News & Views September ’18

Getaway Gala

Bid for exclusive holidays and experiences!

Do you fancy appearing on the big screen? Local director Gurinder Chadha has offered a walk-on part in her next film as one of the auction lots in the forthcoming Getaway Gala in aid of Primrose Hill Community Centre. Other ‘experiences’ on offer include an evening watching Channel 4 News being prepared and broadcast with Jon Snow, cooking with Michael Nadra and painting with Adrian Hemmings.

And, most enticingly, nine generous locals have donated stays in their unique holiday homes, from the Hebrides to the Isle of Wight, and the Austrian Alps to Southern Italy and Corsica.

This fantastic evening is on Tuesday 25 September at the Community Centre. Tickets are selling fast, so don’t miss out on a chance to bid! More information on page 6, or visit

Lunch Club ‒ Volunteers Required

Primrose Hill Community Association run a lunch club – mainly for seniors but all are welcome – at Jacqueline House, Oldfield Estate, Fitzroy Road, NW1 8UB. It takes place on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12.30 pm. The price is £5 for two courses (soup and main, or main and dessert). All meals are cooked using fresh ingredients and it is a very welcoming atmosphere.

We are looking for volunteers to work maybe once or twice a month on a Monday or Wednesday helping serve the food, wash up, take money etc. It is a very friendly group. For more information please call Mick at the Community Centre office on 020 7586 8327 or email

Claire Daglish

It is with great sadness that we record that Claire Daglish died on 20 June. She had been in general ill-health for a while but then succumbed to lung cancer, from which she never recovered.

Claire was one of the founder members of the Primrose Hill Community Association, and took on many roles, including Chair, Secretary and Trustee. But she will be best remembered for running the bar at the Community Centre, which she did for over thirty years as a volunteer. She was still at it in her eighties, ably assisted by her long-time partner, Jack Eden. She also volunteered for Visually Impaired in Camden.

In the earlier part of her life, Claire lived in the railway cottages that were to become Manley Street. She then lived in Auden Place, where she raised her family. She leaves behind her partner Jack, her son Stuart, daughter-in-law Judith, daughter Alison and two grandchildren. She had a lovely sense of humour, was a pleasure to be around and will be sorely missed.

Keith Bird

Keith Bird died on 12 July at the age of 85, after a lifetime of achievement for Camden’s residents. He was a life-long socialist: not an ideologue, but a practical worker for the good of all.

He was the principal founder of Auden Place Tenants’ Association, still in place and still fighting for the rights of tenants. Together they started Auden Place Nursery, where hundreds of adults now living in Camden got their early-years education.

Keith was there when the Primrose Hill Community Association was started. The original building was saved by local people, architects particularly, who persuaded Camden that it should be made a community asset. Keith organised many of its activities: a youth club, a football team, games on the hill, and most notably the bonfire night and fireworks. In addition, Keith was tireless in helping to organise the Summer Fair: the barbeque, still the fair’s biggest earner, was his special baby. He got together the team of fifteen volunteers that sweated away, year after year.

Perhaps Keith’s most impressive work was with Arlington House. The Victorian hostel for single men was badly run down. Keith became chair of the Arlington Action Group, which worked with Camden and Frank Dobson to get government money for a complete renovation. Keith transformed the place: the individual rooms that were no more than four feet across were doubled in size, and the communal areas were beautifully enhanced. His motivation was to see that the men were treated with dignity and given a place to live that was comfortable and secure.

Keith Bird’s legacy is experienced every day by the people who live in Camden. As Jim Mulligan says, “They may not know his name, but their lives are enhanced by what he did.”

