Summer gardening club aims to make Fitzrovia greener, not more commercial

This is a heartening initiative. And shows what can be achieved by spending an hour or two gardening regularly.

Fitzrovia News

A new gardening club will be launched on Saturday at one of Fitzrovia’s most used and abused public open spaces ahead of London becoming the world’s first National Park City.

Pots of plants. Wildflowers ready for planting in Whitfield Gardens, donated from an allotment.

Volunteers from the Friends of Fitzrovia Parks will be spending an hour every Saturday morning this summer making small improvements to Whitfield Gardens leading up to National Park City Week in July.

In December the Friends planted daffodils and other flowers as part of scheme by the Metropolitan Parks and Gardens Association to deliver free bulbs donated by Lincolnshire family business Taylors Bulbs of Holbeach.

This spring nine native species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs have been planted in Whitfield Gardens, along with dozens of varieties of wildflowers of as part of a project promoted by Kew Gardens.

For the first time ever oak and hornbeam…

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If we don’t care for our own backyard then nobody else is likely to

I don’t think we should sacrifice the residential areas of Soho, Fitzrovia and Marylebone on the altar of a dying retail artery. I think there will always be a need for some shops in Oxford Street, but the competition from centres like Westfield is too strong for Oxford Street to continue as it is. I also think we need a solution that helps people to move around central London – not just get shoppers to Oxford Street. Why not build a circular tram that links Waterloo, Victoria, Marble Arch and Holborn via Kingsway to Waterloo. Nice, France, has a very successful U shaped tram that does a similar job of getting people around the city while reducing traffic pressure.

Fitzrovia News

By Griff Rhys Jones

There are big plans for Oxford Street in the offing. You may already know of them and they are certainly going to affect the residents who live around that retail artery. There was a consultation with Transport for London, but it appears that they put up the “wrong address” on their internet site. Undismayed, they report back that most people are in favour of their proposed changes. (I think they mean the ones that they directly approached, not the ones who couldn’t get through to their consultation process.) I hesitate to go into print. I hesitate to be a NIMBY (though I have always believed that if we don’t care for our own backyard then nobody else is likely to) but the desire to pedestrianize Oxford Street will have more repercussions than allowing the shopper to romp and yomp along the ancient thoroughfare un-menaced by…

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More work needed on Oxford Street to get it right, say Labour

If you live in near Oxford Street and you care about the air you breathe, you should read this!

labourwestminster

Following the announcement of the latest consultation returns on the Oxford Street project, Labour’s Business and Public Realm spokesperson, Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg said:

“The consultation results show that TfL and Westminster City Council still have a big job to do to demonstrate that the proposals will have local benefits. Around half of local residents are opposed to the proposals, with the other half in support (with or without concerns). We have four major concerns and call on TfL and Westminster Council to show ((a) how any additional vehicular traffic will be kept out of residential streets; (b) how air pollution levels will be reduced in residential streets; (c) how the needs of the disabled and elderly will be provided for and (d) how Oxford Street will be managed 24/7 to ensure the safety and security of residents, shoppers and visitors”

“We will keep campaigning to get the best deal for local residents and businesses”

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The changing Fitzrovia art scene

Shame that Fitzrovia Lates fizzled out but good that we still have many excellent galleries.

Fitzrovia News

Towards the end of 2011 I wrote enthusiastically about the increase in the number of commercial galleries, from 16 in 2008 to 37. By 2012 the number peaked at around 54, but there has been a big fallout over the last five years, and we are now down to around 32 spaces.

Map of Fitzrovia galleries taking part in 'Lates'. Fitzrovia Lates, one of the initiatives to promote the area as an art hub, fizzled out long ago.

Also, these figures don’t take into account the many galleries that came and went during this period: I have noted over 60 gallery closures over the last six years.

There are many reasons for this falling off, the massive increases in West End rents and business rates, that has affected art galleries all over central London, being an important factor. While one reads daily about auction records being smashed and vast sums of money being paid for paintings at…

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The press that changed the cultural landscape of Britain

Fitzrovia News

Picture the scene: it’s June 1965 and Barry Miles (Fitzrovia resident for over 50 years and Czar of the Counterculture) and his pal John “Hoppy” Hopkins join 7,000 other like-minded souls at The Royal Albert Hall for an international poetry gathering, led by the Americans Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Gregory Corso.

Image of book cover. A catalogue of every British underground paper that launched in the 1960s.

Miles (for nobody calls him Barry) explains: “As a reading it was not special; as a meeting place for young people – students, musicians, poets, actors, people from the arts, the sciences and education – it was a revelation. There were thousands of us! My friend Hoppy and I looked at each other and nodded, we both had the same idea. These people need a newspaper of their own! There was a constituency there that Fleet Street was simply not covering.”

The idea for International Times…

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Counter Culture in Fitzrovia – Past and Present

How much do you really know about Fitzrovia?

Although I’ve lived in the Fitzrovia for nearly ten years I have the feeling there’s an awful lot I don’t know about my neighbours, past and present. Since I moved here, references to Fitzrovia pop up all over the place. For example a character in Terence Rattigan’s play ‘After the Dance’ talks excitedly about slumming it at the Fitzroy Tavern. And Joyce Grenfell used to scrub floors for composer Richard Addinsell in his Mortimer Street flat. She was very attached to him.

Here’s a chance to find out about counter culture in Fitzrova

Barry Miles and Hannah Watson in conversation at the chapel

Wednesday 25 October, 18:30 to 20:30; tickets only £6

 Since the Bohemians settled in the area in the 1920s and named it after their favourite pub ‘The Fitzroy Tavern’, Fitzrovia has long held a burgeoning history of counterculture through its resident writers, artists and musicians.
Join cultural historian and Fitzrovia resident since the 1960s, Barry Miles, and more recent resident publisher of Trolley Books and gallerist, Hannah Watson, as they discuss the role of counterculture in Fitzrovia, past and present. This event is part of our #lineage series.