Thameslink’s station at Cricklewood has been brightened up with a 24-metre mural that looks back to a time when the town was a centre of world aviation.
Sir Frederick Handley Page went down in history for his pioneering role in aviation. In 1909, he founded the first British public company to build aircraft and then he established a factory in Cricklewood in 1912. After the First World War, for a few years, Cricklewood was home to one of the very first commercial airlines in the world.
By converting the large biplanes developed during the Great War, Handley Page Air Services flew passengers and post between Cricklewood and Paris. These amazing machines, with wing spans of one hundred feet, were built in Cricklewood at the same site from which they flew , not far up Claremont Road from where Cricklewood station still stands.
The pilots were out in the open air with their flying goggles on whilst the passengers enjoyed the luxury inside of wicker chairs and spectacular views that few had ever seen before.
Now, those times are remembered in a new mural by local artist Alistair Lambert. The idea for the mural was put forward by the NorthWestTwo Residents’ Association and funded through Govia Thameslink Railway’s Passenger Benefit Fund, set up to provide tangible benefits to passengers across the train operator’s network.
Unveiling his work, Alistair explained: “I wanted to capture something of the hope and excitement of those early interwar years.
“Nowadays flying is a luxury we take for granted and continue at our planet’s peril, but back then the sky was the limit and Cricklewood was there at the very start of it.”
The NorthWestTwo Residents’ Association wants to bring a positive reaction for people entering or leaving Cricklewood and the array of artwork at the station has been received very positively by local residents and businesses alike.
Association secretary Marie Hancock said: “We’re delighted to work with Alistair to celebrate Cricklewood’s rich heritage and at the same time, enhance the station environment. This is the first of several projects being delivered at the station thanks to the Passenger Benefit Fund.”