Non-Existent Part Of Hampstead NW3?

TheLeeds

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I was just reading the Odd Bit of Road thread and it reminded me of something which may or may not have a rational explaination.

Many years ago, back in about 1984, I went to London to meet up with an old friend. Neither of us are from London, but he had a brother who was working up there, so he and his family were there one weekend visiting him. They met me in their car outside Waterloo station, then me and my old friend wandered off along the road, trying to decide where to go first. I seem to remember we had a look at a few places along Tottenham Court Road, then went to a bar near Harrods to spend our life savings on a sandwich.
In the afternoon, we went on the tube to Hampstead, walked out of the station and up the hill towards the Heath. My friend had a rough idea where he was, so we went to Parliament Hill and looked down on the surrounding landscape, trying to identify some of the taller buildings.

Anyway, onto the important part of this. At some stage, and I thought it was between Hampstead tube station and the Jack Straws Castle pub up near the heath, we went past an old building on the right as you go up the hill. It had a forecourt with space for about 5 or 6 cars, and parked there was an old Daimler 420 limousine, like the ones funeral directors use. I don't remember after all this time whether it looked a bit scruffy, as if it hadn't been used for a while, but I think it might have had a flat tyre on the front, as if it hadn't been used for a while. I'm also sure we went past this building with the forecourt and the old Daimler at least twice, as if we passed it as we went up Heath Street and then again on the way back down hill towards the tube station. The memory I have is that it was on the right as you go up hill towards the heath.

About 4 years ago, I asked my friend about this, but he said he didn't remember it. So I looked on Google Streetview and you've guessed it folks, I can't find the place at all. I've tried as many streets round there as I could, and I've not given up yet, maybe I was just looking in the wrong place, or maybe it's gone and had something else built there. Maybe it was never there, and it's somewhere else entirely. Hence my question. Can anyone remember a place like that in the early 80s, either on Heath Street, NW3, or somewhere else in that general area or anywhere ?
 

catseye

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The London of 1984 and the London that we see now on Google Streetview are almost completely different places. I lived (for a very short time) in a squat in an old warehouse in Docklands back at the end of the 70's, and if I went there now I would be completely unable to even find the general location, things have changed so much.

There were lots of abandoned and old looking places in the London I knew, but property prices have spiralled so much that every tiny bit of land has been developed now.
 

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As a matter of record, I’d like to say I’ve never been seen anywhere near Hampstead. Living Sarf of the Water, it was tough to get a cab but easy to get a tube or train.
 

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The London of 1984 and the London that we see now on Google Streetview are almost completely different places.
Can you not in effect go back in time on Google satellite , although not obviously on Streetview? Might give a clue.
 

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I was just reading the Odd Bit of Road thread and it reminded me of something which may or may not have a rational explaination.

Many years ago, back in about 1984, I went to London to meet up with an old friend. Neither of us are from London, but he had a brother who was working up there, so he and his family were there one weekend visiting him. They met me in their car outside Waterloo station, then me and my old friend wandered off along the road, trying to decide where to go first. I seem to remember we had a look at a few places along Tottenham Court Road, then went to a bar near Harrods to spend our life savings on a sandwich.
In the afternoon, we went on the tube to Hampstead, walked out of the station and up the hill towards the Heath. My friend had a rough idea where he was, so we went to Parliament Hill and looked down on the surrounding landscape, trying to identify some of the taller buildings.

Anyway, onto the important part of this. At some stage, and I thought it was between Hampstead tube station and the Jack Straws Castle pub up near the heath, we went past an old building on the right as you go up the hill. It had a forecourt with space for about 5 or 6 cars, and parked there was an old Daimler 420 limousine, like the ones funeral directors use. I don't remember after all this time whether it looked a bit scruffy, as if it hadn't been used for a while, but I think it might have had a flat tyre on the front, as if it hadn't been used for a while. I'm also sure we went past this building with the forecourt and the old Daimler at least twice, as if we passed it as we went up Heath Street and then again on the way back down hill towards the tube station. The memory I have is that it was on the right as you go up hill towards the heath.

About 4 years ago, I asked my friend about this, but he said he didn't remember it. So I looked on Google Streetview and you've guessed it folks, I can't find the place at all. I've tried as many streets round there as I could, and I've not given up yet, maybe I was just looking in the wrong place, or maybe it's gone and had something else built there. Maybe it was never there, and it's somewhere else entirely. Hence my question. Can anyone remember a place like that in the early 80s, either on Heath Street, NW3, or somewhere else in that general area or anywhere ?
I suspect that the building you saw wasn't on Heath St which is shops, then residential, then the Heath.

