Tweet sparks local history revival in West Hampstead
PUBLISHED: 12:24 17 November 2011
The internet generation has urged West Hampstead residents not to forget the eccentric local history of the area.
West Hampstead has a long and colourful history - but you would never guess from its Wikipedia page.
The “boring” page inspired a Twitter post by Andre Millodot, owner of the Wet Fish Café on West End Lane, last Thursday (November 10).
He pleaded with other “Whampers” - the internet tag for West Hampstead locals - to spruce up the page.
Fellow Tweeters were prompt in responding to the call, and the page is getting a facelift.
“I looked at the Wikipedia page and I thought ‘oh my God, it is so dry, dull and uninformative’,” said Mr Millodot.
“Surely the entry should be more interesting.”
West Hampstead may be a small area, but it is filled with people who are dedicated to the community if its online presence is any indicator.
It was exactly this group that the 44-year-old cafe owner hoped would answer his Tweet - and they did.
“There were quite a few responses, more than most of my other Tweets,” said the West Hampstead local.
“Lots of people came back saying absolutely, launch a campaign.”
The Wet Fish Café’s website is full of random “Whamp” facts and itself a valuable source of local history.
West Hampstead was called the West End until the late 19th Century (not to be confused with the theatre hub in central London) and West End Lane is one of the district’s oldest streets.
Most of the road’s current twists and turns are still identical to those laid out in the area’s earliest maps.
The Great Hollow Elm, which stood at the top of Haverstock Hill, was one of the oldest local tourist attractions.
It stood at 33 feet tall and had a spiral staircase built inside its hollow trunk, with 42 steps leading to a viewing platform.
In more modern times, The Rolling Stones allegedly wrote their hit Tell Me while locked in their West Hampstead kitchen in 1964.
Another local landmark, the tube station, opened in 1879 and was named West Hampstead at the suggestion of Thomas Bate, a local real estate agent and property developer.
He wrote a letter to the Metropolitan Railway and they took up his suggestion.
According to the newly updated Wikipedia page, two-time Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson, writer and TV personality Stephen Fry, and actor and comedian Matt Lucas, have all lived in West Hampstead among others.
The area’s wealth of history is encouraging a new generation of West Hampstead residents to use technology to hold onto the past.
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