Plaque    | War Memorial

(lost) Chalk Farm Bus garage - WW1 "Grotto" plaque

Chalk Farm bus workers who died in WW1 Chalk Farm Bus garage - WW1 "Grotto" plaque

{On the white panel it looks as if the text above the flags at the top reads:}
For King and Country

{Below that is almost certainly a list of names of the fallen in WW1, who worked at the Chalk Farm bus garage.}

In 2021 Robert Turner sent us photos of a postcard showing a war memorial at the Chalk Farm bus garage. This had been found by his friend Jeanette Hipsey in the effects of someone in a Gibbs family, living in Chalk Farm at the time.  From their knowledge of this family Robert and Jeanette have provided the following surnames as possibly being on the roll of honour: Gibbs, Hipsey, Dawson.

The back of the card has some handwritten text: “First World War. Grotto (Street) / for the deceased (war) / 1914 -1918 / Ferdinand Street. / Chalk Farm.”

“Grotto (Street)” is very puzzling. It is not a street name currently in use in London and we can’t find it on any lists of streets that have changed their names. The nearest we could find is a Grotto Passage in Marylebone – too far away to be relevant. Perhaps Grotto (Street) was a nickname for the bus garage?

This is a delightful picture. The bus worker and the soldier seem proud, but uncomfortable being photographed. The plaque itself seems to be written or hand-painted; the panel with the Union Jack could be embroidered; the plants and flowers are held in at least 31 separate, non-matching, containers.

We wonder if this artisanal memorial was created by the men who worked at the garage, and their families, and was a precursor to the 1920 plaque. It could have been in Harmood Street, in the location where its successor was later photographed. Perhaps the error "Ferdinand Street" was someone not knowing the name of the road at the front of the building and assuming it was the same as the road at the back but with "Street" instead of "Place".

Our thanks to Robert and Jeanette for sharing photos of the postcard and for agreeing to publication.

This memorial is unusual but it does remind us of one other that we have collected. The central element of this one is very similar to the Draycott Avenue war memorial: a wooden frame with a pitched roof, a Christian cross and a white panel giving the Roll of Honour, headed 'For King and Country'.  On a wall in a large covered area, the Draycott Avenue memorial has survived to the present day in excellent condition. The Chalk Farm memorial looks as if it is on an exterior wall and we would not expect it to survive the weather for very long.

Site: Chalk Farm bus workers who died in WW1 (2 memorials)

NW1, Harmood Street, Bus garage

As happened at many workplaces, a memorial was erected at the Chalk Farm bus garage to honour their workers who died in WW1. But this garage, over time, seems to have had 2 distinct plaques.

We first started investigating memorials at this bus garage because of a report in the Camden New Journal about a plaque in Ferdinand Place on its back wall which, we have since learnt, had nothing to do with the bus garage.

Some background on the site: a 1893 map shows it built-up, with housing. This were all demolished and replaced with the bus garage, opened in 1916 by the London General Omnibus Company. It is shown in this 1952 OS map. We have put an extract of that map on the page for the Ferdinand Place plaque. The garage, serving many busy routes, was large, illustrated by this 1936 photo of the interior.

The site still retains some of the garage architectural elements, which can be seen on the ground or in Google Streetview, such as the cobbles in the remaining southern section of Ferdinand Place and some of the cobbled entrances to the garage - which match exactly those shown on the map. Also the lower portion of the building's external wall remains in Ferdinand Place.

This photo (© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection) of the building shows the Harmood Street frontage with a pillar at the left hand edge which is still on site, as is, surprisingly, the picket fence to the house next door. This 1936 image and another similar 1926 image were brought to our attention by Simon Murphy, Curator at London Transport Museum, who was very patient and helpful as we researched the site and these plaques.

At the fascinating website Reel Streets you can see pictures (actually screen shots) of Harmood Street from the 1961 film 'Flame In The Streets'. The picture with the bus shows Harmood Street with the bus garage on the right. We saw this film not long ago, but before we knew about the memorials - we must try and catch it again.

The garage closed in July 1993.and the site has been returned to housing, built in 1995.

After publishing the Ferdinand Place plaque we were contacted by Simon at the Museum, who has provided many of the images that we are using here and also pointed out some of the features still on site that we have noted. We are very grateful for his help. Then Robert Turner sent us a postcard showing another plaque, the 'Grotto' plaque.

Simon has provided us with information about memorials at Streatham, Holloway Road and Willesden LGOC bus garages, also unveiled in 1920 - 21. We will investigate and publish those in due course.

This section lists the subjects commemorated on the memorial on this page:
Chalk Farm Bus garage - WW1 "Grotto" plaque

Subjects commemorated Information

World War 1

We'd always assumed that this war was known as the Great War until WW2 came a...

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This section lists the other memorials at the same location as the memorial on this page:
Chalk Farm Bus garage - WW1 "Grotto" plaque

Also at this site Information

Chalk Farm Bus garage - WW1 1920 plaque

This image (© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection) is captioned "...

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