Chiswick’s astonishingly rich cultural past and present compiled to support Hounslow’s bid for Borough of Culture 2021

Chiswick’s councillors have published the cultural compendium they compiled to support Hounslow Council’s bid to be Borough of Culture 2021.  It shows Chiswick’s astonishingly rich cultural heritage, the diversity of its current cultural world and looks ahead to the future, making suggestions for improvement and change they would like to be implemented if the council wins this bid.  

The report links current activities with Chiswick’s history and shows the extremely wide range of cultural events and opportunities Chiswick offers its residents, some well-known to all and others hidden from many.  From the frivolous, lighthearted humour of Tommy Cooper to the shocking, shaking impact of a V2 bomb; from scandalous love affairs to the blossoming delight of the royal family; and from a country idyll to a vibrant metropolitan hub, Chiswick has a centuries-long tradition of cultural diversity at the eastern gateway to Hounslow.

The report looks at Chiswick’s culture in its widest sense including its architecture and structures, the river, the faiths and denominations that support Chiswick’s community, literature, entertainment, horticulture and trees, open spaces, food and drink, sport, volunteering, diversity and notable residents.

Councillor Gabriella Giles (Chiswick Riverside ward), who produced the report, with information provided by all Chiswick’s councillors, said, “We wanted to support the bid by showing just how much goes on in Chiswick and the very large contribution made by residents to our cultural life.  Having spent most of my life in Chiswick, I have always been aware of the significance of the cultural contributions made here.  When we sat down, with everyone contibuting knowledge about what goes on in their own wards or their own experiences of Chiswick’s cultural significance, we were all amazed by the extent of our cultural world.  Everyone knew something that others didn’t know.

“I have relished pulling it all together to build our contribution to Hounslow’s bid and delving deeper into Chiswick’s history and the significant impact it has had on the wider world through the writings and creativity of its residents, not just in the past but at this time, too.  With such a foundation, we believe Chiswick can have an enormous impact on Hounslow’s chances of winning.”

To improve Chiswick’s cultural life even further, Chiswick’s councillors would like the Grade II Chiswick Town Hall to become a cultural hub for local groups.  A sensitive upgrade – including an in-house PA/AV 
system and much-improved lighting – would assure its place in the heart of Chiswick as a sought-after venue for special celebrations, retaining its value as a source of revenue, and encourage its use for community events offered at a lower cost.

They seek long-needed improvements to Chiswick Library including by installing a lift to make it fully accessible and improving its spaces so it, too, could become a community hub.

They are actively exploring possibilities for several locations in Chiswick to become hubs for teenagers, a much-forgotten and under-represented group of residents who have few routes to influencing their local areas and what could be provided for their cultural entertainment.

Gabriella went on to say, “This is by no means a comprehensive list.  We know there is a lot more going on here that we haven’t noted.  We wanted to share this with residents so that they can provide additional information, uncovering more hidden treasures, so we can draw together a comprehensive compendium of Chiswick’s cultural life”.

Gabriella continued, “We were dismayed when we realised, while compiling our report and ideas, that not only had very few people in Chiswick been asked to contribute to the bid but also that the deadline given for the public to send in their information and ideas was after the council team had set off to deliver the bid to City Hall.  Doesn’t the council want to know what Chiswick has to offer – or what could be done to make the borough’s cultural life even better?

“Many of our events happen every year.  They are hugely popular here.  We are extremely lucky that so much happens in this part of the borough – largely because local residents invest their time and ideas in Chiswick – and we would love residents from throughout Hounslow, and people who come to work here, to enjoy our events with us.

“This compendium is a starting point, one that I hope will will surprise residents who might not know the extent of what goes on here.  We know it will change and evolve.  With residents’ help, we can expand it and bring it up to date,” Gabriella said.

If you know of other activities or events, or have additonal historical information to add to the compendium, please email Gabriella on gabriella.giles@hounslow.gov.uk

Here is the report: LBHBoroughOfCultureBidTheViewFromChiswick27Oct2019