Tuesday, 25 September 2012

More North Pole News

As a follow up to my last post, the North Pole is currently decorated with these signs following a gathering of protesters on Saturday. I'm slightly surprised that the banners were still there on Monday afternoon, but perhaps Tesco were not aware that a protest had taken place.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The North Pole Goes West

Yet another local bites the dust!

The North Pole is/was a Victorian public house located on the corner of Latimer Rd and North Pole Rd W10. There has been a pub on this site since about 1839 when the Globe was built near the north west corner of the Hippodrome racecourse.

Later renamed the North Pole, the original single story building was replaced by the current three story building in 1892. Until the 1860's this area and was mostly given over to market gardens but the failure of the Hippodrome in 1842, which led to the expansion of the Ladbroke Estate, and also the construction of the West London Railway inevitably changed its character.

The Pole has had its ups and downs over the years. It was even relaunched as the New North Pole at one time after a particularly bad period. However, more recently it had settled down and become a decent and trouble free pub.
Sadly, the lease has now been taken over by Tesco who intend to open it as a Metro mini market. I was surprised to find out that no planning permission is required for change of use from a public house to a retail store, however they do need permission to change the signage. That application is now with the council and will no doubt be granted without too much trouble.
There is quite a lot of resistance locally to the change of use, with particular concern for the future of the established businesses in North Pole Rd.
Pubs are closing at an alarming rate these days, so why have I picked this one to write about? I can't claim to be a regular but in a strange sort of way the Pole has always been a part of my life. I was born less than two minutes walk away and grew up only two or three minutes further away than that, and whereas the character of North Pole Rd has changed in recent years, it is still the place that my Mum sent me to buy a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. It is also the where I had my schoolboy jobs as a paper boy in Ellingtons news agent (now long gone) and later in Bowen & Williams chemist shop (now My Pharmacy), both of which are directly opposite the North Pole pub.
As a shopping street, North Pole Road is not big and it's not glamorous, but it has served the immediate needs of the locals for well over a hundred years and in all of that time the North Pole pub has been at the heart of it. Now, it seems, that is about to end for ever.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

When There's Something Strange........

...........in your neighbourhood.

As any rational person knows, the whole horoscope thing is complete nonsense (although other views on this subject are available!) but just as long as it is not taken too seriously it can't do any harm.........can it?

The entrance to 107 Cheapside is surrounded by the signs of the zodiac. Carved by John Skeaping in around 1955. I have no idea why they are there. I'd like to think that there is some mystery to them but I suspect that they are purely decorative. Anyway, nonsense or not, I quite like them and they are a slightly surprising thing to find on an office building in the City.

As well as recording this slightly quirky architectural detail, I took this photograph to illustrate a moan about one of the blights on the 21st Century cityscape. I mean, of course the warning sign. I accept that in this less than enlightened age we all need to be warned that it is advisable to look right (or left) before crossing the road, that it is not a good thing to drop your litter on the pavement, that it is only reasonable to clean up after your dog, that poisonous substances are not good for your health and that there is the "danger of death" should you chose to poke around in an electrical sub station. However, these signs are deeply unattractive, largely unread and, I suspect, are really there simply to prevent the "victims" from sueing the the "authorities". A sort of "I told you so" clause.

The ban on smoking in public and commercial premises has led to the unhappy sight of clusters of smokers gathering in the street to get their nicotine fix. This issue is dealt with in various ways. Some chose to corral their smokers in draughty and secluded shelters, like latter day lepers. Others hang those ugly, and usually overflowing, butt boxes outside their premises in the hope that their decorative and expensive planters won't be used as giant ash trays and then there are those that just put up no smoking signs in the hope that their smokers will move away and gather in front of someone else's property!

The management of 107 Cheapside have apparently chosen the latter method. I'm sure that it will help to keep the front of the building (and the planters) free of dog ends, but the signs are obtrusive and ugly.................and just as offensive as a carpet of ash and soggy filter tips.

It wasn't until I got home that I noticed what appear to be demonic eyes, like burning coals, deep within 107 Cheapside, glaring across the road at the church of St Mary-le-Bow. So, perhaps the original creators of this building did have a serious reason for the zodiac carvings. Maybe, just maybe, they knew that something malevolent lurked in the bowels of the building and were trying to warn us in a backhanded sort of way to look to the future. Of course, it could simply be a trick of the light and  slightly over active imagination but where's the fun in that?

Anyway, just in case there is somethin' weird an' it don't look good, it may well be worth giving some thought to who you gonna call!