2. THE PARKER PENITENTIARY

In March, SFCoL's regular meetings moved from Inchmery to Ella Parker's home. Below is the change of address notice that was sent to members.

SCIENCE-FICTION CLUB of LONDON

Chairwoman,
E.A.Parker,
151 Canterbury Road,
West Kilburn,
London, N.W.6.
Secretary,
J.A.Groves,
29 Lathom Road,
East Ham,
London, E.6.

26th March 1960.

Dear,

At the meeting of 20th of March it was decided to move the meetings to the home of our Chairwoman, Ella Parker, at the address given above. Meetings are still on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month at 4 o/c in the afternoon.

The map below is of the appropriate area. The nearest station is Queen's Park on the Bakerloo Line. The house is above a shop.

See you there at future meetings.

sincerely

J.A.Groves. Hon. Sec.

In PROLAPSE #9 (Nov '07) in a profile of Ella Parker well worth reading if you want to know more about her, Bruce Burn included this description of the place. Usually described by visitors as a flat, and sometimes by Ella as a house, it appears to have actually been a maisonette:

‘The Penitentiary’, or the Pen for short: a three-bedroom flat above a butcher’s shop at 151 Canterbury Road in Kilburn, an inner-city suburb of north London. The whole district appeared run-down, as well it might since most of the buildings were due to be demolished to make way for large tower-blocks of flats.

Much of the land around had been owned by the Church of England for many years, and most had been bought by the local Council, who planned the improvements that would include the apartment towers and all the spread of vertical slum-creation that was to provide the environment for the coming couple of decades. Ella found she had a low rent to pay, and by staying on in the old flat she would be guaranteed a flat in one of the new towers. In the housing scene of North London, it was a good option.

Ella shared the flat with her brother Fred, and as her involvement with fandom grew, so it made inroads into her home, but both she and Fred were hospitable to every intrusion. Eventually, the main room became a place for fanac, dominated by an electric Gestetner in front of the windows that overlooked Canterbury Road. In one corner was a bed, used mostly as a couch by visitors, but also the overnight resting place for many a travelling fan. Against one wall was a table with a mirror behind it, and the other walls were mainly backgrounds to an assortment of chairs and stools and small tables or boxes.

And what a background! The walls were covered by light tan wallpaper with thin vertical stripes in shiny gold with a flocked design reminiscent of Edwardian flower vases. On it, Ella had hung framed pictures and original sketches and cartoons, and numerous odd mementos, including plaster mouldings and at least one toy reptile. The other rooms of the flat were spread over two and half floors with a narrow stairwell providing a spiral connection between them. A curiosity was a basin with running water halfway down the stairs from the main room, alongside a small toilet cubicle. Beside the fanac room was a bedroom which I recall was used as a television watching space, and upstairs were Ella and Fred’s own bedrooms. Somewhere there must have been the usual facilities of bathroom and kitchen, but I can’t picture them these many years later, and am told by Jim Linwood that the place was known as a ‘cold water flat’ which apparently would lack the usual amenities.

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