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Monday, 21 January 2013

A snowy wassail in north-west London

A warming moment on our snow-bound high street - dozens of people braving the freezing temperatures to take part in a wassail. This is an ancient custom held at the start of the year in orchards to bless the trees and make them fruitful, but storyteller Rachel Rose Reid (here addressing the crowd) has adapted it for the urban environment to show support for local businesses and bring neighbours together.
For the fourth year running, wassailers paraded along Willesden Green High Rd, stopping to wish independent shopkeepers all the best for the coming year with songs and poetry.

 The event ended at the Library Centre, wassailing the crab apple trees planted there four years ago but sadly now under threat from a proposed redevelopment opposed by many residents. This would see Brent council give the site to developers who would demolish the 1986 library and build more than 90 luxury flats there, in return constructing a smaller library at the very front of the site. (Brent has already closed 6 of its 12 libraries.) If this goes ahead, the small open area which serves as a town square and where the wassail and other events take place would also be lost.

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