Sixty years ago next year, in December 1954, rock and roll hit the UK charts for the first time. By Bill Haley and the Comets, Shake, Rattle and Roll was a cover of Big Joe Turner’s song, entering the Christmas charts to nestle alongside postwar jazz ballads by the likes of Frank Sinatra and the ragtime of Winifred Attwell’s Lets Have a Party (that year’s Christmas no 1).
Its successor Rock Around The Clock became one of the biggest selling single of the 1950s – and the film Blackboard Jungle in which it was featured became notorious despite cuts from the censors. In Elephant and Castle ‘teddy boys’ danced in the aisles and ripped up seats, a spectacle that would soon be repeated in cinemas all over the country, to the alarm of politicians and the media. Music, and what it meant to be a teenager in the UK, would never be the same again. Or, at least that’s what we are told.
We are looking for people in the area who remember the arrival of rock and roll for a new oral history project launching this summer, culminating in an exhibition, publication or website for the 60th anniversary next year.
Titled Rock and Roll Enfield, the project will be focusing in particular on what it was like to live in Palmers Green, Southgate, Winchmore Hill and Enfield in those days.
And now we need your help!
Do you remember the first days of rock and roll? How did it impact on you and your family? What did you wear and where did you go out to meet your friends? If you have memories to share, or would be interested in being interviewed, or have photographs or memorabilia from that era that you would be glad to share, we’d love to hear from you. Please email us at email@example.com
Last month’s Open Studios and Art Trail weekend, and the recent opening of the Space Art Gallery have more than proved that Palmers Green, Southgate and Winchmore Hill are experiencing something of an upsurge in the creative arts. But though it can be a wonderful way to earn a living, the day to day life of a creative can sometimes be a solitary existence.
That’s all starting to change with the emergence of Creative Exchange, a new collective supporting designers, craftspeople and artists in the area. Though many members are based locally, the collective welcomes members from further afield.
“The aim is to create a mutually supportive group for sole practitioners, with meetings, special interest talks and social gatherings to help creatives grow their network and put them in touch with other local businesses and services, ” says organiser Dan Maier.
Member Lorna Doyan agrees: “being part of Creative Exchange gives local artists a life line, where we can share knowledge and experience and network with fellow creatives. I have been so impressed with the talent, I’m proud to part of this bourgeoning creative community.”
Creative Exchange currently runs two events a year, the Open Studios and Art Trail event, and, new for November, the Designer Craft & Art Fair. Scheduled for 17 November, the venue is the Grade II listed St Monica’s Parish Centre, and early bird bookings are currently being taken until the end of the month.
The idea for a fair has grown organically from the Open Studios and Arts Trail event, explains Dan. “We are determined to put Southgate, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill on the map as a destination for high quality design, craft and art. The demand for us to host another show of work was so high from visitors that we decided to run a second event.”
The Creative Exchange is not just about artists however, but about exploring the possibilities and opportunities that art and creativity can bring to an area as a force for regeneration. Just a few days before the Open Studios and Art Trail, the collective were given a stunning opportunity – to create a pop up exhibition in the Grade II listed TFL building vacated by Blockbusters a few months ago.
Helen Lee, a watercolour artist from Muswell Hill who organised the Creative Exchange pop-up exhibition at 5 days’ notice, said “our members jumped at the opportunity to show in such a prestigious building in a great location … Blockbusters had been another eyesore on the high street for months and we feel we’ve contributed to the landscape by staging our work there and giving locals something more interesting to look at en route to the tube and shops. It is an opportunity for us to show the wider public what we do and make a positive impact in the community.” Indeed, local traders commented on the increased footfall and sense of buzz during Open Studios weekend.
A display of local artists work, put together for last weekend’s Southgate Festival, and most of it for sale, is currently on show at the former Blockbusters building during July and August.
For more information about Creative Exchange, and early bird deals to join the Exchange or to exhibit at the Fair in November, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Open Studios and Creative Exchange on Facebook. Early bird offers are available until 31 July.
A letter sent to local residents last week has sparked alarm about the Council’s plans for the future of Grovelands Park.
The letter, from Gary Barnes, Assistant Director of Regeneration, Leisure and Libraries, states that the Council are planning to ‘invest in’ and ‘redevelop’ the ancient park. The intention is to conduct an historic parks survey and develop a management plan – both of which are standard good practice in parks management – but also to explore the options for introducing a new two form entry primary school and improve sports facilities. The intention is also to ‘open up’ the park, including lands owned by Thames Water though it is unclear what this opening up might mean.
Mr Barnes states that plans are at an early stage and Enfield therefore feel that it is the right time to talk to residents and stakeholders and explain their plans. If you want to take part, you don’t have much notice though – the meeting is tomorrow 18 July, at 4 in the public restaurant at Southgate College. What do you mean “but I’m at work”?
