Twickenham’s glory days. Are they behind us, do they still lie ahead? Or are they actually right now? Whatever the answer, we predict that in years to come, with the benefit of hindsight, we’ll look back with a sense of nostalgia at how we imagined the future would turn out. But before we do that, we thought a quick tour of Twickenham’s past would be in order. We don’t mean the obvious signs such as historic buildings but rather the ones that got away – old adverts, road signs referring to a long dead borough and even fire hydrant covers. Below is a selection. It’s almost certainly not complete but feel free to point us to more of Twickenham’s ‘ghost signs’ and we’ll add them in.
Lipton sign – York Street
Twickenham Borough Council – fire hydrant
Changing signs, changing times. Beef tea & chicken broth on Staines Road
The recent Foodies Festival at Marble Hill House drew in punters from around the area keen to experience a wide range of stalls, watch cookery demonstrations, listen to some live music and generally stuff their faces full of food and drink. Not a bad idea if you ask us. It was a good event. But of course it was an English Bank Holiday weekend and that usually means one thing: rain. OK, so it didn’t rain for the duration but there was plenty of it. The result? Getting all those vehicles off the park left the grass in front of the house looking more like farm tracks than a suburban park – and we should know, we went to the countryside once.
Basically, a large area is a massive mess. We’re talking mud, ruts and the odd splattering of engine oil. We’re sure it will be sorted out between English Heritage and the festival organisers but it’s likely to involve some quite significant costs. The planning statement for the event indicated that it would return for a second year but we can’t see either English Heritage or park users being particularly keen on that unless something changes, and not just the weather. English Heritage’s ‘Design and Access’ statement in their El Brute submission said, “The principal physical impacts on the site are the wear and tear of vehicles during installation and dismantling, mitigated by the use of a track-way. Reinstatement of any damage to the grounds will take place immediately after the event”. Well, there was a trackway but it was clearly inadequate for the heavy rain / heavy vehicle combination over the weekend. Continue reading
Surely something’s gone a bit awry here?
Confused sense of identity
It’s not simply that the Borough of Twickenham no longer exists, that’s not the issue, it’s the combination of a reasonably new sign making reference to a borough which only existed from 1926 to 1965, being used to give a sense of history and tradition to a row of 18th century houses. Eh? In short, the borough status referred to on the sign came 200 years after the construction of the row. Perhaps the residents of Montpelier Row were keen to hark back to the glory days of the mid twentieth century. Or maybe, just maybe, the very original signs for Montpelier Row anticipated the creation of the borough in order to save on the cost of new signs at some future date. Here at twickerati
HQ we love a bit of history and tradition but in this case it seems to have got a bit confused. Ah well, what do we know?
Calm down, it doesn’t exist and there’s not even a plan. But apart from those small obstacles it does sound good doesn’t it? A brief tweet last night (n.b. all tweets are brief) from @julie_twickers sparked a flurry of retweets and responses. What did she say? Well, she simply said: “Wouldn’t it be great to have a cinema back in Twickenham? How could we progress this idea? @twickerati @twickenhamlocal @AmyDyduch”. Did we say ‘flurry’ of retweets? It was more like a bloody frenzy. A Twickenham-esque restrained frenzy, perhaps.
So could it work? Would it work? And where would it be? And who would go there? And why? Enough already! You’ve probably got the idea by now. A multiplex? That’s not going to happen. An arty little affair showing the better class of films just like Richmond Filmhouse? Well, that’s a maybe because Richmond Filmhouse is no more – it’s the Curzon Richmond these days, part of a small chain. How about something like the Olympic Cinema in Barnes showing films with a trendy cafe bar to boot? Sounds good but would it be sustainable in Twickenham? Perhaps.
And here’s a little Twickenham Christmas something to read aloud as you sit by the fire on Christmas Eve.
TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE TWICKMAS
or “A Visit From Saint Nicholas”
not by Clement Clarke Moore
Twas the night before Twickmas and all through the town,
Not a creature was stirring, the shops had closed down,
No stockings were hung on the chimneys for fear,
That El Brute’s famous leader, Lord True, would appear.
El Brute and Nick True planned to make Twickenham better,
Sending plans out to all in a ‘village’ newsletter,
The Twickenham Action Plan, known as the TWAP,
Contained fine aspirations but also some crap.
Shop local? Definitely! There’s a lot of twitter traffic these days about ‘shop local’. There have been a few comments on this site too. It’s a good thing, right? Probably. Mostly.
Of course what most of the shop local brigade mean is ‘shop at independent local stores’. Tesco, bad. Independent local grocer, good. It’s a laudable sentiment. Or rather, most people think it’s a great idea until it gets to 7.00pm and you need a crisp lettuce, a loaf of bread that’s still within its sell-by date or something easy to stick in the oven. And then the convenience, the opening hours and range of products at the UK’s ‘favourite’ grocer comes into its own. And of course it’s not just Tesco versus the people. Twickenham now has a local version of Sainsbury’s, will soon have a Morrisons and, if the rumours are true, an Aldi. Why are these ‘locals’ here? Money, obviously. The internet has put paid to the rise and rise of the edge of town hypermarket. Why wander round an aircraft hangar of a supermarket enduring an experience that’s about as entertaining as a domestic argument in Ikea (and yes, we do mean the Croydon one not the Wembley one) when you could have your weekly shop delivered right to your door? Why go to Big Tesco to buy a television or a microwave when you can get it cheaper from Luxembourg’s very own internet giant, Amazon?
Oh, alright then.
Even if you don’t live by it, go running or walk the dog by it, it’s worth getting down to the river early on a bright spring morning. Although we don’t usually say things like this… it’s actually quite uplifting.
Spring morning, Orleans Gardens
We get through a lot of words on this site. No sooner has the latest delivery arrived at the twickerati warehouse near Heathrow than we’re out and about spreading them around the site. Do any of them make sense? Individually yes, but once we start stitching them together into what we like to call ‘sentences’ then the meaning can sometimes be lost. We reckoned that summarising what it all means is best done through the medium of a ‘word cloud’ and so we went onto the Wordle site and cooked up this thing. It shows the most commonly used words on twickerati at the moment. It also shows we love local Twickenham stuff. Beyond that? Not a lot, but it’s quite fun.
Twickerati “Wordle” graphic
* Make your own at Wordle
Strawberry Hill is up in arms, the natives with their strange customs are revolting and beautiful maidens are fainting at the thought of Horace Walpole spinning in his grave. Is it the plot of a recently discovered gothic novel? No, it’s the latest edition of the Strawberry Hill Residents Association’s newsletter. It majors on a boundary dispute that’s rocking the Hill and putting other territorial conflicts around the world into the shade. The SHRA is outraged that Twickenham has launched a vicious land grab on parts of Strawberry Hill under the auspices of Richmond Council’s ‘village plans’.