Brent library campaigner dies

Eric Pollock campaigned to save Cricklewood Library

Eric Pollock campaigned to save Cricklewood Library - Credit: Archant

Eric Pollock, The founding chair of Friends of Cricklewood Library (FOCL) has died at the age of 84.

Mr Pollock, of Dicey Avenue, campaigned vehemently to save the library in Olive Road when Brent Council closed it alongside Kensal Rise, Barham, Tokyngton, Neasden and Preston branches in 2011.

Mary Langford, founding secretary of FOCL, pays tribute to the life-long Cricklewood resident.

“Eric Pollock was born in London in 1930 to Czech parents when his father came to London to work for the Anglo-Czech Bank. Although during his early childhood Eric spoke Czech as his first language, and his family made regular visit back Czechoslovakia, as continental Europe moved closer to war, it became clear to the family that, with their Jewish heritage, a return to their homeland would be impossible, and so Eric continued his studies at The Hall School in Hampstead and later Willesden County High School.

“Eric often reminisced how even as a young schoolboy he regularly visited and studied at Cricklewood Library across from Gladstone Park. This was followed by a stint in National Service when went to Wales and found work related to the railways, which was long one of his interests. Upon completion of that duty, he returned to London to enter the London School of Economics where he studied Economics with specialisation in Transport, and upon earning his degree he joined the Economist Intelligence Unit, travelling extensively to developing countries as a consultant on land and rail transport development.

“During his university years, his interest in things German had led him to find a pen pal in Hamburg, Traute, whom he later met and eventually married. His marriage to Traute and his growing young family made him seek a role closer to home, and he became Economist and Marketing Manager for the British Transport Docks Board (later Associated British Ports). His work occasionally took him on business to exotic and interesting places, making him a fascinating raconteur of tales of all sorts. A chat with Eric inevitably led him to refer to one of the many books that lined the walls of the Pollock’s cosy front sitting room.

“Always a true Cricklewood resident and a bit of a community activist, he dabbled in local politics, but was also a vociferous opponent of the threatened closure of the Cricklewood Post Office and the Cricklewood Library. This inspired him in 1989 to the form the Friends of Cricklewood Library, whose mission was to heighten awareness of the library. As Chairman of the Friends, Eric instigated surveys and petitions to ensure that Brent Council were aware of the usage and need of the library, and he devised a strategy to make the community more aware of the library’s existence by organising, over many years, a series of community lectures that brought residents from near and far into Cricklewood Library. Topics ranged from local railway history; police services; Dollis Hill House; lectures with tours of the old bunker under the Post Office Research Centre and the St. Michael’s Road water pumping station, and talks from local authors of note including Zadie Smith and Melissa Benn.

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“Eric Pollock had no hesitation in seeking to meet regularly with council library officials, and also the authorities at All Souls College, Oxford, who had an interest in Cricklewood Library, establishing a collaborative and cordial relationship with all of them, yet always maintaining a strong position on the need for the Library to remain open as a public service and amenity for young mothers, children, the elderly, and the highly diverse local community. He lamented the diminishing stock of books at the library as these were replaced by technology. He also became a regular representative for FOCL with Libraries for Life for Londoners (LLL), and regularly attended meetings of the Willesden Local History Society and Gladstone Park Consultative Committee.

“Eric’s polite manner and personal dignity always earned the respect of those he met, regardless of their political views. A dapper dresser, he was a regular and popular presence at many FOCL bookstalls: in front of the Library, in Gladstone Park and in Queens Park.

“A person of strong conviction, Eric Pollock was nonetheless always open to new ideas. Although as a youth he became a staunch Roman Catholic and married Traute at St. Mary’s in Hampstead, in later years he was drawn to the Anglican faith and attended several local churches as well as Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy where his grandson, Peter, was a chorister. He once ran for the local council as a Tory, and yet in his final years campaigned on behalf of Sarah Teather and the Liberal Democrats.

“A remarkable gentleman whose resolve never faltered, Eric Pollock will be sadly missed by many in the local area who were touched by his dedication to the community. A memorial service is due to be held in late June; for details please contact FOCL. Traute and children Nicholas and Sabina suggest that any donations be made to Alzheimer’s Society; The League of Friends of Northwick Park Hospital; Friends of Cricklewood Library; Friends of the Holy Land.

“Northwest Two Residents’ Association are also having discussions with the local authorities about planting a tree in Eric’s memory in Gladstone Park.”

Eric Pollock died on March 29.

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