Public – or is it?

The Guardian is launching a new database of privatised public spaces in Britain, amid fears about creeping privatisation, in which streets and open spaces are being redefined as private land after redevelopment.

The project will look at open spaces, from streets and city squares to village greens, beaches and riverbanks, where there’s a reasonable expectation that the space might be public. Readers are being asked to look at redeveloped spaces in their area, find out as much detail as possible, and add details to an online notice board.

While the obvious fear is a land grab of the public realm by private companies, the realities of a site can be complex. Private investment can revive run-down public areas and sometimes spaces were also not previously genuinely public. The project aims to map developments and find out more.

For more information visit


Community Uncategorized

Its nearly festival time

Palmer Green Festival

A Palmers Green temple to vinyl

In April 2011, rock journalist Pete Paphides and St Etienne’s Bob Stanley went on a three day exploration of the UK’s temples to vinyl, culminating in Palmers Green’s Record Detective Agency. They met owner Derek Burbage and heard a touching story about a gig at a Winchmore Hill barbecue by Martha Reeves

Shops Uncategorized

Palmers Green institution to close after 94 years

C A Phillips art shop and picture framers is finally to close after 94 years in the same family.

Founder Arthur Phillips (c) Vernon Phillips

The business was founded by Arthur  Phillips when he was demobilised after the Great War in 1918. He specialised in picture framing and gradually expanded the business to incorporate artists materials.

After the Second World War, Clifford Phillips – the C A in the business name – took over, continuing much as before but adding graphics products to cater for the advertising boom.

Clifford Phillips (c) Vernon Phillips

Vernon Phillips entered the business during the 70’s and since then the company has specialised in artist’s materials, picture framing, restoration of oil paintings and antique frames, as well as stocking graphic art supplies, craft materials and technical drawing products.

W H Smith’s aside, only funeral director Seawards has remained continually in business – and at the same location  – for as long.

Current owner Vernon Phillips

Vernon Phillips had hoped that the business would continue after his retirement and the lease had been up for sale for 2 years.  Unfortunately there have been no takers, and C A Phillips is due to close its doors for the last time in June.  The care and expert advice of Vernon and his team will be sadly missed.

All images reproduced by kind permission of Vernon Phillips


Mob rule in Palmers Green

In 1914 a Suffragette meeting was held at the Triangle, to local indignation. The principle speaker, Mr Goulden, (a brother of Mrs Pankhurst and the husband of Mrs Goulden, the headmistress at Hazelwood School), was rescued from angry residents by police, and escorted home to Radcliffe Road, where protestors proceeded to pelt his house with eggs. Ruby Galili takes up the story on the History Files website:

Art and Culture Uncategorized

Celebrating Stevie Smith, Palmers Green’s poet


1 Avondale, the home of poet Stevie Smith until 1971

The suburbs are not traditionally full of poets and artists.   Perhaps Palmers Green, though, is an exception, as home to at least two great writers: Paul Scott and Stevie Smith

Stevie Smith lived in the same house in Palmers Green, 1 Avondale, from the age of four until her death in 1971 at the age of 69 – sixty five years. Her suburban surroundings and the experience of living in Palmers Green connected profoundly with her writing.

In 2002 Palmers Green hosted a poetry festival, under the title 10 days with Stevie Smith, complete with its own ‘fringe’ (a gent by the name of Peter Brown playing a song inspired by the poem Avondale on the harmonium who met festival goers at the station). An English Heritage blue plaque was unveiled in her memory by poet laureate Andrew Motion in 2005.

Since then, though, and particularly with the demise of the Palmers Green Bookshop, all seems to have gone quiet in remembering and celebrating Stevie. Until now. On Saturday 30 June, poets Anne Bryan and Katherine Gallagher will be holding a day’s workshop at St John’s Parish Centre, Palmers Green, under the title Not waving by drowing: not drowning but waving – the enigma of Stevie Smith.

The day will be in two parts – a writing workshop from 10.30 am- 1 pm, followed by, from 2 – 4.30,  a talk ‘Who was Stevie?’ plus questions and readings of poems.

Writing workshop £16, ( £13 conc.) Afternoon: £12 (£10 concs.) Full day – £28 (£23 concs.). Booking essential.

For further information, please telephone 020 8881 1418  web site