Nothing much happens where I live. Willesden Green, the area I was nudged out to when rents in neighbouring West Hampstead and Kilburn rocketed and I was looking at the possibility of living above a pet shop with a billboard obscuring half the flats windows. In two years I recall having two events locally that have made me feel like I’m living in a community. Local pub The Queensbury opened a deli with long oak tables people clambered round to share lattes and dip their soldiers. Last year Gladstonbury festival was held in our local park (called Gladstone Park predictably enough) and a smattering of residents spread their picnic blankets for the day.
Now, to add to the slowly growing sense of local businesses working for a local community, New Windows on Willesden Green have transformed a former textiles building on Queens Parade to attract projects and businesses. What was a boarded up eyesore of dank green is now a parade of sparkling sky blue, eye catching window displays and the hum of life after a redesign from Kieren Jones, executed with the help of local painting and decorating students.
On Saturday I witnessed a busy juice bar promoting the importance of fruit to children, a screen printing session, the packed out vintage shop Vintage Green & Paint Mine (with honest affordable prices, not your likes of Peek-A-Boo that charge £100 for a second-hand dress). The day before Mary Portas had visited Queens Parade; her inspirations and ideas adorned the wall of Zoe Brewer’s My Pop Up Design Shop, which uses local suppliers and artists to stock its shelves.
Local community really is key, these aren’t just shops. Knitting evenings are held where you make donations for materials used, under 5’s creative workshops and meditation courses run in the evenings. They’ve created something warm, inviting and welcoming.
As rents increase in neighbouring boroughs, Queens Park and Kensal Rise, people that want to brunch, knit, shop vintage are moving to Willesden Green. Before this popped up the high street was, to speak frankly, woeful and bleak. Scheduled to run through the summer there are whispers of an extension to December providing local residents continue to support the shops. Brent Council are also supportive of the project and footfall is keeping those occupying the units busy. It would make a fantastic addition to Willesden Green. Foxtons and Costa Coffee have already barged into units along the same road; let’s cram it with quirky, vibrant, charming independent businesses before Starbucks arrives.
Written by Hannah – catch more of her writing (usually about music) at From Desk Til Dawn