Over the gate...

Designed in 1913 by Victorian/Edwardian/other architect Theophilus A Allen; John Lennon's house between 1964 and 1968; sunroom, attic and prisco stripe hibernice; Mellotron and caravan; Babidji and Mimi; mortar and pestle; Wubbleyoo Dubbleyoo; curios and curiosity; remnants and residue; testimonials and traces; (Cavendish Avenue, Sunny Heights and Kinfauns); Montagu Square; mock Tudor: Brown House: *KENWOOD*.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Kenwood: Wired - Roger Manser reminisces.

Always good to hear from someone who was actually there (and also good to get back to what this ridiculous blog is supposed to be about): Roger Manser worked at Kenwood as a Sparky in 1964/65, and here are his memories of that time, written specially for this ridiculous blog:

"I originally came from Somers Town which is between Euston & Kings Cross stations where I was born; now live in Cuffley, married since 1969 to Valerie, have one daughter & one son; have three grandsons by my daughter. I am now 63 semi retired.
Worked as apprentice electrician age 16/17, 1964/65 at John Lennon’s house, Weybridge for an Electrical Contractor - Mactric Electric Ltd, owned by James Mcaneny (now passed away, last year).
Mactric Electrics worked for main contractor H J Knights Shopfitters, who were at that time based in the Archway. They later moved to Brewery Road off the Caledonian Road and then to North Road again off the Caledonian Road, works mainly shopfitting and some large upmarket houses, This firm has also gone. Jim Knight who owned Shopfitters died in a car crash a few years ago; he had been retired long time.
I used to travel all over UK working in shop fitting.
I am now semi retired, have run my own Electrical contractors since 1971 - RGM Electrics.
Kenwood was redecorated and modified with a new Kitchen area which was dug out to make split level. I remember Paul McCartney who had stayed over night said to me, (came in here drunk last night and fell down that F------ hole) e.g. Kitchen area, Paul mixed with us like one of the lads, better than John, although John got on with one of the labourers and I believe he worked for John after we all had finished.
In this kitchen area in the wall was and old safe built into wall no key we had to break it open there was nothing in it silly things you remember!
John, Cynthia & Julian Lennon lived in flat above house whilst we worked on main house, John came and went e.g. tours ect he kept his self fairly private from us only on occasions would he be seen, there was a chauffer on call with hired Red Rolls Royce to ferry John & Cynthia about chauffer was always there 24hrs I cannot remember where he slept, but Rolls was useful for going to the café in village to get bacon rolls etc I use to go down in the back of the Rolls occasionally for errands.
I also remember Johns new Rolls Royce being delivered to house in 1965 on that day I was the one of the first persons to sit in the back of the Car it was black originally with thick black carpets this was the car that John had re-painted psycadelic at a later time
We completely Re-wired house to a high standard for those days I daresay it has been re-wired again.
I had to go into flat due to wiring for floor below so met up with Cynthia & Julian quite a lot, Julian at the time was crawling and I remember Cynthia wanting to go to the shops in the village so asked me to look after Julian whilst I was in the flat I played with him etc. this happed a couple of times. Baby sitting as well as Electrician!
I got on quite well with Cynthia she was a lovely Lady still is I should imagine.
Whilst up in the flat another time I could hear John & Paul playing music they were composing songs - what ones I do not know! They did not seem to mind me being there.
The carpet was laid through out the house and caused so much static at first we thought something was wrong with electrics till I put neon tester on the door Knocker and neon light up we then realised it was carpet, you charged up with static as you walked in those days was unknown Carpet was sprayed with anti static, strange I can remember pulling out main fuses as we thought something was wrong, also neon tester type screwdrivers were relatively new then.

At lunch & tea breaks we had a card school going and about 6 to 10 use to play 3 Card Brag some high pots were on the table, I remember John came down to watch us playing occasionally, I was also pretty lucky at cards too.
There was a few fans came to the house to see John we use to give them bits of old rubble floorboards etc as souvenirs but never took anything for myself, I was actually a Rolling Stones fan and into soul and
Tamla Motown and was out clubbing most nights as you did in the 60s and I was spaced out most of the time etc etc.
When it was cold use to take Fans in to the boiler room for a warm up!
I remember the Foreman carpenter who ran the job his name Len Murphy use to pick me up in the mornings near Mornington Crescent near Camden Town and then travelled to Kenwood in his car an Austin 1100 the car would be full with other workers we all shared expenses Len made a profit.
Because Weybridge was classed as a away job we got £1.00 a day expenses e.g. money for digs and because we worked 6days a week e.g. Saturday as well we got £7.00 a week tax free in those days as Iwas only earning about £6-7 a week it double my wages I was well off in those days only had to give Len half a crown for travel a day?
Most of the workers would have passed away by now I was the youngest working there at the time there was a plumber’s mate about year older than me named Sam?
There must be other workers out there somewhere.
There was a plasterer who was good with all the plaster mouldings etc he use to shoot Squirrels in the garden with an air rifle, he use to cut off tails and get 6 or 3 pence off the Council for them."

Many thanks to Roger for this (and there may even still be a few bits o' that very carpet for sale: see previous post).


  1. This is why I LOVE this site. Love it! Thanks.

  2. Thanks a lot for your work.
    I have done something similar with John days in Almeria, Spain in 1966, finding locations of How I won the war..
    I would love to get in touch with you.
    This is my email adress, please drop me a line:
    I have a facebook site with the same name:
    My best,