It was a month of highs and lows, and not only in the temperature.
The success story of the month surely goes to the Palmers Greenery team, who learned that they have the go-ahead to create a new community café in Broomfield Park. There has been a huge amount of work to get this far, and its great to see their efforts being rewarded and a new community amenity to look forward to. Further down south, we also heard that regeneration of Ally Pally was to be one of 6 major projects across the UK to receive Heritage Lottery Fund support.
The Grovelands Park Centenary Celebrations will surely be talked about for years to come – the biggest gathering I have seen in all my time in the area, and full of colour, fun and a great musical line up, including the legendary Tornados of Telstar fame. Many thanks to Colin Younger for his photos of the day, which adorn this round-up.
Finally, the sad saga of the Poundland Bansky seems to have been concluded with its private sale at an auction in London, at which it fetched over three quarters of a million pounds. That’s 750,000 times the price of any article purchasable in Poundland. The mural is being taken to join a private collection of Banksy’s work in the USA – though Banksy is reported to have said that once a work is removed from its location its no longer a Banksy.
There is plenty to look forward to in June, starting this weekend with the Palmers Green Shopping Festival, our annual celebration of all that Palmers Green has to offer. Unlike many areas, we still have a reasonably thriving high street, with new businesses coming in, but like everywhere, the high street is at risk, and the shape of what it has to offer could change radically if we don’t support our local traders. Hazelwood Road will be closed on Saturday to host a day of entertainment, including the wonderful SOUP ukulele orchestra, local singers and Greek Dancing from Hazelwood School. There will be street performers, stalls, ice cream and a bouncy castle, and shops all over Palmers Green will be running activities and promotions.
Devonshire Road has long taken the lead in showing what can be done with a little bit of community spirit. Residents are currently exploring setting up a monthly ‘play in the street’ day, and this weekend they have come up with the fabulous idea of a draw on the pavement day. They also have a great Facebook page– come on the rest of Palmers Green, keep up! While you are out and about, why not also pop in to the St John’s Church Flower festival including work by local children, all centred around the theme All Things Bright and Beautiful.
An exciting new venue has been announced for this weekend’s Open Studios and Art Trail. The building, on Southgate Circus and formerly occupied by Blockbusters, is part of Charles Holden’s station complex built in the 1930s, and is set to provide a stunning showcase for the weekend.
Open Studios connects a love of the area with a love of the creative arts, says organiser Dan Maier.
“Our aim is to connect the public with creatives in the area and show the sheer quality and variety of work which is going on on our doorsteps and in our community. At the same time, we want to show the potential of our high streets, and the way in which art and local creativity could act as a regenerator.
We only have one weekend a year, but we hope the effects will reach far beyond and encourage people to support local businesses – not just those who work in arts and crafts and local workshops, but all kinds of local businesses – cafes, shops, galleries and a range of other venues.”
Over the last two weeks the team has been working with shops and businesses in the area to create window displays, with stunning results – worth a wander round Palmers Green, Southgate and Winchmore Hill in itself to explore. This year, thanks to an Arts Council grant, the weekend also includes a number of free workshops, alongside the opportunity to view work by over 30 artists, designers and crafts people, and a chance to buy from them direct. Why not download the guide to plan your weekend?
Meanwhile, as we write, the Open Studios team are completing work on a special installation at the new venue in Southgate, focusing on their mission to make our high streets more vibrant and stop the rot of empty shops. Handover of keys was yesterday morning, and the installation needs to be ready by 10.30 on Saturday. It’s a tough call, but you know that somehow they will do it, and what’s more, that it will be amazing.
The Grovelands Park centenary celebrations continue this bank holiday weekend with three walks lead by City of London guide and storyteller Joe Studman (Jaywalks) in association with the Southgate District Civic Trust.
The weekend kicks off on Saturday with a spooky foray into the Dark Side of Winchmore Hill, including stories of old railway workers, black dogs and sinister doings in the woods. Meet at Winchmore Hill Station at 8.30.
On Sunday, Joe will be regaling fellow walkers with some nuggets from the history of Palmers Green including Billy Biscuit of Cullands Grove (the alleged coiner of the phrase ‘readin, riting and rithmatic’), John Donnithorne Taylor’s one man green belt policy, and Palmers Green’s links with the Spencer family of Cannonbury Tower including a touching story of kindness from Elizabeth 1. The walk starts at 2.30 from Palmers Green Station.
Joe’s final walk of the weekend tells the story of Southgate, including its gradual emergence from two villages, and some of the characters who have lived there and shaped its history – the owner of the first motorcar in Southgate, the lawyer who played with matches and got burnt, and the Walkers and how they shaped the area. Meet at Southgate Tube at 2.30 on Bank Holiday Monday.
Tickets are £5 – visit the Jaywalks site for further information, or just turn up on the day.
A highly entertaining way of spending the Bank Holiday.