You mention you went to Parliament Hill. This is part of Hampstead Heath but not that close to Heath St - it's in the S.E. corner of the Heath, probably closer to Highgate than Hampstead.

The building you remember could've been around Highgate & not Hampstead.
 

Naughty_Felid

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I lived in London for a bit and even long-term residents would get locations mixed up. It's a very strange place to live.
 

Ogdred Weary

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This story puts me in mind of Reports of Certain Events in London by China Mieville, which takes the form of various decades worth of reports by a society that investigate streets which phase in and out of existence of their own accord across London.
 

IbisNibs

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From what I've heard of London, it must be a non-fiction book!
 

TheLeeds

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Thanks for all the help and suggestions. I have looked round Highgate on Streetview before, but I'll have another go, because there definitely are similarities. It's strange though, I was sure it was within a reasonable distance of Hampstead tube, but I've looked up and down all the roads which lead to there and there's nothing that even remotely looks like it could have been the place I saw. I don't know if I said in my initial post, I wondered if the building with the Daimler outside had at some time been used as a funeral directors. Is there any easy way to look up defunct funeral directors ?
 

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Are there any libraries or archives that might have old phone directories you could look at?
Maybe all that stuff is now tossed away--I used to have fun looking through phone books for old businesses I'd known in my youth.
 

stu neville

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It happens in many cities. I had to do a work-related visit to an area of Bristol I used to know very well (and less than five miles from where I live now) but in the ten years since I was last there the whole area looked entirely different. The roads were still the same, by and large, but many of the buildings were completely different with new little blocks and cul-de-sacs: had I been completely unfamiliar with the area I would never had guessed it was the same one, so that big a gap in London is bound to have seen an impact.
 

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The London of 1984 and the London that we see now on Google Streetview are almost completely different places. I lived (for a very short time) in a squat in an old warehouse in Docklands back at the end of the 70's, and if I went there now I would be completely unable to even find the general location, things have changed so much...
That's certainly true of somewhere like the Isle of Dogs, and places like the Olympic Park, and in regard to the wholesale destruction that accompanied the building of the Westway - but such apocalyptic development is not a universal thing, especially in the more traditionally well-heeled of areas out of the centre, like Hampstead. Of course, there’s always change, but nothing like on the sweeping scale of the Docklands.

Places like Crouch End, where I lived for a short while back in the very early 90's, when it was considered a dowdy backwater, and Bethnal Green, a couple of years later, before the artists moved in when and it was still a bit of a warzone, have certainly changed, but not so much in the fabric; there’s development, but both still feel very familiar all these years later. Leyton (a place I really did not like) has apparently changed a lot in atmosphere, but I very much doubt it has in basic appearance. A year or so ago I did a bit of a pilgrimage to all the places I'd stayed and lived in London going back to the 80's: Seven Sisters; Fulham Palace Road; Brixton; Catford; Cambridge Heath Road, etc. All had clearly seen change - but none was a foreign country to me.

Much of London's historical street plan is remarkably, and perhaps surprisingly, resilient. In fact, on a slight tangent, I seem to recall reading – I think in Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography – that in the case of one modern development in the City, planners actually reconstituted a medieval road plan that had been submerged under the post-war building rush. And, given their surroundings, many roads in central London - like, for example, Hanway Street (very useful for cutting the congested corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street) always leave me wondering how the hell they are still there.

I lived in London for a bit and even long-term residents would get locations mixed up. It's a very strange place to live.
This is something I've noticed a lot over the years, and I've often wondered if city dwellers in general, or Londoners in particular, mentally map their environment in a different way. Quite often I find that locals are a bit hopeless at directions once they are outside their direct environment, or if those directions are outside their usual framework (e.g. walking route instead of bus route).

This first really struck me when I was living in the East End at the time of the London Docklands Bombing. The tube was shut down and I needed to get into central London - I decided to walk, rather than close my day down but you’d think I’d paddled down the Orinoco, rather than walked for an hour and twenty minutes or so, given the response from some of the boys I worked with.

And I used to work with a guy from an old Holborn family – he knew Holborn, Soho, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia like the back of his hand, but the rest of London was a complete mystery to him: a collection of rarely visited islands joined up by the tube, with lots of unknowns in between. Again, not a universal truth - but I don't think it's a particularly uncommon one either.
 
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catseye

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That's certainly true of somewhere like the Isle of Dogs, and places like the Olympic Park, and in regard to the wholesale destruction that accompanied the building of the Westway - but such apocalyptic development is not a universal thing, especially in the more traditionally well-heeled of areas out of the centre, like Hampstead. Of course, there’s always change, but nothing like on the sweeping scale of the Docklands.