Marcel Schmitt

Many people in Primrose Hill will have known one of our local characters, Marcel, who sadly died at the end of July eleven days after suffering a heart attack in the park. Before moving to London, Marcel owned a bar in Barcelona. He was a musician and was always eager to engage in chats about music, football or politics. He would have been touched by the amount of love shown to him when he was in the Royal Free, and the sense of loss now felt in Primrose Hill. There was an informal gathering on Primrose Hill in August to celebrate his life, and St Mary’s Church will hold a service of thanksgiving for Marcel’s life on Saturday 22 September at 3pm. Friends will be welcome to share memories and play favourite music.

Primrose Hill Business Centre resident MagmaTech awarded 2018 Queen’s Award for Innovation

Primrose Hill Business Centre resident MagmaTech Limited is delighted to have been awarded the prestigious 2018 Queen’s Award for Innovation for the TEPLO range of low thermal conductivity wall ties. When used to join the two leaves of a cavity wall MagmaTech’s Advanced Composite products which are 70 times more thermally efficient than steel, virtually eliminate cold bridging across the insulated cavity.

Managing Director, Ben Williams, said: “To be recognised in this way with the UK’s leading innovation award is a great achievement and a brilliant platform for our future. We are very proud that our products that have enabled many of the UK’s most energy efficiency buildings to be built. The Primrose Hill Business Centre has proven to be a haven for our small and growing company as we have developed while based here over many years.”

The award was presented by Sir Ian Johnston CBE, former Chief Constable of the British Transport Police.

Pop-up Menswear Shop

A pop-up stall has been running throughout the summer in the courtyard of the Business Centre at 110 Gloucester Avenue. Their main focus has been on men’s luxury beachwear, shirts and t-shirts. They will continue until the end of September and start again next year when the weather permits. Keep checking them out as their range will grow. Open from 11 am. Follow on Instagram at @primrosehilldairy

Threat to Nurses’ Hostel

Vernon House, the St Mark’s Square nurses’ hostel, is under threat of a potential change to residential use, as it has been bought by a property developer, the SAV Group, to ‘deliver 64 studio apartments to rent’.

In 1996, numbers 9, 10 and 11 on the site had a change of planning use to residential, with the remaining buildings, 5‒8, retained for hostel use. The hostel has been a nurses’ home for many years, owned by the London Clinic, who moved the nurses out in 2017. It has provided essential housing for key workers, and it is Camden’s policy to protect such housing from being lost. The Primrose Hill Conservation Area Advisory Committee has told Camden that it would strongly object to any attempt to change the planning use.

The SAV Group put in two applications recently, describing the building as C3 residential, but not requesting change of use from hostel to C3. The community now needs to focus on confirming the hostel planning use of 5‒8 St Mark’s Square and prevent the SAV Group from changing the use to residential.

As there is no planning application to oppose, it would be very useful if a large number of people could contact Camden and our local councillors to urge them to protect the planning use of this building as hostel for key workers, as it has been a nurses’ hostel for many years. It should not be possible for a property developer to change the hostel to become private rented flats, studios or Airbnb units.

Comments should be directed to Richard Limbrick at

Bonnie Dobson enters the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame

Primrose Hill resident Bonnie Dobson was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters’ Hall of Fame in July, for her song ‘Morning Dew’.

The song, which Dobson wrote in the early 1960s, tells the story of two survivors of a nuclear apocalypse. ‘Morning Dew’ became a standard on the American folk scene, but Bonnie never received full credit for the song. Over the years it has been performed by acts as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Lulu, Robert Plant, Devo, German industrial band Einstürzende Neubauten and, more recently, American indie rockers The National.

It was only when Bonnie tracked down Robert Plant at his Primrose Hill address that she began to establish ownership. She says of Plant, “He gave me my song back.” The pair performed ‘Morning Dew’ together at the Royal Festival Hall for a Bert Jansch tribute concert in 2013 (available to view on YouTube).

Born in Toronto, Bonnie returned to Canada to receive the accolade at the Mariposa Festival, where she first sang ‘Morning Dew’ in 1961. She was presented with the award by old friend and fellow folk singer, Gordon Lightfoot.

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