If you want a better understanding of how the internet has changed modern culture, type the word community into Google.
The first result is a television series on Netflix of the same name. In fact, the whole of the first page of search results is dominated by references to the show.
It takes Google just 0.62 seconds to provide you with a whopping 4.7 billion results. Which is a little scary, when you think about it.
And of course sitting at home binge watching Netflix is probably the antithesis of what most people understand about the word community.
Community . /kəˈmjuːnɪti/
1. A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
2. The condition of sharing or having certain attitudes and interests in common.
As 2019 drew to a close, I think that people living in London felt less of a sense of commonality than ever before. A global financial crisis, four general elections and one Brexit referendum, all within the space of twelve years, had resulted in a pretty fractured society.
One of the positives to come out of the pandemic is a renewed sense of shared responsibility.
The road where I live now has a WhatsApp group. Earlier this year it helped everyone to keep an eye out for an elderly neighbour whose dementia had worsened to the point where she kept finding herself locked out of her house. We also have weekly food bank collections, and people up-cycling their old belongings.
As the demographic of London has changed over the past twenty years, often this sense of community was lost. People no longer knew who their neighbours were, let alone spent any time with them.
Although, this wasn’t the case everywhere. There were some neighbourhoods which did retain that feeling of shared attitudes and beliefs.
At sixty three metres high, Primrose Hill is one of only half a dozen protected views in the capital. It’s also the first neighbourhood you encounter as you head north from central London.
In fact, a serene walk of just over one and a half miles through two Royal parks takes you from Primrose Hill to either Marylebone or Fitzrovia.
From its creation in the early Victorian era through to today, Primrose Hill has been home to a wide range of property uses. Industrial, retail and residential all sat alongside one another.
Both the Regent’s Canal and the original London to Birmingham railway delineated what is now the Primrose Hill conservation area, and their construction in 1820 and 1837 respectively brought a culturally diverse range of inhabitants to the area.
The current street plan of Primrose Hill was designed a few years later, in 1840. Originally intended as sweeping streets dotted with grand villas, London’s rapid growth resulted in the building of terraces instead.
By 1870, Primrose Hill was almost complete. While its first residents were respectably well off, many of the mews set behind the streets housed artisan’s workshops, and the area also became the centre of piano manufacture in London.
And just like the diverse range of property uses and tenants, the housing is not entirely homogenous either.
Number 10 Regent’s Park Road was designed by Hungarian born architect Erno Goldfinger. Goldfinger was of course synonymous with many other notable buildings, including the headquarters of the British Communist Party.
But he wasn’t the only communist to have frequented the neighbourhood.
Friedrich Engels lived on Regent’s Park Road, only a short walk from his long-time collaborator Karl, who lived in Kentish Town. If they were around today, you might imagine them meeting halfway, for a Saturday morning swim in Hampstead Heath ponds.
Years later Primrose Hill would be home to many other high profile residents, some more cuddly than others.
Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and The Miliband brothers grew up here, whilst others like Paddington Bear, Jamie Oliver and Liam Gallagher all relocated from places as diverse as Peru, Essex and Manchester.
Nowadays the area is the perfect embodiment of another 2022 buzzword, the 15 minute city.
It is one of the best places in London to live. You’re surrounded by an abundance of green spaces and the vibrant, youthful energy of Camden Town is just the other side of the railway tracks. Of course, there’s no shortage of places to sit and have coffee, whilst watching the world go by.
It’s also home to a client of mine, who’s selling his house. A former artist's studio.
It’s situated in a quiet mews, just far enough from the creative energy of Primrose Hill to provide some solitude, and yet also under half a mile from parks, cafés and restaurants.
The house reflects the best ideals of modern living. Vaulted ceilings and an abundance of natural light combine effortlessly with period features and modern fittings, creating a truly remarkable place to live.
“The artists around the courtyard formed a happy family, in and out of each other’s studios during the day, and in the evening swapping stories over cards and whisky, or dining at The Bull and Bush on Hampstead Heath”
William Logsdail, Artist - c.1887
Things I’ve paying attention to, watching or reading this week
Inside Job is a documentary on Netflix, detailing the global financial crisis of 2008.
It was the worst recession since the Great Depression, cost taxpayers over twenty trillion dollars, caused millions of people to lose their jobs and homes, and nearly resulted in a global financial collapse.
The movie traces the rise of a rogue industry which has corrupted politics, regulation, and academia.
It’s a fascinating watch.
Public Service Announcement
Back in 2007, myself and a few other property youngsters were the committee of kids responsible for the inaugural Young Norwood Property Event.
The line up that night was formidable: Nick Leslau, Gerald Ronson and Franco Sidoli. All we had to do was ensure it was a sell out. We did, and I'm pleased to say that fifteen years later the event is still going strong, raising much needed funds for an incredible charity.
A charity which provides essential and life-changing services to children and families facing challenges, as well as anyone of any age with learning disabilities and autism.
This year's event is on Monday 28 March at The Londoner Hotel.
You can find out more, or buy tickets by clicking the image below.