Stage 11 – Willesden Green to Shepherd’s Bush

Wow, check this satellite picture of London from space:

night view of london

Image from International Space Station.

The dark areas broadly correspond to parks and water.

What is that kite-shaped patch in the west below the Bing logo?

wormwood scrubs

The upper right triangle is Kensal Green Cemetery, it’s huge; the upper left is railway sidings; and the lower part is Wormwood Scrubs, an empty common land and part of our route on Stage 11 from Willesden Green to Shepherds Bush.

Here it is on a map (

wormwood scrubs map

Sunday July 10th 2016 saw the London Spiral pick up at Willesden, an area which is gentrifying, and sweep down through remote parts of north west London to Shepherd’s Bush, which is not. Distance 4 miles.

This is where we reach a hinterland – warehouses, train sidings, scrub land, canalside workshops, which, like the scruffy environs of the Old Kent Road to the south east, are close enough to the centre yet can feel quite remote.

Why is it that one area is becoming more desirable while another, equally expensive, is not?

We can see families moving to Willesden, where houses are larger, you get more for your money, doing them up, making them nice, and  little cafs and delis opening with nice things to eat, catering for mums and weekend breakfasters, improving the amenity of Gladstone Park, and working together slightly awkwardly but still getting things done,  meanwhile, due west of the city centre, despite the massive draw of Westfield shopping emporium, the terraces of Shepherd’s Bush are more transitory, less connected, less trustworthy.

running track willesden edward vii parkRunning track at Willesden Sports Centre – underused on a Sunday. Check the Lynford Christie track, below, for how it should be done.

scrubs lane bridge over railwayView from the bridge on Scrubs Lane over the railway. Modernist block next to traditional London terraces. You can see from the stones of 2 colours placed into the panels that someone was interested in the design of this bridge.

kensal cemeteryKensal Green Cemetery

There are people from many countries buried in this place, most in regular tombs, but there are a few that seek to impress:

grand memorial at kensal cemetery

But here is the most impressive, to a boy who died aged 11 and his grandma:

most elaborate memorial kensal cemetery

Pillars, stone angels, bollards, fresh garden flowers in bloom.

scrubs lane bridge over canal and rail sidingsIron bridge over the Grand Union Canal, with the Great Western Railway and Hitachi train buildings beyond.

entrance to wormwood scrubsPedestrian entrance through the trees into Wormwood Scrubs …

wormwood scrubs looking south towards hammersmith hospitalWormwood Scrubs looking south towards Hammersmith Hospital.

sprint at lynford christie stadium

100m race underway at the Lynford Christie stadium

climb that - prison wallBack of Wormwood Scrubs Prison. Try climbing that!

subway beneath central line du cane roadFor walkers the route ducks under the Central line,  then under the busy A40.

library renovations by the A40Work being done by the Public Library of Wormholt.

shane green futura carving wormholt park 2012Shane Green’s sculpture of a hurdler, carved from an oak trunk, in Wormholt Park.

banana tree fennel adelaide road shepeherds bushBanana tree and fennel at #46 Adelaide Road, Shepherd’s Bush.


You wouldn’t think of these as millionaire’s mansions, and only a decade ago they were a third or less today’s asking price, being mostly low rise semis and terraces of no particular quality. In a few years we may well look back and wonder how anyone could’ve offered 1.1 million pounds for that, if prices come off the boil like they did in Japan in the late 1980s when a piece of Zen garden was worth more than Manhattan or whatever it was, and declined again and again, until people could see that their assumptions of the time could not possibly last. Either that or demand, especially foreign demand, due to our weaker or more affordable exchange rate, our low interest rates, and the sheer wealth that people in other lands are able to command, continue to sustain the housing market, continue to hold air in the inflatable, continue to bring forward ready buyers, and our wealth too will have risen, if we’re home owners and can find a mechanism to realise the capital gain.


We passed 3 secondary schools on our trip, all rebuilt during the Tony Blair “education education education” years (click to refresh your memory)

3 academies

capital academy willesdenCapital Academy, built by the Norman Foster practice, a long sweeping curved building, built around the idea of a central “street”.

phoenix academy workholtPhoenix Academy, a modern extension to the 1960’s style original.


hammersmith academyHammersmith Academy, a modernist replacement, making the most of limited space.

the godolphin and latymer schoolBut it’s the traditional one all the parents want to send their kids to – The Godolphin and Latymer school.



One thought on “Stage 11 – Willesden Green to Shepherd’s Bush

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s