Sunday 7 May – Children’s Feast!

We have all the usual stuff happening – you know, great food, great music, great hanging out opportunities, great weather – all that. But as you wander around the one hundred plus stalls, you may notice a preponderance of bears…

“If you go down in the hood today (eh hem, Sunday), you’d better go in disguise…”

Bring your teddies and come to the Picnic & Play area by the leisure centre. There will be rugs and tea sets a plenty, a bear hunt (!) and you can even make your teddy a lovely outfit whilst you’re there.

We also have Wingit, our open mic session in the afternoon for our young and aspiring local talent – hosted by the incomparable Uncle Errol from Word on the Kerb.


There’s also entertaining stuff for the grown ups – here it is.

If you love a bit of Stevie Smith, bring your favourite poem of hers along to PoetrySlabs at the West Norwood Old Library on Feast day – and read it in good company.

WeNo Insider’s Guide blog

Here’s the latest wonderful blog post about those businesses in West Norwood that you maybe didn’t know were there…or did and have never been in….or know and love and wish more people knew about them!

This one is about Hobby’s, a veritable treasure trove of little things to make and do.

May’s Feast Film Nights

This month’s fabulous offering from the volunteer team at Feast Film Nights is Pan’s Labyrinth “One of the greatest of all fantasy films” – Roger Ebert. You can watch this on Friday 26 May at the Book & Record Bar for just a fiver.

See you all at Feast!

WeNo Guide to…Hobby’s!

It’s Spring and FEAST is back! And so our intrepid reporter set off once more to explore the streets of West Norwood, meeting local traders.

Presenting Hobby’s, a family business for model makers and hobbyists since the 1950s. Stray behind Knight’s Hill into the quiet streets of the industrial area to find their large warehouse – the location of Hobby’s retail and wholesale since the 1970s. Following the sign to the shop entrance reveals a bygone era showroom with a hotchpotch of doll’s houses, matchstick models and power tools for model making. This belies the fact that beyond the counter and out of view of the customer, lies a comprehensive selection of model making and hobby stock. Behind the scenes, there is a 15-strong team busy servicing the mail-order side of the business, sending out goods nationwide and internationally. So if you have popped into the showroom to browse, make sure you look at the annual catalogue. Ask, and a member of staff will source what you choose from the warehouse. To give you an indication of the shelves and shelves of items nestling in West Norwood, the 2017 catalogue boasts 324 pages, ranging from model planes, boats, railways, crafts such as glass engraving and candle making, and a large section on the fittings to create a doll’s house – everything the dedicated model enthusiast could desire. But also lurking amongst the specialist model making goods, there are items for the gift hunter or budding hobbyist – wooden self-assembly kits, remote-controlled toys and 3D puzzles to name just a few.

The origins of the business go back to the glory days of hobbying. Owner Mike Crossland explains how his father WF Crossland, who was station master at Tulse Hill, was persuaded by a Swiss relative to sell 50 musical movements (for the uninitiated, these are the musical parts that can be used in toys, boxes, clocks and models). He first placed an ad in Practical Householder, the business took off and eventually he opened a shop at 202 Tulse Hill. When his father retired from the railways, he took new premises at 109 Norwood High Street trading under the name of Swisscross, playing on the Swiss connection and family name.

Eventually they expanded to 62 Norwood High Street and changed the name to Hobby’s to reflect the widening of their stock. Mike comments that those early days of the business were an era when people made things in their leisure time, pre-digital revolution if you can recall or imagine life then. Now, he says sadly, some of the model making high street shops Hobby’s supply are closing – a sign of the times. Mike expands: “People also made things because they couldn’t afford them”. Nowadays, model making is a niche market catering for a distinct community. It’s a labour of love to create and decorate a doll’s house – you don’t do it because you can’t afford one. Indeed, the components available for the larger scale doll’s houses have become more sophisticated, with designer wall papers and carpets, and even electric light fittings!

