Posts Tagged ‘Willesden Green’

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade

Brent is the London Borough with the largest Irish population and there are also significant numbers in the neighbouring boroughs of Camden and Islington and Hammersmith & Fulham, with Kilburn and Willesden Green being the in particular having large populations of Irish descent,

Brent St Patrick's Day Parade
St Patrick, Willeden Green, 2007

So it was hardly surprising that Willesden Green for some years had its own St Patrick’s Day procession, held on the day itself, March 17th, as well as the London celebration begun in 2002 when Ken Livingstone was Mayor on the nearest Sunday. Labour Brent also celebrated days for some of its other communities until recently cuts in funding from a Tory dominated central government made this no longer possible.

Willeden Green, 2007

The parade in Brent was on a smaller and friendlier scale than the London parade, and far more a community festival on the street, with others as well as the Irish joining in and having a good time.

St Patrick, Willesden Green, 2008

The multi-cultural nature of Brent was clear in that the parade began outside an Islamic Cultural Centre and those taking part included many local school-children from a whole mix of heritages. Brent as well as St Patrick’s Day also then celebrated Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Chanukah and Navrati, and Holocaust Memorial Day, along with a black history programme, its own ‘Respect’ festival and a world food and music festival.

Willesden Green, 2008

St Patrick blesses the photographer, Willesden Green, 2009

But it was very clearly an Irish event, with Irish people from all across London coming to watch and take part, both in the parade and in the various pubs and bars along the route.

Willesden Green, 2009

Some of the floats in the parade were also in the main London St Patrick’s Day parade, but the atmosphere here was much more relaxed. Here are a few pictures that I made from 2009-2013.

Willesden Green, 2009
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2010
Willesden Green, 2011
Willesden Green, 2012
Two St Patricks, Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2012
Willesden Green, 2013

In 2013, the event was much smaller as council funding had been cut, thanks to Tory austerity policies. And because St Patricks Day that year was on the Sunday, the celebration in Brent was held a day earlier so not to clash with the London parade.

I think this was the last St Patrick’s Day Parade in Brent – certainly it was the last I photographed. You can see many other pictures from Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade on My London Diary

Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2007 (scroll down the page)
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2008
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2009
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2010
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2011
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2012
Brent St Patrick’s Day Parade 2013


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Willesden Walk and Wassail 2017

Saturday, February 12th, 2022

Willesden Walk and Wassail 2017

Willesden isn’t a part of London I visit very often, though I sometimes change trains on my way elsewhere at Willesden Junction. But even that isn’t in Willesden but in its neighbour Harlesden – just as Clapham Junction isn’t in Clapham but in Battersea, the railway companies choosing a more reputable nearby settlement to name their station.

I hadn’t intended to go for a walk from Kensal Rise to Willesden Green on Sunday 12th February, but the Transport for London web site had misled me, telling me there were no trains running from my station that day, but a much slower rail replacement bus service. But there was a train just about to leave when I bought my ticket, and I jumped on it.

Good though this was, it meant I arrived at Kensal Rise over an hour before anticipated for the short bus ride to my destination. It was a cold winter day with a bitter east wind, far too cold to stand around waiting on the street so I had a decision to make. I could have sat inside a pub or café, but decided I would keep warm enough if I walked around to make my way to my destination.

Willesden Green Library – where the Wassail would later end

A direct route would not have taken me long enough, but the only map I had was Google Maps on my phone as I was outside the small central London atlas that has a permanent place in my camera bag. While paper maps keep north at the top, on my phone at least the map seems to turn around pretty randomly and at one junction I got confused, turning in the opposite direction to that I intended.

But even with getting a little lost and walking over 3 miles I still arrived 20 minutes before the event I was attending began, but the walking had kept me reasonably warm.

Willesden Green Wassail

I’d been invited in 2014 to photograph the Willesden Green Wassail by its leader and organiser Rachel Rose Reid, and was returning three years later for the 7th Community Wassail there “to invoke successful growth and resilience in the neighbourhood, celebrating community initiatives and the shopkeepers who contribute to making the neighbourhood a friendly and happy place.”

Cricklewood Community Singers

The wassailers, with the Cricklewood Community Singers performed a version of the traditional wassail song, and their were performances by local poets, storytellers and other singers as we called on various shops and other places, slowly making our way to the crab apple trees behind Willesden Green Library.

Rachel Rose Reid

At the shops we stopped at, the shopkeepers came out and told us a little about their businesses and thanked us for the good wishes and our wassailing.

The crab apples having been wassailed, people let off party poppers, which proved to be very difficult to photograph, a reminder to me of the difference between the way the camera and our eyes see things. We can both see the overall scene and concentrate on details, while a still image has to select its angle of view and treats all within that equally. Of course you can take more than one picture, but that doesn’t really deliver with a rapidly changing scene. I would have been better switching to recording a movie of this part of the event.

After this the group walked back to a local coffee shop where there were to be more performances, as well as hot drinks. But by then it was time for me to start my journey home to get back in time for dinner. This time I took the bus back to Kensal Rise.

Many more pictures both from the walk (enough to work out my route in the unlikely event you should wish to do so) and also from the Wassail on My London Diary:
Willesden Green Wassail
Kensal Rise to Willesden Green


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.