Andrew Marr on his ‘riff-raff’ Primrose Hill neighbours

Since moving to Primrose Hill last year, Andrew Marr has become a key campaigner in the quest to protect the neighbourhood’s character from property developers. Last year, he joined a campaign to save a local library, and he has also spoken up against plans to demolish social housing to make room for HS2.

So are his millionaire neighbours beginning to wear thin on the BBC presenter? Miss Steerpike only asks after Marr described them as ‘riff-raff’ during a speech at the launch of the 1939 Register with Findmypast at Cafe Royal. With the census for the year war broke out now available online, Marr has been researching how his own street looked back in 1939:

‘I was looking at the house that I live in, the brick terraced house in… I was going to say Camden but let’s be more honest Primrose Hill, which is of course full these kind of days with riff-raff of French hedge fund managers and idle radio broadcasters alike.’

Marr says his own house — ‘which is a relatively modest size’ — used to house eight adults who all did ‘real jobs’ known as the ‘respectable working class’.  While Marr may hanker for his neighbours of old, it’s not just his own street that could do with a return to old ways. Discussing the state of the country in 1939, the historian suggested that George Osborne could learn something from the level of manufacturing:

‘It turns out that in 1939 we were much more moral people, with more butlers in the country than there were divorced people. The third most popular occupation was coal mining and wherever you go, you were reminded that this was a country with manufacturing from north to south — George Osborne please note.’

It seems the Northern Powerhouse still requires work.


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