High end properties, home to stars of sport and television and the setting for E.Phillips Oppenheim’s whodunnit, ‘Murder Mystery’ and Shelley Weiner’s novel, “The Audacious Mendacity Of Lily Green.” From the description, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we’re talking about the glitz of the West End or the lofty mews of Mayfair but, in fact, the subject of this piece is Hatch End, a tiny ward of Harrow with just over ten thousand residents.
“Will you dine with me in Hatch End?” Oppenheim’s first reference to the area in his story, “The Evil Shepherd” is spoken by Sir Timothy and is an appropriate citation for an area which, despite its size, boasts a great number of award winning restaurants and cafes, one of which, the Lebanese Lattakia restaurant, combines both the gastronomic and the literary as a plaque to the side of the restaurant testifies to the fact that the building was once home to Mrs Beeton, renowned cooking writer. Other restaurants of note include The Rotisserie and award winning seafood restaurant, Sea Pebbles, on the Uxbridge Road.
The name Hatch End comes from the Saxon word Haece meaning gateway, a reference, possibly to the nearby deer park, now known as Pinner Park Farm. The heart of Hatch End is the beautiful St Anselm’s church whose neo-gothic architecture is hidden from view of the everyday world by leafy Westfield Park. Completed in 1895, the church features a magnificent wooden screen by Charles Spooner (Hatch End was also home to another Spooner, Dennis who was a television star in the 1960s), and ethereal stained glass windows, one of which, the west window incorporates a small piece of clear ruby glass brought from a shattered window in Ypres Cathedral during WWI by a chorister, who died in France a few days before the window was dedicated.
An equally impressing piece of Hatch End architecture is the Hatch End train station whose majestic frontage more resembles a town hall or grand library than something as functional as a railway station. Opened in 1842 and originally named for Pinner, Hatch End station was part of the London and Birmingham Railway and wasn’t renamed Hatch End until 1956.
During the second world war, a total of thirty five enemy bombs were dropped on Hatch End between 1940 and 1941 causing much damage and loss of life and, between 1946 and 1947 many enemy soldiers were captured and held at the Hatch End Prisoner Of War Camp in the area.
Thankfully, since that time, Hatch End has enjoyed a much more peaceful existence and is home to a number of TV, music and sporting stars such as Richard Wright, musician and member of Pink Floyd, David Baddiel, writer and television personality and David Kemp, footballer and manager. Barry Cryer, TV personality, writer and prolific champion of all things Harrow, has lived in Hatch End since 1967 and, echoing Oppenheim’s invitation, says, “I love the way Hatch End has transformed itself into the vibrant community we see today. There’s such a friendly spirit everywhere you go and there’s a real buzz in the air. No other part of London can match Hatch End for its superb mix of restaurants, shops and businesses all packed into one lively street.”
No stranger to the arts, Hatch End is home to the Harrow Arts Centre, a community hub providing art, theatre and music events to the area, bringing residents and visitors together in this lively, lovely part of the borough of Harrow.
By Nicci Rae
Image Credit: Pulver Carr (Hatch End)