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.
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.