So, who are Mike’s customers in the here and now? Not surprisingly, many are older generation. A lot of regulars have worked with their hands all their lives and now they have retired, immersing themselves in a making project. Then Mike smiles sheepishly, there are quite a few living courtesy of Her Majesty, either buying direct or via the prison shop! A fact confirmed by a heartfelt “thank you” from a former prisoner on their FB page. And what are their most popular items currently? Well, the biggest seller is matchstick kits, where you stick matches onto card templates to make a model. In fact, Hobby’s create and package the kits themselves; sometimes using the design suggestions of their model making regulars. Galleons are very popular – model ships such as the Cutty Sark. And musical movements still feature in the catalogue as a throwback to the company’s origins. There are some sweet self-assembly wooden music boxes for children. Mikes smiles – in the 1970s, they used to supply musical movements for ice-cream vans.

So how about tech… the digital market? Mike comments that they don’t stray too much into tech as you need to service enquires when a customer gets stuck. Also, it’s a highly competitive market. He is content – they have expertise in physical model making and have the know-how to support their customers, but they are on a continual quest for new stock. Mike has been a regular at Nuremberg Toy Fair, staying at the same hotel over a 20-year period. Now, his son goes to what is the biggest toy fair in the world. Fairs provide a great opportunity to meet suppliers and search for latest toys. Mike remembers with satisfaction stumbling over 3D foam jigsaw puzzles at an American toy fair. It was a totally new concept at the time and he promptly bought £8000 of stock from the small Canadian supplier, sold it all and ordered another 11x 40ft containers worth. Eventually, Hasbro broke up the party by taking over the supplier!And then it was time to leave Mike behind the shop counter. Our reporter left musing over a quote from the catalogue: “Happy is the person with a hobby for they have two worlds to live in“.

Hobby’s Ltd

2 Knight’s Hill Square

SE27 0HH

Mon-Fri 9 to 5pm and Sat 9 to 1pm – online catalogue

Volunteer for West Norwood!

Feast, your favourite monthly event is just round the corner (Sunday 2 April), there’s a wonderful free film festival that’s happening over the ten days before Feast (25 March-1 April) and Feast Film Nights are kicking off another season of monthly film events.

What do all these three lovely things have in common? They are all volunteer powered – by people who love their West Norwood community and want to make it an even better place to live!

Volunteer for Feast

Feast has lots of friendly lovely people who volunteer on Feast days and behind the scenes – but we always ALWAYS could do with more of you! We need:

  • hub leaders (who help run the different market spaces)
  • entertainment coordinators to help with Wingit, our new open mic performance space for young people (see poster below)*
  • technical people (to help set up the music equipment and to run the website)
  • creative, community minded people to curate the monthly themed Feast’s – we like to involve as many other local organisations as possible!

If you want to volunteer for Feast, drop us a line or a tweet @wn_feast.

*Psst!! Follow us on Instagram @wingit_feast and let us know if you want to perform!

West Norwood Free Film Festival

It’s only a couple of weeks to go before we get eight FREE films coming to all sorts of local venues; like Back to the Future inside St Luke’s church, at The Goonies at Knowles, Paterson in Parkhall workspace cafe and all the three minute films made by you budding local filmmakers at the Portico Gallery ! They need volunteers who can help:

  • give out flyers for events
  • set up the venues for the film audiences

If you’re interested, email You get to wear a special T-shirt too!

Feast Film Nights

After all the excitement of the Free Film Festival, and before the new Picturehouse premises open locally, where can you go in West Norwood for community cinema screenings? Why, to the monthly Feast Film Nights!

The spring lineup starts on Saturday 29 April with the wonderful rock horror musical Little Shop of Horrors shown at The Book and Record Bar.

Just like Feast and the free film festival, this is a volunteer-led group so feel free to get in touch if you have suggestions for future screenings or would like to volunteer!

We’d love you to volunteer for at least one of these! If you can’t, don’t worry, just come along and support all the great things happening in your lovely West Norwood….