A simple question, asked in the right way at the right time, can be life-changing. When Paulette told a local community organiser that she would love to use the historic (empty) Clitterhouse Farm buildings in Cricklewood, North West London to bring the community together she was asked the question, ‘what are you doing about it?’ This question spurred her on and led her to get in touch with other local people who also wanted to make the space into a place for the community.
Three years later, I met Paulette and fellow community activists Alistair, Luisa and Thomas on a sunny day at their new café. The recent launch event for the café was a huge success, with around 100 local people attending and enjoying the BBQ, homemade lemonade and coffee.
As well as the café, the group organise different events and activities in the space, including cycle workshops, gardening projects and film screenings.
It hasn’t been easy to get to this stage. In the three years they have been working together they have applied to, and successfully been awarded, several grant funding. They have had numerous discussions with Barnet Council about the property and their plans, and they have put in hundreds of hours of hard work to clean the buildings and area up to get it in good enough condition to be used.
The buildings have an incredible history. Clitterhouse was originally a woodland sub-manor held by John de Langton in 1321 and by his younger son Robert in 1335. Gladice Georgina Keevil, a prominent Suffragette and renowned public speaker, was born and grew up at Clitterhouse Farm. With evidence of a moat and orchards around the original buildings, the area is officially recognised by the London Borough of Barnet as one of “special archaeological significance.” With an archaeological dig taking place at the weekend who knows what else will be discovered about it! Read more about the history here.
One of the goals the group had was to prevent the demolition of Clitterhouse Farm as part of Brent Cross Cricklewood Regeneration. They achieved this in October 2014, showing that when a group of people come together with the same mission, ambition, and dedication even the seemingly impossible challenges can become possible.
Now the group are working to transform Clitterhouse Farm into a vibrant multi-use community hub catering to the long term needs of local residents. Read more about their mission here.
The Clitterhouse Farm Café
The café will be at the heart of this mission. Paulette said, “It will be a listening café where we will learn about what people living in the local area want from this space.” As well as having the opportunity to improve their listening skills, free barista training from an award-winning barista is available to café volunteers.
Union Hand-Roasted coffee and delicious cakes are available at the café, which is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
Visit the café
Address: Clitterhouse Playing Fields, Claremont Road, London NW2 1AB
Clitterhouse Farm is located in the South West corner of Clitterhouse playing fields in Cricklewood, North West London (NW2). The buildings are a 10 minute walk north of Cricklewood Thameslink station and a 15 minute walk from Brent Cross underground station.
For more information about the café and The Clitterhouse Farm Project please visit their website.