The Dollis-Mutton-Brent story is turning to one of it’s historically richest points.
This imperfect ‘telegraphese’ is About The Harp.
The Roman Watling Street now Edgware Road, a road crossing a shallow valley. Isolated farmland. A treacherous journey to London. From 1751 a coaching inn a welcome sight. The Harp & Horn standing at the Brent river crossing.
The thirsty Camden level of the Regents Canal seeking a water source from Silk Stream and dammed Brent. 3 million baths full. 6,700 lb of roach. Fishing prohibited. Dam, dam, dam. A contractor called Hoof creating a reservoir named, but rarely called Kingsbury or later Brent between Old Kingsbury Church and Edgware Road for a little under £3000,00.
It was always the Welsh Harp.
(The likeness of the outline of the reservoir to an actual Welsh Harp being purely coincidental.)
The three bridges, the Brent, the Silk and the Cool Oak. The four drowned Sidebottom brothers. The seven days of continuous rain that caused the dam to fail. The growing 400 acre and shrinking 195 acre and shrinking 110 acre man-made lake. On the way to Ikea alongside the drab North Circular.
Harp & Horn, morphing momentarily to Irish Harp then Old Welsh Harp Tavern, becoming a pleasure garden with a Crimean hero licensee. A destination for recreation. A song by the music hall star Annie Adams The Jolliest Place That’s Out.
The lost railway station. The illegal race track. The first greyhound race with a mechanical hare. The launch site for Louis Henri Capazza’s Patent Parachute Balloon which failed to leave the ground and caused a nasty incident. A carnival of vice. An escaped bear.
Arthur Marham, a man destined to own a bicycle shop, winning England’s first formal cycle race. He received a silver cup. The race held the day after the world’s first cycle race in St Cloud, west of Paris, won by another Englishman, James Moore who’s buried by Welsh Harp.
The Winter wonderland for skating or driving a coach and four from one side to the other. The haunt of naturists until June 1930 and the The Sun-Bathing Riots.
And ssh! the Mechanical Warfare Department secretly testing the amphibious Mark IX tank. Later, in another world war, a seaplane kept on the reservoir as Churchill’s escape route.
Local residents swan out to touch the plane.
And, little bittern, squacco heron and white-rumped sandpiper; great crested grebe, gadwall, shoveler, common pochard, tufted duck and common tern; two black-winged stilts in 1918; the first great white egret in London in 1997; the blue-winged teal in 1996; the lesser scaup in 2003; and penduline tits in 1996 and 1997, even great skua in 2011.
The Old Welsh Harp survived two world wars but not the motorway age. In 1971 it was demolished to make way for Staples Corner ring road and elevated sections that mark the start of the M1 motorway.
The Welsh Harp survived, though no longer feeds the Regent Canal’s Camden section.