I knew that Droop Street School was still there (now known as Queen’s Park Primary) and I knew that St Jude’s Church was no longer in Lancefield Street, but it came as a big surprise to me when some years ago, Joe English informed me that the old Mission Hall was still in existence. Then a few years ago, on a pilgrimage to the area, Jimmy Murray parked up near the hall and I stood outside in amazement.
Last year, Dave Robinson gathered a few of us together into a loose historical group who met up a few times to discuss the origins and formation of the club. There was talk of a plaque to mark our humble origins and then the unveiling would coincide with the 125th anniversary of QPR as it became evident that the club’s actual formation was indeed 1886 and not 1882 or even 1885.
The day came and I thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon in Queen’s Park last Saturday, feeling a real sense of history in the making. It was very well organised and the rain held off. There was a good turnout of R’s fans mixing with the local community. This historic event was organised by Dave Robinson for QPR in the Community, Westminster Council and the sponsors, CityWest Homes.
The Council’s deputy leader Robert Davis said: “It is a great pleasure to mark the birthplace of Queen’s Park Rangers and the club’s ties with this area of Westminster. The plaque serves as a reminder of how, through hard work and dedication, grassroots sports can blossom.”
Stan Bowles remarked: “I used to hang around here all the time and I had no idea this was QPR’s original home so I think this is a fantastic idea to mark the spot. It’s a great honour, as QPR is very special to me.” Andy Evans made a good speech on behalf of the QPR in the Community Department and thanked Dave Robinson and Gordon Macey for their hard work. Stan Bowles then unveiled the green plaque.
In a cordoned off area in the adjoining park, refreshments were available for the guests and it was good to see the trophy on display. Many took the opportunity to have their picture taken with it. Well done to Swedish R’s Peter and Michael, who had travelled over to London to witness this historic occasion.
Also in attendance was Peter Lupson, the author of the superb book, ‘Thank God for Football’, who had travelled down from Liverpool. He said: “It came as a huge surprise to me to receive an invitation from Dave Robinson to be a VIP guest. It was such an honour to be present at this momentous occasion and I enjoyed every minute of it. The organisation was outstanding – there was something for everyone. It was a masterstroke to bring along the Coca Cola League Championship trophy – for me it signified the distance the club has travelled from its humble church roots to re-join the very elite of English football.”
“As the person who first brought to the general public’s attention through my book that St Jude’s Institute was still standing, I took special pleasure in witnessing the unveiling of the plaque on this special building. It was gratifying to see this modest former Mission Hall plucked from obscurity and given the recognition it deserves. And of course, the fact that the legendary Stan Bowles took part in the unveiling made the occasion extra special. As my research for ‘Thank God for Football’ has focused on the church origins of famous football clubs, I was delighted to hear speakers from the platform pay tribute to the two St Jude’s clergymen, the Rev. Sidney Bott and the Rev. Charles Gordon Young, who played such a vital role in helping get QPR up and running.”
“There were two highlights for me. The first was meeting Stan Bowles and the second was being photographed next to the Championship trophy with QPR’s official historian, Gordon Macey. Gordon has been a great encouragement to me with my research and it was a pleasure to see him again. The QPR in the Community Trust are doing a fantastic job. Congratulations to all concerned for making Saturday such a great success.”
Some senior residents were enjoying their own event inside the Hall, but I just had to sneak inside and look around. Although it has been renovated there was however, a wonderful spiral staircase that looked like it was an original feature.
My thanks to Dave Robinson and everyone else involved for turning this historic event into such a proud occasion.
(Most of the above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission. The exceptions being, the top one and the pic that Peter Lupson sent me showing him with Dave Robinson and Gordon Macey)