Places like Crouch End, where I lived for a short while back in the very early 90's, when it was considered a dowdy backwater, and Bethnal Green, a couple of years later, before the artists moved in and when it was a bit of a warzone, have certainly changed a lot in many ways, but not so much in the fabric; there’s development, but both still feel very familiar all these years later. Leyton (a place I really did not like) has apparently changed a lot in atmosphere, but I very much doubt it has in basic appearance. A year or so ago I did a bit of a pilgrimage to all the places I'd stayed and lived in London going back to the 80's: Seven Sisters; Fulham Palace Road; Brixton; Catford; Cambridge Heath Road, etc. All had clearly seen change - but none was a foreign country to me.

Much of London's historical street plan is remarkably, and perhaps surprisingly, resilient. (In fact, on a slight tangent, I seem to recall reading – I think in Peter Ackroyd’s London: The Biography – that in the case of one modern development in the City, planners actually reconstituted a medieval road plan that had been submerged under the post-war building rush). And, given their surroundings, many roads in central London - like, for example, Hanway Street (very useful for cutting the congested corner of Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street) always leave me wondering how the hell they are still there.



This is something I've noticed a lot over the years, and I've often wondered if city dwellers in general, or Londoners in particular, mentally map their environment in a different way. Quite often I find that locals are a bit hopeless at directions once they are outside their direct environment, or if those directions are outside their usual framework (e.g. walking route instead of bus route).

This first really struck me when I was living in the East End at the time of the London Docklands Bombing. The tube was shut down and I needed to get into central London - I'd already decided to walk, rather than close my day down but you’d think I’d paddled down the Orinoco, rather than walked for an hour and twenty minutes or so, given the response from some of the boys I worked with.

And I used to work with a guy from an old Holborn family – he knew Holborn, Soho, Covent Garden and Fitzrovia like the back of his hand, but the rest of London was a complete mystery to him: a collection of rarely visited islands joined up by the tube, with lots of unknowns in between. Again, not a universal truth - but I don't think it's a particularly uncommon one either.
I think this is true of any city, though.

I grew up in Exeter (a bijou little cityette), living in St Davids. If you'd asked me about the geography or road names in, say, Redhills or St Sidwell's, I wouldn't have had a clue.
 

Who me

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Morning all London people not straying far from their manor mebbe
My father in law was a Londoner in the 30’s and he used to say his family never did.
He was born in Islington and i haven’t a clue where that is really
 

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I grew up in Exeter (a bijou little cityette), living in St Davids. If you'd asked me about the geography or road names in, say, Redhills or St Sidwell's, I wouldn't have had a clue.
I've lived in Exeter for over 20 years - where the heck is Redhills? :D
 

catseye

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I've lived in Exeter for over 20 years - where the heck is Redhills? :D
It's over between Exwick and St Thomas. I only really know of its existence because a friend of my brother's lives there.
 

bugmum

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Oh, south of the river. Dangerous territory. The In-House GP works there... :chuckle:
 

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I lived in Exeter for a while.

The bit I recall is the old Victorian houses with geometric tiles in the doorway.
 

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That's certainly true of somewhere like the Isle of Dogs, and places like the Olympic Park, and in regard to the wholesale destruction that accompanied the building of the Westway - but such apocalyptic development is not a universal thing, especially in the more traditionally well-heeled of areas out of the centre, like Hampstead. Of course, there’s always change, but nothing like on the sweeping scale of the Docklands.
Very much so.

Hampstead is covered by various heritage restrictions.
Hampstead Garden Suburb has strict rules on modifications to the houses there.

This is something I've noticed a lot over the years, and I've often wondered if city dwellers in general, or Londoners in particular, mentally map their environment in a different way. Quite often I find that locals are a bit hopeless at directions once they are outside their direct environment, or if those directions are outside their usual framework (e.g. walking route instead of bus route).
Many Londoners think they "know" London.
The reality is they only know a bit of the West End, a bit of the City, and primarily they know how to get from their home to these places by public transport or road, and from their home to their workplace by the same methods.

It is hard to know London.
London is huge, it has numerous micro neighbourhoods and it is a mass of former and new villages connected by housing and dual carriageways.
Since 1997 has had mass immigration from many countries which has seen it's effective population grow by 25%, (and had a fair bit before that too), and in the last 40 years has had a dramatic regeneration of a large swathe of the Docklands.

I have worked and lived in London to a greater extent than many, and have encountered various people who boast of how well they know the place.
They don't.
They might know about city centre hotels, or football stadia, or different restaurants.
They have a niche knowledge.

