On the Kilburn question

On the tiring daily commute from the hands of one of its anoraked distributors to the train seat/street floor/bin where it will end its journey, the London Evening Standard is dispassionately fondled by tens of thousands of Londoners. And if you were one of its bleary-eyed, inky-fingered readers yesterday evening, you may have already spotted that the property section’s ‘Spotlight’ was shining brightly on our very own Kilburn and Queen’s Park.

The article mentions that property prices in Kilburn are 25% lower than in neighbouring Queen’s Park, and several assertions are made, by the paper and the consulted estate agents alike, that are undeniably true: the area is family-friendly, ever-gentrifying and on the up (read ‘increasingly expensive’).

But one comment in particular, from one Alan Isaacs, of the Queen’s Park Partnership, caught my attention. Alan made the somewhat ominous prediction that, “within a few years, Kilburn won’t exist. It’ll either be Queen’s Park or West Hampstead.” Now, although it is a matter of some consensus that the borders between Kilburn and its slightly posher neighbours are blurring, with the area’s traditional communities being replaced by legions of young professionals, this is, nonetheless, fighting talk from Alan. But there are those who would proudly defend Kilburn, and seek to fight fire with fire.

West Hampstead, I mean East Kilburn, I mean... I don't know what I mean anymore!

Last month, a Facebook campaign to rename West Hampstead and Queen’s Park stations East Kilburn and West Kilburn respectively, did the rounds on the blog- and tweetospheres. This proposal supposedly makes sense, geographically speaking, and is backed-up by a ten-point manifesto, which contains such gems as, ‘7. This will make residents of Queens Park (West Kilburn) and West Hampstead (East Kilburn) feel more “edgy”.’ And ‘9. Having got used to their new West Kilburn or East Kilburn address Kilburn High Road will not be as scary to our more delicate neighbours.’

People got talking, support started building. On March 31, the Ham & High reported that the Facebook group’s numbers had ‘already swelled to 287 members.’ But maybe it’s time that everyone held their horses, proverbial or otherwise. Bearing in mind that 5,000 signatures are needed before TFL will even consider a proposal to rename a station, and that the group has now, a few weeks on, ‘already swelled’ to an almighty 385 members, there is some way to go before the campaign – or ‘bit of fun’ as it should probably be labelled – succeeds in its stated mission.

One thing’s for certain (or at least possible): the battle is being fiercely fought by both sides; on the one hand, the strong arm of tradition, backed by estate agents, with their insatiable thirst for high ceilings and cash-money. On the other, a handful of graduates armed with laptops and a little too much time on their hands. Oh well, at least they tried.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “On the Kilburn question

  1. Mike

    Having talked to a lot of local residents over the past few months (as a Labour council candidate for Kilburn on the Camden side), I think there is still a real resonance for a lot of them when you talk about living in Kilburn. Having the High Road as an spine for the quite long, narrow patch may help maintain a clear definition in people’s minds.

    Perhaps that’s a generational thing, and in a few decades’ time the estate agent’s aspiration of absorbing Kilburn inton WH or QP may well come about. I think that would be a shame. Kilburn has a place in London’s history which may not suit the marketing plans of those facilitating the upwardly mobile, but I wouldn’t want it to be airbrushed from our maps. Part of that job, imho, is to support the KHR to help it develop as a place where people go to shop, eat and drink. (The number of trendy bars, restaurants, clubs and refurbished pubs is a real change from the High Road as it was when I moved to the area a decade ago – a good thing, on balance).

    There should be room in NW6 for Kilburn as well as QP & WH (and bits of Brondesbury, Cricklewood, Fortune Green, and Kensal Rise…)!

  2. That’s kind of weird. Why would West hampstead and Queen’s Parkers want to be kilburnites?
    Although I’m officially in West Hampstead ( I think) I prefer to say Kilburn because it’s my nearest tube, and it’s got an inner city cool to it…

    • I guess there are those who are worried that the ‘inner city cool’ you speak of could be lost forever, if the ‘cutesy village chic’ of West Hampstead and Queen’s Park encroach on the ‘hood.
      Not going to happen any time soon though – there’s life in the old girl yet!

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