What The Book is About

This book began as a series of studies of the borders of St Marylebone and Paddington, London, made in 1980 for North Westminster Community School. These were later expanded into the first edition of The Growth of St Marylebone and Paddington.

During the dozen years from then to the Third Edition, in 1991, the district altered considerably and soon Paddington Basin was to alter completely. The book, originally arranged in a series of local walks, was put in a chronological order, expanded and brought up to date. After several reprintings this edition is out of print.

I have now decided to add it in a revised form and with some colour pictures to my educational website, locallocalhistory.co.uk where you have found it.I hope that the website will be of interest to a wide public. The drive was always been to find a story, or tease out a puzzle, and to encourage others to do the same.

People have been flooding into this district for hundreds of years. Some families have stayed, while others have lingered briefly before moving on. Thousands flow in and out to work daily, like the tide Thus movement is the underlying theme of the book. Nothing is permanent. Even our present townscapes are fossils, recording earlier histories and building styles, so this book will never be finished. It is just a start for others to expand and enhance.

To the General Public

I hope that the website will be of interest to all those living, or working in the area and to visitors. I hope too that it will encourage people to develop their own family stories. A population in perpetual movement is a fascinating topic, as the family histories in this book show. Why not write yours?

To Pupils

This is where you live. Indeed the first version of this book was called, 'Where We Live'. Earlier pupils have used that booklet to go out into the local roads to draw the houses and explore what is there. I hope you will use parts of this book for the same purpose. What I have written is not the whole story. You can expand it.

To Teachers and Lecturers  

I hope teachers in all schools will find this a useful work book. Many teachers in other schools have spent years collecting documents, etc. about their local areas, but when they have retired, or the curriculum has changed, the material has been lost. By storing copies in the school library, others can carry on the work.

North Westminster Community School Library contained all these maps and more, a run of the local newspaper, colour photographs, planning maps, census sheets, etc. etc., all mounted on cardboard and covered with plastic. Stored in a plan chest in the School Library, they were withdrawn for lessons like books.

North Westminster School has now become two separate schools, City of Westminster Academy and Paddington Academy, in Marylands Road, Maida Vale. I hope that the documents still exist on one or the other.

This book, like my others, is an invitation to teaches to take the pupils out to look closely at the locality, to draw, discuss and write, publish little pamphlets, be creative. Your most valuable topic is the streets on your doorstep. No travel, no children sick in the coach. Just short walks in lesson times.

Using the local environment is not new. Making it a school policy and storing the results can be. Teachers in other parts of the country and lecturers in architectural colleges have found my books useful starting off points. Teachers, helped by local historians, have taken whatever parts of the books that suited them, found their own sequences of local maps, buildings, family histories, etc., and developed their own local material.


To Lecturers in Architectural Schools  

Several Architectural Schools have developed modules in which their students a asked to create local histories of small areas, based partly on the ideas in this book. Close study of small areas by students is nothing new, but this book may help spark ideas.

Westminster Academy, after occupying the earlier Westminster Community School site for a few years, has now moved to new premises in Westbourne Grove. I do not know yet how the old buildings are being used.

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Updated August 9, 2011