Metroland [part 3]: Chavtown

I moved away from Northolt in 1974 to go to university. My father sold the family home in 1984 and since that time I have returned often, to visit friends. No longer is it the dull but “respectable” suburb of my youth.

Northolt chavs by the green

Northolt has never been more than a large housing estate or a place for people to drive through on the A40 to be somewhere nice but the people living there used to be decent enough. Now these Chavvy scum have infected the place with their anti-social Von Dutchery to the point where it needs to be fumigated and then fumigated again, just to be sure.

Here is a link to the full article, if you are interested:

Rubbish on a Northolt street

A harsh judgement but there is some truth in it as well. The Northolt that I knew has long gone. In its place is a gritty, depressed area of run down houses with cars parked on the front gardens and satellite dishes on the roofs. The lives of adults are lived indoors in front of the TV and the computer screen whilst youths hang around street corners swearing, fighting and drinking or worse.

Every area goes through cycles of development, decline and rebirth. I remember going to Notting Hill in the 1970’s with my mother and her complaining that the whole area had gone to the dogs and it was not the place she remembered in the 1930’s and 40’s. Now of course, it is a very fashionable place to live. The trouble is, I really can’t see how anything would bring about a revival in Northolt.

A Northolt beauty

After seventy-five years of existence, most of the houses have had to be re-roofed, had windows replaced and been insulated against drafts. The solid pine front and back doors have been replaced with ones of glazed aluminium or UPVC. What is left is often of little architectural merit and I don’t see many new owner clamouring to restore “period” features like the “easy-work” kitchen, ceramic fire surrounds or the high-level flush systems that most of these houses were built with.

There are still very few facilities in Northolt other than a couple of rows of grim-looking shops. The swimming pool from my time has been replaced by the new Swim-a-rama but come on now, it is hardly the facility that is going to make you purchase a house in Northolt rather than Harrow, Ealing or Pinner…

So, this is Northolt?

I don’t see much of a future for great swathes of London’s between-the-wars housing stock other than further decline, increasing social problems, drug taking, teen pregnancies and crime. I hope I am wrong but with a perspective developed over more than fifty-years all that I can say is that the social and economic traffic has all been moving in one direction.

Poor Northolt…


About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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5 Responses to Metroland [part 3]: Chavtown

  1. hugh paxton says:

    I shall certainly be choosing Northolt for my next summer holiday! Who could resist?

    Nice series, Steve. Bitter sweet at its best. Heart breaking actually.

  2. stevehollier says:

    Thank’s Hugh. When I started writing it, I had no idea where it would end up.

  3. cumbrianwa says:

    There’s a place that needs to take stock of itself and decide how it would prefer to be! It can be like something from a John Carpenter movie or it can be somewhere to be proud of.

    There’s some very interesting stuff going on at the moment in the UK concerning localism and empowerment of Parishes and Neighbourhoods. The Localism Bill, soon to be an Act, is likely to help people by steering policy through local referendums. That could be Northolt’s salvation?

    The Eden Valley in Cumbria is a pilot area as part of the UK Government’s Big Society initiative. Localism’s going to be at the heart of getting us fixed up with fast future-proof internet!

  4. stevehollier says:

    You are right Charles. Localism is they key. I used to try to live by the maxim “think global, act local” but the problem with Northolt [like so many other old, suburban areas in England] is that there is absolutely no community spirit there. Most people isolate themselves against those around them and wouldn’t dream of getting “involved” in anything to do with the wider community.

    The idea of “fast future-proof internet” would appeal but I don’t think the idea of sharing or creating or building something, anything in common would have very much appeal I am afraid.

  5. Petrice Stinson says:

    I unfortunately bought a home here in a estate a few years ago thinking this will be a normal area, some parts of Northolt is very nice however the estates in Northolt live up to every criticism. The people are uneducated, have no manners (you can see this in the way they drive and park) smoke near their children (not just cigarettes but weed too at 8:30am) use foul language in the school near their children and other people’s children. They are inconsiderate and give normal residents are very bad name. To be very honest there is nothing to disagree with, the local council has given up on this area they hardly respond, there is no police station in an area where it is highly needed of patrolling. The local MP most likely doesn’t care either. No authority means a place in UK can turn into a slum. I hate living here, the people give me the creeps however I met other people who are normal and complain about the same issues. In the past I have said that a private investor should buy the land then bull doze over and restart again. Some people here are not normal, they are a species of their own, the local shop is a no go place after 5 pm, dogs running every where, cars park in the middle of a road, a lot of track suit wearing chavs, I am normal and this is what I deal with day to day with one hope when I leave this area I will not be coming back. Its a nightmare, I have fought with the council to sort this area out, local MP etc no joy. I am one person trying to sort the area out I need 100’s of more people to help. Most normal people want to leave the area and they eventually do. If I had to describe this area to a movie it would be the hills have eyes. My family visit me here they hate it, their only question is ‘what is wrong with these people?’ The other fact is that these people end up being the support staff and dinner ladies and volunteers in the local schools so what are the children in the school learning? My son corrects the ‘t’ they leave out, the other complaint is how they lack the skill of working with children as their facial expression always shows how much they don’t care and the way they speak to children will baffle a person. They are rude to the children, argumentative and wow are the friends of the chavs. I can go on but I have said enough.

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