January 13, 2008

LEG North Kensington with Andy Duncan

Most London Explorer Group (LEG) walks are led by Dr. Andy Duncan, author of Walking London, Secret London and other London walking guides. There are similarities to London Original Walks except Andy's audiences and locales are more local / less touristy - think Brits vs. tourists and North Kensington vs. Jack The Ripper. Andy also e-mails you directions to the first stopping point in case you are late.

We met at Ladbroke grove and walked to Powis Square Gardens, at one time one of the Peter (born Perec) Rachman slums. Peter Rachman was a slumlord who, by a variety of nefarious means, evicted existing tenants and replaced them with Afro-Caribe immigrants who were forced to live in smaller spaces at much higher rents. The living conditions were deplorable but other landlords in London refused to rent to "people of colour".

On the same square is the Tabernacle, owned by the city and site of a series of unsuccessful council enterprises. Also located here is a church whose builders ran out of money before they could finish the tower. The area is now gentrified, expensive and near to Portobello Market and the famous Notting Hill Carnival.

This photo includes Trellick Tower, the Muslim Cultural Centre and Westway Association Greenspace. The Westbourne Studios, skateboard park, and low-rise housing are just out of view. Andy spent much of the tour explaining the fascinating history of the Grade II listed Trellick tower and the Westway Association - a story of the mistakes and successes of trying to provide suitable housing and green-space for the economically disadvantaged.

The Emslie Horniman Pleasance is an acre of land containing a listed garden and a Voysey cottage. Unfortunately, the garden was vandalised so many times that it had to be put behind bars for its protection.

We walked along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal to admire Elvis. Longboats are tied up along the Kensal Green Cemetary where dignitaries such as the Brunels, Fanny Kemble and Trollope are buried.

We were also shown the Paddington Train Crash memorial and site of the Rillington murders.

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