To "know" London is almost a full time job, and to really know it is mainly the preserve of some tour guides, Black Taxi drivers and a handful of journalists and writers.... take a bow Simon Jenkins, Peter Ackroyd, Robert Elms, Russ Kane, The Londonist and Steve Roud amongst others.

Edit: And must mention too some academics plus Iain Sinclair.
 
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Spookdaddy

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...To "know" London is almost a full time job, and to really know it is mainly the preserve of some tour guides, Black Taxi drivers and a handful of journalists and writers.... take a bow Simon Jenkins, Peter Ackroyd, Robert Elms, Russ Kane, The Londonist and Steve Roud amongst others.
I'm half way through London Made Us, right now.

You are right - I think the secret to gaining knowledge about London, as opposed to 'knowing' it, is in recognising that the latter is not possible. It's also what makes it so enjoyable. (And, to be honest, that same paradox is not unique to this particular subject.)

I wonder if the fact that some outsiders appear to be more knowledgeable about a thing - and have more of an appetite for that knowledge - is that they have not come from a position where some kind of knowledge is assumed. And that could apply to all kinds of other areas - not just the subject of London.
 
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Ogdred Weary

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Very much so.

Hampstead is covered by various heritage restrictions.
Hampstead Garden Suburb has strict rules on modifications to the houses there.



Many Londoners think they "know" London.
The reality is they only know a bit of the West End, a bit of the City, and primarily they know how to get from their home to these places by public transport or road, and from their home to their workplace by the same methods.

It is hard to know London.
London is huge, it has numerous micro neighbourhoods and it is a mass of former and new villages connected by housing and dual carriageways.
Since 1997 has had mass immigration from many countries which has seen it's effective population grow by 25%, (and had a fair bit before that too), and in the last 40 years has had a dramatic regeneration of a large swathe of the Docklands.

I have worked and lived in London to a greater extent than many, and have encountered various people who boast of how well they know the place.
They don't.
They might know about city centre hotels, or football stadia, or different restaurants.
They have a niche knowledge.

To "know" London is almost a full time job, and to really know it is mainly the preserve of some tour guides, Black Taxi drivers and a handful of journalists and writers.... take a bow Simon Jenkins, Peter Ackroyd, Robert Elms, Russ Kane, The Londonist and Steve Roud amongst others.

Edit: And must mention too some academics plus Iain Sinclair.
I suppose it's possible to "know" Central London - square mile and surrounds, it's a relatively small place, the geography doesn't change too much - in that streets and parks stay mostly the same, at least compared to zone 2 outwards where there is (or was) plenty of moribund spaces -warehouses, vacant buildings, the odd bit of no man's land to "develop". That said within the centre, shops and business are in constant rotation.

Were are in an interesting time, in London, by which I mean "an interesting time", I think the centre may be harder hit than most cities because the place is so big and there are so few people who use the city centre businesses as their "locals" and the number of these businesses is greater than anywhere else. There's going to be a "hollowing", this has been happening at least regards housing for anyone other than millionaires for some time but now it will become exponential. Lots of businesses there, as elsewhere, are already gone for good. Some will be replaced but I don't think there will be "full capacity" for a very long time. Rents will fall - this is already happening, if they collapse, then hold on to your arses.
 

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The fact rents are falling in many cities now can be good news—there needs to be a wide range of rental options to keep the population diverse and vital—but it's really sad how many small businesses and "locals" are going under because of, you know, these "interesting times". :(
 

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The fact rents are falling in many cities now can be good news—there needs to be a wide range of rental options to keep the population diverse and vital—but it's really sad how many small businesses and "locals" are going under because of, you know, these "interesting times". :(
It's a matter of degree; rents and mortgages should by any sensible reckoning, be lower in many places, probably most. Owners will largely not be happy, though I'm sure they'd be happier to rent at a lower rate, even break-even point, than not at all. If enough people move into negative equity and if enough properties are unpaid/repossessed, that's going collapse the house of cards.
 

stu neville

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Many Londoners think they "know" London.
The reality is they only know a bit of the West End, a bit of the City, and primarily they know how to get from their home to these places by public transport or road, and from their home to their workplace by the same methods.
I think you're spot on, and in fact this goes for most cities, it's just that London is on a much bigger scale. Anyone who grew up within a couple of hundred miles of London will probably know Kensington, because of the museums, the embankment along to Westminster and the Tower, Oxford St, etc but if you stray much beyond that into Metroland you'd have no clue where you were, and in fact with no identifiable landmarks you'd be hard pushed to tell anonymous London urban from Reading or Swindon or Bristol anonymous urban (which is why they film so much ostensibly London stuff here.)

Everyone knows the touristy / main retail / historical bits of anywhere, but will only know other areas if they have a reason to know them.
 
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