|This line-up dates from c1954, when these children were surprised to meet Father Christmas along Hatfield Road (between Sandfield and Harlesden roads). For further details see the foot of this post.|
We'll begin with the construction launch of two significant housing developments: Kingsbury Gardens, formerly Beaumont School's front field (which, incidentally, had always been intended for houses under the Beaumont estates original 1929 plans); and Oaklands Grange, Sandpit Lane. It is inevitable that their first residents will enjoy their first Christmas at home in 2019. We'll try and remember to welcome them.
After noting progressive deterioration over a number of years the new access structure to Clarence Park's Hatfield Road entrance has been completed, and while not exactly originally as planned, it is sturdy and very welcome.
Among the public houses no longer trading had been The Baton. Former customers have since, presumably found other landlords to drink with, and after an uncertain phase M&S Food finally opened on the site and appears to be well patronised. It is the second retailer to have crossed to the other side of The Ridgeway.
The residents' parking scheme for the 'Ladder Roads' in Fleetville finally launched recently. Unsurprisingly, it has proved controversial, but it has made more obvious those commuters who have for a long time parked their cars in the scheme area or even beyond it and walked the last part of their journey to the station. Parking and traffic in general will never have real solutions in Fleetville because the Real Solutions will never be accepted, by the Council, by the residents, probably by anyone. But we will re-visit the scheme in six months. And no doubt we will continue to grumble about the parking problems ten years from now!
Very quietly, improvements continue to be made to that green lung, Alban Way. Undergrowth and a number of trees have been cut back. A number of complainants have this year noticed re-growth and more open flanks to the path, new surfaces and signage, and helpful interpretation panels. It is proposed these improvements will continue towards Hatfield.
The Green Ring, the Fleetville section of which has been open for a while now, was finally complete close to the end of the year. Thus far the voices in the ether have been rather quiet on any benefits, and so it is not possible to discover yet how useful residents have found it to be. Cue comments by users.
November was also the 110th anniversary of the opening of Fleetville School, although it will be another four years before the specialist accommodation for infant children was opened for them. Anyway, happy birthday Fleetville School.
Right out on the edge of the parish the landmark and Listed Comet Hotel is shrouded behind solid fencing as the establishment faces its long-awaited upgrade, and we look forward to its re-opening.
Visitors to Highfield Park have discovered a new Visitor Centre which was opened in the summer; new extensions to its orchards and other park improvements have taken place.
We have benefited from short distances of new road surface, and most areas now sport new LED street lighting instead of those orange sodium fitments. We have also learned (or not) to slow to 20mph while passing through Fleetville in our car – though at times some are struggling to reach that speed! Meanwhile we continue to hold the record identified in the 1920s, of being a pot-holed suburb.
Which brings me to a couple of finishing questions. How far down Marshalswick Lane do you now have to queue to reach the Five Ways (William IV) traffic lights at 5pm? How many new traders to Hatfield Road and The Quadrant have we been able to welcome to our patch during 2018?
The image added to the top of this post is of course very seasonal, and it was taken around 1954 in Hatfield Road. We know some, but not all of the children Ian, Shiela and Bruce Scotland on the right, Diana Devereux in the middle, and Father Christmas, of course. The four children on the left have not yet been identified, and, more interestingly, what links all of these children to an event which took place just before Christmas in Hatfield Road? We would love to discover. Over to you. Happy Christmas.