Sunday 23 October 2016

Finchley Remembered - Part II

In 2002 The Finchley Society published a book of local people's recollections. It was always on the cards that a second volume would follow.

It's taken a while but that has now come to fruition! September saw the launch of Finchley Remembered - Part II at Waterstones bookshop in North Finchley.

I was the book's editor so my task was to comb through the hundreds of anecdotes sent in by past and present Finchleyites recounting their recollections of Finchley. The material in the Finchley Society archives sent in over the years filled several box files. The first volume, Finchley Remembered, covered the early part of the 20th century so I focused on the middle decades. This volume broadly covers the 1930s though to the 70s. We collected a huge number of memories from the war and the fifties, detailing school days and leisure time. Many of today's children would be surprised at the freedom their grandparents enjoyed! The reams of paper from the archives included handwritten recollections, some in beautiful copperplate, many of which had to be double checked as the information sometimes contradicted that sent in by someone else. Memories do not always stick to facts!

One section recalls Finchley's famous folk - including memories of Spike Milligan, Eric Morecambe, Vera Lynn, and of course Finchley's former MP, Margaret Thatcher. One of my favourite anecdotes is when a group of O'level cookery students was asked to prepare canapes for a reception at which the MP would be presiding. 'Canapes! What were they? Posh Tory food? Who knew, and who cared? We were having a day off lessons.'
The Gaumont Cinema (North Finchley)
by Peter Marsh
Pictures selected from the thousands in The Finchley Society archives as well as photos sent in by contributors illustrate the text along with line drawings by two local artists, Peter Marsh and Mari I'Anson, and paintings by two others. My favourite is the drawing of the long-gone Art-Deco Gaumont Cinema, where I remember seeing films. Its former glory days which boasted a Wurlizter Organ and a restaurant had already passed by the time I knew it in the 70s.

The cover of the famous Finchley icon, the Christ's College Tower,  was painted especially for the book by Peter Marsh.

Copies of Finchley Remembered II can be bought at Waterstones N12, Waitrose North Finchley, N12 and directly from The Finchley Society online.