudor gateway with ancient doors, leading to a courtyard with a fountain dancing and a grand entrance where Queen Elizabeth I once walked in. It was only a short walk from the tube but already you are in another world.

For over a thousand years the Bishops of London lived here until 1975 when it was handed over to the public. But even when Bishop Waldhere (693-c.705) acquired Fulham Manor around the year 700, it was just the most recent dwelling upon a site beside the Thames that had already been in constant habitation since Neolithic times. Our own St Dunstan, who built the first church in Stepney in 952, became Bishop of London in 957 and lived here. By 1392, a document recorded the great ditch that enclosed the thirty-six acres of Britain’s largest medieval moated dwelling.

Time has accreted innumerable layers and the visitor encounters a rich palimpsest of history, here at one of London’s earliest powerhouses. You stand in the tudor courtyard admiring its rich diamond-patterned brickwork and the lofty tower entrance, all girded with a fragrant border of lavender at this time of year. Behind this sits the Georgian extension, presenting another face to the wide lawn. Yet even this addition evolved from Palladian in 1752 to Strawberry Hill Gothick in 1766, before losing its fanciful crenellations and towers devised by Stiff Leadbetter to arrive at a piously austere elevation, which it maintains to this day, in 1818.

Among the ecclesiastical incumbents were a number of botanically-inclined bishops whose legacy lives on in the grounds, manifest in noteworthy trees and the restored glasshouses where exotic fruits were grown for presentation to the monarch. In the sixteenth century, Bishop Grindal (1559-1570) sent grapes annually to Elizabeth I, and “The vines at Fulham were of that goodness and perfection beyond others” wrote John Strype. As Head of the Church in the American Colonies, Bishop Henry Compton (1675-1753), sent missionaries to collect seeds and cuttings and, in his thirty-eight tenure, he cultivated a greater variety of trees and shrubs than had previously been seen in any garden in England – including the first magnolia in Europe.

At this time of year, the newly-planted walled garden proposes the focus of popular attention with its lush vegetable beds interwoven with cosmos, nasturtiums, sweet peas and french marigolds. A magnificent wisteria of more than a century’s growth shelters an intricate knot garden facing a curved glasshouse, following the line of a mellow old wall, where cucumber, melons and tomatoes and aubergines are ripening.

The place is a sheer wonder and a rare peaceful green refuge at the heart of the city – and everyone can visit for free .

Cucumbers in the glasshouse

Melon in the glasshouse

Five hundred year old Holme Oak

Coachman’s House by William Butterfield

Lodge House in the Gothick style believed to have been designed by Lady Hooley c. 1815

Tudor buildings in the foreground with nineteenth century additions towards the rear.

Sixteenth century gate with original oak doors

The courtyard entrance

Looking back to the fountain

Entrance to the medieval hall where Elizabeth I dined

Chapel by William Butterfield

Tudor gables

All Saints, Fulham seen from the walled garden

Freshly harvested carrots and vegetable marrows

Ancient yews preside at All Saints Fulham

Visit Fulham Palace website for opening times and details of events – admission is free

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Celebrating Volunteer Week, 1-7 June 2020

Volunteers are becoming a more and more important part of public library life. They help staff to deliver many regular events and activities such as reading groups, writing groups, coffee mornings and homework clubs that enhance the library service.

Volunteers also benefit from gaining experience working with the public, and students can volunteer as part of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

Askew Road and Fulham Library volunteers

In addition at Hammersmith Library our three “Library Champions,” Joana, Pollyanna and Sawsan are gaining experience in all aspects of working in a library environment.

Spotlight on a volunteer: Pollyanna

Since starting at Hammersmith Library, a couple of years ago Pollyanna has really blossomed into the Library Champion role. She started off shelving books, and helping the odd customer, before progressing to delivering her own regular IT help sessions.

With this under her belt, Pollyanna also started attending the library’s monthly creative writing group, where she has shown a natural gift for writing. She began to come up with writing prompts and exercises for the group, eventually regularly taking the lead at the sessions. In addition to this, she took part in the 2018 City of Stories writing competition which was run across several London boroughs; her entry “The Whistle” was highly commended, and the prize was to have her work published in an anthology!

Creative Writing Group, Hammersmith Library

Ever creative, Pollyanna has added another string to her bow, and now also helps to run one of our children’s’ Art and Craft clubs. This involves her coming up with new craft activities each week, preparing the event and helping to organise other volunteers. Then most importantly she enthusiastically joins in with the fun/mayhem when the children arrive!

Pollyanna says, “volunteering in the library is a great opportunity to grow and interact with all different kinds of people in a rewarding and supportive environment.”

She continues to grow in confidence and to take on new challenges; who knows what will be next?

Spotlight on a volunteer: Joana


I volunteer at Hammersmith Library on Saturday mornings. I am studying Information and Library Studies and hope to work in this sector one day.

The team has been very welcoming and patient in teaching me the ropes. Dealing with the public can be challenging at times but I find it rewarding too, and would prefer to work in a public library because it plays such an important role in the community and touches so many lives.



So, a very big Thank You to all our wonderful library volunteers. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

The staff at LBHF Libraries & Archives

Posted in Askew Road Library, Avonmore Library, Fulham Library, Hammersmith Library, libraries, Shepherds Bush Library, Uncategorized, volunteering, Volunteers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Free Access to Ancestry Online

LBHF Library staff member, Karen Blackwell, explains how easy it is to use this free online resource

This is really something to get excited about! Ancestry (library edition), usually only available in our library buildings, is now accessible from home during the lockdown!

Anyone who’s ever tried looking into their family history will know it’s a lengthy project (although apart from asking your family where Great Uncle Alfred was buried, there’s no rush – the records aren’t going anywhere!). So it’s an ideal opportunity to dip your toe into the water and see if you get bitten by the genealogy bug! I’ve done a little research before, but a long time ago when many of the records here weren’t online or easily available.

Passenger lists, Liverpool to Saint John, New Brunswick, March 1912

Access is easy – just log in to your library account on the catalogue search page, click on the ancestry button on the top right of the page, and you’re ready to start! There are census records, birth marriage & death records, parish records, military records and more, in an easy to search format that gives you helpful links to other sources for the person you’re looking for.

William Morris with family and servants in the 1881 England Census

Most are downloadable – you can have them emailed to you when you’re searching in the library, or just save onto your computer. I’d recommend renaming the files when you’ve saved them, so you know which ones you’ve got, also to save the original document if you can – just in case there’s been a mistake when it was transcribed. The originals are beautiful in themselves – handwritten in copperplate – and give you a sense of the time they were written. Each document can give you a little bit more of the puzzle, you might even find photos in the lists of soldiers killed in the first world war.

Naval Record for John Gendall, WW1

Make sure you have a note of exact names and birth years as you go, as it’s easy to get carried away and find out lots about someone who doesn’t fit into your family tree! There are handy downloadable forms to store your family tree and document where your information came from so you can check back if you need to.

Newgate prison calendar, 1798

Try it now at:

Karen Blackwell
** All images courtesy of The National Archives, licensed under The Open Government Licence v3.0


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