Local Primrose Hill resident Pauline Baines recently celebrated her 100th birthday.
Born in Brighton on 9 October 1917, Pauline came to North London at the age of five with her parents, going first to a small school in Hampstead, then to Brondesbury and Kilburn School for Girls when the family moved to Willesden Green.
Pauline wanted to go to university to study languages, but with two brothers that didn’t happen. Instead she went to Willesden Art School, then to the Central School of Art, which is now Central Saint Martins.
When the Second World War started, Pauline was a volunteer Red Cross nurse at the Royal Free Hospital, but she moved to Hall’s telephone accessories factory in Kilburn, which made small parts for aeroplanes. She cycled to work each day from the family home in Willesden Green.
Post-war she joined the Ministry of Information Exhibitions, and in 1951 designed exhibitions which went to various ports around the country on the Campania, an ex-wartime escort carrier, as part of the Festival of Britain. Pauline met Harry Baines, an artist at the Ministry of Information, and they married in 1952.
In 1956 they moved to 10 Regent’s Park Road, to a flat in a four-storey block commissioned by them and a group of friends. The architect was Ernö Goldfinger, and Pauline is the last remaining resident of the original group, marooned somewhat on the 3rd floor, with no lift available below the 5th floor.
Pauline started work as a book designer with Thames & Hudson in 1958, yet she was able to go to India with husband Harry in 1959 for six months. She returned to work as the Art Editor at Thames & Hudson, where she remained until she retired.
India and Italy are two countries that Pauline holds dear, and until recently she went to two classes to discuss Italian and French literature, in those languages.
Always an avid reader, Pauline regularly read to her blind friend Jean Rossiter, another stalwart of the Primrose Hill Community Association until she died in 2015. Surrounded still by books and periodicals, Pauline has to rely on TV to feed her love of opera, ballet, music, drama and travel – a poor substitute.
Morning visitors are the birds she feeds, which fly from the tree in the garden to the windowsill of her bedroom. A long-time committee member of the Primrose Hill Community Association and a willing volunteer, Pauline was also the membership secretary of the Primrose Hill Labour Party.
Recent memories for her friends are the delicious meals she cooked, served with bread she had baked herself. These friends and old colleagues were all more than delighted to share the hundredth birthday celebrations of a truly amazing woman.
Written by Mary Wylie
Photo by Liz Heavenstone